Note: It has been gratifying to see how many people reading this blog were born at Mount Hope Hospital. Their fathers were chemists and other employees at the Company, one reader recognized the company house her family lived in for twenty years. This series has been very interesting for me to research, adding to the many things I did not know about the Village,
the city and the area where I grew up.
There are a few more up my writer's sleeve to be shared in the future. Hopefully,
you will continue to add information, too....................
Finally, we arrive at the end of the Mount Hope experience. I cannot judge at this point in time, I leave that up to you. The story ends on an unhappy note. Keeping in mind, also, that with the advent of an "advanced" highway system and more cars available to the working person, perhaps the ending was inevitable. As time passed great industry such as Reed and Barton left empty spaces in the Taunton landscape. Some of the old mill buildings were rescued briefly when used as movie sets for such as Shutter Island. But, back to our subject at hand.
As mentioned in the last post, the Mount Hope Finishing Company kept going all through the deep, dark years of the Great Depression offering its workers and their families security and a paycheck as well as so many benefits in their daily lives. But, life never stays the same and that is even more true for the economy. The people of the Mt. Hope community knew what they had and protected it, especially in the Textile Worker's Union to attempt to get the Company to join the regional Strike of 1934. Mt. Hope Company was the only non-unionized company in the region and so it was targeted by the Union. The town realized what it had and effectively along with J.K. Millikin isolated the town off and in a week kept themselves strike free.
In 1951 everything changed when after its 50th anniversary falling revenue required shortened working hours and a 20% cut or 120 employees. That was when the rumble of unionization started again, this time within the Company instead of without. Picketing became a reality in N. Dighton. J.K. was heartbroken to see a woman whose baby was saved at a Boston hospital thanks to the Company in the front row. As with all such things, family member fought with family member over the issue. Violence ensued in the quiet little company town. In 1951, broken in spirit, J.K. Millikin packed up his company lock, stock and barrel and moved it to N. Carolina to begin again. Still today there is controversy over what happened.
One can look at what may have paternalistic practices in company towns. Once the little community of North Dighton was touted internationally as the perfect New England Village where mutual benefits of the Company that supported it and its people took place. Today, we look at what has become an increasingly welfare-type country and compare...which would you want? I look at empty shells like Detroit and wonder.....
There still remains a remnant of that unique community: the lovely homes still clustered around the green, the concrete wall of the hospital, the water plant now under other auspices, the dairy farm... Still many, many memories of what was the Mount Hope Finishing Company and its people. Oh, and one more ironic thing, Eric Schultz tells us that Warner Blvd. is named after the Judge who declared J.K. Millikin's action in breaking the 1934 strike legal.
Jospeh Milikin died at the age of 87 years on May 27, 1961 on Chase St. in his beloved N. Dighton.
He is buried along with his family in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Taunton.
Photos from Flickr.com
Another source for this post:
I did enjoy the meandering off into the story of Mount Hope though, hope you did, too.