Hopedale History
    July 1, 2012
    No. 207
    Astonishing Changes

    Hopedale in June

    Those of you who attended Hopedale High School in the days when the Draper Library was open to
    students every day may remember the bust of Dante, and the question freshmen were prompted to
    ask Miss Day. Here’s your chance to see Dante again.

    "Birdseye view" - Draper plant and surrounding area - 1916   

    Friends of Upton State Forest newsletter.   

    Mendon directory, 1898.   

    Additions have been made to the page of mid-twentieth century Hopedale police photos ,    
    Memories of Bob Holmes  , and to the Bright Oak Club and Italian Club.  


    Twenty-five years ago – July 1987 – John Bacon, Richard Martin and Roland Morin, Sr. take out
    papers to run for the unexpired selectman’s term of Edward Scott.

    School Building Committee Organizes – Al Sparling, chairman, John DiPietropolo, vice chairman,
    Mike Milanoski, treasurer.

    Sale of Iandoli Chain to Shaw’s Expected in October

    Fifty years ago – July 1962 – Low Bid for Hope Street Bridge Exceeds Appropriation

    Ted Kennedy Lands Plane at Hopedale Airport

    Algeria Gains Independence after 132 Years of French Rule

    US Explodes Rocket-bourne Nuclear Device in Pacific

    Telstar Satellite Sent into Obit – New Era of Global Radio and TV around the World Predicted.


                                                                Astonishing Changes

    In whatever direction we look we are reminded of astonishing changes and growths. There is the
    thriving little village of Hopedale, not yet thirty-five years of age. Its fine waterfall, first utilized
    by a colony of beavers centuries ago, and later by the sawmill of the oldest Jones, had long run to
    waste when, in 1842, a human community, with beaver-like co-operation and industry, commenced
    the improvements which now command the admiration of beholders. That old farming district, with
    its four or five landholders and rural dwellings, was a respectable one from the beginning, yea, a
    historic one!

    Thither came the stalwart and pious Elder Jones, closely followed by the enterprising Capt. Seth
    Chapin, about the year 1700, and hewed them out goodly homes in the wilderness. There dwelt their
    posterity, and the intermarrying Thwings and Nelsons, people of renown in our early chronicles. Give
    due credit to the beavers, if you please, who instinctively built the original dam and in it their
    phalanstery; for they bequeathed a nice meadow to Elder Jones, who thence derived for his hungry
    cattle their first hay, — probably not the poor bog-grass of these days; rather the nutritious blue-joint
    of aboriginal times. But however you antedate the more conspicuous recent improvements, a
    remarkable progress distinguishes that section of our town. More striking indeed is it here in the
    Centre. Hither came Benjamin Godfrey, trader, and Pearler Hunt, and John Claflin, jun., also traders.
    Between 1790 and 1800 they began their career with penny-like capital, but made their mark and
    flourished. They rendered Milford, even then, a popular mart for a considerable surrounding region.
    Nowhere out of Boston and Providence could such a variety of articles be bought and sold, whether
    heavy agricultural produce, groceries, or curious knick-knacks and notions. As we saunter up and
    down these sidewalks, glancing into elegant stores, kept in stately structures, we wonder how the
    Milfordians of former generations could be proud of two or three cluttered trading shops, and the
    comparatively rustic enterprise of their proprietors. But, realty, it was more to them than the grander
    present is to us: they enjoyed it with a keener relish. Nevertheless, the upward march has been

    We gaze at half a score of commodious boot manufactories, and can hardly realize, what the oldest
    of us well remember, that little more than a half-century ago the founders of this great manufacture
    here carried on their business in petty one-story cribs, twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions, or in
    contracted apartments of ordinary dwelling-houses ; and it amazes us to be told that such men as
    Arial Bragg, Rufus Chapin, Lee Claflin, and others, commenced their career by peddling, even partly
    on foot, their shoes and boots in single pairs and half-dozens. But such were the facts; and those
    men were thought "mighty smart," in comparison with the mere primitive cordwainers, who, like the
    tailors, carried their "kits" once or twice a year from house to house, far and wide.

    "Well, we look up at the telegraph-poles, and lo! their wires offer to dart our messages, for a few
    dimes, with lightning celerity, to far distant cities. No ancestral dreamer ever conjured up such a
    prodigy. The coal of the Alleghenies, glowing in our stoves all through the wintry months, politely
    asks us to think of the huge stone chimneys, yawning fireplaces, monstrous backlogs, and blazing
    wood-piles of our great-grandparents. And what says the brilliant gas that illuminates our houses
    and streets? It discourses eloquently to the more elderly of us concerning pine-knots, lard saucer-
    lamps with rag wicks, tallow candles, and their more respectable whale-oil successors. At the same
    time our dulcet instruments of music bid us not forget the hum of the old superseded spinning-
    wheels. Adin Ballou, History of Milford, p. 439.

    Ballou’s History of Milford was published in 1882, but the first sentence indicates that this piece must
    have been written in or shortly before 1876. If it seemed to you that this came to a rather abrupt end,
    that’s because I like to keep under 1,000 words if possible, and this one didn’t have a good stopping
    point. If you’d like to read more of it, here’s a link to an online version of History of Milford. Also, the
    book can be seen at both the Hopedale and Milford libraries.  

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Photo by Terry Studer