July 15, 2009
Hopedale in July
Where “Made in America” Made its Debut – The New York Times discovers the Blackstone Valley.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently that I was going to be having a problem with my Hopedale website because
Yahoo had said they’d be closing the web host, GeoCities. They have finally come out with more information, which
says they’ll transfer everything over to Yahoo and there shouldn’t be any problems. I hope so.
Hopedale Bicentennial Commission proposal to Rockwell International to turn ownership of the Little Red Shop over to
Final Chapter of Draper Being Written in Hopedale
By Peter Hackett
HOPEDALE – (March 18, 1978) The recent passing of John Draper Gannett brings home the sudden realization that
the final chapter of the Hopedale Drapers and other associated families are fast coming do an end – indeed, have
come to an end. With the shop’s change of ownership and the proceeding change of home ownership beginning in the
1950s, the character of both shop and village have changed dramatically.
Some of the character change could well be noted in connection with the Gannett funeral, especially when it was over
and there were little knots of mourners renewing former friendships, however slight they may have been. I personally
talked with 10 or more and although it was a pleasure to do so, there was an unmistakable undercurrent of complaint
with respect to the changing conditions of Hopedale, once the ideal little town.
Hopedale, as the outgrowth and development of the Hopedale Community founded by Adin Ballou in 1842, is rich in
history. When the Community failed in 1856 as a practical venture, it was taken over by the brothers, Ebenezer Daggett
Draper and George Draper and from that time down to John Draper Gannett, the Drapers were the leading Hopedale
John’s mother, Dorothy Draper Hamlin, was a sister of the late Benjamin Helm Bristow Draper, who in turn was the
son of the late Massachusetts Governor Eben Sumner Draper.
The following sketch of Mr. Draper, better known as Bristow Draper, is taken from the July 1944 edition of the shop
paper, Cotton Chats. For newcomers to Hopedale, it and others to follow should be a welcome bit of information on the
Benjamin Helm Bristow Draper, our president and loved fellow member, died June 4, 1944. Mr. Draper was born Feb.
28, 1885, son of the late Gov. Eben S. and Nancy Bristow Draper. He came from distinguished ancestry, being the
fourth generation of Drapers to head the Draper business.
His great-grandfather founded the business in 1816. His grandfather, George Draper, gave the firm a national and
international standing. His father and two brothers of the third generation developed the Northrop loom and
revolutionized the art of weaving. All were prominent in the civil and political life of the state and nation. His maternal
grandfather was Benjamin Helm Bristow, a top-ranking Secretary of Treasury under President Grant and a leading
candidate for the presidential nomination in 1876.
After an education on Hopedale public schools, at St. Mark’s, Exeter and Harvard, Mr. Draper prepared for his future as
an executive of the corporation by working at the Draper shops and in a cotton mill where he earned the position of
overseer. He joined the Draper selling force and became in turn assistant agent, treasurer, and in 1929, president of
the corporation. From that time until the day before his death, he was in full control of the business. Its achievements
are his monument. He was a just employer, always interested in the welfare of this help and held their respect and
He was a liberal supporter of all good causes. A staunch Republican, he never sought public office but was a delegate
to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 1936. He was honored in many ways but business associates
in other communities, was director of the First National Bank of Boston, of United Shoe Machinery Corporation and
Calhoun Mills. He held membership in clubs in Boston, New York, Atlanta and Miami Beach.
He served in World War I in the field artillery and was a member of the American Legion, the Society of Colonial Wars,
and Sons of the Revolution.
At the time of his death, he was survived by his widow, Queena Sanford Draper, three sons, B.H. Bristown, Jr., treasurer
of the Draper Corporation, Sgt. Eben Draper of the United States Army, and Robert C. in the Navy, a sister, Mrs. Dorothy
Draper Hamlin of Wayland (John D. Gannet’s mother), the late Col. Eben S. Draper, a director of Draper Corporation.
A fitting tribute to Mr. Draper would be, He played his part in a manner worthy of his forebears. Milford Daily News.
The story above doesn’t mention that Bristow was once, for a year or so, disowned by his parents. No surprise that they
wouldn’t mention it, but if you’d like to know the story on that, click here.
John A. Carlson, 82, Rutland/Boylston, July 5, 2009.
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