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Hopedale Women
The official site of the Hopedale Women's History Project


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About Us

In 1848, the women of Hopedale began a group – and a tradition. They started sewing to raise money for abolitionism. Later, they used their needles to help their neighbors. They sewed for the less advantaged or sold their work to raise money for causes close to their hearts – widows, orphans, even the Contrabands, those slaves who escaped their masters during the Civil War to the safety of the Union lines.
That tradition continued. Hopedale has an almost unbroken 150 year record of women sewing and raising money for beneficent causes, helping the needy both within and outside their community.
The Hopedale Women’s History Project seeks to unlock that record and follow the voices of these strong, benevolent women. Our goal is to tell the story of Hopedale through the eyes – and words – of its women. It’s a story that is ready to be told filled with voices that need to be heard.
Latest posts
“There is but a step between me and death”
Linda Hixon
February 8, 2019

Hopedale was heartbroken.  The Community’s favorite son, Adin Augustus Ballou, was dead. In the early 1850s, young Augustus was well on his way to his future.  He graduated from the Bridgewater “Normal” School – a training school for teachers of the time – and began working there as an instructor, honing his skills.  The hopes of his father, esteemed minister Adin Ballou, hinged on Augustus finishing his training and taking over the Hopedale Home School, a private facility created to help the Community raise much-needed funds. In January 1852, Augustus was making that dream a reality, but like many young people he took on too much.  The hard work taxed the 18-year-old, and he wrote about the joy of a day off.  “You say you see me in your dreams, and that I appear to look tired,” Augustus wrote to… [continue reading]

Happy Birthday, HNG!
Linda Hixon
January 17, 2019

Harriet Newell Greene’s words came to Hopedale before she did. Born in Rhode Island on January 18, 1819, Harriet came from writing stock.  Some of her female forebears had dabbled in the literary arts, and she first came to Hopedale through her pen rather than in person.  Harriet’s first poem was published in Adin Ballou’s Practical Christian newspaper in 1848, but she didn’t move to the Community until 1852. Poetry wasn’t her only passion.  Harriet, who married the much younger Brian J. Butts in 1858 as she headed up to her 40th birthday, never had children.  But she had the knack of writing for little hands and little minds.  About 10 of her children’s books on moral values including racial equality, temperance, and spirituality, survive in collections at the Bancroft Memorial Library in Hopedale and the American Antiquarian Society in… [continue reading]

A Family Story
Linda Hixon
December 28, 2018

His name was so unusual, I thought he must be yet another of the dozen or so immigrant Draper workers who had succumbed to the influenza pandemic in 1918.  But Watrous Garnsey’s American family lineage went back to before the Revolutionary War. The Garnsey family had deep roots in Richmond, New Hampshire.  Dozens of Garnseys are mentioned in books about the town, and Garnsey men served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  Watrous Garnsey, Sr. and his wife, Emily Newhall or Newell were both natives of Richmond, although this branch of the Garnsey family may have originally come from Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The elder Watrous was born in 1842 and served as a young man in the Civil War.  He earned his military pension and became a farmer.  He was important in the town, even playing tenor drum in… [continue reading]

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