March 1, 2005
A Few Short Stories
I hadn’t seen Hester Chilson for quite a while so I dropped in on her last week. I brought along a few
old pictures to see if she could identify anyone. One was probably of General Draper. While looking at
it, she mentioned that she had been at the dedication of the statue of the general in Milford. That was
in 1912, so she would have been seven at the time. She lived in Mendon then, and her father, who
worked at a second-hand store in Milford, drove the family to the ceremony in a horse-drawn wagon
called a democrat. A democrat had a seat for the driver in front and behind him it had removable seats
that slid in and out on metal tracks. They left the horse and wagon on South Bow Street and walked to
the park. Hester remembers that the general’s daughter, Margaret (who became Princess
Boncompagni four years later), pulled on a rope to unveil the statue, but the covering didn’t come off as
easily as it should have and they had to fiddle around with it a bit. I wonder if there is anyone else still
living who was there that day.
Additions to the website in the last two weeks include:
A story by Peter Hackett on the development of the Northrop loom at
A magazine story about Eben Draper, written when he was lieutenant governor, at
General Draper’s account of being wounded during the Battle of the Wilderness. It’s quite a story.
For something a bit different this time, I thought I’d send a few short paragraphs from several sources.
In 1876, Adin Ballou took on the job of writing a history of Milford. It took him six years to complete and
it covers everything from paupers and tramps to the rich and famous. Here are a couple of entries he
included that were taken from selectmen’s records.
March 11, 1805. This day the Select Men agreed with Mr. John Hero to Board and Keep the Widow
Elizabeth Hayward from the 5th day of March, 1805, until the First Wednesday of March, 1806, at
Seventy-five Cents Per Week. We also agree to give said Hero Two Gallons of New Rum, and 25
Cents in Brandy or Opium. Provided She should not Remain as Well as Usual, Said Hero to be
allowed all Reasonable Expense.
February 1812. Also one order to Seth Albee for Cleaning the wid. Grace Adams of lice, etc., $6.17.”
“Also one order to Ruth Albee, of five Dollars and Sixty-seven cents, for Cleaning Rachel Kilborn of lice,
etc., $5.67.” [Sounds like a lot of money for those days. It must have been a tedious and time-
Mrs. Draper was perhaps most admired for her wonderful grace in the automobile. She was
unconcerned when her expert chauffeur took her around a sharp corner on two wheels at a speed that
would have utterly flustered a less confident rider. At such moments the Southern beauty looked her
best. From a newspaper story about the wife of George Otis Draper, "a dashing Southern beauty from
the very heart of the Blue Grass country," who went back to Kentucky and left her husband "to hold the
fort in the family residence." Unidentified newspaper article.
While at Puebla [Mexico] there was a great church festival, and the people turned out en masse to take
part in, or see, the procession. The dress of the young women seemed to consist of sandals and a
single white cotton garment hanging from the shoulders to the knees, gathered in about the waist by a
red sash, if the wearer was dark, and by a blue one if she were a blonde. Flowers in the hair were
sometimes added, or a gold or silver chain around the neck. With such feminine apparel and the
tropical heat, the morals were naturally rather free. I was told that there was much illegitimacy and that
the first child born out of wedlock was called “God’s Child, because only God knew who its father was.
William F. Draper, Recollections of a Varied Career, p. 197.
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