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The Town of Spencer is located in central Worcester County, twenty minutes west of Worcester and about forty five minutes from Springfield. Largely residential, Spencer has been a supplier of workers in all categories for nearly every industry in the greater Worcester area. Ease of travel to all sections of the county makes Spencer a desirable area in which to live. Route 31 gives access to Holden, Fitchburg, Leominster in the north; Charlton, Oxford and Southbridge in the south. Route 49 gives easy access to Sturbridge, Brimfield, Southbridge, the Mass Turnpike and Interstate 86 to Connecticut. Route 9 leads westerly through the Brookfields and Ware to the Amherst Campus of the University of Massachusetts and easterly to Worcester, Shrewsbury, Northborough, and Westborough. In addition to its own small commercial airfield on Paxton Road, Spencer is less than twenty minutes from Worcester airport and the industrial complex located next to it. Spencer is also home for several large dairy farms, indicating that the town's fertile soil is not only suited for residential use. Several major lakes and ponds are also located in the town, including Stiles Reservoir, Thompson Pond, Lake Whittemore, Cranberry Meadow, Sugden Reservoir and Brooks Pond, providing recreational boating, swimming and fishing for the public. Settled in 1717 by Nathaniel Wood, Spencer was incorporated as a town in 1753. It has been established as a district from a part of Leicester. Its name was assigned by Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phipps who had signed the order establishing the district. In 1784, Spencer was a major stopping place on the Old Boston Post Road's stage route between Boston and Hartford, and on to New York. Spencer's first mill was built in 1740 on Seven Mile River, the greatest source of water power in the town. In 1811, Josiah Green began making shoes, and in 1834 he built a factory. The Prouty family began to make shoes in 1820, and built their factory in 1855. In 1812, Elliot Prouty had begun to "draw" wire in a mill he had built. His business flourished in his family until 1916, when it merged with Wickwire Steel Company. At one time there were 11 factories and 26 buildings for wire drawing. The Howe family of Spencer did much to make the town famous in the annals of ingenious Americans. William Howe of Spencer developed a wooden truss bridge named for him, and his brother Tyler Howe, patented a spring bed. Their nephew, Elias Howe, Jr., may well have eclipsed them when he invented the lockstitch sewing machine.
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