Milford: Read All About it!
Milford has been on the map for 378 years, and its long, storied history is certainly one for the books. Over the years there have been quite a number of accounts written about our fair city, offering current citizens a glimpse into an eventful past. Milford is fortunate that so many talented writers have explored the exceptional, historical, and typical events of the past and present. Whether you live here, have moved away, or live nearby, it’s always a treat to learn about the humble hamlet of Milford.
History of Milford CT 1639 to 1939, By Federal Writers Project for the State of CT In 1939, this go-to history was penned as part of Milford’s Tercentennial Celebration, a milestone event that served as the impetus for the publication which has long served as “the” history of our city. A reference book for historians for decades, it was expanded to cover the years from 1939 through 1989 to help observe the city’s 350th anniversary celebration. Chronicling historic events, commerce, local life, and more, it is a must-have book for any fan of Milford. In the words of Omar W. Platt, Chairman of Milford Tercentenary Committee, “There could be no more appropriate gift for the Milford of the Present to hand to the Milford of the Future than an accurate account of Milford of the Past.” (Out of print; it is available online in its entirety at archive.org.)
Milford: A Brief History by Frank Juliano Frank Juliano is known to most as an intrepid area reporter, but his passion for history prompted him to write his own book about Milford. Story upon story is recounted and accompanied by images that help the reader get a clear picture of events described in the book. Stories of Simon Lake and his wonderous submarine, the first free planters who bargained with Sachem Chief Ansantawae, and many, many more will keep you turning pages. (Available on Amazon and at some area booksellers.)
Milford Postcards by Melvin Hurd Milford’s sprawling shorefront has long been a haven for tourists, attracting those looking to escape the summer’s heat. Postcards were mailed literally all over the world by those who vacationed at our shores. Images of our historic landmarks, sandy beaches, lovely town green, local attractions, and of course, the ever-mysterious Charles Island, offered photographers and entrepreneurs a splendid opportunity to cash in on tourism. This collection of postcards offers a tangible look back at life back in the day. (Available on Amazon and at some area booksellers.)
Woodmont on the Sound by Katherine Krauss Murphy Woodmont native and local history buff Katherine Kraus Murphy focused this slim volume on her neighborhood, documenting its charms across the years. Only one square mile in size, Woodmont is truly a close-knit community. Annual celebrations such as Woodmont Day add to its lovely landscape. Once a very popular spot in town for tourists, Woodmont boasted dozens of hotels, inns, boarding houses, and cottages right near the water offering fresh air, great fishing and fun for all. (Available on Amazon and at some area booksellers.)
Sand in Our Shoes by “The Beach Kids” Another Milford neighborhood, the Walnut Beach/Myrtle Beach area, was also a haven for tourists, but it was also a place where the locals had fun. Home to an amusement park, movie theaters, and local eateries, Walnut Beach was the place to be. Growing up with sand in their shoes, local kids lived at the beach and worked there as well. Whether they were working the skate rental at the roller rink or taking tickets at Walnut Beach Park for The Whip, they laughed, loved and limbo-ed their summers away. Published in 2004 by a team of self-described, lifelong Milford beach kids (members of the Walnut Beach-Myrtle Beach Historical Association), the book took five years to compile and is “the” coffee table book for any fun-loving Milford friend. (Out of print; available through resellers.)
Milford Then & Now by Michael Clark The work of local photographer and historian Michael Clark, Milford Then & Now offers a unique perspective and a fascinating look back by sharing images of Milford as it was in the past alongside current views. Seeing a horse and buggy jaunt over a road you travel every day in comfort of your automobile can help give you a true sense of what Milford was like in the past…and make you appreciate the comfort of your technologically advanced suspension. Sadly, there are images of what once was and what has been lost—images that have spurred preservationists to halt further demolitions. There are also many images of buildings that have stood the test of time. (Available at Amazon and at some area booksellers.)
An Historical Account of Charles Island by Michael C. Dooling Charles Island is arguably the most iconic landmark in Milford. The tombolo that has been explored at low tide for centuries is laden with history and lore. Sachem Ansantawae’s summer retreat has played host to numerous endeavors and legends. A luxury hotel, a fertilizer factory, and a Dominican Friar’s religious retreat all briefly laid claim to the island. Now a national bird sanctuary, it is still, on occasion, explored in the hope of discovering Captain Kidd’s buried treasure. (Available on Amazon.)
Only in Milford – An Illustrated History by Deforest Smith A descendant of one of Milford’s long-standing families “Frosty” Smith compiled this remarkable compilation of photographs and text with other local history buffs. A limited publication, it was snapped up by locals as it was published in conjunction with Milford’s 350th celebration. The collection of images amassed by Daniel E. Moger are thoughtfully placed by neighborhood with information about each area. (Out of print; available through resellers.)
—Susan Carroll Dwyer