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
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
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 fanning. 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.
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 cotton machinery.
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.