Brilliant Man, Tragic Life
George Draper Osgood is a bit of a mystery. He was a Harvard honor student and graduate, but it appears that he
never worked. In the street listing books, he was always given as "at home." When his mother and his sister Fannie
were living at The Larches in the summer and in Boston in the winter, he was there also. Later, he was at his brother
Dana's home, off of Greene Street, which by the mid-twentieth century was well known in town as The Harel House. It
seems that he may have been living there alone for many years. His name is in the street listing books through 1952,
and then disappears.
I couldn't find any more about Osgood until the obituary above turned up. Recently, I ran across his picture in an
album done by Dorothy Draper Gannett, mother of Bill Gannett. You can see it above this text box with a note that says
"deaf and dumb from birth." Consider that, along with the obituary above, and there must be quite a story about his
life, but all I've ever found is what you see here. According to the obituary, ",,,he had been a patient for a prolonged
period at the Wiswall Hospital in Wellesley." I haven't been able to learn much about Wiswall in an online search,
other than that it was a psychiatric hospital where lobotomies were performed and electric shock was used.
George's mother, Hannah Draper Osgood, sister of General William F. Draper, Governor Eben S. Draper, George
Albert Draper and Frances Draper Colburn, lived with her husband and children in the house that had been her
parents' home at the corner of Draper and Hopedale streets. In 1909, she purchased The Larches on Williams Street
from her nephew, George Otis Draper. The home burned down about a month after the purchase, and the house
that's there now is what she had built after the fire. Her son, George Draper Osgood and her daughter, Fannie
Osgood, resided there also. In 1929, both Hannah and Fanniedied.
The Dana and Laird Osgood house was built in the woods off of Greene Street in 1911. They lived there until they
moved south in 1929. By 1933, and possibly earlier (books for 1931 and 1932 not available), Austin Osgood, 21,
student, (son of Dana and Laird Osgood) and George Draper Osgood, 45, at home, were both living at 50 Greene
Street, the former Dana Osgood home and the future Harel House. By 1940, George was still at that address
according to the street listing book; the only Osgood in Hopedale by that time. As mentioned above, the last year his
name was in the street listing book was 1952.
The story became even more puzzling when I looked again at some Milford News clippings I had copied at the
Bancroft Library a few years ago. In December 1938, the Osgood home was sold to a company described as a real
estate promoter. Two months later it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Louis McVitty.. Their plan, according to the article, was
to use it as a rest home. That may have happened, although I've never run across anything else about it being used
for that purpose. The McVitty couple never moved into the Osgood house. They lived nearby at 36 Greene Street.
The next complication in the story is that in 1946 the McVitty couple sold the home to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lacy. They
named it the Harel House and used it as their home and their business; mainly a furniture store. George Osgood's
name continued to be at that address until 1952. Was he really there, or was the only part of him in Hopedale by that
time his name in the street listing book?
With that question in mind, I called Harel Lacey, daughter of the couple who established the Harel House. She was
totally unfamiliar with the name, George Draper Osgood. Somehow his name remained in the street listing books at
50 Greene Street for six years after Harel and her parents were living there.
Louis McVitty developed the land that had been part of the Dana and Laird Osgood estate - McVitty Road, Dana Park,
and Catherine Street, as well as selling house lots on Greene Street. George was out of there at least by 1946, and
probably sooner. He was at Wiswall for "...a prolonged period..." according to his obituary. Does that mean that he
was there for the two decades from the time he left Hopedale until his death in 1972? We'll probably never know.
The following was sent by Lisa Lepore of Mendon, who became interested in the story of George
Draper Osgood when reading about him in ezine No.367.
Can’t resist a good mystery -
According to the 1940 census, there is a George D. Osgood at the Wiswall Sanitarium. That census
asks where the person was living as of April 1, 1935, and for George that was at Wiswall.
Wiswall Sanitarium was located at 203 Grove Street, and then became Charles River Hospital. Charles
River filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000, and even though it comes up in current searches, it does
not exist. According to Wikipedia it was closed in 2002. There are gigantic residential properties all
around that address now. https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2000/06/05/story1.html
George D Osgood
United States Census, 1940
Wellesley Town, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
Age - 51
Marital Status - Single
Birth Year (Estimated) - 1889
In the 1930 census, there is a George D. Osgood at McLean Hospital in Belmont.
George was also at McLean in 1920
In 1914 he applied for a passport. It says his occupation is Mathematics/Physics. He says he will return
to the US in two years. His signature was notarized by Herbert Boyer, and he asked that the passport be
mailed to Herbert Boyer. This goes along with the information from the obituary that says he went to
Germany after Harvard, and returned before the war.
There is a WWI draft registration for him here, dated June 5, 1917. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:
It states he is mentally incompetent and under treatment at Bournewood Hospital in Brookline MA which
still exists. According to their website, they were established in 1884. They are an independent privately
owned psychiatric care facility.
In 1910 George was living with his family on Beacon Street with five servants. As you mentioned, he had
no occupation listed. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RVL-YJH?i=18&cc=1727033
(At the time they were on Beacon Street, they also spent part of each year at their Hopedale home. I think
their time at Beacon Street was for the "social season.")
It looks like George was institutionalized between 1917-1940 based on these records, and probably until
he died. If he was at Wiswall he could have stayed there when they closed and became Charles River,
because that was open past his death date.