Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Videos have been recorded as part of the Milford Memories Project of the Milford Rotary Club and are a resource to historians. All of the following are kept by me, Joseph Barnes, Esq. Some are available at Milford Library. A few regrettably are missing and are noted as such.


Special thanks to Jerry Patton (**) founder and guiding light of the project,
Deforest (Frosty) Smith (*) and Joseph B. Barnes, Esq. *** Video Interviewers and keeper of the records


Interviews with the following Individuals:


Mead Batchelor     (b.1/28/1924)              8/25/2000  *

Emil Usinger          (b.7/7/1910)               8/25/2000

Ruth Platt, retired teacher  (b. ca 1895)    11/19/1998 ** ***

Mead Batchelor    (b. 1/28/1924)             3/29/2001  *

Joseph Foran        (b. 7/18/1906)              3/29/2001

Emil Usinger        (b. 7/7/1910)                3/29/2001

Jim Rose               b. 9/9/1915                  4/12/2001   *

Robert Beard         b. ca. 1916                  4/12/2001

Anthony Benedosso b.10/8/1914              4/12/2001

Joe Foran              b.7/18/1906                 9/3/1999    *

Stuart Sears           b. 9/3/1916                  9/3/1999

Pink Smith             b.10/7/1912                 7/8/1999    *

Merwin Williams b.12/8/1907                 7/8/1999

Al Hotchkiss         b.7/26/1913                 7/14/2000   *

John Gunther         b.3/12/1914                 7/14/2000

Pink Smith             b.10/7/1912                 7/8/1999     *

Danforth Smith      b.8/30/1937                 7/8/1999

     Jesse James Hamblin, Architect                 10/26/2006  **

     Jesse James Hamblin, Sr.  Voice of Ken Hawkins


Topical Videos

Beth El Shelter            12/8/2008 **

Dick Bonner

Rev. Ken Fellenbaum

Joan Haybruck

Bob Heerema

Pat Johannsen

Kathy and Vincent Lattanzi

Frosty Maroney O'Keef

Margaret Sartor

John Sieckhaus

Eric Soderberg


Boys & Girls Village                          11/20/2003  **  MISSING

Janet Platt,

Dick Sykes

Joy & Ralph Carloni

Charlie Hayden

Gary Zink

Rev. Ken Fellenbaum 


DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution  7/9 & 8/8/2007 **

Roma Collins Moger

Evelyn Pearson Merwin

Sarah Agro

Elinor Maloy


Devon and the West Side Beaches     9/15/2006 **

Paul Austin

Burt Cochrane

Bill Curnin

Frank Kelly

Mike Mercurio

Pete Phelan


George J Smith & Sons                       10/16/2006  **

DeForest Smith (realty)

Danforth Smith (insurance)

Winthrop Smith (Mortuary)


Gulf  Pond Marine & Wildlife Inst.    10/24/2006  **

Tim Chaucer

Dan Sullivan


John Downes, Chronicler  1763-1810   10/18/2006 **

      Dick Platt and Tim Chaucer


Lisman Landing Dedication                 10/4/2003


Joseph Plumb Martin               9/1/2007

      Interview with historian Michael Margonis


Milford Academy                    10/21/2003 and  1/5/2004 **

Dino Caliburi

Len Ballaban

James Coffey

Nancy Hanford

Mayor James Richetelli

Bur Rosenbaum

Peter Rosenbaum


Milford Bank                                       11/15/2004 **

Paul Austen (PP)

Robert Beard

Robert Macklin (Pres)

Deforest Smith (Dir)

Howard treat (PP)


Milford Center                                    7/9/2009    MISSING

Bob Gregory

Mike Petrucelli

DeForest Smith

Gail Merwin Urban


Milford Citizen                                   10/23/2003 **

Linda Bouvier

Sunny Boncek

Anne Feely

Eleanor Meyers Turkington

Cap Zito


Milford Club   est. 1849                      11/10/2004 **

John Bergin, President

Mayor  Ed Kozlowski

Eric Soderberg

Gary Zink


Milford Harbor Tour   9/27/2004 **

Al Hotchkiss

Alan Berrien

Ken Neff

Mitch and Janet Quintner (Boat owner and Host)

Dick Sykes

Gary Zink


Milford Harbor           9/28/2004 **

CHUM (Concerned Harbor Users of Milford

       Al Hotchkiss

 Ken Neff

 Dick Sykes


Milford Historical Society  7/30/2009 ** ***

William Byers

Ardianne Damicia

Mike Elgee

Sandy Elgee

Virginia Hoagland

William (Bill) Hoagland

Roma Moger

Richard Platt


Early Milford Government      9/18/2003 **

Mayor Alan Jepson

Mayor Edward Kozlowski,

Merwin Williams

Jack Healey 


Milford Independent Party      10/30 and 11/14/2003 **

Alan Jepson

Robert (Bob) Hardiman

Charles Iovino

Dick Platt

Merwin Williams


Milford Library                       6/18 & 7/2/2009 **

Joel Baldwin

Alan Jepson

Ed Kozlowski


      Stanley Carmen

      Sal Stingo

      Jean Tsang

Bldg. Chrmn. Richard Somers


Milford Monuments                 10/25 and 11/18/2004 **

     Interview with Dick Platt Town Historian


Milford Newspapers   6/25/2009     (left to right) **

Manny Strumpf

Hariet Racz

Sunny Boncek

Frank Juliano

Linda Bouvier



Nike Missile Site (Eel's Hill) 12/01/2006   **

Leonard Benedetto

William Finch

Eric Muth

Raymond Savo


Milford Retrospective from 1920's    10/16/2007 **

Ruth (Doolittle) Jeffrey

Dorothy Winkler Paul


Peter Pond Explorer 1778       9/18/2006 **

      Narrated by William McDonald


Ryder Mobile Home Park **

Gary Phillip Zink

Gary Zink Jr. (son)

Scott Zink (son)


St Mary's Roman Catholic Church    9/18, 11/5  & 11/19/2003 **

Frank Annunziatta

Tom Cody

Father Cronin

Joe Foran

Katie Maher

Diane Patton

Mike Petrucelli


Thaddeus Koskiusco Society              11/20/2004 **

Ed Kozlowski

Joe Mager, Esq.

Dr. John Nowicki

Albert Olenski


Williams Insurance Agency                 10/27/2004 **

Larry Urban

Gail Williams Urban

Kaye Williams

Thomas L. Williams


YMCA  100 years                               9/13 and 11/3/2005 **

James (Jim) Beard

Mike Boyle

William J Brower

Judy Jameson

Terry Munk

Skip Raymond

Dick Sykes

Reverend ROGER NEWTON 1620-1683

by Joseph B. Barnes, Esq.


Roger Newton was born possibly as early as 1607 but most likely about 1620 in a town in eastern England likely Bourne, Lincolnshire, England. A number of Newtons arrived in America and Canada in the 1600s but some say he was the first of his family to do so landing at Boston about the year 1638, Coincidentally the same year Davenport and Prudden arrived with the future Milford Settlers.


He was the son of Samuel Newton, of the same family as Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726).

Samuel's parents (Roger's grandparents) are believed to have been John Newton born on April 1, 1565 in Bourne, Lincolnshire and Alice Hales.

Young Roger Newton enrolled in 1636 in Cambridge University [England]. In the Alumni Cantabrigienses which provides a record of students enrolled between 1261-1900 his entry reads:

"NEWTON, ROGER. Matriculated as a  "sizar" [a student receiving financial help from the college while having menial duties in return]  from King's, Easter, 1636…

He migrated to Boston in New England where he studied theology at Harvard. There is no record of his graduation possibly as the early Harvard records were accidentally burned. Rev. Cotton Mather speaks of him as one of the young students who came from England to finish their education in America.


A puritan superstar of the time, Rev. Thomas Hooker moved to Hartford from Boston in 1636, he returned to Boston several times, and it is said that "crowds rushed to hear him." In 1639, Thomas Hooker and Governor Haynes remained in Boston nearly a month, and one of Hooker's sermons delivered in Cambridge at that time, was two hours in length. It is presumed that Hooker and Newton made their acquaintance at Harvard at this time


In 1640, Roger traveled on foot from Cambridge, MA to Hartford, CT to study for the ministry under Rev. Thomas Hooker at his home.  It is possible that Rev. Hooker may have known grandfather, Rev. John Newton of Bourn, while studying at Cambridge University. Cambridge University assigned John as minister to the church in Bourne. If so, then Roger Newton and Thomas Hooker may have had ties predating Harvard. 


Roger married Hooker's eldest daughter, Mary Hooker at Hartford in 1644 (winter of 1645 in the old Julian calendar as new year then was March 25). Mary Hooker, as a child, had walked the long miles through the Massachusetts wilderness beside the litter which carried her invalid mother, Susannah Hooker; her journey was commemorated in marble on the front of the Capitol in Hartford. "Susannah Hooker was a lady of culture, and worthy to be the companion of such a man as Thomas Hooker." They had once lived in Holland where many strong Calvinists, like the Pilgrims, had fled to avoid the Church of England's dictates.


The Hartford home of Thomas Hooker was a large two story house close by that of Governor Haynes, corner lot on the streets now named Arch and Prospect then called, "Meeting House Alley," connecting the parsonage and the meeting house. When choosing a place for a home, water supply and boat access to other settlements especially for escape from Indians, so it was prudently set few dozen feet north of  the Little River, (now Park River).


The Farmington area was settled in 1640 in an area called Tunxis after the friendly Indians there. The Tunxis tribe had welcomed the white men as a protection against the Mohawks. Farmington was incorporated in 1645. Newton became their first minister serving from the "church Covenant" in 1652 to 1657. It is listed that Newton was an original settler and a "Founder" of Farmington. This may be because, in the early days, a town really didn't exist until the church was created, since he was clearly still in Hartford when the area was first settled. The Congregational custom was to choose seven men called the Seven Pillars who covenanted with each other, then others joined the fellowship. At Farmington He was one of the Seven in 1652. Fourteen men and their families constituted the church at the close of the year 1652. Roger Newton did missionary work among the Indians, "civilizing" and Christianizing them, receiving a large class for instruction, of whom a few gathered into the church and became voters in affairs of the new town.


In 1657 some Indians (likely not the Tunxis) became very "troublesome." They cruelly murdered Mr. Scott, one of the seven Pillars and burned the house of John Hart, who with his family perished in the flames. Roger Newton soon after left Farmington with his family for Boston. In October, 1658 he engaged passage for England. Bad weather with strong winds hindered the departure for several days. This apparently was a bad "omen" to the superstitious sailors. While Newton was conducting services in Boston, the captain of the ship, decided in his own mind that young minister Newton, like the biblical  Jonah,  was jinxed  by not following God's will to stay in country, so he sailed away without him.


The timing, and the captain's fears, proved good for Newton and Milford. Milford, after the death of Rev. Peter Prudden, was without a minister so the church sent Elder Thomas Buckingham to Boston to find one but he died soon after his arrival, June 16, 1657. The choosing of a minister was an important matter in those early days, as it was often a relationship for the duration of the clergyman's life. With the failure of the Buckingham mission, the position remained open until 1660 when Roger Newton's talents came to the attention of the Milford folk for consideration as new Pastor.


He removed to Milford, Conn., with Mary Hooker, his wife, and their family of six children, and was received into the church as a member July 29, 1660, elected pastor on August 22 and ordained with prayer and fasting September 9th. His second ordination (after Farmington) was not by a council of neighboring ministers as was the custom, but by the laying on of hands of members of the Milford church: Elder Zachariah Whitman, Deacon John Fletcher and Mr. (eventually Governor and MHOF inductee) Robert Treat, Magistrate.


With his young family it was necessary that he should immediately have a dwelling, so the town conveyed to him "the house and home lot beyond Dreadful Bridge, fourteen acres of meadow and as much upland as he should want." Later he had other grants of land. Property so given to a minister, became his alone, and the church or town had no further claim upon it. The parsonage of Peter Prudden, his predecessor, on the other side of the Wepowage River, was inherited by his children, so was no longer town/church property for Newton's use.


There is some confusion that his "home-lot" was "beyond Dreadful Bridge." The ford at today's West Main Street was crossed by the "Meetinghouse Bridge" constructed in 1641. Perhaps the bridge had become "dreadful" by 1660? Not likely; the inhabited land within the stockade was well laid out and distributed. In the North Street area, where his home was, no substantial acreage was available in 1660 within the timber walled town. More likely said bridge linked the "piece of upland beyond Dreadful Bridge" given to him outside the palisades. This was at  "Dreadful Swamp" (An vast area from today's Ford Street area and I-95 almost to Beaverbrook), therefore beyond "dreadful Bridge."


The Regicide judges, Whalley and Goffe, hid out for two years from August 19, 1661, in a cellar very near Newton's parsonage. A historical paper said "The presence of the Regicides was known to Governor Treat and to Rev. Roger Newton; they often walked in a grove back of the house where they were living." Newton was for God, but as to the King? seemingly, not so much.


Under Newton, his church received 164 persons. At the time of his death, it numbered about 200. That did not mean just anyone could join. He was deemed a "judicious pastor." Some cared nothing for church but desired admission for its worldly advantages. Others, not full church members, just sought baptism for their children. Newton was against any half way measures. Among the last of the puritans, a Christian to him was all in or all out. It was a losing fight as the public became increasing less religiously strict. Though "Old School" in this, his was not an ill-informed position. Newton was one of the most educated of ministers in all of New England. The library of Roger Newton was a marvel for his time. In an age when a Bible and catechism was an ordinary library and a score of books a clergyman's, he had more than two hundred volumes in all.


As Thomas Hooker, had done for him, Newton received young men in his household to educate them, including Abraham Pierson, first President of Yale College. Newton's successor Rev. Andrew (MHOF Inductee: 2009) would serve and host the nascent Yale College itself at the church in Milford.


At the beginning of his last illness in 1683, Roger Newton made his will. Newton had a huge estate for those times, valued at £683. In addition to 150 acres in Farmington, it included much Milford "land in Dreadful Swamp," "land at the West Noockes;" "land near a place commonly called 'Deere's Delight'" "land by the 'two mile brook;' " "the land between the two crooks in the Elder's Meadow;" "the new meadow playne;" "land by the path that goeth over the round meadow brook;" "the new fields by the river;" and "land at a place commonly called 'Bohemia.'" Experts in Milford historical topography take note! 


Rev Newton Died June 7, 1683 having served the Church of Christ for 22 years and about six months. Mary predeceased him on February 4, 1676, his greatest loss in life.


Of their eight children, locally, Samuel married Martha Fenn, ca. 1666, John married Lydia Ford, April l1, 1680, Sarah was married a month after her father's death, July 4, 1883, to her relative, John Wilson. Others moved out of town. Newton's Milford Descendant families include Allen, Anderson, Andrew, Baird, Beard, Baldwin, Bishop, Bradley, Butler, Carrington, Clark, Church, Fenn, Gillette, Gunn, Kilbourn, Lovejoy, Merwin, Morris, Newton, Platt, Shove, Stanley, Stow, Wait, Ward and others.

A Brass Tablet, set in a polished Belgian black marble background was  dedicated to Newton as part of Milford's 250th anniversary in 1889. It now hangs on the wall of the First Chuch:




Born in England


Pupil and Son-in-law


of Thomas Hooker of Hartford.


One of the Founders and


the first Pastors of the Church in


Farmington 1645-1657.


Installed Pastor of this Church


August 22, 1660 and so continued


until his Decease June 7, 1683.




A good Minister of Christ Jesus


nourished in the Words of the Faith


and of the good Doctrine.




Clark W. Wilcox 1853-1920

by Joseph B. Barnes, Esq.


A son of Capt. John W. Wilcox (b. 1832) and Anna M. Davidson Wilcox (b. 1836) of Milford, Clark Wilcox had roots here at least back to the revolutionary war. He removed to Brooklyn, NY in 1876. There he got involved in the hat industry. He developed a huge business in clothing Wilcox's Millinery, 109 - 111 Myrtle Ave and bridge street in Brooklyn, NY (roughly today's site of the NYU Polytechnic School of engineering) with a 20,000 square foot building for manufacturing, warehouse with 163 linear feet of retail space.


Clark ran Wilcox's Millinery House as president with two of his three surviving siblings (of 5), Lorren (VP) (b. 1859), and George (Sec./Treas.) (b. 1865). Boasting "the Best Hats in New York" his advertised prices ranged (in 1903) from School hats at 15 cents to fancy straw and chiffon hats priced at $2.98 to $4.98, marked down from the kingly sum of $7.98 to $9.98. Their ad in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle priced his goods two to five times higher than rival Milkman's Millinery of Fulton Street whose ad was often posted right next to his. Clearly Wilcox had cornered the "luxury hat" market in Brooklyn.


Wilcox's success was good news for Milford as Clark Wilcox, who summered at Walnut Beach, became a great benefactor of the Village of Milford. After 33 years building his fortune in New York, he decided to return to Milford. Actually, with some considerable thought toward finality, he had decided some time back to return here permanently as way back in 1894 he bought his burial plot in Milford Cemetery!


Wealthy Clark  Wilcox owned many properties by purchase or inheritance around town: 17 acres on the Housatonic; 38 lots in "Westfield"; land on the today's Harborside Drive facing Wilcox Park which he, and then his estate, sold off as residential lots; a large area of land between Old Field Lane and the Indian River "gulf" which he sold to George Wilcox in 1913 (some of it was a golf course until purchased for residential development in today's Wilcox Road area); and Land on High Street, corner of Broad, that eventually became Cody-White Funeral Home and northward across the railway tracks, the seed company headquarters of Everett Clark (MHOF Inductee: 2014) later 'Asgrow.'


Returning permanently to Milford, in July 1909 he purchased 10 acres to build a $30,000 "cottage" on Welch's Point Road. Today the "cottage," "Eveningside Mansion," (later owned by the Stuart family, saved by Joseph H. Blichfeldt and now occupied by sports radio personality Dan Patrick) is worth over $2.5 Millions and pays one of Milford's top ten highest property tax rates. In December '09 Wilcox added the waterside land west of the "new road on the bluff"  (Gulf Street extension from Old Field La. to the terminus of previously dead ending Welch's Point Road) from the Merwin and Gunn families to be kept forever without construction of house or barn under penalty of forfeiture. Use of this land would be a development controversy in the 1990s. Apparently a "bath house" was not a violation, so through the teens, twenties and thirties, parties were held there and on the lawns overlooking Charles island. Eventually the sound claimed the "lawns" leaving the party "Summer house" perched on the very edge of the cliff today.


Most significantly, in 1908 Wilcox also purchased property from Franklin H. Fowler, then of Manhattan, NY. This land was part of area granted to William Fowler (MHOF inductee: 2012) in early colonial days if he would build and run the nearby 'Fowler's Mill.' Fowler did, and he and his descendants continued to do so for about 270 years. Wilcox spent considerable effort cleaning up the neglected area then known "Harbor Woods."  He added many trails including some for automobiles (his big Pierce Arrow being one of the early cars in the village). For the 270th anniversary of Milford in 1909, Clark Wilcox announced his intention to donate this parcel to the community.


Clark Wilcox gave "Wilcox Park" (as the grateful Board of Selectman named it), a 12 acre parcel of land along the harbor, as a bird sanctuary in perpetuity to the city on August 28, 1909. The dedication ceremony was a who's who of 1900's Milford. Present was submarine inventor Simon Lake, dry goods dealer Eldridge Cornwall, Inventor and industrialist William B. McCarthy (Rostand Co.) who was then president of the Milford Improvement Association, Rev. Peter McClen, Pastor of St. Mary RC church, State Rep. G.F. Smith, First Selectman Frank T. Munson, the Milford Military Band, combined choirs of Milford Churches, a singing quartet, Clark's family and a large assemblage of citizens.


The map entitled: "Wilcox Park, as presented by Clark Wilcox to the Town of Milford, dated August 29, 1909" was duly filed in the Milford Land Records as Map E-299 along with the deed. Maintenance and use of the park is controlled by ordinance of the City of Milford (most recently Article VII Sec. 16-192, Ordinance of 4-5-1993).


The park has had a long history of alternating neglect and frenzied improvement. In the mid 1960's Milford boy scouts gathered to rake the woods clean of years of fallen leaves re-opening trails to hikers, bikers and drivers. In 1993 non-pedestrian access was severely restricted by ordinance so today "No person shall ride, walk or possess a bicycle, tricycle, motorbike, motorcycle or non-motorized wheeled vehicle within the park except upon the paved road or in areas specifically designated for such use by the Park, Beach and Recreation Commission"  exempting only wheelchairs operated by handicapped persons, baby carriages and strollers containing infants and [of course] City … vehicles.


The low-land north of the park's high ground was once part of the harbor. A severe storm washed silt down the flooded Wepawaug River in the 1880's ending the village's reign as a port and significant boat building center. Fly ash from Bridgeport's and neighboring power plants was dumped there as fill for decades until the mucky area was dressed up in the late 1950's to become Milford's important activity area, Fowler Field, as it is today.


Simon Lake's "Explorer" Submarine sat neglected in this area from 1950 to 1964 until it was moved to the Bridgeport Museum of Art and industry then loaned to the submarine museum at Groton in 1974 where it was beautifully restored. It was returned to Milford in the 1990's and now proudly rests near the landing on  Factory Lane.


Also   in the 1990's, with the creation of the public marina now known as Lisman Landing, the shoreline area of the park got an enlarged boat launch ramp, dockage and parking, a trail and gazebo along the marsh side the harbor with public and handicapped access.


By 2002 much of the park had again fallen into disrepair. The Environmental Concerns Coalition (ECC) with support of scouts, students and others worked to restore native species and weed out invasive flora following the guidelines of the National Wildlife Federation. In October 2003 the public and government officials gathered to celebrate the restoration.

Andrew   Law 1749–1821

by  Joseph B. Barnes, Esq.


Andrew Law (1749–1821) was an American composer, preacher and singing teacher. He was born in Milford, Connecticut. Law, a devout Calvinist and an ordained Minister, never took a position as a clergyman. He was educated at Rhode Island College (now Brown Univ.). Music was his chosen profession.


Law wrote mostly simple hymn tunes and arranged tunes of other composers. His works include Select Harmony (1778) a compilation of  sacred "Psalm" songs of America and Britain. He advanced American Music as he elevated relatively unknown, and unaccomplished, young American composers stature so as to stand beside William Billings and the well established and prolific Britons with his rules of singing.


In 1778 at 29, while the revolutionary war raged about him, he and his brother William set up a tune book printing business in Cheshire, often printing books he himself created by compiling the works of others (copyright issues anybody?).  Ironically he petitioned the legislature to protect his compilation of mostly other's works, the ponderously titled "A Collection of Hymn Tunes from the Most Modern and Approved Authors," and won in 1781, by special act of  the Legislature, the very first copyright ever granted in the state (the first Connecticut copyright law for "the encouragement of genius" was not passed until 1783 (Repealed 1812)).

Select Harmony was a revolutionary advance over the tune books of the time.  It contained tunes and lyrics together in the same book. Typically tune books, as the name suggests, contained tunes only. A collection of Hymns only had text. Law's other books, including his copyrighted work, sometimes followed the more traditional approach.

Several updated editions of Select Harmony were produced in 1779, 1782 and 1812 and more books were produced as well including:  Collection of Best Tunes and Anthems (1779);  then, perhaps his most impressive work, the instructional Art of Singing (1780) a graded trio of books for beginners (Primer) moderate (Christian Harmony) and advanced choirs and musical societies (The Musical Magazine) then Rudiments of Music (1785) and later in life Essays on Music (1814).

Select Harmony was introduced at a time when America's first music educators were seeking viable approaches to the teaching of sight-singing, Andrew Law was a pioneer of the FASOLA system of musical notation which simplified lessons in reading music. FASOLA singing is also known as "Shape Note Singing," where Squares, ovals triangles and other symbols are used to denote easy to read musical notes do, re, mi, fa, sol, etc..

Andrew Law was less a musical innovator or composer than an editor, organizer and propagator of music to the gerneral public. He was influenced a great deal by works of other Yankees. James Lyons' Urania, appearing in 1761, was found among the possessions of Andrew Law.

Most of his life's work focussed on teaching music in schools (almost exclusively at home or chuch based sites). He took his traveling "Law choir," made up of his students, to many churches around New England. He stunned congregations and revolutionized their thinking with the beauty of their singing when he put the melody in the soprano "treble" instead of the tenor part. He was among the first American composers to do so.


As a singing School master Law affected the lives of many. He Instructed african-American slave Newport Gardner in Rhode Island. Gardner became the first African American composer of Western music, heavily influenced by Law's sacred music. Gardner's works drew on powerful West African poetic melodies chronicling every major aspect of life which, when combined with his rich "remarkably strong and clear voice,"  opened a new chapter in American Music. The Soulful bible music training by Law to Mrs. Gardner's talented slave contributed to the spirituals, gospel music, blues, jazz and modern music that followed. (Newton Gardner and family was freed in 1791 with funds won on a lottery ticket bought and proceeds split with Gardner's friends).


Law's work on "FASOLA," copyrighted in 1802 (though he claimed later to have developed it in the 1780s) was quickly adopted by others. His great regret was that he little profited from his works financially, even though he aggressively marketed his books to protestant congregations. Rivals in a very similar approach to his "Shaped notes," William Little and William Smith of Philadelphia, had been granted copyright protection in 1798 of their nearly identical shape note system and their tune book beat his by two years. Their approach retained the musical staff on notes so received even more acceptance and retained its popularity into the 20th Century while Law's approach faded.


Classical notation is the norm now, the simplified versions of Law and Little & Smith, lost influence as the need to cater to relatively uneducated, simple country folk waned. Andrew Law is still credited as being one of the musical giants of 18th Century America.




Widow Martha Beard, 1603-1649

by Joseph B. Barnes, Esq.


In Early colonial days the primacy of the man of the house was sacrosanct. If you reviewed the history of Milford Colony you would think that there were man brave men but only two women. This was not the case of course. Milford was full of brave women dedicated to home building and child rearing, and when the need arose, just about anything a man could do. Women in the English system were under their father's until married, then all her possessions were "owned" by her husband; some might say, "as was she." Career women were a rarity, as was any "spinster" who retained control, of her own fortune, usually inherited. The Widow Martha Beard was nearly unique of her gender in her independence. She was one of the first settlers and one of the two women separately accounted on the rolls of the colony, mere wives and daughters being considered simply an annex of the man of the house.


Martha Beard was born ca. 1603 Epping in Essex, England, sailed from England with the Reverends Davenport and Prudden party from England, with her husband and five children, and settled in Milford, CT, in 1639. Her husband, whose name tradition says was James, died during the passage from England to America


She was admitted to the First Congregational Church of Milford on November I, 1640.

This church was organized in 1639' She died June ll,1649-


The names of the first settlers are engraved on the Memorial Bridge and with the names

is inscribed this quotation from Straughton of the Massachusetts Colony: "God sifted a

whole nation that he might send choice seed-grain over into this wilderness."


These first settlers located on each side of the Mill River, today's Wepawaug River, and West End Brook (the almost unnoticed stream which still runs behind today's West Avenue). Their "house lots" were laid out in parallel slips, containing about three acres each. Some had double lots - two slips adjoining.


In consideration of her affliction, the Widow Martha Beard was given an extra amount of "house lott" her share being 4 acres 1 rod. Each planter had to erect a good house on his lot within three years, or it was to go back to the town (presumably for redistribution).


At a general meeting held November 22, l639, it was voted how many acres of  "house lott" upland and meadow should be assigned to each of the settlers, of whom only six had as large a portion as widow Martha Beard. she had 6 acres for her house lot,  37-1/2 of

upland and 19 of meadow. At three different times, the allotment of land given to her by

the town was increased. It is not recorded what service the young woman did for the Town, but it obviously demanded the respect and gratitude of her townsfolk.


Her oldest child, John, fought as a captain in King Phillip's War. After the defeat of the Pequots in 1635, King Phillip and his brother were likened to Kings Phillip and Alexander of Ancient Greece for their military prowess and noble bearing. Phillip, who was really named Metacom, grandson of Massasoit the Wampanoag who welcomed the Pilgrims in 1620, attempted to wage a war of annihilation against the colonists in 1675. Martha Beard did not actually experience the greatest threat to its existence Milford ever faced,  she died while still young on June ll,1649.


Another descendant, George W. Baird, served in the Civil War and went on to become a Brigadier General. He received the Medal of Honor for his deeds at Bear Paw Mountain in Montana while battling the Nez Perce Indians under the famed Chief Joseph. General Baird is a Milford Hall of Fame Honoree (2008).


Martha Beard is one of the few, if any, women who was name was independently engraved on the Memorial Bridge in Milford.


Mr. Charles C. Beard, of Shelton, CT, has in his possession a rapier type sword which, tradition says, was brought from England by Martha Beard and her husband.


Omar William Platt, 1874-1957

by Joseph B. Barnes


Omar William Platt is another of Milford's home grown heroes who earned his place on the hall of fame by serving his community all his life not venturing out into the world to make his name. Omar Platt was listed by the local paper, the Milford Citizen, as the most influential person in Milford Politics in the first half of the 20th Century. A unique distinction well earned.


It is hard to find a political post he did not hold. He was Town Prosecutor; Judge of Probate; 40 year member of the Board of Education, chairman for 35 of those years;

Chairman of the Taylor Library Board: Chairman of the Republican Town Committee: Delegate to the Republican National Convention during the Roaring Twenties to Nominate President Calvin Coolidge; Member of the State Republican Central Committee; Chairman of the WWI Memorial Committee; Chairman of the 300th Anniversary, Tercentenary, Committee in 1939; and presided over the Milford Historical Society as its Chair for 30 years.


That is not to say he was just a political animal her also distinguished himself in business serving as president of the Milford Trust Company (bank), and Milford Hospital.


Early in his career he distinguished himself as a legislator.  According to Taylor's Legislative History of the State of Connecticut:  "Omar William Platt, of Milford, has had the honor of representing his native town in the Legislature for two consecutive terms, 1901 and 1903. Mr. Platt is an influential Republican and has been prosecuting attorney of Milford since 1901. He is intensely interested in the welfare and prosperity of his town. He is a highly esteemed member of the Congregational Church, and is a Knight Templar. He gained an enviable reputation in the House of Representatives, serving as a member of the Committees on Judiciary and Judicial Nominations, and as chairman of the Committee on New Towns and Probate Districts. He took a prominent part in the debates and won the respect and admiration of all for his prompt, earnest, eloquent and determined manner. He richly deserves continued honors from the hands of his townsmen."


Omar Platt was a direct descendant of the town founders. He is the son of William Platt (b. 11/17/1823) and Almira A. (Hand) Platt of Watertown, CT, born January 30, 1874. Almira was the second wife of William Platt, (his first wife Sarah Oviatt, sometimes thought to be Omar's Mother, died December 14, 1866).


He attended Hopkins Grammar then Yale College, class of 1899, and Yale Law School, class of 1903. He was admitted to the New Haven County Bar in June, 1903. He married Charlotte Baldwin (another descendant of the founders) on 17 November 1904 but had no children. He died in Milford on 22 November 1957


Two anecdotes help define  "Judge" Platt.  The first, related by Russell Clarke, was that, on one occasion when Omar double parked his car in front of Issie's Newsroom on River Street, (a common practice well into the 1970s), a rookie cop ticketed his car. Omar emerged from the store, took the ticket from his windshield, tore it in half and threw it into the street. He, of course, got away with it. He was, Mr. Clark said, "the King of Milford."


When the old Town Hall burned in 1915, Omar directed one of the firemen to play his hose through a window onto the Town Clerk s vault and, not matter what anyone else told him, to keep his hose on the vault. The town records were at least partially saved though many Milford ladies took the opportunity to reduce their ages as many birth records had to be recreated. An act they would come to regret as retirement benefits started in the 1930s.