leading role in a drama of real life that may bring about the complete reunion of the Draper family and
incidentally bring a change in the industrial life of this section?
This is the question that all Milford and Hopedale are asking today following the meager reports of
the possibility of the merger of the Hopedale Manufacturing Company of Milford and the Draper
Corporation of Hopedale.
On the face of it this fusion of the two industries each among the most important in their respective
towns, would be nothing more than an ordinary transaction such as bug business is accustomed to
note in passing and then forget. But in Milford and Hopedale at least, there is a dramatic and romantic
significance that might well dignify the pen of a playwright. And in the foreground is the gracious
democratic figure of this daughter of the late Gen. William F. Draper of Civil War fame.
Founded as "Community"
The setting for this industrial drama goes back to the days of Ebenezer Daggett Draper and George
Draper. It was these members of the Draper family who formed the cornerstone of the great industrial
structure they and their successors have erected in Hopedale. Back in the 50s they became identified
with the so-called Hopedale Community, an idealistic co-operative enterprise. They were among the
After a time, however, they became doubtful of the success of the industry at Hopedale and wished
to withdraw. Their interests ere so large, however, that they were obliged to take the plant of the
community, assuming the debts and continuing the business as a partnership. To their surprise,
however, business prospered and their capital increased.
When Ebenezer Draper decided to withdraw from the firm his interest were brough by Gen. W.F.
Draper, eldest son of George. Gen. Draper in later years served his state in Congress and was the
Ambassador to Rome. The firm name when he joined, became George Draper & Son. In 1877,
another son was admitted to the firm and the name was again changed, this time to George Draper &
Sons. The late Gov. Eben S. Draper was admitted to the firm in 1880.
Sons Continue Business
After the death of the father, the three brothers, Gen. William F. Draper, Eben S. and George A.,
continued the business which continued to expand and which became world famous for the
manufacture of cotton looms. From time to time there came other changes in the firm, with other
members of the Draper family being admitted to carry on as their fathers had.
But what interested the people of Milford and Hopedale was the report that there had suddenly
come a rift in the relations between Gen. Draper and his brothers. It caused long and earnest
discussion among the townspeople. Every movement of the various branches of the Draper family
was regarded as significant.
The circle of discussions widened. From Milford and Hopedale it spread throughout the New
England industrial world and in society circles of Massachusetts. It caused a mild sensation, this
report that a family of such distinguished public service and so all-important in the industrial life of the
state had come to a parting of the ways, not only in their social life, but in a business way as well.
This was in 1895 or thereabouts, soon after President William McKinley had sent Gen. Draper to Italy
as the ambassador. The added prominence which this appointment gave to the family only increased
But from the Draper family there came no word of explanation. They went about their ways
apparently undisturbed by rumors that spread. Hopedale and Milford residents, however, claimed
then to observe that the cordiality that once had existed between the families was no longer apparent.
Gen. Draper Withdraws
Then came the word that Gen. Draper was no longer associated, at least actively, with the Draper
Corporation. He was reported to have gotten out of the company completely and to have disposed of
The reasons were never made public but various stories gained circulation. One was that while he
was in Italy looking after the interests of the United States his salary as an official of the Draper
Corporation had been drastically decreased, so much so that he was greatly displeased with the
action. Still another story had it that he did not like large expenditures of money for experimentation
purpose during his absence. [Most accounts have it the other way around - the general favored more
research while his brothers wanted to lessen the emphasis on it.]
But whatever the reasons the break between the brothers was no longer a secret and at that time
formed one of the principal topics of conversation.
Eventually it led to the formation of the Hopedale Manufacturing Co. The company during the life of
Gen. Draper did not attain the prominence that came later, but it was the general who laid the
foundation for it with the aid of James H. Northrop, who contributed much to the advancement and
progress of the textile industry through his inventions, principal of which was the automatic loom
which virtually revolutionized the industry.
And through the years, while time is said to have softened somewhat the rift between the branches
of the Draper family it is said that the breach never was entirely repaired until the recent homecoming
of the Princess Boncompagni, which was followed soon afterward by reports of the pending merger of
the Hopedale Company. and the Draper Corporation
. Cousins Head Companies
During the years that have intervened since then, Draper and his brothers dissolved their business
connections the Draper Corporation has been carried on by sons of the late Gov. Eben S. Draper
while the Hopedale Company interests have been advanced by sons of Gen. Draper.
Today B.H. Bristow Draper, son of the late governor is the virtual head of the Draper Corporation, with
which Eben S. Jr., who has served his state as a state senator is also affiliated, while Clare and
George O. Draper, sons of Gen. Draper, assist in carrying on the Hopedale Manufacturing Company.,
of which James Northrop is president.(I believe the last sentence stating that the president of the
Hopedale Manufacturing Company was James Northrop is incorrect. James had been in California for
some years by 1927 when that was written, and company publications list Jonas Northrop as the
The Princess Boncompagni is a half sister of Clare and George O. Draper, being a daughter of the
general by a second wife.
Both the Draper Corporation and the Hopedale Manufacturing Company have been engaged in the
manufacture of textile machinery, the Drapers specializing in cotton looms and the Hopedale
Company in silk looms.
Princess Boncompagni, who married an Italian nobleman, while spending much time abroad has
frequently returned to the scene of her girlhood days. In Milford and Hopedale she is regarded by the
poor as a fairy princess because of the charity work she has carried on in a quiet way. But it was not
until she came back to the ancestral home a few months ago that Milford and Hopedale began to
vibrate with the reports that she was seeking to bring about a reunion of the Draper family branches
and unite them not only in a social way but in an industrial way as well.
Princess Deplored Rift
The Princess, it was reported, had always deplored the rift in the family. Gifted with a pleasant
personality she was beloved by all of the Drapers.
Milford and Hopedale were aquiver with the gossip that the princess had lost no opportunity to
express her wish that they might all be reunited. This gossip reached the climax with the report that Mr.
and Mrs. Clare Draper entertained at dinner for Mr. and Mrs. B.H. Bristow Draper while the princess was
visiting and that a week later the Bristow Drapers had returned the compliment. During this time Eben
S. Draper, jr., was in Europe, it is said, but was apprised of the happenings which, it is reported, had his
Officials of both the Draper Corporation and the Hopedale Company say that there has been no
merger, but they will not discuss the report that negotiations are under way which may bring it about.
They have no information to give, they reply to all questions.
It is admitted, however, that some of the employees of the Hopedale Company have been given
notices that their services will no longer be required. No large number have been given any specified
time for completing their services but there has been a gradual dropping of employees, the number of
which is now about 300.
In the meantime, Princess Boncompagni is reported to be in Washington watching developments
with interest. Her main object, it is said, was the establishment of cordial relations between the
members of the family. Worcester Telegram, February 28, 1927
In 1927, Clare Draper, unable to compete with the larger Draper Corporation, closed the Hopedale
Manufacturing Company and sold the 147 patents his company owned to Drapers for one dollar. He
received a seat on the Draper board of directors, the position of manager of the experimental
department and a sales management position for one of his sons.
The Worcester Telegram article above suggests that Princes Boncompagni was the prime mover in
ending the Draper feud. The clipping was found with other Draper family material that had been saved
by William (Bill) Draper, the son of Clare Draper. However, Bill also had the following letter, written to
the princess by her cousin, Dorothy Draper Gannett. Dorothy was the daughter of Eben Draper and
the mother of Bill Gannett. Bill Draper had been given many of the letters, clippings and papers that
his aunt, the princess, had saved, at the time of her death. I can't be sure what he saved on his own
and what came from her, but probably the article above and certainly the letter below came from her
collection.. Unfortunately, the year isn't given with the date on the letter, but the context indicates that
Dorothy is trying to "break the ice" and end the feud and hadn't been previously contacted by the
princess on the matter. The last sentence in the first paragraph of the letter suggests progress had
already been made by one of Dorothy's cousins. Helen was almost certainly Helen Draper, the
daughter of George A. and Jessie Draper, and according to the letter, was in contact with the princess.
Station Post Office and Telephone
Hyde Park, Mass.
Brush Hill Road
It has been very much in my mind and heart during the months since you have returned to this
country, to want to see you. I have hesitated, in view of the many years since we used to play together
in Hopedale, to take the first step toward you, as I do not know what your feelings are about us as a
family, and about future relations with us all. But when Helen told me that she was going to stay with
you, I felt that the past would be allowed to rest as the past and not direct our future course.
I would like to say very frankly that I would like to see you, that I have only the most friendly feelings
toward you, and that after all you and I are first cousins, very nearly of the same age, and it seems a
great pity to me that we cannot be friends with the multitude of early associations of Hopedale which
If you do not feel as I do about this, please say so quite frankly; it is not likely that our paths in life will
ever be very closely connected and yet when you are in this country, it would be a pleasure to me to
see you, and to have you know my husband and children. I am sending this letter to Helen as I am
not sure of your address, and have asked her to give it to you when she is with you.
It gives me the opportunity to at least express my real feelings to you, regardless of what your attitude
Affectionately your cousin,
Dorothy Draper Gannett
April the twenty second
Draper Princess May
Unite Famous Family
And Weld Industries
Hopedale and Milford Hear
Reconciliation Will Bring Merger
Old Rift Recalled
Separate Concerns Result
of Disagreement of Years Ago