April 15, 2007
Milford – 1780
Thanks to Shirley Cahill for the donation of a marriage certificate, written and signed by Adin Ballou in 1883,
and for an autograph book from the same era.
Thanks to Bill Wright for donating a video tape with scenes from Hopedale in 1966, including his siblings
playing in deeper snow than we got this winter, and Bill, John Alden and Joe Perry performing in a band
they had organized. Joe, of course, went on to play in another group that became better known than Chimes
of Freedom, the band in the video, but this could be one of the first pictures that shows him playing a guitar.
The tape also includes Bill’s grandfather (and my uncle), Tom Malloy, who many of you would remember as
chief of police in Hopedale during the mid-twentieth century.
Thanks to Marc Peloquin for a copy of the Report to the Chief of the Metropolitan District Police for 1913. The
report includes information on the strike at the Draper Company during that year.
A bid has been received on the Little Red Shop Museum restoration project and the Historical Commission
has been working out final details with the contractor. The capital campaign is continuing, as more funds
will be needed to complete the work.
Remember the old Hopedale recycling center, with the horses on the trailer roof? See them again.
What’s Hopedale’s most endangered architectural feature? Maybe this.
One Hundred Years Ago
Milford, including what is now Hopedale, separated from Mendon in 1780. As part of their large centennial
celebration in 1880, Adin Ballou wrote History of Milford. What follows comes from that book, telling about
the area a century earlier.
When we reach the commencement of the centennial period, whose glorious completion this day we
celebrate, Milford was still a mere parochial precinct, with less than seven hundred inhabitants. They had
thus far multiplied by natural increase and influx from the older colonial settlements. They inhabited
comparatively lowly dwellings, situated here and there on more than fifty legally laid town-roads, ways and
bridle paths. Most of these were crooked and cheaply constructed thread-lines of communication. The
main thoroughfare through our center was known, in early days, as “the Sherborn road.” It led from Mendon
Town to Holliston, originally a part of Sherborn, and was a rustic bridle and cart path long before being
sanctioned as a regular public highway. It will astonish the present generation to be told the fact, that down
to 1800 there were not above twenty-five residences on this Sherborn road, from Mendon line to that of
Holliston. Yet it has always been the most populous road within our nearly nineteen square miles of
The inhabitants generally subsisted, before the Revolution and for years afterward, mainly on the
products of their diligent husbandry. There were only a few mechanical craftsmen pursuing their respective
avocations, such as blacksmiths, carpenters, tanners, shoemakers, tailors, clothiers, etc. Manufactures
were so primitive and crude, that smart wags of neighboring localities contemptuously nicknamed the ”
Easterly Precinct” Broomshire; implying that it throve by the manufacture and sale of splint brooms, wrought
Indian-fashion from ash and birch saplings. But when they saw Capt. Samuel Warren raise thirty resolute
minute-men, and march them well drilled to Roxbury, before the sun had set on the bloody field of
Lexington, most of whom served through the war; and that Dr. William Jennison, a chosen delegate to the
famous Provincial Congress, was so fired with patriotism as to give the town of Mendon a brass field-piece,
-- even Broomshire commanded their respect; for Milford never lacked martial patriotism or physical
enterprise. So its nickname soon fell into oblivion, and at length it outgrew its early superiors.
Here, then, we may briefly contrast our past with our present. One hundred years ago Milford was a
small precinct, having a sparsely settled population of less than 700 souls; to-day it is a flourishing town,
with almost 10,000 inhabitants. One hundred years ago it probably had 110 families; to-day it has 2,000
families. Then, perhaps, 100 dwelling houses; now more than 1,500. Then not more than 150 legal voters;
now more than 2,600. Then a valuation probably not exceeding $350,000; now one of over $5,000,000.
Then little or no public schooling; now almost 2,400 children and youth liberally provided for in schools of
higher and lower grade, at an annual expense of over $23,000. Milford reports an investment in
schoolhouses of $64,300. It has over a dozen, several of them, beginning with the high-school edifice,
eminently substantial and commodious. These significantly confront the cipher of a hundred years ago.
Shall I refer to our three railroads, whose snorting steam-horses take us to Boston, Worcester, or
Providence in less time than formerly we could ride a few miles into the neighboring towns? Our ancestors
were happy to foot it over hill and through dale, wherever occasion called, or to ride on horseback, single or
double, or, rising in the scale of luxury, to enjoy conveyances in their memorable springless, hard-jolting,
open wagons. Later, the famous old square-top chaise awoke the envious admiration of non-possessors,
and then the bellows-top, and so on to our present genteel vehicles. Herein and all about us we behold the
strides of progress. Adin Ballou, History of Milford, 437–439.
The facilities afforded by the playground have encouraged the forming of various athletic teams for
baseball, cricket, and Association football. The latter team has played with unvarying success, defeating the
strong Everett team, which claimed the championship of Massachusetts. The tennis courts have been
liberally patronized, it having been found necessary to build a third dirt court, in view of the popularity of the
game. The bath house figures show for themselves. They are as follows:
Early morning baths, 231
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