Hopedale History
    May 15, 2013
    No. 228
    Hopedale and its Founder

    Blackstone River – Rolling Mill dam (Blackstone) to the triad bridges (Millville).

    Celebrity roast to benefit Employment Options.  Join Roasters Glenn Ordway, Red Sox Hall of Famer
    Bill “The Spaceman” Lee, Actor John Fiore of the Sopranos, Meet the Parents and Law & Order,
    Comedian Dave Russo and Comedian Graig Murphy.

    During the past two weeks I’ve made additions to the following pages: the Draper-Kentucky
    Connection     John Stanas     Caboose Houses of Hopedale     Frank Dutcher     Fanny Osgood     The
    “Other Drapers”     Town Hall    Recent deaths     Henry Patrick’s Store     South Hopedale Cemetery    


                                                Hopedale and its Founder

    Fifty years ago, the valley of Mill River, now occupied by the thrifty manufacturing town of Hopedale,
    contained but a single time-worn dwelling. For the time and place it was something of a mansion. It
    was of the usual two-story type, large and rambling, and bearing very little in the way of ornamentation.
    Aside from its great stone chimney, containing three thousand three hundred cubic feet, and its five
    ample fireplaces – one of which would receive fuel six feet in length - there as but one thing about it to
    interest the traveler who happened along that way. The “Old House” was rich in local history. It was, at
    that time, about one hundred and forty years old, for it was built in 1700-4, after the close of King Philip’
    s War, when the ancient town of Mendon was laid in ashes. Where now are beautiful stone and brick
    buildings, extensive warehouses, street railways, concrete walks, gas and water mains, and electric
    lights, there existed then only the virgin forest through which ran long-used Indian trails, to mark the
    presence of human beings.

    In that almost unbroken wilderness fate, or fortune, decreed that Elder John Jones should make a
    beginning towards civilization. He was an enterprising, pious young man – as we are glad to regard
    all those sturdy pioneers of the eighteenth century in New England. At daybreak John Jones might
    have been seen, with axe and dinner pail in one hand and old flint-lock in the other, briskly making his
    way from his lodgings in Mendon, through the forest, to the spot which he had selected whereon to lay
    the foundation of his future home. There his strong arm felled the great trees which, had they eyes to
    see and ears to hear, might have had much to tell us of what had happened in their presence since,
    and long before, the landing of the Pilgrims down at Plymouth. Young John Jones possessed the
    sinew which subdues wilderness as well as kingdoms, and the heart whose hot currents find their
    way into a dozen generations. At noon he would spread his frugal dinner, consisting of Indian
    bannock and a bottle of milk, upon some clean stump or rock and kneel before it in humble
    thanksgiving, while his two faithful dogs kept ears and eyes alert to detect the approach of wild beast
    or unfriendly red man. In a short time his strong arms constructed a rude barrack of logs, within which
    at night and during the sudden tempest he found shelter and safety. More than a hundred years after,
    the charred remains of this old barrack were dug up near the “Old House.”

    It was not long before the ground was cleared, boards and timbers were brought from the mill four
    miles away, whence the logs had been hauled, and the foundation of that mansion was begun which
    was to be the refuge of five or six generations. To that abode, John Jones took his young wife, and
    when Providence so decreed, the twain were blessed with a goodly family of sons and daughters.
    Under the hand of his son Joseph, the house received much improvement. In all the territory now
    occupied by the towns of Milford and Hopedale, this was the only dwelling and for many years its
    doors opened hospitably to the touch of the wayfarer; while in its spacious parlors and before its huge
    fireplaces transpired all the great events of human history – births, marriages, deaths, feasts, fasts,
    and prayers. Here religious meetings were often held, for God always manifested himself in the valley
    of Mill River. Ministers and deacons from neighboring towns always found here a welcome. In the
    course of time, for some reason or other, a considerable portion of the First Church of Mendon
    became alienated – as church members sometimes do – and seriously considered the
    establishment of a Second Church. Those who thus felt divinely called to worship God on their own
    account, now resided mostly east of Neck Hill, in that part of Mendon which was afterwards set off as
    Milford. It was in the “Old House,” in 1741, that the council was convened which inaugurated the
    Second Church of Milford. Elder John Jones was the leader of this movement. Pastors and elders
    came from Hopkinton and Holliston, and the house was thronged with guests. It was a season of
    fasting and prayer and general solemnity, made all the more impressive by a sense of Protestant
    independence which encouraged them to dissolve their connection with the old church in Mendon
    town. The sermon was “laborious” and filled with the unction of mysterious theological technicalities,
    known only to the ministers and their Maker. The desired result was secured, viz., a stringent
    covenant, the election of ruling elders and deacons and a scribe, and all the other means of Christian
    fellowship and the grace of God. Hopedale and its Founder, Rev. Lewis G. Wilson, New England
    Magazine, 1909, pp. 197 – 199. (Click here to read the entire article.)

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