General Draper Statue 55 Years Old
Fifty-five years ago a most eminent man in Hopedale and Milford history was memorialized at Milford’
s Draper Park, Wednesday, September 25, 1912, amidst the greatest display of pomp and ceremony
the town had ever witnessed.
In its headlines, the Milford Daily News called it a Great Day. And great day indeed it was. Trains,
trolley cars, teams and even autos, were busy bringing visitors from all the towns around, to say
nothing of the many dignitaries who came from Boston and Washington, D.C.
Ten thousand persons were on hand to witness the great event – the unveiling of the beautiful and
impressive equestrian statue of General William Franklin Draper. Quoting from one of the press
reports, we read:
“It was the hand of Miss Margaret Preston Draper, the daughter of General and Mrs. Draper, which
drew aside the silken screen or red, white and blue, and then for a full second there was a tense
stillness as the gray-haired veterans (G.A.R. – Grand Army of the Republic) looked upon the familiar
features of their well loved commander and comrade and the rest of the immense throng stood as if
transfixed by the spectacle. And then as the strains of ‘Hail to the Chief’ rang out from the band, there
echoed a cheer that could be heard for miles and which continued for a full minute while the music
The Order of Exercises was as follows: Wendell Williams, Esq., Presiding; Music, Grand March,
Tannhauser by the Cadet Band; Presentation of Statue and Park to Town of Milford, on behalf of Mrs.
Draper by Wendell Williams, Esq.
Acceptance for the Town by Selectman James h. Reynolds; Music, Pilgrim Chorus, Tannhauser, by
the band; Prayer by Rev. Dr. F.A. Warfield.
Unveiling of the Statue by Miss Margaret Preston Draper; Music, “Hail to the Chief,” by the band;
Salute, by Battery B, Field Artillery; Address, by Hon. Samuel W. McCall; and Star Spangled Banner.
In accordance with military practice the salute by Battery B of Worcester was the “Brigadier-General’s
salute of eleven guns.”
The oration of Congressman McCall eulogized General Draper as a great soldier and statesman,
whose memory the statue was destined to perpetuate for all time.
As the exercises were brought to a close all present joined in the singing of the Star Spangled
Following are some sidelights on the new historic occasion:
The statue was the work of America’s foremost sculptor, Daniel Chester French.
Shortly after the General died in 1910, Mrs. Draper decided to erect a monument to his memory.
Where to place it became a question. The plot of land, now Draper Park, seemed to her an ideal spot,
but it was owned by the Congregational Church. Making her wishes known to the church, it gladly
agreed to sell the plot at the price she offered, $10,000.
It should be noted, therefore, that when Wendell Williams, Esq., on behalf of Mrs. Draper, presented
the monument to the town he also, at the same time, presented the Park to the town.
Besides the inscriptions on the pedestal of the monument shown the battles in which the General
fought, one reads; Presented to the town of Milford by his wife, Mrs. Susan Preston Draper.
Milford, as well as Hopedale, has been the recipient of many generous gifts from the Draper
families, Milford Hospital being a notable example. Many gifts have been received from Princess
Margaret Boncompagni, daughter of the general, several of which were applied to the care and
landscaping of Draper Park.
Aside from the ceremonies of unveiling the monument, the feature that made it a “Great Day” was the
huge military parade. Many local, state and national units were represented.
In one case, a noted incident was the appearance of an entire regiment. Fifty years ago there were
still many Civil War veterans living and these were represented by G.A.R. posts from all the towns
Complementing the soldiers were many sailors from naval vessels doing duty in New England
waters. Beside the military and naval units, there were large delegations of statesmen and
businessmen formerly associated with the General.
Since the soldiers and sailors, and many others, came by train the depot area was chosen as the
assembly and beginning point for the parade. Meanwhile, the streets, stores and buildings were
holiday dressed in flags, bunting and ribbons.
Up Central Street went the parade, on up Exchange to Congress, then right to Spruce, where the
local G.A.R. veterans joined the line. From here the parade continued to School Street, then to Pearl to
Main Street and so to the Park.
On this particular occasion- the 55th anniversary of unveiling the equestrian statue of General
William Franklin Draper – we echo the eleven gun salute made to his memory on that “Great Day” by
the Battery B Field Artillery of Worcester. Milford Daily News, 1967.
In 1912, when I was seven, my father took our family to the dedication of the General Draper statue in
Milford. We lived in Mendon at that time, and my father worked at a second-hand shop in Milford. He
took us there in a horse-drawn wagon called a democrat. A democrat had a seat in the front for the
driver and removable seats in the back that slid in and out on a metal track. He parked the horse and
wagon on South Bow Street and we walked to the Draper Park. The general's daughter, Margaret, was
all dressed up. This was a few years before she became Princess Boncompagni. She pulled a rope
to unveil the statue but the covering didn't come down as easily as it was supposed to. They had to
work at it a bit to get it down. Hester Chilson, 2004.
General Draper Park Statue 50 Years Old
by GERRY GAWALT
Daily News Staff
The coming of 1962 in just two months, will mark the 50th anniversary of the erection and
dedication of Draper Park and the impressive statue of General William Franklin Draper, located in the
heart of Milford business district. Both the park and the statue were presented to the town by his late
wife, Susan Preston Draper, in 1912.
The upkeep of the statue and park is provided for by Madame Boncompagni of France. She pays
$1000 for the salary of the caretaker and all other bills are sent to her lawyer.
General in the U.S. Army-Ambassador to Italy-Member of Congress William Franklin Draper was
born April 9, 1842 in Lowell, the eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. George Draper. His mother was the
former Hannah Thwing.
Leaving school in his early teens, he spent several years working in various mills throughout New
At the age of 19, William Draper enlisted in the 25th Massachusetts Regiment at the Milford
Before he attained his 23rd birthday he had commanded a brigade upon several occasions.
During the Civil War he saw active service in nearly all southern states.
General Draper worked his way "up through the ranks" until he commanded the 36th
Massachusetts Regiment. He served as a signal officer for General Burnside in his North Carolina
campaign. He also took part in the Maryland and Fredricksburg campaigns and in the Kentucky
endeavor. He served under General Grant in the siege of Vicksburg and the Jackson campaign along
the Mississippi. In 1863 he worked through East Tennessee and into the siege of Knoxville.
General Draper was seriously injured during the Battle of the Wilderness when he was shot
through the body. Later he returned and commanded a brigade at the Weldon Railroad engagement.
Other battles he engaged in were Strawberry Plains, Pegram Farm, Petersburg, Roanoke Island,
New Berne, Blue Springs and Campbell's Station.
He retired from the army soon after the completion of the war and returned to Hopedale where he
entered in business with his father, the late George Draper.
A man of many talents, General Draper became head of George Draper and Sons, Co. in 1897 and
became head of Draper Corp. in 1896 when it was incorporated. [Several other sources give 1916 as
the date when Draper Company became Draper Corporation.]
During the period of 1887 to 1893, he added many inventions to his long list of achievements. Most
of these were connected with the machines manufactured by the Draper Corp.
Although active politically and very influential, William Draper never held a political office during this
However in 1893 he was elected to Congress, where he served two terms for four years until 1897.
Then in 1897 he was appointed Ambassador to Italy by President William McKinley. At this time
there were only four ambassadors to European countries: England, France, Germany and Italy.
Draper continued as the head of Draper Corp. until December of 1907 when he retired. (Draper
He spent the next three years traveling about the world and entertaining his many friends. He died
Jan. 28, 1910 at the age of 68.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Civil War and the 100th anniversary of General
Draper's enlistment in the U.S. Army.
His statue in Draper Park is a fitting tribute to a self-made man. Milford Daily News, November 4,
Celebrating the Statue's Centennial Draper Menu HOME
Bronze Gen. Draper Statue Was Unveiled 76 Years Ago
HOPEDALE - A memorable occasion took place on May 30, 1910, when a bronze statue of the late
Gen. William Franklin Draper was erected, unveiled and dedicated at the Adin Street home of the
former soldier, statesman and diplomat.
The bronze image was created by a 32-year old English sculptor, Courtenay Pollock, R.B.A. Sculptor
Pollock was in Hopedale for the event on his first visit to the United States.
Prior to the arrival of the bronze figure, a huge rough pink granite block to serve as its base was gotten
out of the Massachusetts Pink Granite Company quarry on Cedar Street at the Hopkinton-Milford town
line by Superintendent Ralph W. Boyer for the purpose.
George M. Sherman of Holliston may have been associated with the cutting of the large base as he
was employed by the Massachusetts Pink Granite Company at the time.
The large block of granite is one of the most beautiful specimens of the Milford pink granite quarries.
It measures five and one-half feet high and four feet square. It weighs ten tons. The statue itself
stands seven feet high and weighs less than 1,000 pounds. The monument was set in place on May
The site chosen for the monument is on a slight rise of land from the sloping lawn to the east of Gen.
Draper’s old home, about opposite the side entrance to the handsome residence.
Gen Draper is shown in the uniform of a Brigadier General of the U.S. Army, standing erect, with one
hand resting on the hilt of his sword and the other by his side.
All four sides of the base of the Draper statue are inscribed. In front is the inscription, “Gen. Draper,
1842 – 1910.” On the right and left are the names of the battles in which he fought during the Civil
War, and at the rear are the lines, “Member of Congress 1893 – 1897. Ambassador to Italy 1897 –
The battles enumerated on the tablets include: “Defense of Knoxville, Blaine’s Cross-Roads,
Strawberry Plains, The Wilderness, Weldon Railroad, Pegrow’s Farm, Petersburg, Roanoke Island,
New Berne, Fredericksburg, Siege of Vicksburg, Jackson, Blue Spring and Campbell’s Station.”
The event was of great significance to residents of Milford and Hopedale, and in particular to
members of the Major E. F. Fletcher Post 22, G.A.R. and the family and friends of the late general.
The Draper grounds were opened to the public and scores of carriages and automobiles were
scattered along the adjacent streets. A squad of Milford police assisted the Hopedale officers in
handling the large throng.
Ceremonies followed the return of the Grand Army post members from the Hopedale cemetery where
a wreath was placed on the Tomb of Gen. Draper along with the flag and marker of Post 22, the same
as the other deceased war veterans.
After refreshments had been served at the Draper home, the general’s daughter, Margaret Preston
Draper, drew back the folds of a flag which covered the statue, it forming an impressive background.
Chairs for members of the family and many guests were placed in front of a platform which had been
erected for the unveiling and for the speakers, with the post members to the right and members of the
Major Fletcher Women’s Relief Corps at the left.
Capt. W.G. Pond, commander of Co. M, had his men stand in front of the monument just behind the
veterans, presenting arms. As the statue came into view, the Hopedale Brass Band was playing the
“Star Spangled Banner.”
The family party was made up on Mrs. Draper and daughters Margaret and Edith, three sons, George
Otis Draper, Capt. Arthur Joy Draper and Clare Hill Draper, Mrs. C.H. Colburn, Sculptor Pollock and
others. The Draper servants occupied seats immediately behind the family.
Rev. James A. Alvord, pastor of the Union Church invoked the Divine blessing and Congressman
John W. Weeks of Newton gave an eloquent tribute to the late Gen. Draper.
Fully 2,000 people witnessed the unveiling and listened to Congressman Weeks’ oration.
His concluding words were, “Those nearest to him have, in tender memory, erected this monument.
May the bronze serve to remind not only the present generation, but all future generations, that there
lived and built in this town a man whose career should be studied and as far as possible, followed by
all men who love Massachusetts, and wish to perpetuate those conditions which have made her
great.” Milford Daily News, January 26, 1987.
Dedication of the General Draper statue - September 25, 1912 Thanks
to John Larkin for the snapshot above and the clipping below.
Below - The missing statue of General Draper.