September 18, 2022
Join Hopedale Women’s History Project founder Linda Hixon as she probes Hopedale’s Hidden Histories on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at Bancroft Memorial Library. The presentation, which is offered through the support of the Hopedale Cultural Council, is free and will be held in the library’s program room starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Humphrey family was very important in Hopedale history. William and Almira came to Hopedale in 1849 and quickly became “devoted members” of Adin Ballou’s Practical Christian Community. In his History of Milford, Ballou called the couple “among our most exemplary people” and praised their daughter Lizzie as “our excellent artistic designer,” noting her “sterling moral character.” Lizzie became a successful artist, and a search for her in newspaper archives shows acclaim for her illustrations in hundreds of articles and publishers’ advertisements. Her drawings, often based on the faces of Hopedale’s children or on sights around the town, appear in dozens of books and cards.
But the Humphrey family had a secret. Around 1860, just before Lizzie’s 20th birthday, William and Almira welcomed a new child to their home. Margaret, born when Almira was 51, was listed as the Humphreys’ daughter in the 1865 Massachusetts state census. But Adin Ballou, as the town’s minister, never mentioned “Margie” in his 1882 genealogical register. In fact, he called Lizzie Humphrey the couple’s “only surviving daughter.” Margie was living with the family in the 1880 federal census and was very much alive in 1886 when she showed up in a newspaper article traveling with Lizzie in California.
This begs the question: who was Margie Humphrey and why, except for a few tantalizing glimpses, has she been lost to Hopedale history?