Arthur Stowe named Milford's city historian

Milford has a new city historian: Arthur Stowe.

Stowe replaces Carol Brockett LaBrake, who took over the unpaid post from Richard Platt in 2014. Stowe becomes Milford’s fourth city historian.

Stowe has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Northeastern University. He is president of the Milford Historical Society, and has been a member of the Milford literacy center, the Plymouth Men’s Club, and the River Park Apartments Committee. Residents may have seen him over the years moderating local political debates for the Plymouth Men’s Club.

Stowe has served on both of Milford’s historic district commissions.

His official duties as the new city historian will be to review demolition proposals and determine if a structure is of historical significance. If he determines a building should not be demolished, he can issue a 90-day delay.

Other than that, the job of city historian is sort of up to the individual, according to Platt.

Platt said that during his years as city historian, he received a lot of questions about genealogy, which he considers his specialty. Other than that, he knows a lot of Milford history, has an impressive collection of books and histories about Milford, and always knew whom to call if he didn’t know the answer to a question.

“If it’s Woodmont, I’d call Katie Murphy, and if it’s Walnut Beach, I call one of the Sand in Our Shoes authors,” Platt said.

Platt said he is more than happy to share his contacts and historic Milford CDs with the new city historian.

Arthur Stowe is a descendent of Stephen Stow, of Revolutionary War-era fame. Capt. Stephen Stow is famous in Milford history for sacrificing himself to care for soldiers infected with smallpox in 1777. He died of smallpox at age 51 after caring for soldiers who had been left along Milford’s shore by the British.

Stephen Stow is remembered on the Soldier’s Monument in the Milford Cemetery with the following words:

To administer to the wants and soothe

the miseries of these sick and dying soldiers

was a work of extreme self denial and danger

as many of them were suffering

from loathsome and contagious maladies.

Stephen Stow voluntarily left his family

to relieve these suffering men.

He contracted disease from them,

died and was buried with them.

He has already given four sons to serve

in the war for Independence.

To commemorate his self sacrificing devotion

to his country and to humanity

the Legislature of Connecticut

resolved that his name shall be inscribed

on this monument.

Stephen Stow married Freelove Baldwin, another big name in Milford history, for which the local Daughters of the American Revolution is named.

“The Freelove Baldwin Stow Chapter DAR was named for the wife of Stephen Stow, who in 1777 voluntarily left his wife and family to care for and relieve the suffering of the men who had been released from a British prison ship on the shores of the town, under a flag of truce,” notes a passage from the DAR history. “Of the 177 men released, more than half were suffering from smallpox. Stephen Stow contracted the disease and died. He was buried with the soldiers who had given their lives so that this nation might live.”

Arthur Stowe salutes both Stephen and Freelove for their bravery during that time.

“Stephen and Freelove were incredibly good people,” Arthur Stowe said, pointing out that Stephen Stow put himself in the middle of harm’s way, and Freelove supported his decision.

Arthur Stowe, and his family before him, grew up in Milford, and with the family history, Milford history has been a big part of his life.

He worked under the tutelage of Milford’s first city historian, the late Rutheva Baldwin Brockett, and he said he learned a lot from her.

As for his own spin on the position, Stowe said, “I’m still inventing the job.”

Arthur Stowe’s term as Milford historian will expire Dec. 31, 2016.