Hopedale History
    February 1, 2005
    No. 31
    April 1842

    Why did Rockwell acquire Drapers?  There’s a story that I’ve heard a good many times that says that
    they never intended to do anything with it except shut it down, for a tax write-off.  It seems likely that
    there was a lot more to it than that and a few days ago I ran across an article on the subject.  If this is a
    topic of interest to you, it would be worth your while to take a look at a paper written in 1990 by William
    Mass at UMass Lowell titled The Decline of a Technological Leader: Capability, Strategy and
    Shuttleless Weaving, 1945 – 1974.  The paper includes the following footnote:  Research related to
    this paper included 35 interviews with managers and technologists, many with lengthy tenure, at the
    Draper Corporation and Rockwell International.  Research for this paper was supported in part by a
    grant from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation. You can read it at  

    Another paper of interest by Mass is titled Developing and Utilizing Technological Leadership:
    Industrial Research, Vertical Integration, and Business Strategy at the Draper Company.  It’s at


    In Ballou’s History of the Hopedale Community, he goes back to his notes at the time and devotes a
    couple of pages to giving the reader an idea of the variety of things that were going on in the early
    months of the Community.  Here is some of that, including a visit by Frederick Douglass, having their
    heads examined, animal magnetism, preaching, buying a new wooden leg, and caring for the
    cranberries.  Next time I’ll send a real story: The Second Annual Hopedale History Valentine Story.

    “Friday, April 1st, was spent by the President in paying out money on contracts falling due: to Cyrus
    Ballou, $854.00 -- $300.00 complete payment on farm, which had been bought through him, and $554
    for hay, cattle, etc.; to Hiram Hunt and Co. for goods from store, to Millens Taft for yoke and oxen, etc.; in
    all over $1000.00.  We have some confusion and many inconveniences, all of which we endure like
    good soldiers for the sake of the great good we propose and hope to accomplish.  God blesses and
    sustains us, for which all praise and thanksgiving be rendered to his holy name.

    “Sunday, April 3rd.  Our first public meeting in the old house.  Wednesday, 6th.  A.B. married Amasa
    Parkhurst and Hannah P. Brown of Milford in the common parlor.  Thursday, 7th.  Annual Fast;
    Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave with us.  O, what a fast!  A Fast indeed!  Such a one as we never
    observed before.  All hearts were moved and melted.  P.M.  A.B. went to Mendon and married Micajah
    C. Gaskill and Hannah Taft at the residence of her father, Leonard Taft.  Sunday 10th.  A. Ballou
    preached at Bellingham to a large audience, and lectured at 5 P.M. in E. Mendon school-house.  
    Meeting at home, small but good.  Several brethren spoke to edification.

    “From 10th to 17th much business done and good progress made towards order and settlement of
    affairs.  Preparations were completed for erecting a building for school-room, printing office, etc., at the
    south-west extremity of Water St.  [Water Street, along the east bank of the Mill River, eventually
    disappeared as more and more shops were built in that area.] The frame is that of an old wood-shed to
    be vamped up.  E.C. Perham and Samuel Taft helped our workmen: Perham as carpenter for several
    days, Taft as stonelayer for one day.  Wednesday the 13th.  A.B. married a couple at H. Nelson’s,
    Milford, viz.: Daniel S. Chapin and Angeline P. Nelson.  Sunday, 17th.  Clother Gifford, a phrenologist,
    visits us.  Good meeting, A.M.  Ballou and D.S. Whitney principal speakers.  P.M.  A. Ballou went to
    Mendon to attend funeral of widow Nabby Aldrich.  Brief sermon in meeting-house.  Br. D.R. Lamson
    preached at Mendon A.M., and was at Hopedale P.M.  John Hawkins, the celebrated Washingtonian
    chief, lectured at 4 P.M. in Mendon, most of our Hopedalians being there.  He came fully up to the
    highest expectations; had a great audience and carried his hearers away like a flood, speaking two
    hours.  Br. Whitney went to Millville in the evening, partly to attend a meeting with the friends there but
    more especially to marry a couple on the morrow.

    “Monday, April 18th.  A severe northeast storm.  Not much outside business done today.  Bro. Gifford
    still here, and Phrenology and Animal Magnetism occupied most of our time and attention.  He
    examined nearly all our heads and tried to put Barbara Colburn into a magnetic sleep but failed.  19th.
    Still stormy.  C. Gifford goes to Milford town to prosecute the phrenological business.  Our good friend,
    David Stearns Godfrey, called and informed us of the triumphant success of Frederick Douglass last
    evening at his lecture in Milford Academy Hall.  Great excitement; the ‘baser sort’ active; people turned
    out numerously; but they were wonderfully overcome by his ingenuity and eloquence.  The tide (which
    was turbulent against him at first) turned strongly in his favor.  He lectured again this evening at Milford
    town-hall.  Eleven from Hopedale to hear him.  A glorious lecture to a full house.  20th. Discussed
    division of labor.  Colburn takes care of the cattle, Cook of the garden, Draper of the farming proper,
    Whitney of the orcharding, while the carpenters confine themselves to their distinctive calling.  A.B.
    lectured in the evening at the Orthodox Meetinghouse, Milford, on Temperance, several of our people
    being present.

    “Thursday, April 21.  Bright and lovely.  Business brisk.  P.M., raised the frame of the first new building
    at Hopedale.  Dr. Wm. P. Metcalf, who had dined with us, and friend Hiram A. Morse of Holliston were
    present.  A.B. subsequently went into town with the farm wagon and after doing business at Hunt & Co.’
    s store bought a logging axle and pole at Perley Hunt, Esq., at a cost of three dollars, to be hereafter
    paid.  All hands busy at their proper work except the little time spent in the aforesaid raising.  Lamson
    has gone to Providence, R.I., to procure for himself a new wooden leg (he having lost one of his lower

    Friday, 22nd.  Br. Draper was obliged to go to Blacksone on business in the morning.  In the
    afternoon he and A.B. perambulated the farm, inspected the fences and pastures, and let off the
    cranberry swamp pond.  Saturday, 23rd.  Got home six bushels of potatoes from Eli Chapin’s; paid
    $2.00.  Br. Whitney off to Mendon in quest of materials for grafting purposes.  Henry Chapin called to
    show us where we may cut birches on his land for pea-brush.  President out with him noting the
    clumps and agreeing upon an estimated cord, for which we are to pay $2.00.” Adin Ballou, The History
    of the Hopedale Community, pp. 77 – 79.

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