Hopedale History
March 1, 2011
No. 175
The Case for Milford

Hopedale in February   

Community House audience –  A photo taken in 1976, so it was probably a bicentennial event.
Recognize anyone?   

Recent additions to YouTube – swimming at Hopedale Pond in the late sixties, the Hopedale fireman’s
muster (part of the Hopedale Centennial celebration, 1986),  Hopedale Centennial parade, reunion of
the Hopedale High classes of the 1940s, Chet Sanborn tapping maples at Memorial School, and more.
Click here to go to a menu with links to them.

The West Foundry   

If you’d like to receive weekly emails listing recent acquisitions by your local library, sign up at

Here’s part of an email I received a few days ago. We have a Draper duplex on Hope Street. The closet
door for our third bedroom is down in our basement. The hardware, including the hinges, is missing. Do
you have any idea where I may be able to find matching hardware
? If you have any ideas for missing
hardware guy, let me know and I’ll pass it on to him.

Court testimony of Nicola Sacco.   

Recent deaths     


As we look back at it 125 years later, it may seem inevitable that Hopedale would be a town, but it was
no sure thing back in 1885 when it was first proposed. In the end, if even one state senator who voted
yea had decided to vote nay, Hopedale would have remained a village on the west side of Milford. Below
is a very much shortened version of the argument the lawyer for Milford gave against “mutilation.” I’d say
he makes a good case. If there’s anyone interested in reading the entire speech,
here’s a link to it.

                                                                The Case for Milford

Chairman and Gentlemen: —

IT is my privilege to speak to you in behalf of more than twelve hundred voters and tax-payers of Milford,
who protest against the proposed mutilation of their ancient and honored town merely to gratify the
personal pride, and promote the personal interest, of one wealthy man and his family. Stripped of the
disguises which the ingenuity of counsel have sought to throw about it, the question before you is simply
whether one of the most flourishing towns in the Commonwealth shall be mutilated and permanently
injured, that the Draper family may be incorporated as a town and relieved from the fair burdens of-just
and equal taxation.

I ask your attention for a moment to what the town of Milford is. It was created in 1780 from a part of the
old town of Mendon, the proprietors of which purchased it of the Indians for about forty-five dollars; and
the range of hills, now popularly known as Mendon Hills, was naturally taken as the dividing line
between the old town and the new. Upon its compact and well-balanced territory of about twelve
thousand acres, there has grown up a population of between nine and ten thousand persons. Probably
no population of equal size in the Commonwealth is more tied together in its business and social
interests, more thoroughly unified in all matters out of which the necessity for town government grows,
and upon which town government operates, than this population. For more than a hundred years it has
administered its municipal affairs wisely and well. It has fulfilled every duty of a well-ordered town

Four hundred rods from the centre of business and population of the whole town are the factories of
George Draper & Sons, the Hopedale Machine Company, and the Dutcher Temple Company,
substantially owned, and all absolutely controlled, by the Draper family, which, if not a royal family, may
almost be termed an incorporated family, as it holds a large part of its great wealth in the form of
corporate capital. Between these factories and the business centre are the beautiful residences of the
Drapers and their business associates, and the modest, well-kept cottages of their operatives and
employees; making a little hamlet of 154 dwellings and 660 inhabitants. If it had not received the fanciful
name of Hopedale some forty years ago when a company of religious visionaries attempted to maintain
there a community,— the members of which claimed all the benefits of citizenship, while they refused to
perform any of its duties, — it would have long ago been called in name, what it is in fact, — Drapersville.
Both the Centre and Hopedale are included within a territory two miles and a half in length by a mile and
a half in width, which comprises at least ninety per cent of the entire population of the whole town. The
unity of their social and business interests is conceded. Speaking of it, even Mr. George Draper says, —
" Citizens of Hopedale own in your banks, in your gas-works, in your water-works, in your railroads, and
will continue to patronize them all. They have an interest in your quarries, your shoe-shops, and other
industries. They will continue to trade in your stores, markets, and other places of business; to employ
your doctors, lawyers, and other professional men, and your skilled mechanics and other laboring-men.
We may not attend your town-meetings, or visit your town library, or attend your high schools; but we will
walk on your streets, visit your houses, and marry your daughters."

Never, until within a few months past, has there been a suggestion from any quarter that the best
interests of the people of this community, or of any portion of them, required that it should be divided and
placed under two municipal governments; nor, until this petition was presented, was it ever suggested
that any portion of this community had an interest so diverse from the rest that it ought to be constituted a
separate town.

This petition of William F. Draper, George Draper, George Albert Draper, and seventy others, — all of
whom are either directors, officers, employees, or in the pay of the Draper corporations and interests,—
asks you to mutilate the town of Milford, and constitute Hopedale, or Drapersville, with the small territory
at the north containing six voters, and South Milford containing thirty-one voters (a majority of whom
remonstrate against if), into a new town, to be called Hopedale.

It will be a town of substantially one industry, — that of making machinery for manufacturing
establishments. It will also be a town without natural advantages to retain this industry. Mr. George
Draper tells you that the location is one of the worst for their business that can be picked out within forty
miles of Boston. It will be a town composed substantially of the persons owning and engaged in this
one industry: and if this industry fails from any cause, such as change in the tariff, which now protects
and supports it largely; a change in the method of manufactures, so that the appliances which are there
made are not required; the death, or the change of inclination, or the retirement from business, of the
two or three persons controlling the business; or if this business fails from any one of the numerous
causes which can now be stated, or which may hereafter arise, there will not be enough left of the town
to support a town government of the feeblest and poorest land. Once let these industries be removed,
once let this single business fail or become substantially depressed, and the people of the territory
which you are now asked to set off would come clamoring to your doors to be re-annexed to the good old
town of Milford.

At every step in this scheme for the creation of a new town, from its inception at a private meeting of the
Draper family, when one of the daughters wanted to know why they could not have a town of their own, to
the day when George Draper and Gen. Draper, backed by the lesser Drapers, took their seats at the
counsel-table in this committee-room, and have constantly dominated and directed their side of this
hearing, the potent personality of this powerful family has been constantly seen and felt. Take them out
of it, and the project for division would dissolve into thin air. There is nothing to justify it, there is nothing
to sustain it, except the personal ambition and self interest of one strong, persistent, obstinate man.

The underlying, controlling fact in this case is that Milford, as now constituted, is one community. Her
people are one people; they have always worked together for good; they will continue to do so unless
you break them up by this arbitrary and unjust division. Her citizens protest against it. Every reason of
sound public policy is against it. In 1876 her people celebrated the national centennial, and in 1880 they
called all her children together and celebrated the town centennial with thanksgiving and joy for all the
good old town had done. At each of these gatherings Gen. Draper was marshal, and the Draper family
took active and conspicuous parts. Even since this petty controversy arose, when her people came
together to mourn the death, and do honor to the memory, of the great soldier and the first citizen of the
Republic, George Draper, as the leading citizen of the town, was unanimously called to preside.

While I speak, the graver's chisel carves upon the walls of Milford's Memorial Hall the names of more
than twelve hundred Union soldiers, all enlisted within her own borders, — many of them of Irish birth
and of Catholic faith, — whose achievements are the choicest heritage of the town; and at the head of
that list the name of Gen. William F. Draper leads all the rest. Day by day his comrades, officers and
privates of the Union army, are passing away. When he, too, after the years of usefulness and honor
which lie before him, shall join the silent majority, I trust it will be within the walls of this beautiful hall that
the people of a Milford unmutilated in its fair proportions, unimpaired in its prosperity, still united,
vigorous, and strong, will gather to do honor to his memory and mourn him as one of her most
illustrious sons.
J.H. Benton

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