Webster community mailbag, and happy birthday Webster

4 Feb

The Town of Webster is celebrating an anniversary on Sunday.

On Feb. 6, 1840, Governor William Seward announced the birth of the Town of Webster. Originally part of North Penfield, land was split off to create the new town after a petition with 324 signatures was presented to the NYS Assembly.

The name of Daniel Webster — a prominent lawyer, former U.S. Congressman and Secretary of State — was proposed for the new town after a group of citizens heard him give a speech in Rochester. (As far as I can tell he never actually stepped foot in the town.) The first town meeting was held at Lett’s Tavern, at the corner of Webster-Fairport and State Roads.

The Webster Museum (who provided the birthday announcement) has also sent along this tidbit in honor of Black History Month, about Asa Dunbar, one of the area’s earliest residents.

The search for information about the history of African-American people in Webster remains slow-going. A combination of factors complicate the search: record keeping and retention were not priorities in this area in the 18th century, and information about races other than white were not recorded on census forms. …

Asa Dunbar’s family came to Northfield around 1795 when Asa was 41 years old. He is credited with being the first black inhabitant of the Rochester area. At 6’7”, he was a trapper, an imposing figure who looked after the interests of the city of Tryon on the west side of Irondequoit Creek. Asa did not, so far as we know, reside in Webster, but did business here…. perhaps for the store, perhaps for himself. He sold fruit and salt from a salt spring near his home, and evidently also from salt springs in Webster along the bay. …

Research has turned up information about a few of Asa’s relatives as well, including his nephew, Asa Dunbar, Jr., who lived in the area until 1851; and another Asa Dunbar who was perhaps a grandson or nephew. According to an interview conducted on 1881, that Asa was named after “Asa Dunbar, an early settler of gigantic strength (who) frequented the place to manufacture salt.”

Yet another Asa — Asa Bass — was a pioneer who came to what would be Webster in 1812 along with other pioneers from Massachusetts. He was, so far as we know, the only black pioneer to arrive then and his family were likely the first black residents here. He was a farmer of some means and purchased at different times, three different properties between the northern sections of what are now Phillips Road and Route 250.

Information about these early African-American settlers is hard to come by, so the Webster Museum is hoping to hear from relatives of people who might have been friends or neighbors of the Dunbars and Basses. Any information, even the smallest clue, would be helpful. If you have anything to share, contact Kathy at ktaddeo5@icloud.com.

Red Cross Blood Drive

I know the Red Cross is always whining about blood shortages, but this time they’re serious. They’re facing their worst blood shortage in more than a decade, which means doctors are having to make difficult decisions about who receives transfusions and who can wait. Blood and platelet donations are needed now more than ever.

Your next opportunity to help save as many as three lives with a donation is this Monday Feb. 7 at Holy Trinity Church. The drive will be set up from 1 to 7 p.m. in the church’s community room. Click here to make an appointment.


February Fun at the Webster Public Library

Here’s a list of just some of the fun programs planned this month at the Webster Public Library:

T(w)een De-Stress Program, Thurs. Feb 24, 3 to 4:30 p.m. (in person). Teens grades 4 to 12 are welcome to make some stress-relieving toys. Cozy treats will be provided as well. Registration required.

Learn to Knit! Tuesdays Feb, 22 and March 1, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (in person). Learn the basics of knitting including reading patterns, casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off. Bring any smooth, “worsted”-weight yarn (labeled #4) and a pair of knitting needles, any size from 6 to 9. Teens and adults are welcome. Registration and attendance are required for both sessions.

This month’s make-and-take crafts are a Ladybug Valentine for the kids, Valentine’s Day Pom Pom Monsters for teens, and a Yarn-wrapped Wire Word for adults. Materials are free and available first-come-first-served at the Webster Public Library, 980 Ridge Rd. (at the rear of Webster Plaza).

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