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History

Webster is proud of a rich history and heritage (the township, was named after American statesman Daniel Webster.) Favorable soil conditions and climate contributed to Webster's growth as a prosperous center for fruit growing and other agriculture and a subsequent growth in food processing and evaporating industries. In 1875 Webster had 400 farms. By the mid 1900's, there were six full time farms. Crops such as apples, peaches, pears, and cherries were grown and cider and vinegar were produced. The most important early industry was apple drying. The industry peaked shortly before WWI. Webster also had an ashing industry that produced large amounts of potash that was shipped to Canada to make soap. Salt Road was aptly named when early settlers found large deposits of salt in the area between Ridge Road and Lake Ontario. Webster also enjoyed a brief flurry as a producer of silk in 1823.

The local Grange, at one time the largest in the world, was started in 1880 by village businessmen and area farmers. In 1890 they helped to secure the first rural free delivery route (RFD); and in 1901, they were influential in getting a local telephone exchange. 1900 marked a big turning point in the development of the village. The Jayne and Mason Bank, the first bank in town since Civil War days, opened its doors; the Rochester Sodus Bay Trolley began its daily run which enabled village residents to work in Rochester; and the homes in the Lapham Park, Elm Street, Dunning Ave and Park Ave areas were built. The railroad at the north end of the village attracted several dried or evaporated apple businesses and later a casket company and a picture frame and molding company. In 1905 the Village of Webster was incorporated and in 1906, a small volunteer fire department was organized. Today, this same department consists of about 200 firefighters.

Webster's history is preserved in the local Museum and Historical Society, run by a non-profit group of local citizens. Within its walls are the relics of early local industries, such as apple drying and baskets. Webster was once home of the world's largest basket factory and the center of the canning industry. A stroll down the Main Street of the museum brings back memories of the early 20's. The local historian conducts walking tours of the village, for groups of five or more, and gives talks and slide presentations on the history of the town.

Much of the gentle rolling farm land has become the research and manufacturing facilities of the Xerox Corporation. Several hundred other smaller and unique businesses also contribute to the community. Trident Precision Manufacturing Inc. is the 1996 winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award, one of the nation's highest honors for quality and business performance. In 1989 Xerox was a Baldrige Award winner.

- Lynn Barton, Webster Historian