A listing of current events in and around Webster and Dudley.  Meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Pearl Crawford Library in Dudley, 10 am, unless otherwise indicated.

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French River / Maanexit River name controversy

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (7)

Here is some information pertaining to the historical and current name of this river.

• 1811 map: French River

• 1831 map: French River

• 1855 map: French River


• The Huguenots in the Nipmuck Country or Oxford prior to 1713, by George F. Daniels, 1880

p. 49: "While on the subject of names we would not that there is an obvious impropriety in calling the river running west of the village, the "French river." The tradition alluded to by Dr. Holmes, that part of the settlers located near that stream, is evidently erroneous, as it was outside the village line, and therefore not included in the grant, and if this were not the case it is altogether improbable that the small and comparatively defenceless body of men who came here, would scatter themselves over so large a territory as they must have done, had they settled there. The proper name of this stream is that given to it by the natives -- "Maanexit."

• Oxford History, 1728 (published 1892), p. 115 and 767: Maanexit River

• Knowlton's "Flora of Worcester County", 1900, refers to the Maanexit river.

• 1936, March 19 article, first page of the Lawrence, Kansas Daily Journal mentions dynamiting of a N.H. R.R. embankment to release waters of the 'Maanexit' River (AP story - same in The Tuscaloosa (ALA) News.

• Worcester Telegram & Gazette article, Ed Patenaude, 28 Aug 2008: "Shirley (Savageau) Norcross of Wells, Maine, happened by her parents' home during their absence, and uncovered some old newspapers about the 1936 flood. It lists all the bodies of water in Worcester County that overflowed their banks during the storm, including the French River in Oxford and North Oxford, North Grosvenordale and Putnam. The same river still flows through Webster and Dudley, but it was listed as the Maanexit River in '36, and Irene wanted to know why. The Maanexit was the Webster-Dudley name for the waterway over a great many decades, but that usage was slowly displaced by "French River" after 1936, giving the name continuity, like the river."

• local lore:

Sometime following the incorporation of Webster (1832) as a separate town from Dudley and Oxford there was concern by some citizens of Dudley that the river name Maanexit was being associated with an interest by some Webster citizens who might be interested in annexing Dudley to Webster, and thus the river name, sounding so much like 'may annex it', fell out of favor and the name French River became more popular. (sources: recollections, Ed Patenaude, Stan Kabala)

Samuel Slater video

Posted on January 25, 2017 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

See this trailer about "Samuel Slater: traitor or hero" at

There will be other suggested videos to look at as well.

Webster Music Club

Posted on December 13, 2016 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Several months ago while investigating surplus furnishings of the Corbin Library, pending its demolition, I learned of the contents of a file cabinet which contained the collection of the old Webster Music Club. An article in the Webster Times May 8, 1958 reported on the Golden Anniversary of the club which had been organized May 1, 1908.   The club has long since ceased to exist and its collection - consisting of music books and scores, along with a few whistles - was slated for demolition along with the building, absent any outside interest. My timing was fortuitous and I managed to convey the collection to the WDHS museum. Interested parties are welcome to inquire and obtain portions of the collection for personal or organizational use. It is not (any longer) indexed in any fashion, but is fun to paw through!


December 2016

Posted on December 13, 2016 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

At it's December 2016 Christmas/Holiday party/meeting member Addie Healy (also DAR and Southbridge Historical Society) displayed one of several plaques obtained to commemorate the burial place of Dudley Revolutionary War veterans, as member Sylvia Gamache looks on. (photo by Greg Vasale)

April 2016

Posted on December 8, 2016 at 12:50 AM

Malser Trust Grant approved.

The Janet Malser Hunanities Trust approved a grant in April 2016 for continued repairs to the WDHS museum housed at the Little Red Schoolhouse, aka Fenner School, at 451 School St. in Webster.  We are extremely grateful for their ongoing support.

Program History

Posted on December 7, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Here is a running list of past WDHS-sponsored programs:

2016 - Mar 31 - Mulicultural night at Park Ave. Elementary School

2015 - Sep 24 - Railroad Program, Corbin Library

2015 - Oct 22 - 1955 Flood, Crawford Library

2014 - Nov 6 - Gilded Age, Corbin Library (Paul Macek)

2014 - Oct 24 - Civl War, Crawford Library (Mike Braniff)

2013 - Oct 10 - Old Dudley, Crawford Library (Mike Braniff)

Local musicians sponsored

Posted on December 7, 2016 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

June 2014

WDHS agreed to sponsor Mark & Raianne Richards application for a Malser Trust Grant for a 10-15 minute local history video.  See their site on our "Links" page.

November 2014 Program

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

November 6 2014

The Gilded Age in Webster and Dudley

6:30 PM at the Corbin Library

Come learn about the Gilded Age in Webster and Dudley from Paul Macek.

Webster from about 1870-1900 was experiencing dramatic growth in industry, leading to economic growth throughout town. Come learn about the changes and differences between Webster and Dudley from Paul Macek

Printing Press

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Many thanks going out to  Pauline Dziembowski and the Duval family for their very generous donation of the printing press. We were able to find a buyer, so it now has a new home and we have a few more dollars to help fix the museum. Definitely a win-win!

Thanks also to members John Mrazik, Ron Bannister, and Ron Heroux for their help in loading it onto the truck for transport to its new home in Rhode Island.

It's because of generous donations like these, and the wonderful people who make up our membership, that we are able to continue to protect and preserve the Little Red Schoolhouse and all the treasures inside it.