The Burglary

     In the early Hopedale days, when a stranger came to the place, he was directed to Mr.
    William Humphrey's for food and lodging. The house occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey
    stood just where West Hope Street is, and was torn down when the street and the bridge
    were built.

     One night Miss Lizzie Humphrey was awakened by strange and unusual noises. After
    satisfying herself that someone was prowling around the house, she partially dressed, went
    down stairs and told her parents what she had heard. They arose and upon looking around
    found the dining-room silver packed in a bag, and the feet of a man were protruding from
    under the end of the long, haircloth sofa in the parlor.

    Lizzie hastened to arouse the neighbors. Mr. Ballou, Mr. Eben[ezer] Draper, Mr. Thwing and
    Arthur Clark, a boarder at Mr. Thwing's, were summoned, and they called some others.

    Here was a dilemma which had not previously confronted the people of Hopedale.

    There was no policeman here then, no lockup, and the non-resistant principles of the
    people kept them from using violence in any form, but something must be done, and that
    quickly.

    The parlor extended across the entire front of the house and had two doors, one of which
    opened into the front hall, and the other into the dining room. At each of these doors, a man
    was stationed and if the prisoner tried to escape, they were to call the other men who were
    in consultation.

    Many were the questions which arose. Who was he? Was he armed? Would he come from
    his hiding place if ordered to do so, and what should they do with him when they had him?
    At last it was decided that all should enter the parlor, and four men should lift the sofa away
    from the burglar, while the others should capture him if he tried to escape.

    Imagine the procession headed by one man carrying an old-fashioned oil-lamp. Cautiously
    they advanced, lifted the sofa, and lo, they beheld a poor, half-witted fellow, whom the
    Humphreys had recently fed, doctored and otherwise befriended.

    He sat up and surveyed the company. When questioned as to why he was there and in that
    condition, he answered that he had no house and could find nothing to do, and he thought if
    he came there and stole something, the Humphreys would send him to some place where
    he would, at least, have enough to eat. After stopping with them for a time that is just what
    they did do.

    Later, when someone asked Mrs. Humphrey if she didn't feel real provoked with him for
    returning all their kindness in that way, she, the dear, kind-hearted woman, replied, "Why,
    no; I felt as if I wanted to take him right in my arms."  Susan Thwing Whitney, Hopedale
    Massachusetts,  Hopedale Reminiscences.

    The Humphrey house was just a little south of where the Bancroft Library is now; probably
    where the parking lot for the medical building is. The Thwing House was across the street
    from the library, but was eventually moved.

           Hopedale Reminiscences Menu               Hopedale Community Menu                  HOME   
Susan Thwing Whitney