July 1, 2004
    Hopedale History
    No. 17
    Reformers

    Last time I suggested that since an answer to the question about the origin of the name, the J’s, came
    in so quickly, if anyone else had a Hopedale question we could give it a try and see if one of you had
    an answer.  For a while it seemed that no one was going to take me up on it, but a couple of days ago
    Dave Atkinson sent in the following:  In what year did Draper's have the oil spill that ruined the
    Spindleville Pond and how did it happen?  Here’s a bit more from Dave’s memory of that event.  “As
    kids we would be at the pond a lot, fishing and trying to catch frogs, etc. and then the oil dumping
    occurred. All the fish died and there was a thick layer of oil on the bottom. For years my dog "Tubby"
    would come home with oil on his feet and underside. It was horrible and not a damn thing was done
    about it, not even an explanation of why or how it happened or an apology.”  If you remember anything
    about this, let me know and I’ll add your response to the mid-July message.

    This time’s story is another from Hopedale Reminiscences.  It’s Anna Thwing Field’s memories of the
    many reformers for various causes who visited the Hopedale Community in the 1840s and 1850s.  
    Since many of you don’t have the time to read pages of this material I thought I’d just include part of it
    here.  If you have the time to read Anna’s entire story, it’s on the website at http://www.
    /hoperemabolAnnaField.html

                             Anti-Slavery, and Other Visitors to the Community

    In the early days of the Community many persons were interested in its establishment; and reformers
    with varied causes came to present their “isms” and secure a following.  It was their custom to receive
    all who came courteously, to give a patient, candid hearing to whatever cause or progressive idea they
    advocated, provided always that Mr. Ballou should question, review and confute the whole matter, not
    only at the time presented, but when discussed for approval or rejection.  No hotel received the
    stranger, - they were entertained at private houses and treated as guests.  Mr. Eben Draper’s house
    was oftenest their headquarters.  Many were honest, earnest men, but some were cranks.  Well I
    remember the long, long sessions when the various subjects were discussed and the excitement
    when the adherents and opponents parried questions and answers, till flushed faces and angry
    gestures followed.

    Theodore Parker brought here his then radical ideas of the Bible and Jesus.  Samuel May and his
    brother were interested in prison reform and wished substantial aid.  Henry Wright came to advocate
    “free love,” and living with your “affinity,” kindred topics, but met with a chilling reception, and although
    he was allowed “free speech” was politely “frozen out.”  Advocates of frugality in diet were numerous
    and experiments were tried to reduce the cost of living to the lowest figures without impairing the
    health.  Here came Graham.  I well remember the trouble my aunt took sending to Boston to procure
    graham flour for his cooking, though at supper he astonished her by declining the graham flour and
    choosing white biscuit, saying he had plenty of graham bread at home.  “Consistency, thou art a
    jewel.”  Animal magnetism and clairvoyance were presented and their exponents gave many
    exhibitions at my own home, as did also the spiritual mediums, when the rappings, writing, and
    tipping of tables were investigated.  Two mediums of note dwelt in Hopedale, Fannie Davis Smith and
    Cora Scott Hatch Tappum.

    Reform extended to dress and many women became wearers of the Bloomer costume, a short skirt
    reaching to the knees with long trousers like the dress.  The abbreviated skirts were convenient about
    the house, but some wore them abroad, made from silk or broadcloth and were victims of ridicule and
    amusement in the neighboring towns.  Many women gave up their simple earrings, bracelets, etc.,
    feeling it wrong to wear jewelry when so many lacked the comforts of life; knowing also that “a meek
    and lowly spirit is the greatest ornament.”

    The Shakers, Quakers and other religious organizations sent representatives to promulgate their
    peculiar ideals.  Peace and temperance advocates were welcome and received prompt
    endorsement.  Edwin Thompson from England was one.

    Perhaps the people who interested me most were the abolitionists, for as a child, nothing so stiffed
    my temper or caused my tears to flow, as the wrongs and sorrows of the colored people.  Boston was
    agitating the subject at Faneuil Hall and in the “Liberator.”  Grove meetings were held at South
    Framingham, and annually in August, in a small, pine grove near where the High School building now
    is, Hopedale had an Anti-Slavery meeting.  I recall many earnest men and women who spoke from
    that platform.  There came Parker Pillsbury, the dark-skinned, dark haired, scowling man, who
    stormed across the stage, shook his clenched fists and said things that scared one; ably seconded
    by Charles Burleigh who wore his hair and beard long, having vowed he never would cut them till the
    slave was free.  William Lloyd Garrison, always in earnest but more moderate in voice and wiser in
    counsel—was always present, and usually Wendell Phillips with his gentlemanly, polished ways and
    scholarly oratory.

                 
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