Sylvia (Thwing) Bancroft
The Joseph and Sylvia Bancroft house on Hopedale Street. It's still
there, next to the library, but looks rather different since renovations
were done. This is how it would have looked during Sylvia's lifetime.
The Joseph and Sylvia Bancroft family.
Click here for identifications.
December 1, 2018
Hopedale in November
Twenty-five years ago - December 1993 - NASA launches the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair an
optical flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope.
President Bill Clinton signs into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Fifty years ago - December 1968 - Douglas Engelbart publicly demonstrates his pioneering hypertext system, NLS, in
San Francisco, together with the computer mouse, at what becomes retrospectively known as "The Mother of All
David Eisenhower, grandson of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, marries Julie Nixon, the daughter of
President-elect Richard Nixon.
The manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 enters orbit around the Moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William
A. Anders become the first humans to see the far side of the Moon and planet Earth as a whole, as well as having
traveled further away from Earth than any people in history. Anders photographs Earthrise. The crew also reads from
Genesis. (See the bottom of this page (below the news from 100 years ago) for the Earthrise photo and the story that
goes with it.)
by Lilla Bancroft
It must have been a very joyous morning, that twenty-sixth day of June in the year eighteen hundred and twenty-four
when little Sylvia Willard Thwing was born in Uxbridge-town, in Massachusetts.
The youngest of thirteen children of Benjamin and Anna Mowry Thwing, she was the pet of the household and when
we, her children, listened to the stories of her childhood days, we were impressed with the love and devotion that
always surrounded her.
Her father, Benjamin Thwing, died when she was six years old, and her mother brought up her family with a firm
though loving hand. Her children always spoke of her with deep affection not untinged with awe. Even Aunt Hannah
Thwing who was, in my childhood, Hopedale's great lady, a "cutup" in her youth, chuckled with joy as she related how
her mother dealt with her mischievous pranks. I wonder what her great-great-grandchildren would think of her
methods in this year of grace nineteen hundred and thirty-six.
One of my favorite stories had to do with my mother's first glimpse of my father. She was about seven years old, blue-
eyed, red cheeked, with a mass of bright chestnut hair. She used to go with an elder sister, Minerva, to drive home the
cow "up the lane," as they called it. On this particular day Minerva was away when the cow-driving hour arrived and
Grandmother asked little Sylvia if she thought she could do the work alone.
Filled with pride Sylvia started; she felt she might have some difficulty with the heavy bars though Mother was sure she
wouldn't, but she tugged and tugged while the old red cow stood patiently waiting. Finally almost in tears she looked
up and saw a little barefoot boy coming whistling along the lane. He saw the tiny tot in her little pink cambric frock,
long in the skirt and low in the neck, with pretty white ruffles at throat and wrists, and stopping asked -- "Can I help?"
So he took down the bars and together they walked up the lane, a little switch in Sylvia's hand to remind the cow she
must move along and not loiter for grass and clover.
The boy asked her name and when she timidly said, "Sylvia Thwing," he said, "Mine is Joseph Bancroft and when I get
to be a man I'll come back to Uxbridge and marry you,--"and he did. Some thirteen years later he walked from Medway
to Uxbridge and found her -- a beauty with a charming voice so that every Sunday she led the singing of the hymns in
the village choir.
Her father, Benjamin Thwing, taught in a private school in New York, so he was seldom at home. We have a letter
written to my grandmother in truly courtly style, ending, "May slumber sweet thy bed attend." Expressing love was a
dignified proceeding in those days.
Another story, not so happy but one I never tired of hearing, was one of an accident that resulted in my
During one of his summer vacations when Mother was six he took Grandmother and Mother to Mendon to spend the
day with some of the Taft or Mowry cousins. They had a happy visit, although Grandmother was timid about riding with
that particular horse for it had a very bad habit of running down the hills -- and oh, those Mendon hills.
On the way back to Uxbridge a long hill was before them and as they approached it Grandmother said,
"Benjamin, let us all get out and walk down and lead the horse." He laughed and said, "That would be more
dangerous than to ride;" but she said -- and this was thrilling to me, "I feel I want to get out, Benjamin; stop and let
Sylvia and me out."
So he stopped and they jumped out quickly from the carriage just as the horse bolted; halfway down the hill as
mother, terrified, watched she saw the carriage turn over and her father thrown to the ground. The horse, kicking and
rearing, freed itself and dashed away.
When they reached my grandfather he was unconscious. He lived, I think, hopelessly ill for some weeks,
but died from his injuries and Grandmother was left with her thirteen children. Of course some were
married and away from home by this time, but still her hands were too full to find time to mourn unduly and she
bravely shouldered her responsibility with determination.
Mother was but six years old and could never quite overcome her fear of horses; (she was always timid). Is it any
wonder when her father's accident was always so vividly before her? I can see her now, when our horses went rather
rapidly, her arm protectingly across Lura and me as we returned from the usual Sunday afternoon call on
Grandmother Bancroft in Medway.
Next time - Sylvia Bancroft, Part 2
Ezine Menu HOME
Hopedale News - December 1993
Hopedale News - December 1968
Hopedale News - December 1918
William Anders, NASA
It’s never easy to identify the moment a hinge turns in history. When it comes to humanity’s first true grasp of the beauty,
fragility and loneliness of our world, however, we know the precise instant. It was on December 24, 1968, exactly 75
hours, 48 minutes and 41 seconds after the Apollo 8 spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral en route to becoming the
first manned mission to orbit the moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders entered lunar orbit on
Christmas Eve of what had been a bloody, war-torn year for America. At the beginning of the fourth of 10 orbits, their
spacecraft was emerging from the far side of the moon when a view of the blue-white planet filled one of the hatch
windows. “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” Anders
exclaimed. He snapped a picture—in black and white. Lovell scrambled to find a color canister. “Well, I think we missed
it,” Anders said. Lovell looked through windows three and four. “Hey, I got it right here!” he exclaimed. A weightless
Anders shot to where Lovell was floating and fired his Hasselblad. “You got it?” Lovell asked. “Yep,” Anders answered.
The image—our first full-color view of our planet from off of it—helped to launch the environmental movement. And, just
as important, it helped human beings recognize that in a cold and punishing cosmos, we’ve got it pretty good.