August 15, 2004
I’m sure many of you knew Larry Heron. A book about his life was published last month and the
author, Greg Page, will be appearing at the Community House in a few weeks and Council on Aging
Director, Carole Mullen asked me to pass the following on to you folks.
Hopedale Literary Event and Book Signing
September 8, 2004
4 PM to 7 PM
Former Hopedale resident, West Point graduate and author, Gregory Page has written a captivating
book about Hopedale WWII veteran, Larry Heron, Sr.
Come meet Mr. Page and see a special slide presentation at the Community House. Join us for
refreshments and a reception in celebration of his book honoring the memory of Heron. Reservations
requested. Call 634 2208.
On July 1, I sent the first half of Anna Thwing Fields’ story of reformers who visited the Hopedale
Community. It ended with a paragraph about the annual Abolitionist meetings that were held in a
grove by the river. Here’s the rest of the story.
Among the women speakers were Lucy Stone Blackwell, Abby Kelly Foster and Anna Dickenson. Mrs.
Foster was a sister of Grandmother Earl who lived where Mrs. Sornberger now lives. [According to the
town directory for 1905, Harriet Sornberger was the librarian at the Bancroft Library and lived at 4
Union Street. Emma Sornberger, listed as a widow, presumably Harriet’s mother, lived there also.
The house is at the corner of Dutcher Street.] Stephen Foster and his wife were from Worcester and
were always friends of the slave. Frederick Douglass, a colored man who was an escaped slave,
was an interesting speaker. The weightier matters discussed were advocated in the “Practical
Christian,” the newspaper published by the Community, but I was too young to appreciate the ideas
that were being advanced, that were afterwards the occasion of national dissention and civil war. I
was more interested when a man arose on the platform and showed branded in the palm of his
uplifted hand the letters S.S. He had labored among the slaves to aid them to escape from slavery
and as a punishment was burned S.S. for Slave Stealer. He afterwards married Dr. Emily Gay’s sister
and lived in Hopedale.
I well remember the black, black man of large stature who was called Henry Box Brown. He was a
slave and had come all the way from the South, sent by friends in a dry goods box with holes in the
cover, and labeled, “This side up. With care,” and shipped, if I remember rightly, to Isaac T. Hopper,
New York. Here, too, came Ellen Crafts and her husband, who were of special interest. Ellen was
short, slender and light skinned, he was tall and perfectly black. He was a cabinetmaker and she a
lady’s maid and were married as all slaves were, without clergy, no legal marriage. They escaped
from slavery, she disguised as a young gentleman and he as her servant. Neither could read nor
write, so she made a sore on her right hand, bound it up and started North to consult a physician.
They came to Charleston on a steamer, then took a carriage for the best hotel, William anxious for his
master’s health, securing the best room and service and sleeping on a mat outside his master’s
door. Every passenger accompanied by a colored servant was obliged to sign a paper declaring that
the servant was his slave, before they could leave the state, and Ellen asked a gentleman to sign for
her as her hand was disabled and he politely complied. Her invalidism increased and that helped
them on. They were met in Philadelphia and passed on to Boston and married by Theodore Parker
and then sent to England. After the Civil War they lived in Georgia and worked for the colored people.
Many escaped slaves lived in the families of Hopedale. My father had a colored man called John who
did some work about the place, but never went alone from the house. At night he was there, in the
morning gone. I was too young to be entrusted with important secrets. In the opposite house a man,
woman, and two children, all black, dwelt one winter in the cellar kitchen and one summer in the attic.
The oldest girl went to school and learned to read and write. Another neighbor had as a guest Lizzie
Hall, a handsome mulatto young woman with a history somewhat like Eliza of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
though Lizzie Hall was her master’s daughter. She stayed till after her little child was born, the she
too, had gone away. Several others there were who lived among us for weeks or months. They were
fed, clothed, and sheltered. We knew them and saw them moving in and out, one day here, the next,
gone. Sometimes we heard they had reached Worcester, Boston, New York, or the Mecca of their
There can be no doubt that the early inhabitants of Hopedale were earnest and conscientious in their
devotion to convictions of duty, whatever its cost and penalties.
Anna Thwing Field
According to Anna Field, “Box”Brown was mailed to New York, but I recall reading elsewhere that he
had himself sent to Philadelphia. I hope so. The nearer, the better when you’re traveling like he did.
Anna Thwing Field Hopedale Reminiscences
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