George and Hannah (Thwing) Draper
George Draper (b. 1817) married Hannah Brown Thwing, daughter of Benjamin and Anna (Mowry) Thwing,
b. Uxbridge, Jan1, 1817.
William Franklin, b. Lowell, April 9, 1842
Georgianna T., b. Lowell, June 30, 1844; d. July 23, 1844.
Helen L., b. Lowell, July 11, 1845; d. August 10, 1847.
Frances Eudora, b. Ware, July 26, 1847; m. Charles H. Colburn, February 20, 1868.
Hannah Thwing, b. Ware, April 11, 1853; m. Edward Louis Osgood, January 20, 1881.
George Albert, b. Hopedale, November 4, 1855.
Eben Sumner, b. Hopedale, June 17, 1858.
George Draper began the world with an empty purse, but was richly endowed with
mechanical genius, ambitious enterprise, shrewd intelligence, sound business judgment,
and indomitable persistency of purpose. With these, and the faithful co-operation of a wf.
rich in all the qualities necessary to match and compliment his own, he has successfully
risen to wealth and distinction. He is still vigorously pushing his fortune, finding abundant
opportunities to dispense liberally to public and private charities from the treasury of his
large accumulations; and he has the high satisfaction of seeing his children well launched
on the same sea of prosperous social and business enterprise. He and his family are too
well and extensively known to justify further description. Adin Ballou, History of Milford,
pp. 721 - 722.
I come now to my parents. George Draper (1817 - 1887), my father, was a man of very
strong character and will be remembered today by all of the older generation in
Massachusetts who had to do either with cotton manufacture or with public affairs. His
years of schooling were brief, but he acquired at school and in later studies at home an
excellent mathematical education, -- better than that possessed by most college graduates.
At the age of fifteen he left home to take a position the weaving department of the cotton
mills of North Uxbridge. There he boarded in the house of Benjamin Thwing and made the
acquaintance of his daughter, Hannah Brown Thwing, my mother. At seventeen years of
age he was made the superintendent of a small cotton mill at Walpole. Mass. Thence he
went to Three Rivers, Mass., and took the position of overseer of weaving in what was then
one of the largest fine cotton mills in the country.
In 1839, owing to the general depression in manufacturing, caused by a reduction of the
tariff, the mill stopped, and he was thrown out of employment, as were a large number of the
skilled operatives in New England. He looked vainly for work in some position worthy of his
ability; used up his small savings; ran into debt several hundred dollars; and finally
accepted a position as an operative in the Massachusetts Cotton Mills of Lowell, at the
remuneration of five dollars a week. His experience at that time convinced him of the
advantage to laboring men of a protective tariff, and he never forgot it.
With a change in the country's policy, manufacturing improved, and he became an
overseer again. In 1843 he accepted a position as designer of the celebrated Edward
Harris cassimeres at Woonsocket, R.I. In 1845 he was made superintendent of one of the
mills of the Otis Company at Ware, Mass., and later he had charge of the entire
corporation. In 1853 he removed from Ware to Hopedale, Mass., going into partnership with
his brother, E.D. Draper, who was then manufacturing and selling the temples invented by
their father, and which he (George) had improved. E.D. Draper was also president of the
Hopedale Community, which my father joined, and which I shall refer to later.
In 1855 the Hopedale Community came to grief financially, and he joined his brother in
paying its debts, which they accomplished within the next few years. From this time his
business increased until it has become one of the great manufacturing industries of the
State. He was a man of a large inventive capacity and possessed also the business faculty
which enabled him to introduce into use his own inventions and those of others, which he
controlled, at a profit not only to the community but to himself. The improvements
introduced in spinning machinery under his auspices and the writer's have doubled it
production and saved to this and foreign countries hundreds of millions of dollars in
machinery, and tens of millions per annum in power, labor and incidentals.
He was a total abstainer, a Unitarian in religious belief, never used tobacco, and prior to
the War he was a Garrisonian abolitionist. During the war he was an ardent Union man, and
worked earnestly for the cause. He organized several companies of volunteers, paying their
preliminary expenses and making personal gifts to each man. He was active in recruiting
and a member of Governor Andrew's private Advisory Board.
After the war he was a thorough and enthusiastic Republican, and an earnest believer in a
protective tariff. He founded and presided over until his death, the celebrated Home Market
Club, which crystallizes and represents the protective sentiment of New England. He wrote
much on political topics, both in pamphlets and newspaper articles, and no one could fail to
understand what he meant, even if he did not agree with him.
During the latter years of his life, he traveled much, both at home and abroad, giving up to
a large extent his business cares. He was active in the formation of the new town of
Hopedale in 1886, and built and presented to that town its town hall. His was a strong
individuality, and, though he consistently refused public position, he was always a power
behind the throne in local and State affairs.
My mother was a Thwing, the name being very uncommon in this country and all who
possess it being probably descended from Benjamin Thwing, who came from England in
1635 and settled in Boston, having a house and garden on Sudbury Street. His ancestry is
traced with probable correctness to the Knights of Thwing, a village forty miles east of York
in England. His descendants occupied reputable positions in life, his son Benjamin being a
member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1678. Nathaniel Thwing was
Captain and Major of the 8th Massachusetts Regiment in the campaign against Louisbourg,
and later Lieutenant-colonel of Colonel Gridley's regiment at Crown Point. John Thwing,
between 1730 and 1769, owned and used as a farm a large part of the ground occupied by
the village of Hopedale, where I reside. Another Nathaniel Thwing was a soldier in the
Revolutionary War. Benjamin Thwing, my grandfather, was a school teacher in Uxbridge,
noted in his profession. His house now stands in very good preservation.
My mother seems to me to have been the very embodiment of New England common
sense. Though her life was largely devoted to household duties and the rearing of her
children, she was thoroughly interested in public questions, and never satisfied until she
had settled to her own satisfaction the right or wrong of anything that came up for
consideration. Though my father was a positive man, she was equally sure in her own views
- one evidence of which was that though he became a member of the Hopedale Community,
she persistently refused to join, on the ground that she did not believe all questions should
be settled by a majority vote or that there should be no rewards for pre-eminent ability and
services. Gen. William F. Draper, Recollections of a Varied Career.
Another death which affected him [evidently referring to himself, Adin Ballou] most
sensibly was that of Mr. George Draper, a sometime member of the Community, who,
though abandoning it and renouncing its essential principles, yet always held its founder in
high regard and veneration, as attested by abundant proofs from time to time. "This
lamentable event," to quote from Mr. Ballou's sketch of Hopedale alluded to, "took place in
Boston wither he had gone for a temporary sojourn to obtain medical relief from kidney and
other ailments, which, though not seemingly, dangerous, he was anxious to overcome.
Unexpectedly to all, he presently became alarmingly sick under treatment and in a few days
expired. His remains were brought home and on the 11th of June  his funeral was
solemnized with every demonstration that bereaved family affection and public grief could
bestow. Thousands appreciated his merits, sympathized in a great public loss, and united in
reverential tributes of respect to his memory." On the occasion an appropriate address was
made by Rev. Mr. Wilson, but the eulogy proper was pronounced by the old pastor of the
departed, who had lived side by side with him for more than thirty years, and who could
portray the strong points and many excellencies of his character better than any other living
person. A sense of justice and the remembrance of unnumbered expressions of kindly
consideration and personal esteem received through so long a period, served to render the
testimonial paid the deceased, tender, loving, faithful, and true. Adin Ballou, History of
the Hopedale Community, p. 512.
George Draper, the subject of this sketch, and the son of Ira and Abigail (Richards)
Draper, was born in Weston, Mass., August 10, 1817. Until he was fifteen years of age he
lived in Weston and Saugus, to which latter place his father removed when he was about
five years old. He attended the public schools in Saugus, at times assisting his father on his
farm, and acquired in study at home an education in mathematics, which would have been
impossible under public instruction. At the age of fifteen he entered the weaving department
of the cotton mills in North Uxbridge, where he remained two years, and was then made
superintendent and manager of a small cotton-sheeting mill in Walpole, Mass. A short time
after he became overseer of weaving in a large mill at Three Rivers, in the town of Palmer,
Mass., where he made an improvement in the temple for weaving, which his father had
invented. In 1839 ne was thrown out of employment, and after the exhaustion of his small
amount of savings he took the position of an operative in the Massachusetts Cotton Mills in
Lowell, at wages of $5 per week. In 1843 he became designer in the extensive cassimere
mills of Edward Harris, in Woonsocket, R. I., and in 1845 was appointed superintendent of
one of the mills of the Otis Company, in Ware, Mass., at a later time being promoted to the
position of superintendent of all the mills of the company.
In 1853 he removed from Ware to Hopedale, a part of Milford, Mass., and went into
partnership with his brother Ebenezer Daggett Draper in the manufacturing business. He
soon after joined the Hopedale Community, an organization whose origin and purpose it is
unnecessary here to explain. It is sufficient to say that it was formed about the year 1842,
and was a joint-stock, practical, Christian association, with a mutual industrial arrangement,
and united as to capital and profits. At the time of its dissolution it consisted of a village of
about fifty dwellings and about two hundred and fifty inhabitants, and owned about six
hundred acres of land and a hatchet and temple and shoe-box shop, which gave
employment to eight or ten men, the remainder engaging in farming. As a result of its
financial failure and dissolution in 1856 Mr. Draper and his brother took the property and
paid its debts. The two small shops for the manufacture of hatchets, temples and
shoeboxes, which then passed into the possession of the two brothers, employing, perhaps,
fifteen hands, have become one of the largest cotton-machinery manufacturing
establishments of the world, employing more than seven hundred men.
The Hopedale industries controlled by the Draper family are situated on Mill river, and
consist of five different concerns, with about twenty buildings, mostly of brick, operated by
both water and steam-power. One of these concerns, the Hopedale Machine Company,
manufactures spoolers, warpers, twisting-machines, roving frames, machines crews, and the
Sawyer and Rabbeth spindles. Another, the Dutcher Temple Company, manufactures loom
temples, Shaw knitting-machines, and the Draper automatic sprinklers. A third concern,
doing business under the name of George Draper & Sons, manufactures spinning-rings,
and the firm controlling it acts as agent for the products of the other concerns. A fourth,
called the Hopedale Elastic Fabric Company, manufactures elastic webbing for suspenders
and shoe-gores. A fifth, the Hopedale Machine Screw Company, has a large factory making
all kinds of machine screws. In 1868 Ebenezer D. Draper retired from the business in which
he had been associated with his brother George, and the firm of George Draper & Sons
now consists of William F., George A. and Eben S. Draper, sons of George Draper, and
William F. Draper, Jr., and George Otis Draper, sons of William F. Draper.
Mr. Draper was much more than the ordinary business man. The works at Hopedale,
which he was so largely instrumental in establishing, have, almost without exception, been
founded on patented inventions, and they have grown to their present size through building
machinery different from that built by any other people in the country. In other words, his
business was a peculiar one in this country—that of introducing patented improvements in
Mr. Draper was a man of unbounded resources as an inventor, and probably took out not
less than a hundred patents in the United States Patent Office. Among the articles patented
by him were devices for self-acting temples, railway head eveners, parallel shuttle motion, a
new form of let-off motion, a shuttle-guard for looms, a self-lubricating bearing for spindles,
double-adjustable spinning rings, slasher-warpers and bobbin holders for spooling. It has
been said that the high-speed and power-saving spindles introduced by him will produce
double the quantity of yarn before made, and that his improvements in speed and power
utilization have saved power enough to make two water-powers like that of Lowell. His
spinning-frame separators are in universal use in this country, and in general use in
England. Aside from his Hopedale enterprises, he owned stock in many cotton-
manufacturing concerns in New England, and was a large owner in the Shaw Stocking
Works of Lowell, the Glasgow Thread Company of Worcester, and the Glasgow Yarn Mills of
Norwich, Conn. He was an active promoter of the construction of the Milford and
Woonsocket Railroad, and of the Hopkinton Railroad.
In early days a Whig, afterwards a Free-Soiler, and then a Republican, and always
deeply interested in the welfare of the party to which he belonged, the only conspicuous
political position which he consented to fill was that of the presidency of the Home Market
Club, an organization of which he was the originator and founder, and which includes on its
rolls nearly two thousand members.
Mr. Draper was different from almost every active business man in the interest he always
took in public affairs, and in the influence that he exerted on them. He never would accept a
political office, but he was always in close touch with the leading public men of
Massachusetts, from the time of the formation of the Republican party, and before, until his
death. He was a great friend of William Lloyd Garrison, and was, with him, one of the
pioneers of the abolition movement. He was also a personal friend and supporter of
Governor Andrew; and, unlike many other business men during the Rebellion, he gave up
all attention to business, and devoted himself to assisting the government in every way
possible in prosecuting the war. In these years, while most business men advanced their
fortunes rapidly, he not only did not increase his business at all, but rather suffered on
account of his attention to public matters.
Later he became very much interested in the Republican party, but especially in the
question of protection, and there was probably no man in the United States who was better
posted on this question, or who kept in closer communication with the prominent men in the
country who were the champions of this idea. With William D. Kelley, of Pennsylvania,
McKinley, of Ohio, Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, and many other prominent champions
of protection, he was in constant correspondence, and he wrote many articles on this
subject which were extensively quoted.
Because of the interest that he took in public affairs, and the peculiar character of his
business, there was probably no man in New England who had a wider acquaintance with
men in all branches of life than he, and very few men who had a larger influence on the
formation of public opinion. In fact, during the last few years of his life, substantially all of his
time was given to the promotion of the protection sentiment, and the time that he devoted to
the details of his business was very slight.
At the time of his death, although he had never taken any political position, the space
devoted to his life by the newspapers of both city and country, was as extensive as that with
which almost any man has been honored in this generation. During the war he was active in
recruiting soldiers, and organized several companies, whose preliminary expenses he
himself defrayed. The Soldiers' Home in Chelsea received from him a liberal annual gift. He
gave to the town of Hopedale, he incorporation of which was due to his efforts, a very
handsome town hall, and the Unitarian Church, at Hopedale, of which he was a member,
received from him many donations. His public and private charities were bountiful and
unostentatious, and the comfort of men in his employ, the temperance cause and the Grand
Army Posts, were constantly kept under his watchful and generous eye.
Mr. Draper married, March 6, 1839, Hannah, daughter of Benjamin and Anna Thwing, of
Uxbridge, and died at the United States Hotel, in Boston, on Tuesday evening, June 7,
1887. His children have been: William F., born in Lowell, April 9, 1842; Georgiana T., born
in Lowell, June 30, 1844, who died in infancy; Helen L., born in Lowell, July u, 1845, who
died August 10, 1847; Frances E., born in Ware, July 26, 1847; a son born in Ware,
December 15, 1850, who died in infancy; Hannah T., born in Ware, April 11, 1853; George
A., born in Hopedale, November 4, 1855; and Eben S., born in Hopedale, June 17, 1858.
The New England states: their constitutional, judicial ..., Volume 1, edited by
William Thomas Davis
Hopedale Community Menu Draper Menu
Draper Tomb, Hopedale Village Cemetery HOME
The Town Hall was given to
Hopedale by George Draper.
The George and Hannah Draper house is a bit above and to the
right of center in this view of Hopedale from the early 1890s. It was
on the corner of Hopedale and Draper streets. The block was
cleared of the houses in 1923 when the Community House was built.
The George and Hannah Draper house at the corner of Hopedale and Draper streets. It
later became the home of their daughter, Hannah, and her husband, Edward Osgood
Thanks to Peter Metxke for sending this obituary,
published in the Boston Transcript on June 8, 1887.