The site of present-day Webster was first discovered in 1669. French explorer LaSalle entered Irondequoit Bay, the land of the Seneca Indians, to explore Lake Ontario and look for inland waterways.
On July 25, 1837, Daniel Webster spoke to a large gathering of Whigs on the Rochester courthouse steps concerning currency regulation and the state of the economy. The Rochester Democrat editorialized that he was "the cleverest fellow in the world for embellishing a story." The Whig farmers from North Penfield, who were part of Daniel Webster's audience that day, were so impressed by his eloquence that, when they petitioned the state legislature for separate town status from Penfield, they chose to name it in his honor.
On February 6, 1840, Governor William Seward announced the birth of Webster, New York. Originally part of North Penfield, land was split off to create the new town. Residents numbering 2,235 inhabited the new Webster. The first town meeting was held at John Lett's tavern, south of the present village. Attendees discussed town needs and elected officials necessary to meet those needs.
In the early 1900s, citizens feeling the need for better fire protection, sanitation facilities, lighting, water, and other improvements proposed that a separate village be incorporated within the town. On March 27, 1905, a referendum was approved by a 27-vote margin, resulting in the incorporation of the Village of Webster.
Webster Museum & Historical Society
Today, citizens interested in the history of Webster make up the Webster Museum and Historical Society. Volunteers from this organization staff the Webster Museum, which is located in the Village of Webster. The Webster Museum has several permanent historical displays as well as changing feature displays at different times of the year. "Webster Through the Years," a 400-page book by Esther Dunn on the history of Webster, is available for sale at the museum.
Our thanks to former Town Historian Richard Batzing for contributing this historical perspective.