One of Webster’s earliest schools, the District No. 7 school on Schlegel Rd., circa 1846.

In honor of the first week of school and our hard-working teachers, this month’s history bit takes us back to a time when school was held for all grades in one room heated by a wood stove, writing was done on slates, and the “drinking fountain” was a metal pail and cup. 

The first school recorded within the township of Webster was a log cabin at the corner of Salt and State roads in 1813. In those days the school year was typically divided into summer and winter terms. Usually a woman would teach girls and young children in the summer, and a man would teach the older boys in the winter after they were released from farm work. 

It was a tough job with some pretty strict rules – and not just with regards to classroom management.

Consider this list of Rules for Teachers from 1872:  

  1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys
  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils. 
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly. 
  5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. 
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed. 
  7. Every teacher should lay aside from his pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society. 
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves. 

See the list for yourself at the Webster Museum, where it’s posted just outside the museum’s classroom, which emulates how an actual one-room schoolhouse might have looked in the early 1900s.

The museum, located at 18 Lapham Park, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at for more historical tidbits about our town’s schools and teachers.

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

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I Want Candy

Whilst on the subject of candy…here are a couple videos by Rescue & Restore showing the restoration (re-imagining might be a better word) of several old candy machines.

An 1871 Candy Drop Roller

A Northwestern Model 60 Vending Machine

Hooked on Ribbon Candy

Webster was hooked on Steve Papapanu’s ribbon candy. His chocolate Easter eggs, homemade ice cream, and taffy were popular items too.

From 1908 until 1973, the Papapanu family ran the popular Candy Kitchen in the village of Webster, serving sandwiches, plates, sundaes, and a diverse selection of handmade chocolates and candies.

Steve Papapanu came to the United States from Greece when he was 12 years old, and began running the Candy Kitchen following his military service during World War I. His daughter, Mary grew up in the apartment above the Candy Kitchen and eventually took ownership of the business with her husband Chris Pantas.

Following a devastating fire that closed the Candy Kitchen, the family continued to make specialty candy products from their home and sold them through Utz’s Bakery until about 1979.

Another Greek family with a long history in the candy business continues to make ribbon candy by hand. The Andrianos family runs Hercules Candies in Syracuse, NY and has a number of popular videos online demonstrating how small batch candy is made.

Mary Pantas from a 2019 “History and a Cup”, sharing stories of her family and the family candy business. Mary talks about her dad’s ribbon candy around the 27 minute mark.

The crew at Hercules Candy of Syracuse, NY, making a batch of Chocolate Filled Ribbon Candy.

The copper kettle used by the Papapanu family to make a variety of candies. (On display at the Webster Museum.)
A taffy hook used in the preparation of ribbon candy. (On display at the Webster Museum.)

Hercules Candies of Syracuse, NY:

The Original Candy Kitchen of Williamson, NY:

Romance, 14580

Passion and romance. Words you wouldn’t be surprised to see together in a sentence. The passion I speak of though is the passion to write!

Despite the naysayers, the rejection letters, and the slim compensation, there are some amongst us that simply can’t imagine their lives without the creative outlet of pen to paper, or fingertip to key.

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s a group of successfully published authors met regularly at the Greece Public Library for mutual support and to share their latest chapters. Two of the group’s authors, Audrey Pike Johnson and Virginia Kester Smiley, were both Webster residents. Virginia lived on Webster Road not far from Mill Creek Run. She was an avid collector with many hobbies, who had close to 30 of her works published. Audrey was a widow who lived on Fuller Avenue in the village and had at least 6 published books. Both were passionate writers most of their lives, but it was as grandmothers they found their greatest professional success.

While their passion for writing drove them, the subjects they wrote about were driven more by pragmatism. Authors may dream of writing the “Great American Novel”, but practicality often leads them to more accessible markets like “genre” romance novels. Gothic romance and nurse romance were both popular genres at the time.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we currently have a selection of books written by Webster women on display at the museum. When not on display, they can be found on the shelves of the museum library.

Virginia Kester Smiley: Good Reads
Audrey Pike Johnson: Good Reads


Just how did a 19th century French suitcase come to represent a unique category of words?

See our new page on portmanteaus!

The Other Webster

Noah Webster

Believe it or not, even within the borders of our fair town, there are those that associate the name “Webster” with the author of one of our country’s earliest dictionaries…Noah Webster.

182 years ago, when our town founders were carefully considering which name should appear on the side of future water towers, they likely had never heard of Noah Webster’s dictionary. After spending 26 years writing his tome, only 2,500 copies of the two volume book were printed in 1828 and at a cost of $20 for the pair (that’s more than $500 in today’s dollars). Mr. Webster still had copies available for purchase in 1836. (Volume I | Volume II)

On the off chance, Byron Woodhull and the other town fathers had procured a copy of Webster’s dictionary, as largely conservative “Whigs”, the book’s vast lexicon would have likely been considered too radical, if not vulgar.

Webster was a staunch nationalist. Believing the United States was superior to Europe because its values were superior. With that in mind, Webster felt the United States needed its own fresh interpretation of the English language. Using uncommon alternative spellings as a guide, Webster set about to change how numerous words were spelled.

The most striking and frequently cited example of Webster’s tweaking of our written word is the removal of the “u” from the word colour. Similarly, “flavour” became “flavor” and “harbour” became “harbor”. “Defence” became “defense”, “modernise” became “modernize, and “theatre” became “theater.

Most ironic of all alterations, “anglicise” became “anglicize”.

Despite these successes, many of Webster’s alterations were rejected by the general public. “Soup” did not become “Soop”, “believe” did not become “beleev”, and thankfully “daughter” did not become “dawter”.

A few of Webster’s less successful alternatives:

Ake -> Ache

Beleev -> Believe

Bilt -> Built

Cloke -> Cloak

Dawter -> Daughter

Determin -> Determine

Giv -> Give

Greef -> Grief

Gillotin -> Guillotine

Grotesk -> Grotesque

Hainous -> Heinous

Iland -> Island

Korus -> Chorus

Masheen -> Machine

Neer -> Near

Nightmar -> Nightmare

Porpess -> Porpoise

Sley -> Sleigh

Soop -> Soup

Spunge -> Sponge

Steddy -> Steady

Stile -> Style

Thum -> Thumb

Tung -> Tongue

Turnep -> Turnip

Wimmin -> Women

Wendell Castle

A wonderful interview with Wendell Castle. Hard to believe its been 4 years since he left us.


Surprisingly, Mary Jones doesn’t run the film’s narrator through the Ironrite.

Cosmic Conversations

Cosmic Conversations with R.L. Thomas graduate and Asteroid Institute Executive Director Dr. Ed Lu with Ryan Wyatt, Senior Director of the Morrison Planetarium.

A Taste of History

Stay tuned! Chef Walter Staib and the crew of the PBS television program “A Taste of History” were recently filming at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The episode is expected to air in the spring of 2022 as part of the program’s 12th season.

Chef Staib demonstrates how food was prepared during the 18th century and has filmed episodes at a number of historical sites around the world.

Seasons 1-11 are available on the PBS website and are also available on Amazon Prime.