Hopedale's Missing Monument

  By Jim Buckley  

      Now that he has retired as Hopedale's town counsel and town clerk, Attorney Robert
    Phillips plans to spend more time trying to solve "The Mystery of the Missing Statue."

      Everyone in the Milford area is aware of the statue of General William Franklin Draper
    astride a horse.  It dominates Draper Park on Route 16 in downtown Milford.  But far
    fewer residents are aware of another statue of General Draper which was dedicated in
    Hopedale in 1911 and placed on a plot of land on Adin Street.  This second statue
    disappeared around 1929.

      Phillips has his work cut out for him.  According to Ann Robinson, the new head
    librarian at the town's Bancroft Library, there is no record of this statue.  Many people
    remember it but there is nothing in print about the statue in any of the library's
    reference material.  Nor is there any material about it at the Milford Town Library,
    except a photo of the statue in a scrapbook haphazardly assembled over 60 years ago
    by a member of the area's famous Bragg Family.

      Until recently there wasn't even a clue as to where the statue might be.  According to
    Olga Till, longtime member of the Hopedale Historical Commission, someone had once
    said it was buried and others claimed it had been dumped in some wooded area.  But
    about two months ago, Miss Hester Irving of Hopedale said that in 1930, she and her
    sister saw workmen dig a deep hole in back of the Hopedale Junior-Senior High School
    (called General Draper High School at that time) and throw the statue into it.  The hole
    was then covered and no attempt was made to mark its location.

      "I can't imagine why they would do such a thing," Phillips said.  "But now that I have
    more time, I'm going to do some research on the topic."

      Milford Library Trustee Paul Curran, who is also a part-time historian, shares Phillips'
    puzzlement.  "That statue was dedicated in 1912 by the General's daughter, Margaret.  
    It's really a mystery to me why she would have allowed a statue of her famous father to
    be treated so shabbily by having it buried.  Granted she left Hopedale in 1916 to marry
    Italian Prince Boncompagni.  But she got that marriage annulled and returned to live in
    Hopedale.  So why would she have let them bury the statue?"

      Both Phillips and Curran promise to keep us informed when and if they discover new
    clues about the statue's whereabouts.  By Jim Buckley from a newspaper clipping
    dated 1989.


    If you're reading this carefully, you'll have
    noticed that the column to the left isn't a
    continuation of the page above. However, the
    second page does match the final page of the
    article below. It doesn't seem that there could
    be another whole page that belongs between
    the first and the second; possibly one column
    could be missing. I suppose it's possible that
    they were from two different articles, with the
    end of one and the beginning of the other
    missing. Anyway, if you absorb all that's here,
    you'll be one of the world's foremost experts
    on the missing statue of General Draper.

    Thanks to Peter Metzke of Melbourne, Australia for sending this article
    from Massachusetts Monuments, 1910, found on archives.com.   

      Thanks to Amy Burns for the postcard view of the statue at the top right. The postcard view at the top
       left turns up on ebay from time to time..The picture below those two was sent by Ellen Alves.  The
       people in front of General Draper are Ellen's aunt and uncle, Inez Irving Julian and John Julian.  Ellen
       wrote, "The picture is not dated but there are others of my aunt where she looks the same and they are
       dated 1928."  Hester Irving was Ellen's aunt.

       Here's my guess as to why the statue might have been buried. As you can see in the lower picture,
       by c. 1928, the area was looking neglected. The princess was seldom in town, and probably by then,
       not staying at the house when she was here. Newspaper accounts of the time tell of her occasional
       visits to Hopedale, but she was probably staying with one of her siblings when she came here.
       Somewhere I've heard that the general's family never cared for that statue. Since 1912 they'd had a
       statue of him created by the most famous sculptor in the country. So what to do with the first one? Sell
       him for scrap? That would have made a good story for the newspapers. "Princess Boncompagni Sells
       Father for $3 a Pound."  Better idea. Just have the statue quietly buried and maybe nobody will notice.

           Gen Draper statue in Milford                         Draper Menu                            HOME  

                              Bronze Gen. Draper Statue Was Unveiled 76 Years Ago

                                                             By Gordon E. Hopper

    HOPEDALE - A memorable occasion took place on May 30, 1910, when a bronze statue of the late
    Gen. William Franklin Draper was erected, unveiled and dedicated at the Adin Street home of the
    former soldier, statesman and diplomat.

    The bronze image was created by a 32-year old English sculptor, Courtenay Pollock, R.B.A
    Sculptor Pollock was in Hopedale for the event on his first visit to the United States.

    Prior to the arrival of the bronze figure, a huge rough pink granite block to serve as its base was
    gotten out of the Massachusetts Pink Granite Company quarry on Cedar Street at the Hopkinton-
    Milford town line by Superintendent Ralph W. Boyer for the purpose.

    George M. Sherman of Holliston may have been associated with the cutting of the large base as he
    was employed by the Massachusetts Pink Granite Company at the time.

    The large block of granite is one of the most beautiful specimens of the Milford pink granite
    quarries. It measures five and one-half feet high and four feet square. It weighs ten tons. The
    statue itself stands seven feet high and weighs less than 1,000 pounds. The monument was set in
    place on May 27, 1910.

    The site chosen for the monument is on a slight rise of land from the sloping lawn to the east of
    Gen. Draper’s old home, about opposite the side entrance to the handsome residence.

    Gen Draper is shown in the uniform of a Brigadier General of the U.S. Army, standing erect, with
    one hand resting on the hilt of his sword and the other by his side.

    All four sides of the base of the Draper statue are inscribed. In front is the inscription, “Gen. Draper,
    1842 – 1910.” On the right and left are the names of the battles in which he fought during the Civil
    War, and at the rear are the lines, “Member of Congress 1893 – 1897. Ambassador to Italy 1897 –

    The battles enumerated on the tablets include: “Defense of Knoxville, Blaine’s Cross-Roads,
    Strawberry Plains, The Wilderness, Weldon Railroad, Pegrow’s Farm, Petersburg, Roanoke Island,
    New Berne, Fredericksburg, Siege of Vicksburg, Jackson, Blue Spring and Campbell’s Station.”

    The event was of great significance to residents of Milford and Hopedale, and in particular to
    members of the Major E. F. Fletcher Post 22, G.A.R. and the family and friends of the late general.

    The Draper grounds were opened to the public and scores of carriages and automobiles were
    scattered along the adjacent streets. A squad of Milford police assisted the Hopedale officers in
    handling the large throng.

    Ceremonies followed the return of the Grand Army post members from the Hopedale cemetery
    where a wreath was placed on the Tomb of Gen. Draper along with the flag and marker of Post 22,
    the same as the other deceased war veterans.

    After refreshments had been served at the Draper home, the general’s daughter, Margaret
    Preston Draper, (who six years later became Princess Boncompagni) drew back the folds of a flag
    which covered the statue, it forming an impressive background.

    Chairs for members of the family and many guests were placed in front of a platform which had
    been erected for the unveiling and for the speakers, with the post members to the right and
    members of the Major Fletcher Women’s Relief Corps at the left.

    Capt. W.G. Pond, commander of Co. M, had his men stand in front of the monument just behind the
    veterans, presenting arms. As the statue came into view, the Hopedale Brass Band was playing the
    “Star Spangled Banner.”

    The family party was made up on Mrs. Draper and daughters Margaret and Edith, three sons,
    George Otis Draper,   Capt. Arthur Joy Draper and  Clare Hill Draper,   Mrs. C.H. Colburn, Sculptor
    Pollock and others. The Draper servants occupied seats immediately behind the family.

    Rev. James A. Alvord, pastor of the Union Church invoked the Divine blessing and Congressman
    John W. Weeks of Newton gave an eloquent tribute to the late Gen. Draper.

    Fully 2,000 people witnessed the unveiling and listened to Congressman Weeks’ oration.

    His concluding words were, “Those nearest to him have, in tender memory, erected this monument.
    May the bronze serve to remind not only the present generation, but all future generations, that
    there lived and built in this town a man whose career should be studied and as far as possible,
    followed by all men who love Massachusetts, and wish to perpetuated those conditions which have
    made her great.” Milford Daily News, January 26, 1987.

    When I did a search for Courtenay Pollock, I came up with a good number of sites on the sculptor
    of the Draper statue, and also on another by the same name. An artist also, but a tie-dye artist
    whose main claim to fame evidently was the designs he created for the Grateful Dead. I assumed
    he was probably a grandson of the sculptor, but didn't know for sure until I received the following:

    I am one of Courtenay Pollock's grandchildren. I was extremely interested in your fascinating story
    of the "missing statue". CP went to America on the Lusitania, I still have some of his business cards
    he picked up on the trip. He also bought a White steam car which he then shipped to Italy (to visit
    my grandmother) and drove back to England. Quite a feat in those days !

    Courtenay Pollock the tie-dye artist is indeed his grandson and my cousin - there are about 20
    years between us as his father, Max Pollock, was the third of Courtenay Pollock's children and my
    Mum was the last.

    John RC Downe

Gen Draper statue in Milford                   Draper Menu                             HOME