A colonial physician, American Revolutionary War hero, the town’s first historian and two important educators are set to be inducted into the Milford Hall of Fame 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Parson’s Government Center. The public is invited.
Jasper Gunn was the first physician in Milford after its founding in 1639. It has been noted that there were no deaths in town during the first five years of its settlement. He was also the town’s first schoolmaster since he conducted school at his house from 1642.
Captain Jehiel Bryan helped command the shore guard against British raids during the Revolution. He was so effective that the British finally set out to capture him but were thwarted once Bryan was warned of the attack, gathered a force, and beat them back.
A carpenter by trade, he married into the Buckingham family and renovated the present day Buckingham House, 61 North Street, where his handiwork is still apparent. Legend says General Marquis de Lafayette visited the home several times.
Edward R. Lambert was born in Milford in 1808 and is considered the town’s first historian through his 1838 book “History of the Colony of New Haven Before and After the Union with Connecticut.”
This comprised the first recorded history of his native town as well as those of New Haven, Guilford, Branford, Stamford on the mainland and Southold on Long Island, which had been purchased and settled under the authority of New Haven Colony. Lambert combed town records of all the towns to put together this comprehensive work.
Herbert J. Mathewson was born in Jewett City in 1856 and was responsible for developing a modern school system in Milford after becoming superintendent of schools in 1883. He served for 44 years, the first 29 as principal and teacher as well.
When Mathewson arrived in Milford, the graded school included a two-year high school department and the school shared space with town offices. Between 1900 and 1925 five new elementary schools were built, and a 20-room high school opened in 1908.
Fannie E. Beach was born in Milford in 1867 and died three months short of her 100th birthday. Records show she started teaching in 1891 for a 43-year career, originally in a one-room six-grade schoolhouse on New Haven Avenue at Chapel Street.
In 1917, she and another teacher taught in a multi-room school on Dixon Street. She was the first principal of Woodmont School and continued also as a teacher there until her retirement in 1934. That school was re-named after her in 1970.
The Milford Hall of Fame has been inducting honorees with special plaques along a corridor in the Parson’s Government Center since 2008. Inductees must have lived in Milford and made a significant contribution toward promoting the quality of life in the city or earned special honor or distinction at the local, state, national or worldwide level
A period of five years must have elapsed since the honoree’s death.
Nominations for future honorees may be made by calling Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Gerard Patton at 203-878-5120.