Short Biographies of Prominent Hopedale Citizens
Ballou, Rev. Adin (1803 – 1890) founded the Hopedale Community, with the support and assistance of about thirty others in 1841. In 1842 they moved into the Old House in The Dale, a section of Milford, and began their experiment to improve living conditions by communal living, with much attention to abolitionism, temperance, women’s rights and non-violence. The Community ended in 1856 when Ebenezer and George Draper withdrew their investment which amounted to about three-fourths of the Community assets. Ballou remained in Hopedale for the rest of his life, serving as the Unitarian minister until 1880. He did an extensive amount of writing in his lifetime, including his History of Milford, History of the Hopedale Community and an autobiography.
Ballou Heywood, Abby and Rev. William Heywood – Abby Ballou was the daughter of Adin Ballou and his first wife, Abby Sales Ballou. She was a much loved teacher in the early days of the Community, and in 1856 she and her husband, Rev. William Heywood took over the operation of the Home School in Hopedale, which took in boarding and day students. At the time Abbie wrote her memories for Hopedale Reminiscences in 1910, she was living in Dorchester.
Bancroft, Joseph (1821 – 1909) Bancroft was born in Uxbridge and married Sylvia Thwing of that town in 1847. The next year they joined the Hopedale Community. He rose through the ranks in the businesses along the Mill River in Hopedale and was president of the Draper Company during the last two years of his life. He built the Bancroft Memorial Library and gave it to the town. It was named in honor of Sylvia who had died while it was under construction. The Bancrofts lived in the house next to the library.
Draper, Governor Eben Sumner (1857 – 1914) As agent in charge of sales for the Draper Company, Eben helped to make a huge success of the Northrop loom. He became quite prominent in the Republican Party and was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1906 to 1908 and governor from 1909 to 1911.
Draper, Ebenezer (1813 – 1887) married Anna Thwing (1812 – 1870) in 1834. They were members of the Hopedale Community from its start in 1841. He owned the rights to an improved design for an important loom part called a temple. Production of these temples became the most successful venture in the Community. In 1856, along with his brother George, who had joined three years earlier, Ebenezer withdrew his investment in the Community. As a result, the Community failed.
Draper, George (1817 – 1887) married Hanna Thwing (1818 – 1882) in 1839. He joined the Hopedale Community in 1853. They had three sons and three daughters. The sons, William, George Albert and Eben were the leaders of the Draper Company through the latter half of the nineteenth century. The next generation carried on in the business into the mid-twentieth century. The separation of Hopedale from Milford occurred a year before George died. He financed the building of the town hall, but didn’t live to see its completion.
Draper, George Albert (1855 – 1923) One of George and Hannah Draper’s three sons, George Albert played an important part in the Draper business and in the town of Hopedale. He was treasurer of the Draper Company and also had charge of manufacturing and loom development. He built the Community House and was honored in 1955 when the gym was built and named for him.
Draper, Margaret (Princess Boncompagne) (1891 – 1974) Margaret was the daughter of William F. Draper and his second wife, Susan. She spent much of her life outside of Hopedale; her father spent four years in Congress, beginning in 1893 and three years in Rome as ambassador to Italy. In 1916 she married Prince Boncompagne of Italy. They were divorced in 1923. She spent much of the rest of her life in Paris, New York and Washington, occasionally returning to Hopedale for a visit.
Draper, General William Franklin (1842 – 1910) Draper saw a great deal of action in the Civil War and eventually rose to the rank of general. After the war, he joined his father’s company in Hopedale and ultimately became the company president. He served in Congress in the 1890s and was appointed ambassador to Italy in April of 1897. He had four children by his first wife, Lydia Joy, and one by his second, Susan Preston.
Dutcher, Frank – In addition to being a Draper official, Dutcher was a member of the school committee and the park commission for many years. In 1909, he succeeded Joseph Bancroft as president of the Draper Company and served in that position until June 1929 when he was made chairman of the board of directors. He died in April 1930. His house at 34 Adin Street had been operated for some years as a nursing home, until its recent (c. 2006) sale. It has since been extensively renovated and is once more a private home.
Dutcher, Warren (1812 – 1880) Dutcher was persuaded by George Draper to move to Hopedale and set up a business to produce his improved temple, an important loom part. Beginning in 1856, the Dutcher Temple Company operated in Hopedale for many years and was eventually absorbed by the Draper Company. The Dutcher family lived at the house on the corner of Dutcher and Adin streets. It was converted into a nursing home for a few years and later divided up into apartments. In recent times (c. 2006 – 2010), as with the Frank Dutcher home, it has been extensively renovated to be used as a private home.
Gay, Dr. Emily – was a member of the Hopedale Community and had become a doctor by the common practice of the time; reading medical texts and working with an established doctor. In Hopedale Reminiscences, Imogene Mascroft remembered Dr. Gay, saying she was “a familiar figure on the street, dressed in her bloomer costume, whose only justification was its convenience, carrying her little medicine chest, hurrying along with her swinging arms and gait, doubtless reaching her patient’s side in good time, even if a runabout had not been heard of.”
Greene, Harriet – Seances and other forms of communicating with those who had gone to the “spirit land” were quite important to many members of the Hopedale Community. Harriet Greene was the most active spiritualist in Hopedale and, with her husband, Brian Butts, published a periodical on the subject for some years in the pre-Civil War era. The magazine was given free to the “Outcast, Oppressed, and Unfortunate,” and fifty cents a year to others. It’s possible, though far from certain, that Greene Street was named in her honor
Heywood, Rev. William – See Ballou Heywood, Abbie.
Northrop, James (1856 – 1940) In 1886, the Draper Company set out on a hugely ambitious program to develop an automatic loom. Many improvements were needed to reach this goal. Some of the most important innovations, including the bobbin battery, which made it possible to push a used bobbin out of the shuttle with a new one, were developed by Northrop. He was rewarded for his work by having the loom named for him. (And probably a good deal of money.) Northrop Street may have been named for him, but I’m not certain of that. A Northop family has lived on Northrop Street for many years (and still do as I write this in 2010), but I don’t think the first of the line in that home was James. Possibly a brother. The first shipment of an order of 792 Northrop looms was delivered in 1894
Osgood, Fannie (1882 – 1929) At the time of her death, Miss Osgood was president of the Women’s Golf Association of Boston. She was the granddaughter of George and Hannah Brown (Thwing) Draper and the daughter of Hannah Thwing Draper and Edward Louis Osgood. A newspaper article at the time of her death said, “In grasping and looking after every detail, no matter how small, Miss Osgood in her eighteen years of service as secretary of the Boston Association and her subsequent service as president, was a marvel.”
Price, Abbie Hills (1814 – 1873) The most prominent feminist in the Hopedale Community. At the 1851 women’s rights convention in Worcester, she gave a speech demanding participation in government and “suitable and well compensated employment.” In Hopedale, she called on the Community to provide a “combined household” to liberate women from the tyranny of washing and ironing, so that they “might be occasionally relieved from the care of the family and be free to exert her nobler powers unfettered.” She was also the author of many hymns and poems.
Roper, Charles – Roper worked in the experimental department of the Draper Company and, among many other inventions, developed one of the more important parts of the Northrop loom. When Drapers closed their research operation, he opened his own business, housed in a four-story brick factory on Northrop Street, adjacent to the park. He was interested in the town of Hopedale and was on the park commission, but, as his obituary states, “was a member of no organizations, preferring his own home [at 50 Freedom Street] above all other attractions.”
Roper, Sylvester – Father of Charles, inventor of the motorcycle.
Thompson, Gilbert – Gilbert moved to Hopedale in 1849, when his mother joined the Hopedale Community. He worked as an apprentice in the Community print shop. He joined the Army at the beginning of the Civil War and became a cartographer. After the war, he went out west. Eventually he became one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society. He is thought to be the first American to use fingerprints for identification.
Thwing Family – Several Uxbridge people had joined with Adin Ballou when he was the Unitarian minister in Mendon and helped to found the Hopedale Community. None of these were more important than the Thwing family. One of the six sisters, Anna, married Ebenezer Draper; another, Hannah, married George Draper, and a third, Sylvia, married Joseph Bancroft. Their brother, Almon, (1808 – 1892) had a grist mill on the Mill River, a short way downstream from where the Thwing Street bridge is now. Hopedale Reminiscences, a booklet of memories of the early Community days, includes stories by Susan Thwing Whitney and Anna Thwing Field.
Wilmarth, Drs. Butler and Phila – During the 1840s, the practice of treating a large variety of ailments by a combination of hot and cold baths became popular. The procedure was known as the water cure. In 1849, the Wilmarths opened a clinic to carry out this treatment at the corner of Main (now Hopedale) and Union streets and the building was known to many residents through most of the twentieth century as “The Water-Cure House.” It was razed and replaced with a duplex about ten years ago. Butler died when a train he was riding on went off of a bridge and into a river in Connecticut. Phila remained in Hopedale and carried on her medical work for some years.
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Short Biographies of Prominent Hopedale Citizens