The Thwing house, shown in the foreground above, was the only home in Hopedale for which there is evidence of having taken in escaped slaves. (See Anna Thwing Field's story in Hopedale Reminiscences.) It was across Hopedale Street from the Bancroft Library. It was eventually moved to Union Street, probably in the 1890s. The house that stands on its former location now, was built by Charles and Lura (Bancroft) Day. Lura was the daughter of Joseph and Sylvia (Thwing) Bancroft and the niece of Almon Thwing. (More on abolitionism in Hopedale.) The house was also the post office for the Hopedale Community.
                          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 Company."

    In an obituary supplied by Paul Cuan 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 machinist.

   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, Date not given. 

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, 1934.

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