June 1, 2013
Utopia to Company Town
Hopedale in May I’d like to tie in the “month pages” with Hopedale history, so on the May page I have
quotes from about a century ago below three pictures they relate to. The neighboring towns photos for
May are of historic markers along Main Street, Milford
Before there was Beebe River, there was Draperville. Thanks to Wendy Sullivan for this interesting
Hannah Thwing (Draper) Osgood.
John Cembruch sent me a bit more about it, including that his brother was there when the accident
occurred, and ran to the only house in the neighborhood that had a phone. John drew a map of the
area which also shows where the first Draper Field was.
During the past two weeks, I’ve made additions to pages on Donald Midgley Skeet Shooting, and
Nipmuc Rod & Gun Club Beebe River James Northrop Boarding Houses Comments on
hope1842 General Draper Library Fanny Osgood Adin Ballou Park Old Dam and Pond West
of the Dump Quinsigamond River Now and Then – Roper Shop, 25 Northrop Street Dump
capping project ( I suppose that’s the old-fashioned term. I should say landfill capping project.)
Twenty-five years ago – June 1988 – NASA scientist James Hansen testifies to the Senate that man-
made global warming had begun.
Mei’s diner in the Town Hall may have to close, as town officials consider converting the space into
A Milliville man claims that Police Chief Edward Allard used excessive force after he was stopped for
an alleged traffic violation in Mendon. (Allard was assisting Mendon police.)
Elementary school principal, Roger Morrell, teacher Hazel Vignone, cafeteria staff member Hilda
Hammond, and custodian Francis Coffey honored at their retirement by the Hopedale Teacher’s
Fifty years ago – June 1963 – Pope John Paul XXXIII dies.
Alabama Governor George C. Wallace stood in the door of the University of Alabama to protest
against integration, and blocked James Hood and Vivian Malone from enrolling as the first African
American students at the University.
Medgar Evers, a 37-year old African-American civil rights activist, was shot and killed while standing
in his driveway in Jackson, Mississippi.
President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in front of the Berlin
Wall in West Berlin.
Hopedale High School baseball team wins 13th consecutive game. Dave DiGirolamo pitches 6-0 win
over Millis. (June 4) Hopedale beats Norton 8-7 with Jim Stock pitching to retain Tri-County League
title. (June 7)
Special Town Meeting votes for permanent paving of Hope Street Bridge. $82,000 project to be
financed with ten-year bond.
In 1991, Anita Cardillo Danker wrote a paper that covered a century and a half of Hopedale history.
Below, you’ll see the final few paragraphs. Click here if you’d like to read the entire paper.
Utopia to Company Town
After the turn of the century as the work force of the Draper Company increased in number and
changed in composition from Yankee to immigrant, industrial relations soured. Eben Daper, son of
George and younger brother of William, served as governor of Massachusetts from 1909 to 1911 and
twice vetoed an eight-hour day bill for state employees. His veto messages, as recorded in the Acts
and Resolves of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, clearly reveal his bias in favor of owner over
operative. Accurately perceived as anti-labor, he was a presiding officer of the company in 1913 when
a local socialist, Joseph Coldwell, and members of the IWW organized disenchanted immigrant
workers and orchestrated a bitter, violent, and unsuccessful strike against the Draper Company.
Extensive coverage of this tragic slice of labor history can be found on the pages of the Milford Daily
News (March-November, 1913) and ultimately ended with the triumph of capitalist over laborer. Yet
even as the strike raged, the Drapers launched plans for new housing projects and ironically
awarded contracts to an area construction firm which had hired many of the strikers who had lost
their places. Company directors were undoubtedly well aware of what they were doing – taking care
of the locals as they had always done, and as always they did so on their own terms.
In the years that followed this strike, the company flourished, and the family buried the memories of
the event so deeply that the story has been neglected by history and nearly forgotten by the local
residents. During the world wars, the Draper Corporation manufactured equipment that wove the
cloth that outfitted the men in uniform and d=fashioned the machine tools that turned out the
instruments of death. Thus the community founded on the principles of pacifism grew rich on the
materials of war.
Hopedale today is an attractive, unusually quiet community of less than five thousand residents.
Draper has gone, selling out to North American Rockwell in 1967, not long after the work force finally
unionized. Rockwell lasted little more than a decade, but the town has survived with many
newcomers finding employment in the high tech boom industries of the 1980s. A glance at the
names of elected and appointed town officials reveals a healthy ethnic mix with the nationalities so
active in the 1913 strike well represented. Area residents seem to know little of the chaotic bitter days
when their ancestors took on the Drapers and were brought down so ruthlessly by the barons of the
realm. Their losses were transitory, for ultimately they achieved the security, respect, and community
they sought so desperately in 1913 when Hopedale was a company town.
The once mighty Draper mill, “world’s largest manufacturer of automatic looms,” is nearly empty now,
a huge brick fortress that sprawls uncomfortably across the heart of the downtown area with the
statue of Adin Ballou erected by William Draper poised majestically across the street. Two integral
pieces of Hopedale’s unique history face each other in quiet testimony to the busy, colorful eras past
when the likes of abolitionists Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison, and labor leaders Carlo
Tresca and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn passed through the town to touch bases with the powerful forces
of reform that found expression there. A handful of residents of the area today, when asked what
future they would wish for the abandoned Draper complex, proposed such projects as affordable
housing, a community college campus, and a mall of small shops and businesses. Adin Ballou
might be pleased to learn that the wisps of his utopian spirit can still be spotted on the streets of the
resilient community he founded in faith nearly a century and a half ago. Anita Cardillo Danker,
Framingham, Massachusetts, 1991.
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