August 1, 2005
The Pest House
The ABC TV audition at the fire station on July 20 was quite well attended and everyone seemed to be
having a good time. To read the Milford News story on it, go to www.hope1842.com/mykindoftown
Keeping you up to date with late-breaking developments, word has just arrived today (July 27) that
Hopedale has been selected by ABC for My Kind of Town.
I’ve opened the Little Red Shop a few times recently. I’ve been thinking of doing it during a band
concert and I finally managed to on July 13. The first visitor showed up within a few minutes and there
were people there until 9:15. I lost count of how many there were, but it must have been at least twenty-
five. About a dozen came in during the band concert (and auditions) on July 20.
For the last several years I’ve been hoping to get in touch with one of the Henry family and see if they
could provide some memories of their family farm. I’m sure there are a lot of people in town who
would be surprised that there was a farm on Dutcher Street not that many years ago. Perry and Shirley
MacNevin recently mentioned to me that Muriel Tinkham had about forty Hopedale postcards she
wanted to pass on to someone here who would be interested and that she was from the Henry family.
I wrote to her and today I received a wonderful story of the farm covering the years 1895 to 1957. I
expect to send that to you on (or about) August 15. Meanwhile, on to the Pest House.
The Pest House
The house at 366 West Street (a bit off the road, on the left when going toward Upton, not far from the
Upton line) has long been known as the Pest House. I’d heard that it was a place where people had
been sent for the reason of being quarantined, the name being short for pestilence, but I didn’t know
anything beyond that.
After receiving a question about it from the present owner a few weeks ago, I decided to ask Hester
Chilson if she knew anything about it. As it turned out, she remembered the situation quite well. Her
foster-father, Edwin Darling, was a selectman at the time it was first needed and was involved in the
purchase of the house. Also, the brother of the victim lived next door to her and the Darlings on
Freedom Street. As far as Hester knows, the house was only used once when an employee of Henry
Patrick's Store, Heman K. Hersey, become ill with smallpox. She recalls that no one knew how he
From what I can tell by looking through town reports, Hersey came down with the pox in 1901. I haven’t
found out where he was living at the time, but he survived and the 1905 town directory gives his
occupation and place of residence as “clerk, Patrick’s, rooms in block over store.” That would be the
store that was where the parking lot between the library and the pizza place is now.
I haven’t seen any town directories for about fifteen years after the 1905 one, but by 1920 Hersey lived
with his parents at 7 Hopedale Street and was there through 1923. His age that year was given as
45. By 1924, evidently his father had died, and he had moved back to an apartment over Patrick’s, this
time with his mother.
Hester told me that Hersey eventually married, moved to Mendon and lived at the corner of Main Street
and what she referred to as Birch Alley. She cleared that one up for me by telling me that it’s now
called Washington Street, and Main Street is Uxbridge Road/Route 16. Dan and Joyce Gilmore live
there now and about a year ago they donated a wooden Henry Patrick delivery box and two very old (c.
1900) order books to the Hopedale museum. I assume they were items left there long ago by Hersey.
The town report of 1903 mentions that the town paid rent for the Pest House. In the years after that, it’
s listed as a town owned property. (The value of each building owned by the town is given.) The Pest
House was valued at $600 for a few years and later raised to $1,000, where it remained into 1928.
Evidently after years of not being used, it was sold. The town report of 1901 lists the following
expenses related to the case:
Smallpox case, account Heman Hersey:-
Sylvester L. Madden, milk, etc. $9.88
J. Allen Rice, rubber gloves 2.50
H. Louise Ketchum, nurse 95.00
H. Shattuck, nurse 95.00
Edith L. Warner, nurse 75.00
Abram Waldron, labor 2.00
Draper Company, sundries 7.30
H.L. Patrick, groceries, etc. 72.78
Remick Furniture Co., furniture 59.12
Dr K.A. Campbell, medical attendanc 340.00
Avery & Woodbury, screen 1.50
S.A. Staples, sundries 18.75
L.A. Lamson & Son, medicine 34.85
F.T. Harvey, hospital bed 9.00
Hopedale Stable, wood, etc. 12.75
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