These stories were recorded for Milford radio station WMRC on July 13,2004.        

                                          Chicken Thieves 

In History of the Hopedale Community, Adin Ballou wrote of a visit by chicken thieves about a year after the commune was established. 

   The first and only depredation that for some years was committed by lawless outsiders on Community property occurred during the autumn of 1843.  A gang of hen-roost robbers that had prowled about Milford and vicinity for some months, seizing poultry and carrying it to some secluded place for a feast, visited us and took a turkey and two chickens that they found on the branches of one of our apple trees.  I think they dug a few hills of potatoes to roast as a part of the surreptitious bill of fare.  It had been predicted by our enemies that, by reason of our Non-resistant principles and our published pledge not to prosecute offenders, we should be the victims of frequent burglaries; in fact, that nothing of ours would be safe from the ravages and spoilation of the mischievous and criminal classes around us.  Experience proved the reverse of this, as we had confidently argued beforehand.  We made no ado about this act of petty larceny, but learned that two of the offenders were overheard talking upon the matter not long afterward, the gist of their conversation being that while they did not care for those who kept dogs, set traps, and were ready to send them to jail if they could be caught, it was too bad to steal from the kind, peaceable people in the Dale, and they should not do it again. 
Adin Ballou, History of the Hopedale Community, 1876.

Street Names

Most of the first streets in Hopedale were named for the principles of the utopian community, such as Peace, Freedom, Social, Union and Hope.  A few years later streets were being named for Draper Company officials.  (More on Hopedale street and place names.)

Bancroft Park - Joseph Bancroft, moved to Hopedale in 1847.  He married Sylvia Thwing, sister of the wives of Ebenezer and George Draper.  Joseph served as president of Drapers from 1907 until his death in 1909.  The first major Draper housing development in town was named for him.  He also donated the library to the town and it was named in memory of Sylvia who died while it was under construction.  The house on the north side of the library was the home of the Bancrofts. 

Dutcher Street - Warren Dutcher of Vermont was persuaded to move to Hopedale by George Draper.  Dutcher had invented an improved temple, an important loom part, and he and Draper formed a partnership.
Northrop Street - In 1886 Drapers began a program to develop an automatic loom. The most important developments in the process were accomplished by James Northrop who was honored for his work by having both the machine and a street in Hopedale named for him.    

TV Image Received In Hopedale

Fifty-eight years ago, the reception of a TV program was such a novel event in this area that it was the subject of an article in The Milford News. 

   HOPEDALE, June 1 [1948]  Atmospheric conditions are credited with the clear and distinct television reception on a recent evening when four stations, three from New York and one from Philadelphia, were brought into the home of Clarence E. Chilson, Freedom Street.

    Mr. Chilson, well-known radio technician explained the unusual situation as due to temperature inversion, which to the average person means cool ground and warm air overhead.

    If the inclement wet and humid weather was good for something it is news to everyone and should help to raise the morale.

    Mr. Chilson has been studying television in his spare time for several years.  He was the first person in this area to receive a TV image.  His home-constructed set brought in a station in 1941.  The present set is another that he constructed himself.  On Friday night he and several friends were able to witness a boxing match from Madison Square Garden for nearly two hours, without interruption.  In addition, Mr. Chilson receives the test patterns daily, now being sent out from the Boston station.  
Click here for more Chilson family memories.

Happily Ever After

If you were a young adult living in a village with a population of about 300 and rarely traveled outside its borders, how would you find a suitable mate?  Then, as now, you could advertise as a Hopedale girl did the 1850s.

   There lived in Hopedale, in a little house at the corner of Union and Dutcher Streets, although Dutcher Street was not there then, four unmarried sisters.  Mary Ann, albeit the youngest, so much desired to be married that she advertised for a husband in some paper.  I think it was the "Phrenological Journal." 

   One morning Mr. Humphrey came to my father's and asked if I would do an errand for a man who was stopping at his house.  I gladly consented and upon going to the gentleman received a letter which I was requested to carry to Mary Ann Hayward and wait for a reply. I distinctly remember what excitement prevailed among the sisters and how Mary Ann hastened to pen the answer. This I duly carried to the waiting gentleman and O, what bliss!!  I received a bright new ten-cent piece for my trouble. 

   The man proved to be Justin Soule who had answered Mary Ann's advertisement.  Soon after they were married and, as far as I know, lived happily ever after. 
Susan Thwing Whitney

Favorite Diversions

   In 1910 factory workers had little money to spare on entertainment during what little leisure time they had.  Here's what a Draper employee had to say about the simple amusements of the era.  In the period of which I write, we worked until six o'clock in the evening for five days a week, and until noon on Saturdays.  We didn't seem to mind it, having known nothing else in other places.  In fact, this was more free time than I had before, when I had to work on Saturday afternoon. 

   Our recreation, as I found it here, was simple and inexpensive.  Walks in the park lands were one favorite diversion.  Many people had boats and canoes, and on week-end afternoons they might be seen paddling or rowing about the pond.  In the fall, it was fun to gather chestnuts.  At that time, the woods and roadsides abounded with chestnut trees.  Now, not one can be found anywhere.  All were swept out of existence by a blight in the early twenties.  With them went many of the gray squirrels, and all of the red ones, both of which depended so much on chestnuts for their food in winter. 

   If one yearned for distant places, there were always the trolley-cars going to almost anywhere.  A trip to Worcester was a real jaunt, by way of the G & U to North Grafton, then train or trolley to the city. 
Charles Merrill, Hopedale As I Found It.

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