Hopedale History
    May 1, 2005
    No. 37
    Thomas Gaffney

    May Day was evidently a big day in the Hopedale Community.  I wish we had more on how it was
    celebrated, but at this time, about all I've seen is the following from Adin Ballou.  If I get a chance one
    of these years, I'll see if I can find more in the Practical Christian.

    A long account of one of the first of these [May Day celebrations], held May 1, 1848, was given in a
    letter from the then widely-known reformer, Henry C. Wright, who was present, to his friend and fellow-
    laborer in the cause of humanity, Philip P. Carpenter of Warrenton, England, and published in the
    Practical Christian of May 13.  After detailing and commenting upon what he sees and hears and
    feels, the writer near the close says: ‘It is pleasant to witness and enjoy the scene. Children and
    parents are here sympathizing together in their amusements. How much more rational, useful, and
    Christian these than others in which men and women often indulge with the justification of the
    orthodox world. I believe this is as innocent as any meeting and far more improving and Christianizing
    than those in which a pro-war, pro-slavery, brutalizing religion is instilled into men’s minds and hearts.
    Scenes like those of this occasion make us all better men and women.” Adin Ballou, The History of
    the Hopedale Community, p. 181.

    When I was at the Park Street School a few decades ago, May Day was still being celebrated with a
    May pole dance at the park.  If any of you have memories of that, and send them to me, I’ll add them to
    the files for the museum.  We’re hoping that before another year is gone, the renovation job at the Little
    Red Shop will be completed and we’d like to be adding stories, pictures and artifacts so that it will be
    a town museum and not just a Draper museum.  I’ve been saving materials in file folders for the past
    couple of years on any Hopedale topic I come across information on, including individuals, families,
    organizations, churches, businesses, streets, neighborhoods, schools, activities, events, etc.  If you
    have anything you can contribute to this, including your own memories and/or stories about your
    family, I’ll be happy to add it to the files.

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    In 1934, The Milford Daily News printed a story of Thomas Gaffney’s memories of Hopedale and
    Drapers which went back to the 1870s.


             Here and There With the Employees of the Draper Corporation

                                       A Column Dealing With Their Activities

    On Nov. 7, [1934] Thomas H. Gaffney will complete a half century of continuous employment with the
    Draper company.  While he is not the oldest employee in years of service, only a very few have a
    record equal to his.  Mr. Gaffney enjoys good health and appears much younger than his shop record
    would indicate.  He is looking forward to many more years of pleasant relations with his shop friends.

    Mr. Gaffney started working in the Screw department about the time the late Charles F. Roper invented
    the first automatic screw machine. Following the introduction of this machine the screw business
    boomed for several years.  He remained in this department for 38 years and then transferred to the
    Pattern Safe department where he is now located.  Only six men were employed in the screw
    business at the start but this number was increased to several hundred within a few years.

    When Mr. Gaffney was a boy he passed the home of Adin Ballou every day on his way to school.  Mr.
    Ballou greeted the school boys and often gave them apples.  Mr. Gaffney recalls distinctly the time that
    the Ballou house was moved to its present location on Dutcher street.  The house is now occupied by
    Alfred Howarth of the Foundry.

    Thomas Gaffney was one of the six charter members off Hose 2, which was formed about 40 years
    ago.  These hose houses located in different sections of the town made up the only fire protection.
    When a fire occurred at night it was necessary to arouse the late John French in order to secure his
    horse to haul the hose wagon.

    When Almon Thwing, brother-in-law of George Draper, lived at the corner of Hopedale and Hope
    streets he had a large clock on the front of his barn.  It was the only clock of its size in town and
    everybody referred to it as the Town Clock.  It was built and maintained by Mr. Thwing with a great deal
    of pride.  The house in which Mr. Thwing lived is now located on Union Street. (This final sentence led
    me to take a look on Union Street for the house. It seems that the house is the most likely one in
    Hopedale that could be considered an Underground Railroad house.) Click here for more on this.

    Mr. Gaffney’s father, Michael F. Gaffney, was employed in Worcester.  He worked nights and came to
    Hopedale on week-ends. After finishing work on Saturday night he would take a train to Northbridge
    and then walk to his home here.

    Mr. Gaffney says the Old Red shop, which now stands on the south end of Hopedale pond, opposite
    the Freedom Street side of the shop, is the original Sheet Metal department. It was then located near
    where the screw shop now stands. Later it was moved to the east side of Freedom street [???], south
    of the dam, where it was still used for the sheet metal work.  It was moved from there to its present
    location. [When this article was written in 1934, it was north of Freedom Street and west of the pond,
    near Progress Street.]

    Mr. Gaffney’s memory of what happened in Hopedale goes back vividly for 60 years. He can recall the
    many changes in both the plant and the layout of the town. From conversations which he had as a boy
    with his parents and also his grandparents he knows considerable about the history which covers the
    doings of the Hopedale community and the days before Hopedale was set apart from Milford. One
    thing which is seldom mentioned is the old Eight-rod road.  This was an old stage coach route from
    Worcester to Providence which went through this section.  It is now grown up to woods but in many
    places a stone wall which lined either side of the road is still standing. The boundary line between
    Hopedale and Mendon follows this old road, Mr. Gaffney says.  The Milford Daily News.

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