The Daniel Chester French statue of General William F. Draper - Milford.

July 1, 2009
Hopedale History
No. 135
The End of the Community

Hopedale in June  

The Little Red Schoolhouse – Newspaper picture, c. 1948. Lots of names from Hopedale, Upton, Mendon and Milford.

In the last two weeks there have been more than 120 hits on the page on which I wrote about the
upcoming situation with my Hopedale history website. Thanks very much for advice and offers of assistance from Ann K, Bruce L, Bruce G, Peter M, Mike C, Marcia M, Richard J, Richard B and John C. Hope I didn't miss anyone.

This summer’s band concerts:

Wednesdays 7-9 pm
Hopedale Town Park
Rain date on Thursdays
Refreshments available

Sponsored by the Hopedale Cultural Council

June 24         Infractions
July 1            B C and Company
July 8            Blackstone Valley Community Concert Band
July 15          Mahrud Jazz Band
July 22          Fantasy Big Band
July29           8 Misbehaving
Aug 5           The Spellbinders

Farmers' markets in the area.  

Blackstone Valley Corridor ranger walkabouts schedule and info.  

Boy Scout Can Drive – High School parking lot – Saturday, July 11, 8 AM – 1 PM


The 1840s was an era of Utopian communes. In Massachusetts, there was Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane’s Fruitlands, which survived less than a year. There was Brook Farm, which lasted, in part, anyway, for about five years. And then there was the far less well-known (except to us, of course), Hopedale, which lasted for fourteen years. What made it possible for Hopedale to survive so much longer than the others? There were probably a number of reasons, but it’s likely that the most important one was the temple. The temple was a loom part invented in 1816 by Ira Draper. By the time of the founding of Hopedale, Ira’s son, Ebenezer, Adin Ballou’s right hand man, owned the patent to the temple. Profits from the sale of temples didn’t go into the Community treasury; they went to Ebenezer. However, he, and after 1853, his brother George, frequently got the commune through financial hard times by using their earnings to buy Community stock. In his autobiography, General Draper (George’s son), gives his version of the cause of the Community’s demise in 1856.

The End of the Hopedale Community

                                               By Gen. William F. Draper

In 1851 the Community for the first time earned the interest on its joint stock capital, and a small surplus besides. In 1852, ’53 and ’54 matters went fairly well, the regular dividends on the joint stock being, if not quite, very nearly earned, - as the accounts were kept. My father, George Draper, moved to Hopedale in 1853, becoming a partner of his brother, E.D. Draper. He was fully in sympathy with the principles of the Community, but he was a clear-headed businessman, - clearer-headed than his brother even, though E.D. Draper was an able man.

The financial makeup of 1853 was a bad one, showing no dividend for the joint stock and a small deficit even beyond that, - but this was not all. No depreciation had been made on buildings and machinery, not only this year but for a long time previous, if ever; and in one department property was carried as existing which had been appropriated by the manager, who was guilty of a breach of trust. The impairment of capital was substantial, wiping out a large percentage of the joint stock, if, in fact, it was not sufficient, (as my father feared), to make a settlement in insolvency probable, - in which case the individual property of the joint stockholders would have been legally held of the general dept.

My father insisted either on a sale of the property to pay the debts or a withdrawal of his interest, and after consideration and careful examination, his brother joined him, and liquidation became necessary as the two brothers owned three-quarters of the joint stock. They took the bulk of the public property and cancelled all the liabilities of the Community, including the face value of the stock not held by them, - thus suffering the entire pecuniary loss, while the others interested participated in the disappointment caused by the failure of the enterprise. There was much hard feeling toward them on the part of some members who would have been glad to have had them take the risk of bankruptcy in keeping on. Mr. Ballou did not sympathize with this feeling, though the Drapers’ decision caused him the keenest disappointment. He writes:

“Neither of them ever sought to enrich himself at the Community’s expense, or took advantage of its necessities, or shirked his share of its burdens, or tried to absolve himself from any of its obligations. On the contrary, both helped it in many a time of need, by augmenting its capital, by enhancing its credit, by cooperation cheerfully with their brethren in maintaining its honor, and not infrequently, (especially in the case of the elder), by making it important and gratefully received donations.”

At the time of the wind-up the Community was carrying on sixteen branches of business, with a payroll of $18,000 per annum for all. Almost all these branches had been continuously unprofitable, being sustained by the one or two that were more successful; and after the change substantially all were closed out, except the machine business, which was profitably continued, in connection with the patent business of the Messrs. Draper, and under their management.

The Community continued, as a moral reform organization, maintaining its membership largely, till the war, which brought too great a strain on the peace principles of a large part of its members, and it finally went out of existence in 1873, when its trustees conveyed to the trustees of the Hopedale Parish all right, title, and interest, in “the Community square, the meeting house standing thereon, and the Hopedale Cemetery.” William F. Draper, Recollections of a Varied Career.

The loom temple

Fruitlands – Wikipedia                   Fruitlands Museum

Brook Farm – Wikipedia                   Brook Farm Historic Site  


Recent deaths:

Justine (Bibbo) Young, Conway, South Carolina, May 17, 2009, HHS 1960.

Robert J. Dumont, 67, June 16, 2009.

Helen E. (Wright) Symonds, 92, June 24, 2009.

Hopedale History Email Menu                   HOME