November 15, 2011
Hopedale in November
Through a great bit of luck, pictures of Adin Ballou’s daughter, Abbie, and her husband, Rev.
William S. Heywood, as well as Rev. George Whittemore Stacy have recently been found. They
were discovered by Patricia Hatch. You may recall, as mentioned last time, that Patricia also
found a photo of Abby Hills Price. I’ve added the Heywoods to a page Abbie wrote for Hopedale
Thanks to Giancarlo BonTempo for sending these 1869 Hopedale business ads from a Milford
business directory. There are several things on them I hadn't seen before..
There’s now a Friends of the Grafton & Upton Railroad page on Facebook. Here’s a link. Thanks
to John Lapoint for sending it.
Here’s a photo of a 1976 reunion of the 1935 Draper baseball team that played in the
Blackstone Valley League. Even if you didn’t see them play, if you were in Hopedale in the mid-
twentieth century you’ll see some familiar names and faces.
Old Milford post card and photos slide show on YouTube. This link is really going around. Within
two days I’d received it from three people. Thanks to Richard, Carol and Anne for sending it.
library history page.)
Cora Scott Hatch Daniels Tappan Richmond
Animal magnetism and clairvoyance were presented and their exponents gave many
exhibitions at my own home, as did also the spiritual mediums, when the rappings, writing, and
tipping of tables were investigated. Two mediums of note dwelt in Hopedale, Fannie Davis
Smith and Cora Scott Hatch Tappan.
The lines above were written by Anna Thwing Field in her memories of life in the Hopedale
Community, and published in Hopedale Reminiscences in 1910. I read that some years ago,
but didn’t give any more thought to Cora Scott until I heard from a woman in Toronto in 2009.
Because she had a family connection to Cora, she was looking for information on her, and
heard that she had lived in Hopedale for a while. I sent her a couple of pages on the Scotts from
Ballou’s History of Milford, including the following:
SCOTT, David, and his wife, Lodensa, from Cuba, N.Y., who res. Hopedale a few mos. between
1849 and 1853. They had 3 chn; viz.-
Cora L.V., birth-date unknown to me. She became the celebrated trance-speaking Spiritualist,
now Cora L. V. Richmond of Chicago, Ill. The two other children were Edwin and Emma
Cora came to mind again recently when I met a couple from Binghamton, NY, also with a family
connection to her. They were here to take a tour around Hopedale and see the town where Cora
once lived. Here’s what Wikipedia says about her time here:
She was born on April 21, 1840 near Cuba, New York. Her parents, though initially Presbyterian,
became interested in the Universalist religion, and in early 1851 joined the Hopedale
Community, an intentional community in Hopedale, Massachusetts. Led by Adin Ballou, the
community was committed to abolitionism, temperance, socialism, and nonviolence. Finding
Hopedale too crowded, the Scott family moved to Waterloo, Wisconsin later that year to found a
similar intentional community, with the blessings of Adin Ballou. It was there, in early 1852, that
Cora first exhibited her ability to fall into a trance and write messages and speak in ways very
unlike herself. Her parents soon began to exhibit her to the surrounding country, and in this way
she became a part of the network of trance lecturers that characterized the Spiritualist
Spiritualism was of considerable interest to many members of the Hopedale Community and
séances were held from time to time. Ballou became especially involved in them after the death
of his son, Adin Augustus, at the age of eighteen in 1852. Periodicals were published here by
Harriet Greene and her husband, Brian Butts for several years under the name, The Spiritual
Reformer. It was, “…given free to the ‘Outcast, Oppressed, and Unfortunate,’ and fifty cents a
year to others.” Copies of the magazine are in the safe at the Bancroft Library, and even if you’re
not an outcast, you can read them there for free.
Here’s a bit more about Cora, including her string of names, from the Wikipedia article:
Cora's father died in 1853, and in 1854 she moved to Buffalo, New York and became well-
known among the most important Spiritualists in the country. By the age of 15, she was making
public appearances in which she spoke with "supernatural eloquence" on almost any topic put
forward by the audience, all while claiming to be in a trance. Contemporary audiences found the
spectacle itself incredible: a very young and pretty girl declaiming with authority on esoteric
subjects; it was enough to convince many people that she was indeed a channel for spirits.
Married four times, Cora adopted the last name of her husband at each marriage, and at various
times carried the surnames Hatch, Daniels, Tappan, and Richmond. Her first husband, who she
married at age 16, was the professional mesmerist Benjamin Franklin Hatch. Over 30 years her
senior, Hatch was a skilled showman who managed Cora in order to maximize revenue, much
to the dismay of serious spiritualists. The marriage ended bitterly, but since the period of their
marriage coincided with her greatest fame, Cora is best known as Cora Hatch.
The Assumption College website says, “Now almost completely forgotten, Cora L. V. (Scott)
Hatch was once one of the most famous women in America.” Here’s more from the same page.
The most celebrated medium was Cora Linn Victoria (Scott) Hatch, later Cora Dodd, Cora
Tappan, and finally Cora Richmond. She was a "trance speaker," someone who spoke directly
under the influence of the spirits and, presumably, in their words. Trance speakers were among
the earliest women to speak in public before "promiscuous" audiences, i.e., audiences of both
men and women. Unlike other mediums, Hatch did not, at least at this point in her career, claim
a specific spirit guide. Nor did she convey specific messages to or from specific individuals on
"this side." Instead she addressed broad questions of the sort posed in the Leslie's Illustrated
The article also described the manner of her presentations, which she called "elucidations." Her
husband, Dr. B. F. Hatch, who had married her in 1856 when she was just sixteen and he over
fifty, acted as master of ceremonies. He had the audience choose a committee of its members
who would, in turn, propound questions. She would address herself to whichever of these the
whole audience voted she should. The procedure was intended to prove to the skeptical that
she had not prepared her address in advance since she had no foreknowledge of the question.
Her willingness, while in a trance state, to answer questions and engage in debate, made the
same point. So too, as the article emphasizes, did her age. As a "girl" of seventeen she was
presumably too young to have mastered the metaphysical topics she discussed.
"Miss Cora Hatch, The Eloquent Medium of The Spiritualists," Frank Leslie's Illustrated
Newspaper, May 9, 1857, 358 (excerpted)
"She is the intellectual wonder of the age."
"She is an inscrutable rhapsodist."
"What a sequence of metaphysical abstractions!"
"What a horrible attack on religion!"
"What an eloquent exposition of the principles of Christianity!"
"What a sacrilegious assault on the Church!"
"What an unanswerable rebuke to our modern Pharisees!"
These diverse opinions were pronounced in our hearing by as many different voices at the close
of one of Cora Hatch's expositions, and every one of these opinions came from persons whose
culture, position and character would give weight to their decision on most topics. Where lies the
truth? Assumption College website. http://www1.assumption.edu/WHW/Hatch/Approaches.
Cora L. V. Hatch
Dr. Benjamin F. Hatch