Hopedale 1888

    Mendon maps - 1857, 1870 and 1898   

    Here’s a site with some interesting (and scary) statistics.  


                                          Hopedale Town Report - 1886

    Hopedale became a town in April 1886 and the first town report was issued as of January 1, 1887. It
    began with a two-page article by town clerk, Frank Dewing about the separation from Milford. It also
    includes the Act of Incorporation, the town warrant (two articles), a list of town officers and the town bi-
    laws. The first selectmen, Joseph Bancroft, Lewis Gaskill, and Alonzo Cook, acted also as the
    Overseers of the Poor, Board of Health, and Highway Surveyors. Among other offices, there were Field
    Drivers and Fence Viewers.

    The bi-laws included much on duties of officers, town meeting procedures, financial matters, taxes,
    etc, and an article titled Concerning Truants. It stated that “…children between the ages of seven and
    fifteen years, residing in the town, who may be found wandering about in the streets or public places
    of the town, having no lawful occupation or business, not attending school and growing up in
    ignorance, shall be committed to the ‘Lowell Institution for the reception, instruction, employment and
    reformation of Juvenile Offenders,’ for confinement, instruction and discipline.”

    Among the fourteen sections of the Streets and Highways article is one that says, “No person shall
    throw stones or other missiles; nor play at base ball or football, nor fly any kites, in any of the streets in
    the town.”

    Another article states that, “No person shall pasture any cattle or other animals upon any street in the
    town, except within the limits of said street adjoining his own premises.”

    A third says, “Three or more persons shall not stand in a group, or near each other on any sidewalk or
    street in such a manner as to obstruct or impede free passage, after having been requested by any
    constable to move on.” Evidently this was an anti-picketing regulation.

    Article VII had just one section, and it was concerned with “skinny dipping.” “No person in a state of
    nudity shall bathe in any of the waters of the town between the hours of sunrise and sunset, in places
    exposed to public view or in the vicinity of any dwelling-house.” Hardly as restrictive as I would have

    Two pages were devoted to bi-laws rejected by the court. They were printed, along with suggestions
    by the court, in italics, as suggestions of what would be acceptable. They include, “No person shall
    ride or drive any horse or other animal on any street at an unreasonable speed (exceeding eight miles
    per hour) so as to inconvenience any person lawfully using such street.” One that was turned down
    without change suggested was, “No person shall use, explode, fire off or discharge in any street in the
    town, any toy pistol or toy cannon or any other such article in which explosive compounds are used, or
    of which said compounds form a part.”

    The selectmen’s report on the highway department mentioned the need to spend $138 to repair the
    bridge where the Mill River goes under what is now Mendon Street/Route 16. Another paragraph
    states, “A large amount of stone has been taken from the ledge on Adin Street, and put where it will be
    convenient to crush when you macadamize that street. It was thought best while we had the steam
    drill at work, to remove the ledge so that no more blasting would be required on that part of the street.”
    Among the expenditures for highways that year were $16 to the Milford Granite Company for use of
    derrick and stone, Main Street bridge, $75.71 to Milford Water Company, blasting rock, powder, etc.,
    and $800 to J.H. Seaver, extension of Dutcher Street. In all, $3,564.14 was spent on roads and

    $195.00 was paid to the Milford Gas Light Company for gas for street lights.

    The Overseers of the Poor reported that they had “…not been called upon to assist any person
    belonging to the town. You have looked after all such by your private contributions. Let us continue the
    same.” For “Persons aided belonging to other towns,” they spent $68.81 on a man from Uxbridge and
    $39.05 for one from Warren.

    The field drivers reported taking up and impounding cattle belonging to seven people.

    The Board of Engineers of the Fire Department had property valued at $1980, including the hose
    house on Hopedale Street, one hose carriage and equipment, 900 feet of hose, four ladders and 36
    fire pails. There were eleven hydrants in town. They recommended the purchase of a hook & ladder
    truck, and the expansion of the hose house to make room for it. “We have our Hose Carriage arranged
    for horse, so that part of the men could be used to work the truck; so would not think best to increase
    the number of members.”

    In later years, the town clerk’s reports listed names for all births, marriages and deaths. No names
    were given in the early years. For the first report, twenty marriages were recorded. Twenty-nine of the
    parties were born in Massachusetts, with others being from New Hampshire, Vermont, Nova Scotia,
    Spain, Wales, Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, and Ireland. The oldest was 62 and the youngest,
    17. Fourteen births and ten deaths were recorded. Of the deaths, the youngest was three days and the
    oldest was 89 years.

    School expenses amounted to $4, 564.12. Ninety cents was unexpended. Some of the funds went to
    outhouse repair and well digging.

    For its first year, the library had receipts of $465.03 and expenditures of $424.14. There was a
    separate book account which had donations from the three Draper brothers totaling $1400.

    The volume ends with the assessors’ report which is over thirty pages and includes the valuation on
    houses, land, furniture, sprout land, woodland, tillage land, horses, cows, swine, carriages, barns,
    stock in trade, foreign stocks, money at interest, Concord buggy, hay scales, tannery building, spindle
    shop and wheel, various other shops, peat meadow, woodsheds, coal sheds, smoke house, ice
    house, grist mill, hoop shop, mill privilege, boarding house, and blacksmith shop.

    Even with all these items that were being taxed, the great majority didn’t own enough to pay any more
    than the two-dollar poll tax.

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