Hopedale History
    October 1, 2012
    No. 213
    Village Cemetery at 100

    Hopedale in September   

    Hopedale High basketball team – 1970s.  

    Grading the G&U roadbed in Hopedale - YouTube.  

    Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the General Draper statue in Milford.

    Daniel Chester French – a video on YouTube done by the Chesterwood Estate and Museum. No,
    General Draper isn’t in it, but Lincoln, the Minuteman, and many others are.

    Milford High 1915 baseball team. Photo taken at a c1950 reunion. – Yes, I know. You didn’t get to any
    of their games. A few names might be familiar, though. Maybe even some faces.

    Recent deaths   

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    Here’s a shortened version of a full page Milford Daily News article on the history of the Hopedale
    Village Cemetery. Click here if you’d like to read the entire article.

                                                        Hopedale Village Cemetery

                                                                          By Virginia Cyr
      
    Hopedale Village Cemetery, one of the most attractive and best maintained cemeteries in the Milford
    area, is observing its 100th year of incorporation this year. (1987)

    Although this is its centennial year of incorporation, the cemetery which now covers 19 acres of land,
    dates back to the Hopedale Community and the year 1847 when it covered two acres.

    To commemorate its 100th year, the cemeteries current board of trustees – president and treasurer,
    Thad Jackson, superintendent, Howard E. Whitney, Walter E. Soderberg, D. Craig Travers, Bruce Lutz,
    and secretary and assistant treasurer, Norma Stewart, and employees Robert A. Hammond, John W.
    Foley, Jr., Robert M. O’Connell, Sr., and their guests assembled at the Cocke ‘n’ Kettle in Uxbridge for
    an anniversary dinner.

    The history of the cemetery is as fascinating as the history of the town which began as a dream in the
    eyes of Adin Ballou and other community members who founded the community on a socialistic
    basis in the hope that a Utopian life for all would be the end result.

    The two-acre piece of land which made up the cemetery in the community days was deeded, with the
    community meeting house, to William H. Humphrey, William F. Draper and Almon Thwing, trustees of
    the Hopedale Parish, for the total sum of five dollars.

    The transaction was recorded at the Registry of Deeds in Worcester on Dec. 23, 1887. The deed
    contains the following paragraph: “And whereas the said Hopedale Church became virtually defunct,
    and has for many years past failed to make any choice of Meeting House Trustees…thus leaving the
    whole care of the Meeting House in the hands of the regular Meeting Trustees.

    “And whereas the Hopedale Community itself has dwindled to a very small number of resident
    members, and been succeeded in the chief occupancy of said Meeting House by the Hopedale
    Parish, organized Oct 27, 1867, which Parish needs and is likely to make good use of the same
    permanently hereafter.”

    The two-acre cemetery has been added to through the years, first with the purchase of 4. 239 acres of
    land from General William F. Draper at a price of $1,000.

    This transaction added four plus acres to the two-acre parcel and then a portion of the Day Estate,
    which bordered the cemetery on what is now the Hammond Road site, was added to the acreage.
    The most recent acquisition of land came from a transaction in 1979 with Rockwell International, the
    successor to the Draper Corporation. This added four more acres to the site and provided for
    extension of the cemetery in the direction of Mendon Street.

    The bi-laws by with the cemetery is operated have not changed much through the years. Article VI of
    the bi-laws relates to “Visitors to the Cemetery.” No vehicle is to be driven in any part of the cemetery
    except the avenues, and there at a rate no faster than a walk. No horse is to be left unfastened without
    a keeper, and no horse is to be fastened except at posts provided for the purpose.

    Through a gift of General Draper, a black wooden fence was removed and a substantial wall was
    built. A report notes that “a beautiful fieldstone arch” had been built at the entrance, but that is long-
    gone.

    The remains of General Draper, Governor Draper, Princess Margaret Boncompagni and other
    members of the Draper family, the Ballou, Dutcher, Bancroft and Stimpson families, and other notable
    Hopedale names rest within the beautiful cemetery.

    Another grave, telling a story of the times is that of a family, said to be loyal domestic employees of the
    Draper family bears the family name (Johnson) and a notation on the stone, “Colored.” An American
    flag flies to the side of the stone indicating that one of those buried here had served in the military.
    (That would be Charles Johnson. His name is on the family stone, but he was killed in the Civil War
    and is buried at Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina. Thanks to John Butcher for that and a
    good deal more information on him.)

    The trees in the cemetery are a study within themselves. Several trees not far from the entrance are
    grafted umbrella trees. According to one of the present employees, many years ago an employee
    named Mr. Bracci had acquired the trees in his native Italy, and when the tops of the original trees
    were lost, either to disease or storm, he grafted the umbrella trees onto the trunks.

    The line where the graft was made on the trees is clearly visible. Further up the road, in the vicinity of
    the Dutcher family lot is another tree that is intriguing. It is a beech tree and it has the largest trunk
    with the most unique knots and lumps and at the point closest to the ground, it looks like it has claws.
    Milford Daily News, 1987

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The long-gone arch.