Hopedale History
    December 1, 2014
    No. 265
    The Community

    Hopedale in November (Lots of additions since I sent the link on Facebook a few days ago.)

    Demolition of former Coal & Ice buildings   

    Hopedale High Class of 1944 50-year reunion   

    Hopedale map, 1851   

    Jonas Northrop   

    Nipmuc Rod & Gun Club   

    Recent hope1842.com additions include: The Northrop Loom (poster - 50th anniversary of the loom)     The
    Draper Family Feud (Brothers excluded from General Draper's funeral.)    The Little Red Schoolhouse
    (Class photos with names from the 1940s.)     Eben S. Draper, jr. (Draper named president of Milford
    National Bank.)     Gannett Family (Dorothy Draper Gannett married to Paul M. Hamlen.)     Gov. Eben S.
    Draper (obituary, will)    Polar Express (Pictures of the train leaving on November 28.)     Deaths    


    Twenty-five years ago - December 1989 - France TGV train reaches world record speed of 482.4 kph.

    In a meeting off the coast of Malta, U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
    release statements indicating that the Cold War between their nations may be coming to an end.

    Fifty years ago - December 1964 - Vietnam War: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his top-ranking
    advisers meet to discuss plans to bomb North Vietnam (after some debate, they agree on a 2-phase
    bombing plan).

    Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiers.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

    The James Bond film Goldfinger begins its run in U.S. theaters. It becomes one of the most successful and
    popular Bond films ever made.

    Comedian Lenny Bruce is sentenced to 4 months in prison, concluding a 6-month obscenity trial.

    Hopedale news clippings from 25 and 50 years ago can be seen below this text box.


                                                        The Hopedale Community

                                                                    National Register Nomination

    It's valley location, removed from neighboring villages, was a factor in the first large-scale settlement of
    Hopedale, originally known as "the Dale." In 1841, seven or eight families joined their spiritual leader, the
    Restorationist Universalist clergyman and social reformer Adin Ballou (1803-1890) of Mendon, in the
    purchase of the 250-acre Jones Farm at the center of present Hopedale. There they established, in 1842,
    the Hopedale Community, a utopian, Christian socialist settlement. Its members were active in the reform
    movements of temperance, women's rights, and the abolition of slavery.

    Other utopian communities formed about this time in eastern and central Massachusetts include Brook
    Farm (1841) in West Roxbury, now Boston, and Fruitlands (1843) in Harvard.  George Ripley, a Unitarian
    minister, established Brook Farm as a cooperative system dependent upon agriculture. Though Brook
    Farm was mainly an outgrowth of Unitarianism, most of the membership, which included a number of
    intellectuals, had left that church and were advocates of the literary and philosophical movement known as
    transcendentalism. In Harvard, Bronson Alcott founded the transcendentalist community known as
    Fruitlands, where residents attempted briefly to live in a "consocial" system. Also in Harvard was a Shaker
    community that supported three large families.

    The centerpiece of the utopian settlement in Hopedale was the "Old House," formerly the Jones farmhouse
    (ca. 1731, demolished 1874) in the vicinity of the present Hopedale Street. In the early years the building
    housed most of the Community's residents, each family taking one room. The large attic was divided into
    two rooms, one occupied by the older girls of various families, and the other by the older boys. The
    communal dining room was often filled to its capacity of fifty people. By 1851, the population included about
    thirty-four families, and totaled 175 persons. Under Ballou's leadership, the Community expanded to
    include a population of about 300 people, with mills, shops, farms, a cemetery, and about fifty houses over
    approximately 600 acres of land, including a water power privilege on the Mill River. Up to 1856, all families
    in Hopedale, or at least one of the heads, belonged to the Community.

    Chief among the Community's small manufacturing shops was the textile machinery factory of Ebenezer
    Draper (1813-1887) and his brother, George Draper (1817-1887). Ebenezer Draper joined the Hopedale
    Community in 1842. George Draper arrived in 1853 and became co-partner in the business, then known as
    E.D. and George Draper Company. The Draper brothers initially manufactured a revolving temple, a device
    for looms that keeps cloth stretched an even width during weaving, and other textile machinery as their
    product line was expanded.

    The paragraphs above were written in 2001 by preservation consultant Kathleen Kelly Broomer as part
    of the Hopedale Village Historic District National Register Nomination. She was hired to do that by the
    Hopedale Historical Commission for the purpose of establishing the Hopedale Historic District. Her
    description of the Community was followed by two paragraphs about its business organization and its
    demise. Since Lynn Hughes is really the authority on that subject, I asked her for her views on the topic.
    Here's what she wrote.

    There were two major components of the Community's economic arrangements: the ownership of property
    and the compensation of workers. The form of property ownership - joint-stock proprietorship - was stable
    from the earliest beginnings until the "fatal crisis" of 1856. The method of compensation, however, was
    adjusted several times - in 1842, 1844, 1847, and 1851 - without ever achieving a system that was
    completely satisfactory.

    Under the joint-stock system of ownership, owner/investors bought shares of stock for $50 per share. Stock
    ownership was completely separate from membership or residency in the community. Some members
    owned a lot of stock, some owned little, some owned none. Some investors were Community residents,
    others were not. Decision-making rested with Community members, not with stockholders. Investors were
    supposed to receive dividends of up to 4% out of the Community's profits; as it turned out, however, most
    years there were no profits and hence no dividends.

    The Community struggled to find a method of compensation that would be fair to everyone. At first, everyone
    was paid the same amount - 6 cents per hour for adults, with smaller amounts for children depending on
    their age. All adults were expected for work 48 hours per week. This method seemed simple but in practice
    it was not. The first crisis had to do with nursing mothers - did the time they spent caring for their babies
    count toward the 48 hours or not? It did not take long for people to become dissatisfied with equal pay for
    all, because it was clear that people did not work equally hard. As an alternative they tried a complicated
    system for organizing workers into "bands" and "sections" with detailed records of each person's
    contributions. This too was unsatisfactory, because of the amount of record-keeping involved and because
    it encouraged people to judge and criticize each other's work.

    Next they tried allowing members to own and run private businesses within the Community. This was felt to
    go too far in the direction of private enterprise and inequality, so more of the businesses were moved back
    under direct Community control. Each time there was a major change, some members left. Eventually, after
    about 10 years, they reached a compromise that seemed to work, but by then they had lost most of the
    Community's early leaders.

    The final dissolution of the community occurred, ironically, at a time when things were going well - better
    than they had for years. At the time of the dissolution, Ebenezer Draper was president of the Community,
    and had been for four years. Adin Ballou's decision to resign as president had nothing to do with the
    financial crisis. Just the opposite, in fact. Things seemed to be going well and he felt that the community
    was strong enough to go on without his personal leadership.

    The Community did not go bankrupt, in the usual sense of the word. They had no debts that they could not
    pay. If the Draper brothers had been content to keep their money invested in Community stock, they could
    have gone on indefinitely. George Draper managed to convince Ballou and other community leaders that
    their accounting practices were faulty and that the community was actually in debt. But the real reason he
    wanted to withdraw his money was in order to take advantage of an opportunity to expand his business.
    Once George decided to withdraw his money, Ebenezer had no choice but to go along, since his money
    was tied up with George's in the family business.

    The last chapter of History of the Hopedale Community, "Retrospective Survey," contains Adin Ballou's
    analysis of the financial situation - what went wrong, and what went right. He is proud, and rightly so, of the
    fact that no one lost money through their association with the Community.

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Above and below - Hopedale Coal & Ice office.