February 15, 2012
Abby Kelley Foster
Hopedale in February And for a very different look, February 2011.
Here are a few of the Hopedale slide shows and videos I’ve put on YouTube Firemen’s Muster
Hopedale Pond and Parklands Hopedale history, animated version The G&U Railroad
Clouds Tapping maple trees, Memorial School Hopedale in 2011 Centennial parade Sleepy
Little Town Drapers – A Shell And here’s the menu for more of Hopedale on YouTube. You may
find that they work better when viewed in full screen..
find about Arthur Dutcher Sweet or the Bell family (John M. and Carrie G. Bell). If you have anything on
them, please send it to me, and I’ll pass it along.
Another recent request for information concerns Lucy Day. I’ve sent what I have and the little bit I recall
about her, but I’m sure some of you could provide a lot more memories of her.
Abby Kelley Foster
been quite familiar with the Hopedale Community. While little is known about that, Peter Hackett
found enough to write an article titled “Hopedale Knew Abby Kelley Foster.” Below is the part of that
piece that focuses on Foster. Click here if you’d like to read the entire article.
A brief reference to this Abby should not be amiss. She was born in Pelham, a community now
known as “one of those towns under the Quabbin Reservoir.” (Wikipedia give the population of
Pelham in 2010 as 1321. That's a lot of people to be living underwater.) Her father was “an Irish
Quaker yeoman” who moved his family to Worcester in 1811 when Abby was only a year old.
In time she became a school teacher and also an ardent follower of William Lloyd Garrison, the
famous abolitionist. Her reputation as a speaker brought her many calls to lecture. As a result she
gave up teaching and briefly joined her family, then living in Millbury.
After a personal retreat during which she prayed, meditated and reflected about the cause of
abolition, Miss Kelley began a series of lectures, “first in Hopedale, Hopkinton, Milford and nearby
towns.” (Also, Anna Thwing Field, writing in Hopedale Reminiscences recalled Foster speaking in
In the course of her travels she met a famous abolitionist, Stephen S. Foster, who, after a four year
courtship, she married. Together they suffered unbelievably in the course of their travels, lecturing;
were often thrown off platforms, out of windows, stoned, chased, had eggs thrown at them, all for
The Fosters mellowed with age and after the Civil War settled in a farm they bought on Mower Street,
Worcester. They refused to pay their taxes on the grounds that Abby was not allowed to vote. The city
promptly seized the property and sold the farm at auction. It was purchased by friends and neighbors
who returned it to the Fosters, satisfied Abby had dramatized women’s need for the vote.
Lucy Stone, a reformer and long time admirer of Abby, wrote these lines. “Over the highway she
helped build, slaves walked to freedom, and over the highway whose foundation stones she laid with
bleeding hands, women are marching to their equal rights.”
Hopedale knew Abby Kelley Foster.
Peter Hackett, Milford Daily News, October 19, 1974.
On January 15, 1811, Abigail (Abby) Kelley was born the seventh daughter of Wing and Lydia Kelley,
farmers in Pelham, Massachusetts. Kelley grew up helping with the family farms in Worcester where
she received a loving, yet strict Quaker upbringing. Kelley and her family were members of the
Quaker Meeting in nearby Uxbridge, Massachusetts. She began her education in a single-room
schoolhouse in the Tatnuck section of Worcester. Foster's daughter later wrote that Abby "attended
the best private school for girls in Worcester." In 1826, as Worcester had no high school for girls and
her parents could not afford a private seminary, Kelley continued her education at the New England
Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island. After her first year of school, Kelley taught for
two years to make enough money to further her education. In 1829, she attended her final year of
schooling, having received the highest form of education any New England woman of her relatively
moderate economic standing could hope to obtain.
Abby returned to her parents' home to teach in local schools and, in 1835, helped her parents move
to their new home in Millbury. Then in 1836, she moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, where she taught at
a local school. There she met fellow Quakers who preached the ideas of dietary restriction,
temperance, pacifism, and antislavery. She became interested in the health theories of Sylvester
Graham and gained a general interest in the abolition of slavery after hearing a lecture by William
Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist publication The Liberator. Kelley joined the Female Anti-
Slavery Society of Lynn and was soon elected to a committee charged with collecting signatures for
petitions to the Federal government to end slavery in the District of Columbia. Kelley passionately
carried out her assignment, and in 1837 collected the signatures of nearly half the women of Lynn.
Kelley's views became progressively more radical as she worked with abolitionists such as Angelina
Grimke. She became an “ultra”, advocating not only the abolition of slavery, but also full civil equality
for blacks. In addition, Garrison's influence led her to adopt the position of “non-resistance,” which
went beyond opposing war to opposing all forms of government coercion. Radical abolitionists led by
Garrison refused to serve on juries, join the military, or vote. The Garrisonian call for the end of
slavery and the extension of civil rights to women and African Americans caused controversy. Kelley's
advocacy of the radical abolitionist movement prompted some opponents to call her a “Jezebel,” as
what she proposed threatened their sense of social structure. On the other hand, many fellow
abolitionists praised her public speaking skills and her dedication to the cause. Kelley’s influence
was shown by activist women being called “Abby Kelleyites.” Radical abolitionism became known as
“Abby Kelleyism.” Abby Kelley, Wickipedia
Two of Abby’s sisters married cousins of Adin Ballou. Click here to see the Worcester Women’s
History Project page on that in the Kelley family tree.
Hopedale History Ezine Menu HOME