More information has come to light about the stagecoach sold to the Singing Cowboy Gene Autry by Charles Warner of Cold Spring Farm (which operated near the intersections of Ash and Chestnut street). According to several articles published by history reporter Gordon Hopper in the 1970s and 80s, Walter Brown brought Autry to Hopkinton to see the stagecoach while he was performing at the Boston Garden. “Apparently Autry liked what he saw,” wrote Hopper, and he bought the vintage vehicle for $5,000. The stagecoach, built in Vermont around 1730, was intact with original leather straps and visible lettering on the sides. Warner paid $200 when he originally purchased it from a Framingham woman sometime in the early 1940s.
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Before it was sold to the Singing Cowboy in 1951, the coach had made several appearances at the Hopkinton Town Fairs in 1944 and 1945, driven by Tom Terry with his own horses as part of the grand parade. The Hopkinton Historical Society was gifted several reels of film from these fairs and has had them digitally converted. The society held a public premiere several years ago when the process was completed but it may be time to take a closer look at them. Perhaps Tom Terry, Jr. would agree to be a special guest at another showing and help us identify some previous citizens!
Other Hopkinton folks involved in getting the stagecoach out to California were Al Welch, who hauled it by truck from the Cold Spring farm. His destination was former fire chief Joe Pyne’s yard on Main Street, where its wheels were blocked and strapped down securely. Jerry Bowker made the blocks and provided other carpentry work necessary for the coach’s cross-country trip in the back of a Sterling truck. Once secured, the truck driven by Autry’s chauffer was on its way.
In 1983, reporter Hopper got in touch with Autry to ask him about these events. Autry didn’t remember the Hopkinton stagecoach, but that may be explained by Al Welch’s recollection that the movie star had indicated it was slated to go over a cliff in his next western. Al Ryan added that the stagecoach had been painted red and he also recalled Autry’s statement of his intention. A collection of photos featuring the stagecoach was owned by former Police Chief Edward McManus and it is believed that one of them found its way to the Historical Society several decades ago. We are happy to share it here.
Anne Mattina is a Board Member and Vice President at the Hopkinton Historical Society