Walter Browne - Memories of the people who lived on Purchase Street, Milford decades ago.

    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.

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    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
    filibuster.

    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.

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    How and when did the first post office in Hopedale come into existence?

    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 [1860], 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
    money."

    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   

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                                  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

By Virginia Cyr
Daily News Staff