Hopedale History
    October 15, 2014
    No. 262
    Seance


    Hopedale in October

    Hopedale Pond in October   

    Working in the Shop - Twenty-one photos of Draper workers at their machines and benches.

    The end of swimming at Hopedale Pond.   

    Additions to existing pages during the past two weeks:   The 1913 Strike (Postcard view of Eben and
    Bristow Draper, standing with Boston police at the Statue of Hope.)     John Steel (Article about his
    brothers.)     Now and Then - The Griffin-Dennett Apartments (Attempt to establish a housing authority
    defeated at Town Meeting in 1960.)     Harrison Block (Old photo and a paragraph from the National
    Register Nomination added.)    Sacred Heart Church (MDN clipping - "Start to Remodel Old
    Schoolhouse.")     Now and Then - The Dutcher Street School (Several articles written around the time
    when it was closed.)     The Upper Charles Trail - Milford (A few photos added to the page showing
    parts of the now completed "missing link.")

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    The Milford Electric Light & Power Co. is installing 45 new 40-watt electric lights in this town, some in
    the Mendon Hill section, some on the upper end of Dutcher Street, some between Spindleville and
    South Milford, and some in the main part of the town. With the new service the town will have a system
    of 225 electric street lights and will be one of the best lighted towns of its size in the state. Milford
    Gazette, August 20, 1915

    If I didn't see a future to it, I wouldn't have bought it. Philip Shwachman, Draper complex owner,
    Milford Daily News, February 24, 2006

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    During the days of the Hopedale Community there was quite an interest in what was called "the spirit
    world," and it appears that séances were held frequently. Thanks to Rev. Patricia Hatch for sending a
    link to a book with the following of memories of one of the séances.     

                                              A Trip to the Spirit World

    Wonderful are the various phases of spirit power, and I am here going to narrate one of our Friday
    séances, which I was  told to defer until now, although it took place in 1870. When Mrs. T. came in on
    the 8th of April she mentioned that a well-known friend of hers (in Massachusetts) had recently
    passed away, and that she had been a good deal engaged in writing on the subject to other friends.

    After I had mesmerized her for some time, she saw a purple light and presently she exclaimed, "Oh, I
    do think this is Mrs. D, dear me! -- It was only a glimpse, she seemed to pass just before me. She
    looked exactly as she used to look except that she stooped a little -- I see the main street at Hope
    Dale, -- just as it used to look, -- from top to bottom. I see a face I know so well, and yet for the life of
    me I can't remember the name. -- Oh! it is Edmund Soward. I think he is in the spirit world. I'm sure he
    is. -- he died of consumption about fifteen years ago. Oh! yes, he had on something like a cloak,
    which he has taken off to show me his jacket of green baize. He used to be called a walking
    cyclopedia, because he knew something of everything -- He was a great friend of Mr. and Mrs. D; he
    always dined there when they had friends who had need of intelligent conversation. He is going down
    the street from the school-house, and I am going with him. -- I am passing some houses that I don't
    remember, where there used to be flowers and some nursery trees. -- and the houses need painting
    very much. We go straight past where Mrs. D lived, straight down, till we come to a house with a long
    running piazza. -- I see! -- there is a circle, a spirit circle; I see the people sitting in front, -- I see four
    people whom I know sitting in this circle, and there are several others who are strange."

    Can you mention the names of those whom you know?

    "Mr. Eben D, Mrs. George D, Mr. B, and a little girl called Mary, who is grown very tall, and many others:
    there are two coloured people. -- I have lost my spirit guide: -- we came in as through the window,
    which opens like a French window."

    Perhaps there is something special that you are to note.

    "One of the ladies whom I don't know is gesticulating very much; she seems to be making a speech.
    There is some person in the circle from whom I feel such a pleasant influence. One of those black
    women is saying that she sees me. -- It is old Aunt Johnson! so it is! Old Auntie Johnson! and she
    has got much older. She sees me and she thinks I am a spirit. They are standing up and pointing,
    and she is pointing, --and it seems to make me so much smaller somehow; I feel as if I must hide. --
    I am going into the corner of the room, close to a musical instrument, and it is open. I think it s a
    melodian, and there are so many keys, two or three ranks of keys. -- I have got out of the room
    somehow into the garden close to a rose-bush. I think old Auntie Johnson frightened me away; she
    wanted me to come close to her. She is calling me. She says, 'Tell me about my boy Jem.' -- Oh! she
    thinks I am a spirit. Poor little Jemmy was drowned a long time ago, and I don't see him anywhere.....I
    am going right up above the house."

    Here she awoke with a start , and she told me she was feeling frightened lest she should fall, and
    she reasoned with herself that it was only a dream, but the fear roused her and the experience was
    curious and quite new to her. "Evenings at Home in Spiritual Séance" by Georgiana Houghton,
    originally published in 1881.

    Mr. and Mrs. D were very likely George and Hannah Draper. Eben D must have been Ebenezer
    Draper. It's unlikely that it was the Eben Draper who was later governor of Massachusetts. He would
    have been 12 at the time of the séance. Mr. B was probably Joseph Bancroft. Auntie Johnson was a
    maid for George and Hannah Draper. Their home was on the block where the Community House is
    now. Jem drowned in a little pond behind the Walker mansion on what's now Mendon Street, near
    Fitzgerald Drive. Auntie's other son, Charles, was in the Massachusetts 54th during the Civil War and
    was killed at the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina. His name is on the family stone in Hopedale
    Village Cemetery, but he's buried at Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina. John
    Butcher made an extensive search into the Johnson family. Here's what he found.

    The most prominent of the spiritualists residing in Hopedale were Harriet Greene and Bryan Butts.
    They put out periodicals on the subject under several titles. Though they were married, she never took
    his name which seems rather unusual for that time. We can only speculate as to why she didn't want to
    be known as Mrs. Butts. She's buried in Hopedale Village Cemetery next to Dr. Emily Gay. I don't know
    where Mr. Butts ended up.

             Evenings at Home in Spiritual Séance.                       Ezine Menu                      HOME   


    The Johnson family stone and the Ebenezer and
    Anna Draper stone, Hopedale Village Cemetery.