Hopedale Pond pictures - October 11   

    G&U Hazel Street   173 acre parcel from Hazel Street and Route 140 to west of the Mill River
    available for development.

    Will the G&U Railroad offer passenger tours? Thanks to John Lapoint of Grafton for sending a
    link to the article.

    The Milford Historical Commission will hold their Annual Open House, Sunday, October 16 at 2
    PM in Memorial Hall, 30 School Street.  This year we will view pictures of Milford from years ago.  
    Lyn Lovell will narrate the show that will include pictures of downtown buildings, churches,
    schools , businesses and storms that hit the area. We will also note the 150th anniversary of the
    start of the Civil War that began in 1861.

    Blackstone River Greenway project gets $15 million to continue construction.

    From my son, DJ, Mythbusters.com  Old wives tales debunked.   

    Recent deaths   

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    I’ve only occasionally strayed outside the five square miles of Hopedale in these stories, but this
    time I’m going all the way to Mendon for one. The operation of the small school districts around
    here were probably not too different from town to town, and the issues in the Albeeville district,
    the subject of this article, were likely similar to school issues throughout the area. Click here for a
    version that also includes a picture of the Albeeville school.   


                                         Problems at the District School

                                                                     By Lessie Mae Drown

    Not long ago the Mendon Historical Society was presented with a very old record book
    concerning one of Mendon’s own schools.

    It was a record of the school meetings of the Seventh School District from 1812 to 1860. The
    Seventh District, better known as Albeeville, was one of 14 into which the town was divided.
    (Albeeville was in the Millville Road area of Mendon.) Each was a little world in itself, a good
    example of democracy. School matters were settled at the district meetings, which were very
    similar to our town meetings.

    In 1812, the town appropriated $38.57 for the Seventh District School. The schoolmaster’s salary
    was $12.50 a month. In 1823 Ruth Staples taught a summer school for 75 cents a week. We
    read that there were 67 “scholars” in 1824 and 74 in 1832. Incidentally, many distinguished men
    got their start in education in the little school at Albeeville. Many fine old New England families
    grew up in Albeeville. Several generations of Tafts have lived there, including the ancestors of
    President Taft.

    The teacher had to board around in the district. In the 1845 record we read, “It was voted to have
    21 means for one week’s board.” What could be back of a vote like that? Did someone feel
    something should be deducted if the teacher was invited out to supper? At the price usually paid
    for board then, one meal would be less than five cents.

    One amusing item appeared in each report for a number of years. In 1812 it read, “Johnson
    Legg bid off the ashes for 77 cents.” It was the custom to sell the ashes to the highest bidder at
    each annual meeting. At a meeting in 1813, Leonard Staples agreed to repair a chair for 33
    cents. Does it seem possible that anyone ever did anything for 33 cents?

    The question of building a new schoolhouse came up in 1821. They voted to raise $160 to build
    one. They appointed a committee “to find a spot to set the schoolhouse on,” and another
    committee to make a contract with someone according to law for building the schoolhouse.
    Before the meeting adjourned, “Simeon Wheelock took the schoolhouse to build for $193.” They
    adjourned for one week.

    At the adjourned meeting, they voted to release Simeon Wheelock from his bid and to contact
    with Arnold Taft for the same sum, $193. They voted to give Wheelock $1.50 for a piece of land
    upon which to set the schoolhouse. Arnold Taft built the new school, and it was finished within a
    year. In October of that year (1821) there was a meeting at which they voted to “put out to the
    lowest bidder the building necessary, leveling around the schoolhouse,” and a few other jobs.
    Simeon Wheelock agreed to finish the cellar for $2 and to build a necessary for $5.

    In 1830 they were facing what must have seemed a very serious and urgent problem. That was
    vandalism. The schoolhouse had been broken into, and property damaged. The extent of the
    damage is not given, but much or little, it must be stopped. They voted that the committee repair
    the door lock, nail down the windows, and close the schoolhouse against intruders. They also
    voted that the agent prosecute any person or persons “who shall break into the schoolhouse
    unnecessarily or damage the house in any way.”

    In 1845 they again needed a new schoolhouse. They were now more ambitious, or prices had
    risen, for they voted to raise $425. They also voted that the building committee negotiate with
    Varville Taft for a site and if they failed, to take legal measures to obtain the same. They need not
    have worried. Mr. Taft evidently was glad to sell them the desired land, one acre for $12.50. Soon
    the land was purchased and the schoolhouse was built.

    Of course they wanted a new stove for the new schoolhouse, so in October 1846 they voted to
    authorize the prudential committee to buy and set up a stove. The year 1847 arrived and at the
    first meeting held they voted to buy a stove and pipe and instructed the prudential committee to
    carry the vote into effect. Apparently the voters’ wishes were again disregarded, for at a later
    meeting the same year, “the prudential committee is instructed to buy a stove adapted to the
    wants of the district.”

    Time went on and at another meeting they chose a committee to take up a subscription to obtain
    a stove, and buy a separate vote, they were instructed to sell the old stove. At a still later meeting
    they voted to raise $15 to buy a stove, but the vote was reconsidered. There is no record of the
    stove being bought. Why did anyone hesitate? Was there a feeling that stoves were “new-fangled
    notions” and fireplaces were better?

    If we should look in other old town records we would find that men then were paid 10 cents an
    hour to work on the road, and 10 cents an hour for the use of a pair of oxen. We do not need to
    smile at these figures. They were wonderful dollars. One of them would buy a bag of groceries
    so big we could scarcely lift it. It would buy other things in the same proportion. Those dollars
    command our respect.

    From all this we can see something of a past life and a past pattern of thinking and living which
    was very different from our own. Undated newspaper article.

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    Fishing at "the ole swimmin' hole," a bit upstream
    from the Rustic Bridge, Hopedale Pond.