September 15, 2005
Hester Chilson celebrated her 100th birthday on September 17. About fifteen visitors dropped in during
the day, including a nephew from North Carolina and many relatives from the Cape. She’s still living at
her home on Freedom Street where she’s been since 1920. She seems to be doing quite well and is
a great source of stories about Hopedale years ago.
There’s an interesting Hopedale item for sale on ebay right now. It’s a card with a picture of a young
boy and girl, and the following wording: “The two orphans of EMILIO BACCHIOCCI who was
assassinated May 14, 1913 in Hopedale strike to satisfy the greed of the Draper Co.” The high bid right
now is $72. Bacchiocci was shot and killed during the 1913 Draper strike. Click here for more on
Bacchocci and the strike.
I recently added an article to the website that I put together over the last couple of months.. It’s called
Inventors of Hopedale. Click here to go to the page.
With the addition of three more chapters, all of Hopedale Reminiscences is now on the website.
Here's a link to the menu for them.
Within a couple of hours of sending out the last story, I heard that Virginia Cyr had died. Virginia was
the Hopedale reporter for the Milford News for thirty-three years. There’s a nice tribute to her on the
Park Department website. It’s at: www.hopedalema.gov/Public_Documents/HopedaleMA_Parks/kudos
And another by her son, Mike. www.hope1842.com/cyrvirginia
Mike came by a few weeks ago and donated a box of Virginia’s “Hopedale collection” of books, articles
and pictures to us for the Red Shop Museum. It’s a wonderful addition and I’ve made a start in copying
and filing the articles. Some of it looks like good material for future email stories.
Charles Roper was one of quite a few inventors who the Draper Company brought to Hopedale to help
keep the business in the lead in the industry. Eventually, he left Draper and started a business of his
own. It was a brass foundry, located on Northrop Street, right next to the park. I can remember when I
was a kid, as I’d walk down the hill to the Park Street School, I’d often notice the cement slab where the
foundry had been. The building can be seen in many of the old photos of field days, and there’s a
picture of it in Images of America: Hopedale. My father was interested in buying the land, but was told
that one of the company employees was buying it. That turned out to be Nick Narducci. A house was
built and Nick, his wife, Adelia, and son, Bobby, lived there for many years.
If you went behind the shop and walked a couple of hundred yards toward Freedom Street, you’d come
to the Roper house. It’s the big place that sits behind the high stone wall, on your left as you go up
Freedom Street past the park. Some of you would remember it being the home of John and Eleanor
Hutchinson. Rick and Susan Thomson live there now.
And now, for a little about Roper, here’s his Milford News obituary.
Charles Francis Roper, Master Inventor,
Dies At His Hopedale Home
Hopedale, Nov. 14 (1916) – Charles F. Roper died this morning at 10:30 o’clock at his residence, 50
Freedom Street, from hardening of the arteries.
To the inventive genius of Mr. Roper is due more than 100 different types of machines which turn out
the Draper Co. product daily, chief among these being the automatic screw machines that placed their
designer in the front rank of inventors throughout the country.
Mr. Roper had suffered from the disease which finally claimed his life for the past few years, but he
had been active in business as the head of the C.F. Roper Co. up to a very short time ago.
Charles Francis Roper was born in Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 10, 1847. He was the son of Mr. and
Mrs. Sylvester Roper of that city.
His education was received in the schools of his native city, and he lived there until about 30 years
ago, when he came to Hopedale and entered the employ of the Draper Co., in whose service he
remained up to 10 years ago. In the meantime he has risen to prominence as an inventor of automatic
appliances of so varied a nature that he had been placed in charge of the company’s experimental
department, and was closely associated with the then head of the great plant, the late Gen. W.F.
It was the discontinuance of the experimental department which led to Mr. Roper severing his
connection with the Draper Co., and the later establishment of the C.F. Roper Co., for which he built a
factory which is in operation now turning out the later inventions of its projector.
Many of the Roper machines are triumphs of simplicity that rank him as a genius in the designing of
such devices. He invented the Roper propeller for motor boats, a very ingenious and practical
appliance, besides numerous other attachments of automobiles, etc.
Mr. Roper was a member of no organizations, preferring his own home above all other attractions. Mrs.
Roper died several years ago.
Mr. Roper was interested in the town of Hopedale, which was his home for so long. He was active in
matters for civic betterment, and was a member of the park commission.
Two sons, Walter F. and Arthur Roper survive him, and one daughter, Mrs. Hamilton S. Conant, lives in
Roxbury. There are several grandchildren.
Funeral services are not complete as yet. Milford Daily News
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