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
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
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
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.
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