Freedom Street - July 3
July 15, 2014
Hopedale in July
There used to be a bell in the tower at the fire station, but it was removed in 1953. Click here to see where it's
been since then.
A short video on the CCC camp in Upton.
During the last two weeks I've added to pages on Adin Ballou Park (1937 MDN article) Boarding Houses (Park
House razed, 1937) Draper gas station (Woolhiser promoted) Ice Cutting on Hopedale Pond (ice harvest of
1939) The Harel House (Osgood mansion to be converted to rest home by McVitty family, 1939) Recent
Lincoln Wright, who has been ill with typhoid fever at the Milford hospital, will soon take a sea cruise along the
Atlantic coast, possibly going to Cuba for the benefit of his health. Milford Gazette, February 10, 1911.
The Grafton and Upton railroad is to be equipped with electric motive power and the work of stringing the trolley
wires will be commenced next week. Milford Gazette, September 14, 1917.
Mr. James H. Northrop was born in Keighley, England on May 8, 1847. After becoming an expert mechanic and
factory foreman in his own country, Mr. Northrop came to this side in May 1881, soon drifting to Hopedale, where
he became employed as an expert on metal patterns. His invention of the Northrop Spooler Guide brought him to
the notice of his employers and he was selected by them to work out the idea of an automatic knotter for
spoolers. Although showing great ingenuity, the devices did not appear commercially practical, and the inventor
became sufficiently discouraged to abandon the shop and devote his time to farming.
Not finding this occupation congenial, he applied for employment some years later, in the fall of 1888, but the
only opening then present was a job as mechanic at $2 per day. In February, Northrop who had noted the
progress of the Rhoades idea (At that time, Draper inventor Alonzo Rhoades was working on a shuttle-changing
loom), spoke to Mr. George Otis Draper, who had just entered the firm of George Draper & Sons, stating that if
given a chance he could put a shuttle-changer on a loom in one week's time, that could be made in quantities for
a cost of $1 each. On March 5th, Mr. Draper drove to his farm and saw a rough wooden model of his idea, which
was set up in his henhouse. At Mr. Draper's recommendation, the firm ordered another loom for experiments,
and after its arrival Mr. Northrop was started on April 8th to work out his scheme.
By May 20th he had concluded that his first idea was not practical, and having meanwhile thought out a new
plant, he asked for an extension of time until the fourth of July in which to perfect it. On July 5th, the completed
loom was running at speed, and as it seemed to involve more advantages than the Rhoades patterns, the
weaver was taken off the Rhoades loom and transferred to the Northrop.
On October 24th a loom with new construction, from revised patterns, was running at the Seaconnet Mill in Fall
River, and more looms of the same kind were started up there at intervals. Mr. Northrop had, however,
meanwhile thought out his idea of changing filling in the shuttle (that is, changing the empty bobbin for a new
one, rather than changing the shuttle with bobbin) some of the parts of such a mechanism taking shape as early
as October. The development at our works continued so favorably that by April of 1890 a lot of filling-changing
looms were started in the same Seaconnet Mill.
Attempts have been made by interested parties to show that those earlier trials were experiment in character and
productive of nothing practical at the time. Such, however, was not the case. These earlier trials, both of shuttle-
changer and filling-changer, showed practically operative mechanisms, which were run on many looms weaving
cloth for the regular mill product, with regular mill help; in fact, when we transferred our trial of mechanisms from
Fall River to another mill center, the looms which we left were run for months by the mill help without
superintendence on our part, and without even a casual inspection by any of our men.
We left the twelve looms running under the normal supervision of the mill management in March 1891. To show
how well these early mechanisms did their work, we quote from the following letter received from the overseer of
the room June 27, 1891.
"I am proud to inform you that there has not been a mishap of any kind this week. The looms are weaving fabric
faster than the spinning frame can spin. Mr. _______ seems surprised to see the weavers standing at the end of
the frame waiting for the doffers and their looms stopped. Notwithstanding having to wait so many times for
filling, the production for the week ending 27th is seventy-eight (78) cuts." Labor Saving Looms, pp. 23-25,
Draper Company, 1904.
probably the first of several generations of the family to live on Northrop Street, and that the street wss named for
him; nor James
School and landed in Hopedale. This one at Town
Park and the other on Hopedale Street near the pond.