Autumn, for Bonnie and I, is a time to reminisce about pleasant memories of times past, when we were much younger and the world was new and exciting. As I have been rummaging through the chest of Penfield’s beginnings, so has Bonnie been doing in regard to Webster, and she wished to include here a tale of the early years of what we think of as our first home town. The story is taken from a book entitled Webster ... Through the Years, written by the town historian Esther A. Dunn in 1971.
"Old scrapbooks and diaries give a real insight into the lives of people and events of the time. Many interesting items were found in Lorin Hendee’s scrapbook which were taken from a local paper between 1879 and 1881.
"The cases of trichinosis in West Webster attracted considerable attention. In 1879 Mrs. Haines of Webster and her sister Mrs. Heslor took tea at the home of Mrs. Langdon, the wife of Esquire Langdon. Among the other viands partaken of by the quiet little party was some fine raw ham. It was eaten by all who were present, including Mrs. Langdon, Mrs. Heslor, Miss Dellie Langdon, daughter of Mrs. Langdon, and a fourteen year old son of Mrs. Langdon, named Henry.
"Some two weeks after the party they were all taken ill; violent pains were felt in all parts of their bodies, particularly their muscles. Dr. Dunning of Webster, to whom the cases were intrusted, decided that nothing but the dreadful trichinae could produce these symptoms.
"Mrs. Haines died first. Dr. Dunning sent a piece of muscle of the deceased to Dr. Porter Farley in Rochester for examination. The report proved the doctor’s diagnosis to be true.
"The only person to survive was the son Henry who had been very low and out of his head for a long time. The father Esquire Langdon escaped only by reason of his absence on the day of the fatal meal.
"The article concluded with a stern warning for everyone to be careful not to eat raw ham, sausage, or pork of any kind."
A caution that we might all profit from, even in these latter days. One can only imagine the consternation of Esquire Langdon and, indeed, any other family members upon learning of the diagnosis.