City forms committee to plan 375th celebration

The Board of Aldermen formally approved Milford’s 375th Anniversary Committee at its meeting last week.

The committee has been working for the past few months, getting ready for a celebration in 2014.

The committee’s officers are Chairman Robert Gregory, retired director of community development; Vice Chairman Peter Smith, a former state representative and vice chairman of the 350th committee; Secretary Alberta Jagoe, who was Milford’s mayor during the 350th celebration; and Treasurer Robert Berchem, principal and president of the Milford law firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin.

Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, who formed the group to organize the city’s 375th celebratory activities, said, “I am very pleased to see how much work this group has accomplished in a very short period of time. We are lucky to live in the greatest community in Connecticut. We are thankful that Peter Pruden and those first families settled along the Wepawaug River and Long Island Sound, and we are all looking forward to 2014 as a year of celebration.”

It was the summer of 1637 when Connecticut and Massachusetts militia were pursuing the Pequot tribe along the Connecticut coast. Most of the soldiers were interested only in spotting Indians, but Sgt. Thomas Tibbals noticed the area near the mouth of the Wepawaug River, where there was forest, game, rivers to power mills, a harbor, and beaches abundant with clams.

In 1639, this land was purchased from the Paugussett Indians and became Milford.

So goes the history that is recounted in the book History of Milford, Connecticut.

The last time the city held an anniversary celebration was 25 years ago, at the 350th, and that consisted of many events, including a parade and pageant paying tribute to the city’s past.

Milford’s histories tell much about the founders and how they settled in Milford almost 375 years ago.

“On Feb. 12, 1639, Edmund Tapp, William Fowler, Benjamin Fenn, Zachariah Whitman, and Alexander Bryan from New Haven, journeyed to the Wepawaug and purchased land from Ansantawae, a sachem of the Paugusset Indians who had a village on the banks of the river,” according to History of Milford, Connecticut.

The price was six coats, 10 blankets, one kettle, 12 hatchets, 12 hoes, two dozen knives, and a dozen small mirrors.

Gregory said there is much planning to be done.

“We want to thank Mayor Blake for bringing this group of volunteers together to plan the celebration for our great community,” Gregory said. “After months of planning — and with the Board of Aldermen’s approval Monday night — we are now ready to start the 2014 Milford 375th anniversary celebration.”

The committee is continuing to lock down specific dates and locations for events, which will include a gala in early spring, leading into Celebration Week beginning Monday, June 9, and ending with a parade on June 15.

Although Celebration Week will be the anniversary highlight — complete with fireworks and pomp — additional special events will take place throughout the year. The First Church, the Milford Historical Society and many other community groups will host festivities that commemorate the anniversary.