Almon Thwing: Hopedale Inventor

       By Gordon E. Hopper

    A copy of a handwritten bill of sale supplied by Bruce Kingsbury, a Wayland
    resident, indicates that Almon Thwing, a Hopedale machinist and inventor, had built
    and installed a community clock in Wayland. The bill of sale, signed by Thwing,
    reads as follows: "To Horace Howard and others to whom it may concern. Whereas
    a clock has been made and put up by me in the meetinghouse of the First Parish in
    Wayland, I hereby warrant the same to run well and keep good time and I further
    agree to keep said clock in repair for the term of one year saving all accidents which
    may occur thereto from causes disconnected with any part of my work thereon.
    Wayland, March 29, 1851"

     A search of the Wayland Historical Society files conducted by Helen Fitch Emory,
    author of "The Puritan Village Evolves," which is the latest history of Wayland,
    resulted in locating a long list of names of individuals that had subscribed to the
    cost of the clock. It appears that 120 residents of Wayland contributed
    approximately $450 in 1850 to purchase a clock for the town and according to
    George Emory of the Historic District Commission, the clock was installed in 1851.

     A statement in Hudson's Annals of the Town of Wayland states, 'Unitarian Church
    built in 1814, dedicated in 1815, remodeled in 1850, public clock made by Thwing of
    Hopedale in 1850." Article 4 in the November 2, 1858 town meeting warrant reads,
    "To see if the town will accept the clock on the Unitarian Meetinghouse and keep the
    same in constant repair and running order." It was reported in the town meeting
    minutes dated November 2, 1858, "Passed in the affirmative: the clock to remain
    where it now is." James S. Draper was chosen to take care of the clock at that time.

    It is believed that this clock was  replaced around 1910 because there is a formal
    contract in the church archives dated August 3, 1910 between the E. Howard Clock
    Company and the Wayland Village Improvement Society, Wallace S. Draper,
    Trustee, to install a tower clock in the tower of the first Parish Unitarian Church in
    Wayland for $600. Also to be included were "four sets of figures and dots in the
    very best quality of gold leaf which are to be attached to the present dial bodies
    after they have been refinished and the present hands regilded by the Howard

     In an obituary supplied by Paul Curran of Milford, it was stated that Almon Thwing
    died on November 6, 1892 at an advanced age at the home of his daughter, Mrs.
    Zibeon C. Field, on Walnut Street in Milford and was buried in the family lot at
    Hopedale Cemetery.

    Thwing was born in Uxbridge, the son of Benjamin and Anne Thwing, on July 21,
    1808 and was married to Sarah Ann Darling of Uxbridge on September 13, 1832.
    For a short period he resided in Uxbridge, Medway and Grafton before coming to
    Hopedale where he became one of the most valued members of the Hopedale
    Community. He held several Milford town offices with credit and his golden wedding
    observance in 1882 was more of a town rejoicing than a family celebration.

    A second newspaper item published on November 11, 1892, stated that Thwing
    was one of the early settlers in the Hopedale Community and that he occupied a
    prominent position in the town for many years, both as a manufacturer and as an
    officer of the town.

    As a point of interest, there was a newspaper item published in 1914 which stated
    that the remains of an ancient automobile had been uncovered in a building being
    torn down on Front Street. It was believed to have been at least 40 years old at that
    time and thought to have been built by Almon Thwing of Hopedale, an inventor and

    The name of the Thwing family has been given to a street in Hopedale and the
    name is still retained. In his "History of the Town of Milford" published in 1882, Adin
    Ballou states, "In respect to its topography and altitude above the level of the
    ocean, I engaged Mr. Almon Thwing of Hopedale to make examination and
    measurements which would enable me to place on record numerous interesting
    particulars worthy of transmission to after-times, as well as gratifying to the curiosity
    of the present generation." Thwing's effort in 1879 takes up three pages in Ballou's
    book. Milford Daily News, February 9, 1991.

    Among Almon Thwing's Hopedale relatives were three sisters; Anna, wife of
    Ebenezer Draper, Hannah, wife of George Draper and Sylvia, wife of Joseph
    Bancroft. Two of his daughters, Susan Thwing Whitney and Anna Thwing Field
    wrote of their days as children in the Community for Hopedale Reminiscences.
    Susan's story about the post office was the inspiration for Lynn Hughes's picture
    book, To Live a Truer Life: A Story of the Hopedale Community.

    Here is a newspaper article which mentions the Thwing house being moved to
    Union Street, and also tells of another clock:

    When Almon Thwing, brother-in-law of George Draper, lived at the corner of Hope
    and Hopedale streets, he had a large clock on the front of his barn. It was the only
    clock of its size in town and everybody referred to itas the Town Clock. It was built
    and maintained by Mr. Thwing with a great deal of pride. The house in which Mr.
    Thwing lived is now located on Union Street. Milford Daily News, October 30,

    The last sentence in the paragraph above led me to take a look at Union Street to
    see if I could tell which house was the Thwing home. Then I thought about
    something Anna Thwing Field wrote in Hopedale Reminiscences which made me
    think that I was looking at an Underground Railroad house. Click here for more on

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The Thwing stones at Hopedale Village Cemetery.

Thanks to Peter Metzke of Melbourne, Australia for sending this.

Milford Journal obituary from the Milford Library.

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