June 1, 2014
The Postal Service
Hopedale in May
During the past two weeks, I've made additions to pages on: Eben S. Draper, Jr, (obit) Unitarian
Church (picture of the original church added) Fitzgerald Drive (Arthur Fitzgerald obit) Now and
Then - Town Hall (Police Department office opened in Town Hall) Richard Griffin (article on the
naming of the Griffin Apartments)
The Milford Historical Commission will tour some of the famous Milford Pink granite quarries. If you
are interested in joining a group, we will meet in front of St. Mary’s Church on Winter Street at 1:30 pm
on Saturday, June 14 with a rain date of Sunday, June 15. More on this at the bottom this page.
Twenty-five years ago - June 1989 - The Tiananmen Square massacre takes place in Beijing, and
the final stand-off is covered live on television. The next day, an unknown Chinese protestor, "Tank
Man," stands in front of a column of military tanks, temporarily halting them, an incident which
achieves iconic status internationally through images taken by Western photographers.
Solidarity's victory in Polish elections is the first of many anti-communist revolutions in Central and
Eastern Europe in 1989.
Jody Whyte will be serving as program director at the Town Park this summer. Victoria Hildreth and
Tracy Pellegrino will be planning and supervising activities. The morning activities next week will
begin with the making of gold foil plaques on Monday and frisbee golf on Tuesday. A nature walk is
planned for Wednesday followed by scratch picture art on Thursday and bingo on Friday.
Fire Chief David Durgin has completed a two week program, "Chemistry of Hazardous Materials"
conducted by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stowe.
Fifty years ago - June 1964 - The U.S. Senate votes cloture of the Civil Rights Bill after a 75-day
Three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, are murdered
near Philadelphia, Mississippi.
James Tracy of Quincy has purchased the Oakledge Manor Nursing Home property at 34 Adin Street.
This town's new $550,00 housing project for the elderly on Hopedale Street went on display yesterday
with over 800 persons taking advantage of the opportunity to inspect it.
The story of the town's first postal service is an interesting one as revealed in a chapter in "Hopedale
Reminiscences." The booklet is comprised of papers read before the Hopedale Ladies Sewing
Society and Branch Alliance on April 27, 1910. Quite interestingly, the booklet, with fancy lettering and
designs displayed between printed titles, was printed in the long defunct Hopedale School Press.
Susan Thwing Whitney recounted the story of the first post office for the ladies assembled that April
27 at what is now known as the Unitarian Church.
She began her recollection of the post office by stating, "Had you chanced to be in Hopedale fifty years
ago , or a little earlier, you might have seen a chubby, rosy girl, with brown eyes and hair, who,
every evening, except Sunday, between seven and eight traveled over that part of Hopedale between
Hope Street and the Corner. It was not Patrick's Corner then.
If you had happened to meet this little girl some stormy evening in winter, you could have seen that
she wore a warm hood, rubber boots and leather mittens.
In one hand she carried a lantern, a queer four-sided lantern, three sides of which were of glass and
the fourth side had a handle to carry it by, and would also open, so the lamp could be taken out to be
filled with whale-oil."
The story goes on to tell that in the other hand she carried a carpet bag from which she took
sometimes a letter and sometimes a paper which she left in a house nearby.
The author of the story then said, "So, allow me to present to you, Susie Thwing, one of the first mail
carriers of Hopedale." The other carrier, whose route was the upper part of the village, was Anna
Thwing, her sister.
"When the Community was first started the mail for Hopedale was brought from the Milford Post Office
by anyone who happened to go there. About 1853 when Appendix A of the Constitution of the
Community was written, Enactment 8 provided for establishing a Post Office in Hopedale. Soon after,
my mother, Mrs. Almon Thwing, was elected Post Mistress. All mail leaving Hopedale was carried to
my father's, [Almon Thwing] who lived where Mrs. Charles M. Day's house is." (The Thwing house,
shown above, was across Hopedale Street from the Bancroft Library. It was eventually moved to
Union Street and replaced with the house that's on the site now. Mrs. Charles Day was the daughter of
Joseph and Sylvia Bancroft. Almon Thwing and his wife were Sylvia Mrs. Day's uncle and aunt.)
She recounted how the letters were counted and securely locked in a bag which was carried to the
Milford Post Office by Mr. Pliny Southwick or whoever drove the express to and from the railroad
station. There were two mails daily, each way. The first arrived here in the middle of the forenoon, and
the other about half past six in the afternoon, but the carriers were only on duty after the latter.
From what she recalled about the post office, there was a sign which read "Letter Box," located over a
hole cut in the south side of her father's house where the mail could be dropped into a box in the
wood-shed. To pay for the work of carrying and caring for the mails, a little stamp was issued which
cost the sender or receiver a letter, living in Hopedale, one and a half cents. The first issue was a
pink, oblong stamp, about an inch long, and the second was square and yellow, and both had printed
on them, "Hopedale Penny Post."
Mrs. Whitney told about when she was carrying the mail, she also carried a supply of these stamps in
a pen-box in her bag, and if the receiver of a letter had no little stamp to give her in return, he usually
tendered a silver three-cent piece and she gave him a stamp. On the outgoing mail, the stamp was
affixed to the middle of the back of the envelope. There were only 14 or 15 houses on her route then,
and the Hopedale Home School received the greatest number of letters.
According to her, the best remembered newspapers that came in the mail were the "New York
Tribune," "The Liberator," "Worcester Spy," and "Woonsocket Patriot."
She recalled that, "As Hopedale grew the Post Office was transferred to the grocery store, first to the
house where I now reside, when Mr. Ansel Harlow was the store-keeper and post-master."
She told then how the Home School was closed and the school-house was altered into a dwelling
house, Mr. Hiram Gibson had a grocery store there and filled both positions. She noted that this was
the first house north of the Town House.
She said, "I think the little stamp was used until Hopedale had a regular United States Post Office.
These stamps have now become objects of interest to stamp collectors. One has recently been sold
by a Hopedale lady for five dollars, and had it been in perfect condition would have brought her more
Later the United States Post Office was located in the Town Hall, where it remained until moving to the
present location in 1964.
Shirley Stewart, now retired, and Judith Brown, who now serves as Hopedale's postmistress, hold the
distinction of being the first women to be employed as letter carriers here, and Mrs. Brown holds the
honor of being the first postmistress at the Hopedale Post Office. When the story of the town's first
post office emerged, it appeared that the two women had been given the honor incorrectly, having
been preceded by the Thwing sisters and their mother. However, the difference between the 1850
operation and today's is that the earlier one was part of the Hopedale Community and not connected
with the U.S. government. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Stewart were indeed the first letter carriers here for the
U.S. Postal Service and Mrs. Brown is the first postmistress assigned to the local post office.
Hopedale's post office today services five routes and delivers mail to 2,187 homes and businesses, a
long way from the two routes and about 15 homes each that the earlier post office serviced. Milford
Daily News, July 28, 1990
The Post Office by Susan Thwing Whitney Now and Then - Post Office
Hopedale history ezine menu HOME
Milford Historical Commission’s Quarry Walk
The Historical Commission will tour some of the famous Milford Pink granite quarries. If you are
interested in joining a group, we will meet in front of St. Mary’s Church on Winter Street at 1:30 pm on
Saturday, June 14 with a rain date of Sunday, June 15.
We will drive to various locations where we can park and then proceed to walk along paths to see
different quarries sites. There are no working quarries in town and haven’t been for many years but
the ledge holes themselves tell an interesting story. It doesn’t take much to imagine the stonecutters
splitting the rock and envision the derricks lifting the huge granite pieces out of the ledge holes.
Milford Pink granite was used in countless buildings and monuments across the country, for example,
Washington D.C.’s First Division Monument, the foundation of the Lincoln Memorial, the Boston Public
Library, John Hancock Building, South Station, the Main Post Office in NYC, Grand Central Station, the
Perry Monument on Lake Erie and Worcester City Hall.
In New York, the Pennsylvania Station featured 84 columns and 22 eagles that were carved in Milford
but unfortunately it was torn down to make way for Madison Square Garden. People realized that it
was a mistake to destroy such a magnificent and irreplaceable landmark that it sparked the beginning
of historical commissions across the country.
Milford is fortunate to have Memorial Hall, the Armory, Universalist Church, Stacy School, the Police
Station, Irish Round Tower and World War I monument built locally. Hopedale features the Unitarian
Church, the Town Hall, Bancroft Library and tombs in the Village Cemetery.
Information regarding various quarries is available for research in Memorial Hall which is open to
visitors on Thursdays 1 – 4 pm. Historical Commission meetings are held on the second Wednesday
of the month at 7 pm in Memorial Hall. For further information regarding the quarry walk please call
Anne Lamontagne at 508-473-8571.
Susan Thwing Whitney
The Thwing house on Hopedale Street.
|Hopedale's Postal Service Established Back in 1853
Daily News Staff