One Worker Killed; Town Armed Camp
history unfolded at the Draper Corporation plant, as more than 2,000 workers sought
higher wages and a nine-hour workday.
At 6 a.m. on April 1, 1913, a noisy crowd of 500 gathered in the street near the plant
and kept many workers out of the building. The town became an armed camp as the
Industrial Workers of the World stirred up the workers. There were 2,200 at that time,
about the same employment total as today.
The demonstration lasted about 13 weeks and resulted in the death of one worker,
Emidio Bacchiocci, 32, of Cedar Street [Milford] who was shot by a special policeman
after he failed to stop on an order. The policeman was cleared in resulting court action.
George Davis, a main office worker, was shot in the thigh while riding a streetcar to
Hopkinton. Charges were also lodged against two strikers for intent to murder John
Harrant, a Draper worker.
After the first demonstration at the plant, former Gov. Eben S. Draper, president of the
Draper firm said, "We will spend $1 million to break this strike." It was later estimated that
nearly that was expended.
Draper asked many police departments in this state, New Hampshire and Maine for
aid. One of the first groups arriving included 12 policemen from Worcester. A number
of police from Boston came here along with some from Lowell, Lawrence, Manchester
and Nashua, N.H., and Maine.
There were also strikebreakers who remained after the strike and made their homes
Hundreds of Hopedale residents were sworn in as special policemen and patrolled the
streets with clubs made from small baseball bats, with leather handles. Leon R. Hammon
and Archie E. Beck, still residents of Hopedale, were among them. The late Samuel E.
Kellogg was police chief but a captain from Boston commanded the outside "reserves."
Milford's police chief, Jeremiah H. O'Neil, was also on duty, along with several of his men
who included Patrolmen Falvey, Duddy, Fitzpatrick, Edward and Frank Davoren, William
Corbett and James Birmingham.
Joseph Coldwell was the strike leader. He was arrested for violating the town bylaws
and was sentenced to three months in jail. Several arrests were made one morning at
the top of Williams Street, near the Hopedale-Milford town line. Strikers had organized a
parade with several hundred participants. They were to march on the plant. They were
met by a large contingent of police and stopped at the line. Chief Kellogg warned them if
they crossed the line they would be arrested. Three did and were promptly taken into
There were innumerable cases of stone throwing and assaults on men trying to report
for work. On May 24, at a riot in Milford near the Macuen coal sheds, 30 to 40 persons
Milford police were kept busy for several weeks since all rallies, mass meetings and
other strike related activities were in that town. A number of Draper workers also lived in
Milford's Prospect Heights section in houses furnished Draper employees at low weekly
rentals. Since Draper owned the property, the area was posted for "no trespassing."
Many avenues of negotiation were tried, including an offer by the Milford Selectmen
and the State Board of Arbitration. The strike leaders also asked the state legislature to
investigate the strike. Charles Morrill, then the only socialist member of the House, filed
the request. It was defeated.
Flag Torn Down
By June 8 Draper officials reported that 1,700 of the 2,000 employees had returned to
work but the strike proceeded. On July 2, a red flag was flown at the Charles River
Driving Hall in Milford. It was torn down by state police.
Draper repeatedly refused to negotiate. He said he was not dealing with his
employees but a gang of radicals who knew nothing of local conditions.
Many of the workers did not speak English and said they were forced to stay out
because of threats. The company finally used fire trucks with armed guards to convey
Milford workers to the plant.
July 5 marked the return of all workers to the plant. It had cost the company not only a
large sum of money but also lost production time. The employees lost 13 weeks pay and
gained nothing. Milford Daily News, April 1, 1968.
The Hopedale Strike of 1913: The Unmaking of an Industrial Utopia
Milford Gazette articles on the strike, plus death certificates, etc. for Emidio Bacchiocchi
The Draper response to the strike as written in Cotton Chats, April and June 1913
Teaching unit for high school on the strike