Dudley Massachusetts, 1890
Dudley is a pleasant and prosperous town lying in the southwesterly part of Worcester County, on the Southbridge Branch of the New York and New England Railroad, which has a station at West Dudley, 67 miles from Boston. The eastern part of the town is accommodated at the eastern border by the Webster station on the Norwich and Worcester Railroad. The town is bounded by Charlton and Oxford on the north, the latter and Webster on the east, Southbridge on the west, and Thompsonville, in Connecticut, on the south. The assessed area is 12,870 acres, of which 4,800 are woodland.
The Quinnebaug River crosses the southwestern part, receiving an affluent from the hills. Here its valley is broadened, affording ample space about the mills for the village of West Dudley. The southeastern part is an extended plain, on which are strung out a group of six large and small ponds, whose outlet enters the French River at Merinoville. The latter forms the eastern line of the town, and in this limit furnishes power for several mills. The central village is delightfully situated on elevated ground, so that its prominent buildings are visible at a great distance. The surface of the town is charmingly interspersed with handsome hills, verdant valleys, rocky ravines, rivulets, fine forests, and beautiful ponds. The largest of these is Gore Pond, which, with two or three others, lies on the northern line.
The farms number 133, producing the usual variety of crops, to the value in 1885 of $155,395. There are in the town a linen mill employing about 300 persons; a woollen mill, employing about 270, and making excellent cassimere, a jute mill, employing 40; a mill for knit goods, employing about 20; dye-works, a gunny-cloth mill, a shoe factory, a tool factory, and saw and grain mills. From this variety of manufactures have sprung several villages, the list being, beside those already mentioned, Jericho, Chase, Perryville, Stevensville, or Dundee, and Tuftsville. The value of the aggregate manufactures, for 1885, was $1,316,112. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $964,305, with a tax of $12.20 on $1,000. The population was 2,742 — 446 being voters, — sheltered in 348 dwelling-houses.
The schools are graded, and make use of it buildings whose value is near $40,000. The Nichols Academy has buildings and property valued at upwards of $30,000. This institution has a library of about 2,000 volumes. The institution was founded by Amasa Nichols in 1819. Hezekiah Conant also was a liberal patron of this school, having given to it upwards of $50,000. The churches are the Congregationalist and the Methodist.
This town was incorporated on February 2, 1731, and named in honor of Paul and William Dudley, who were early proprietors. The first church was established in 1732; and the first minister, the Rev. Perley Howe, was settled in 1735. A later minister was Joshua Bates, D.D. (installed in 1843, died in 1852), a vigorous writer, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 278-279