July 1, 2012
Hopedale in June
Those of you who attended Hopedale High School in the days when the Draper Library was open to
students every day may remember the bust of Dante, and the question freshmen were prompted to
ask Miss Day. Here’s your chance to see Dante again.
Friends of Upton State Forest newsletter.
Mendon directory, 1898.
Additions have been made to the page of mid-twentieth century Hopedale police photos ,
Memories of Bob Holmes , and to the Bright Oak Club and Italian Club.
Twenty-five years ago – July 1987 – John Bacon, Richard Martin and Roland Morin, Sr. take out
papers to run for the unexpired selectman’s term of Edward Scott.
School Building Committee Organizes – Al Sparling, chairman, John DiPietropolo, vice chairman,
Mike Milanoski, treasurer.
Sale of Iandoli Chain to Shaw’s Expected in October
Fifty years ago – July 1962 – Low Bid for Hope Street Bridge Exceeds Appropriation
Ted Kennedy Lands Plane at Hopedale Airport
Algeria Gains Independence after 132 Years of French Rule
US Explodes Rocket-bourne Nuclear Device in Pacific
Telstar Satellite Sent into Obit – New Era of Global Radio and TV around the World Predicted.
In whatever direction we look we are reminded of astonishing changes and growths. There is the
thriving little village of Hopedale, not yet thirty-five years of age. Its fine waterfall, first utilized
by a colony of beavers centuries ago, and later by the sawmill of the oldest Jones, had long run to
waste when, in 1842, a human community, with beaver-like co-operation and industry, commenced
the improvements which now command the admiration of beholders. That old farming district, with
its four or five landholders and rural dwellings, was a respectable one from the beginning, yea, a
Thither came the stalwart and pious Elder Jones, closely followed by the enterprising Capt. Seth
Chapin, about the year 1700, and hewed them out goodly homes in the wilderness. There dwelt their
posterity, and the intermarrying Thwings and Nelsons, people of renown in our early chronicles. Give
due credit to the beavers, if you please, who instinctively built the original dam and in it their
phalanstery; for they bequeathed a nice meadow to Elder Jones, who thence derived for his hungry
cattle their first hay, — probably not the poor bog-grass of these days; rather the nutritious blue-joint
of aboriginal times. But however you antedate the more conspicuous recent improvements, a
remarkable progress distinguishes that section of our town. More striking indeed is it here in the
Centre. Hither came Benjamin Godfrey, trader, and Pearler Hunt, and John Claflin, jun., also traders.
Between 1790 and 1800 they began their career with penny-like capital, but made their mark and
flourished. They rendered Milford, even then, a popular mart for a considerable surrounding region.
Nowhere out of Boston and Providence could such a variety of articles be bought and sold, whether
heavy agricultural produce, groceries, or curious knick-knacks and notions. As we saunter up and
down these sidewalks, glancing into elegant stores, kept in stately structures, we wonder how the
Milfordians of former generations could be proud of two or three cluttered trading shops, and the
comparatively rustic enterprise of their proprietors. But, realty, it was more to them than the grander
present is to us: they enjoyed it with a keener relish. Nevertheless, the upward march has been
We gaze at half a score of commodious boot manufactories, and can hardly realize, what the oldest
of us well remember, that little more than a half-century ago the founders of this great manufacture
here carried on their business in petty one-story cribs, twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions, or in
contracted apartments of ordinary dwelling-houses ; and it amazes us to be told that such men as
Arial Bragg, Rufus Chapin, Lee Claflin, and others, commenced their career by peddling, even partly
on foot, their shoes and boots in single pairs and half-dozens. But such were the facts; and those
men were thought "mighty smart," in comparison with the mere primitive cordwainers, who, like the
tailors, carried their "kits" once or twice a year from house to house, far and wide.
"Well, we look up at the telegraph-poles, and lo! their wires offer to dart our messages, for a few
dimes, with lightning celerity, to far distant cities. No ancestral dreamer ever conjured up such a
prodigy. The coal of the Alleghenies, glowing in our stoves all through the wintry months, politely
asks us to think of the huge stone chimneys, yawning fireplaces, monstrous backlogs, and blazing
wood-piles of our great-grandparents. And what says the brilliant gas that illuminates our houses
and streets? It discourses eloquently to the more elderly of us concerning pine-knots, lard saucer-
lamps with rag wicks, tallow candles, and their more respectable whale-oil successors. At the same
time our dulcet instruments of music bid us not forget the hum of the old superseded spinning-
wheels. Adin Ballou, History of Milford, p. 439.
Ballou’s History of Milford was published in 1882, but the first sentence indicates that this piece must
have been written in or shortly before 1876. If it seemed to you that this came to a rather abrupt end,
that’s because I like to keep under 1,000 words if possible, and this one didn’t have a good stopping
point. If you’d like to read more of it, here’s a link to an online version of History of Milford. Also, the
book can be seen at both the Hopedale and Milford libraries.
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Photo by Terry Studer