Dudley, Massachusetts

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Dudley, Massachusetts
War Monument by renowned sculptor John A. Wilson, Dudley, Massachusetts
War Monument by renowned sculptor John A. Wilson, Dudley, Massachusetts
Official seal of Dudley, Massachusetts
Motto: All was others: All will be others
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Coordinates: 42°02′42″N 71°55′50″W / 42.04500°N 71.93056°W / 42.04500; -71.93056Coordinates: 42°02′42″N 71°55′50″W / 42.04500°N 71.93056°W / 42.04500; -71.93056
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Settled 1714
Incorporated 1732
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Board of
Chairman, Jonathan Ruda, Steven Sullivan, Peter Fox, Paul Joseph, John Marsi
 • Total 22.1 sq mi (57.1 km2)
 • Land 21.1 sq mi (54.5 km2)
 • Water 1.0 sq mi (2.6 km2)
Elevation 670 ft (204 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 11,390
 • Density 520/sq mi (200/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01571
Area code(s) 508/774
FIPS code 25-17685
GNIS feature ID 0618361
Website www.dudleyma.gov

Dudley is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 11,390 at the 2010 census.


Dudley was first settled in 1714 and was officially incorporated in 1732. The town was named for landholders Paul and William Dudley.[1]

In April 1776, on his way to New York City from Boston after his victory in the Siege of Boston, General George Washington camped in the town of Dudley with the Continental Army along what is now a portion of Route 31 near the Connecticut border. During the trip, it is rumored that a "large cache" of captured and recovered British weaponry and supplies was ordered "concealed in the grounds" in the rural area along the route. The cache, hidden to resupply reinforcements from Massachusetts or to cover a retreat from the south, were never used or recorded as having been recovered.[2]

Union soldiers from Dudley, the 15th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, suffered heavy casualties inflicted by the Confederacy during the Battle of Gettysburg.[3] Dudley was the primary manufacturer of "Brogan boots" worn by the Union Army and produced the majority of the standard issue Union uniforms worn during the Civil War.[4]

Cemetery controversy[edit]

A proposal to create a Muslim cemetery by the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester on 55 acres (22 ha) of farmland elicited intense community opposition when discussed at a public hearing in February 2016.[5] The Islamic Society sought to establish a closer burial place than Enfield, Connecticut.[6] After a complicated process, with much back and forth between the Islamic Society and town officials, the necessary permit was issued over a year later.[7]

At the initial hearings, some residents made it clear that they did not want this cemetery in their town with concerns that included noise, traffic and well water contamination issues.[5] The comments of some of the small town's residents raised concerns of religious bigotry.[8] At the meeting, all the speakers in support of the Islamic Society were booed, and members of the public variously denounced the need to bury Muuslim dead locally compared to the deaths of American soliders fighting radical Islamic terrorist groups overseas, called the existing cemetery a "pigsty", and called the Society's attempt to build a cemetery a "crusade" (both offensive given Islam's consideration of pigs as ritually unclean, and the history of Christian Crusades conquering parts of the Middle East).[9] Though Muslim tradition is to bury without a coffin, in response to concerns about water quality the Islamic Society promised to use vaults.[9]

A series of test pits dug by the applicant, with the Dudley Board of Health Inspector present, showed that the average water table was 24" below the grade of the ground, with many spots having ground water only 18" from the surface.[1][2] The public hearing of the Zoning Board of Appeals reviewed the status of the land as an agricultural protected parcel protected under MGL Chapter 61A.[10] At a town meeting held on May 23, 2016, the town residents in an almost unanimous vote, authorized the Board of Selectman to exercise the Town's first right of refusal and proceed to purchase the agricultural piece of land. When the Zoning Board of Appeals met on June 2, 2016 they asked the Islamic Society of Worcester if they were presenting a revised 5 Acre cemetery plan which they had read about in the newspapers the week before.[11] The Islamic Society of Worcester stated there was no revised plan and they expected the Zoning Board of Appeals to vote on their original proposal for 12,000+ grave sites.[3] The Zoning Board of Appeals then scheduled a full vote for June 9, 2016, at which it denied the permit on the grounds the land was under Chapter 61A conservation protection and the town of Dudley thus had the right of first refusal to purchase the land. The board claimed that this meant the Islamic Society of Worcester lacked the proper legal standing to submit the cemetery plan until after the town's right of refusal had been extinguished. The Society complained that it could not complete the purchase of the land and gain the standing the board required of it until the zoning approval had been granted, because its purchase agreement was contingent upon that action, putting the Society in a Catch-22 situation.[8]

The denial prompted a federal investigation into potential religious discrimination,[12] and a warning letter from the Massachusetts Attorney General.[13] The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU filed a lawsuit in state land court, claiming the denial violated freedom of religion provisions in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the state Dover Amendment (which exempts certain religious organizations from zoning regulations).[14]It also claimed the Chapter 61A protection was not applicable to conversion to cemetery use.[9] The town argued that the Muslim cemetery, unlike Christian cemeteries, was not a religious land use due to differences between where Muslim and Christian burial rituals are held.

Both sides came to an agreement in December 2016 with the zoning board granting the permit for the cemetery on March 3, 2017. Burials will be restricted to 6 acres (2.4 ha) for the first 10-years.[15] The permit requires a buffer zones of vegetation between the burials and the neighboring property in accordance with the agreement.[7] After winning this approval (though not final Board of Health approval) and affirming its rights, the Islamic Society dropped its plans to build a cemetery in Dudley, and instead moved forward with plans to bury Muslim dead in a city-owned cemetery in Worcester, partly due to lower cost and parly because the city was more welcoming.[16]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.1 square miles (57 km2), of which 21.0 square miles (54 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), or 4.58%, is water. Dudley is bounded on the northeast by Oxford, on the north by Charlton, on the west by Southbridge, on the south by Woodstock and Thompson, Connecticut, and on the east by Webster, with which it traditionally had the closest cultural and political relations.


As of the census[27] of 2000, there were 10,036 people, 3,737 households, and 2,668 families residing in the town. The population density was 476.7 inhabitants per square mile (184.1/km2). There were 3,910 housing units at an average density of 185.7 per square mile (71.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.83% White, 0.23%African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.75% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.01% of the population.

There were 3,737 households out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.5% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.6% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the town, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $48,602, and the median income for a family was $59,309. Males had a median income of $40,337 versus $27,589 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,546. About 3.1% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.2% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.


County-level state agency heads
Clerk of Courts: Dennis P. McManus (D)
District Attorney: Joseph D. Early, Jr. (D)
Register of Deeds: Anthony J. Vigliotti (D)
Register of Probate: Stephanie K. Fattman (R)
County Sheriff: Lew Evangelidis (R)
State government
State Representative(s): Peter Durant (R)
State Senator(s): Ryan Fattman (R)
Governor's Councilor(s): Jen Caissie (R)
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s): Richard E. Neal (D-1st District)
U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (D), Ed Markey (D)


The public library in Dudley opened in 1897.[28][29] The library has changed location a few times since then, and in the early 21st century, a new building was constructed over the site of the former town hall, which had also been relocated. In fiscal year 2008, the town of Dudley spent 1.44% ($163,468) of its budget on its public library—some $14 per person.[30]


Dudley is the home of Nichols College, which maintains a campus on Dudley Hill, the historical center of the town. Public schools in Dudley include Mason Road School (grades Preschool-1), Dudley Elementary School (grades 2-4), Dudley Middle School (grades 5-8) and Shepherd Hill Regional High School (grades 9-12), the last of which also serves students from Charlton. All public schools in Dudley are part of the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District. Dudley is one of ten towns whose students have the option of attending Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School (grades 9-12).[31]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile for Dudley, Massachusetts". ePodunk. Retrieved 2006-05-18. 
  2. ^ "George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 3a Varick Transcript". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  3. ^ "Battle of Gettysburg". militaryhistoryonline.com. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  4. ^ "Stevens Linen". stevenslinen.com. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b Ring, Kim (February 13, 2016). "Local Muslims address opposition on Dudley cemetery bid". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, Massachusetts. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Boeri, David (February 5, 2016). "Proposal For Muslim Cemetery In Dudley Meets Opposition From Residents". WBUR. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  7. ^ a b MacQuarrie, Brian (March 3, 2017). "Plan for Muslim cemetery in Dudley clears last hurdle". Boston Globe. Retrieved 18 March 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "Dudley zoning board rejects Muslim cemetery application". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, Massachusetts. June 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  9. ^ a b c [https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/07/05/islamic-group-files-suit-accusing-dudley-illegally-blocking-muslim-cemetery-plans/9TpLhOUWs8S3z2QoGmHPbM/story.html Islamic group accuses Dudley of blocking Muslim cemetery]
  10. ^ "General Laws: CHAPTER 61A". malegislature.gov. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  11. ^ "Islamic Society agrees to smaller cemetery in Dudley". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, Massachusetts. May 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  12. ^ [https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/04/12/attorney-closes-investigation-religious-discrimination-dudley/nY1if7dvOcOBsoWxl7uHGP/story.html US Attorney closes religious discrimination investigation in Dudley]
  13. ^ Mass. Attorney General's Office Weighs In On Proposed Dudley Islamic Cemetery
  14. ^ ACLU, Boston law firm take up Muslim cemetery case
  15. ^ Boeri, David (March 3, 2017). "Islamic Society Wins Permit For Muslim Cemetery In Dudley After Protracted, Bitter Clash". WBUR. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  16. ^ After bitter fight for approval, Islamic Society abruptly drops plan for cemetery in town of Dudley
  17. ^ "Total Population (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010. 
  18. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  19. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  21. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  22. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  23. ^ "1890 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  24. ^ "1870 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  25. ^ "1860 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  26. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  27. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  28. ^ Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts. v.9 (1899)
  29. ^ Pearle L. Crawford Memorial Library Retrieved 2010-11-10
  30. ^ July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008; cf. The FY2008 Municipal Pie: What's Your Share? Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Board of Library Commissioners. Boston: 2009. Available: Municipal Pie Reports Archived 2012-01-23 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2010-08-04
  31. ^ "Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School - District Information". baypath.tec.ma.us. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 

External links[edit]