Oyster pioneer and seed experts among latest to be inducted into Milford Hall of Fame

An original female settler, 19th century seed experts, an oyster industry pioneer, an influential politician in the 1940s and 1950s and a former dean of the Milford medical community will be the next people inducted into the Milford Hall of Fame.

The induction will be Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. at the Parson’s Government Center. The public is invited.

Martha Beard

Widow Martha Beard (1603-49) came from England with her husband and five children and settled in Milford among the first settlers in 1639. She was one of two women to be among the first settlers. Her husband, James, had died on the ship along the way. She was admitted to the First Congregational Church of Milford on Nov. 1, 1640.

“The names of the first settlers, Martha Beard among them, are engraved on the Memorial Bridge in Milford,” Hall of Fame officials said.

Clark and Woodruff

One of the most important area business ventures in the 19th century was the growing of seeds. Everett B. Clark and Stiles D. Woodruff were both seed merchants who merged in 1864. Their growing fields were along the Boston Post Road where the Westfield Mall is today.

“One accomplishment was production of a hybrid sweet corn which proved valuable to the canning industry since it produced an evenly maturing crop and gave a large yield per acre,” according to a write-up about the latest inductees.

William Merwin

William Merwin (1827-1903) was one of the pioneers in the local oyster cultivation industry.

Hall of Fame officials noted that, “Through successive attempts in ever deepening water, he found oyster cultivation was most fruitful in depths of 20 to 50 feet.”

He initially raised oysters on 200 acres off Pond Point. Founder of William M. Merwin and Sons, in 10 years the company cultivated 1,000 acres, yielding one million bushels of native oysters that saw a ready sale to home market and a large export trade with England.

Omar Platt

Omar Platt (1874-1957) was known as “Judge” Platt and considered a major influence in local politics through the first half of the twentieth century. Never holding the post of first selectman he held about everything else including Board of Education member 40 years and chairman 35, Republican Town Committee chairman, Milford Hospital president and chairman of the 1939 Tercentenary Committee.

William J.H. Fischer

William J.H. Fischer MD (1882-1964) practiced when general practitioners formed the backbone of Milford Hospital.

“His office was in his home,” according to Hall of Fame press release. “He took no appointments. A patient would only walk in, sit down and wait to be seen by the doctor.”

He was police surgeon, fire surgeon and health officer, president of the New Haven County Medical Society and named Milford’s Man of the Year  by Devon Post 7788, Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1953. He was also on the staff of every hospital in and around Milford.

The Milford Hall of Fame has been inducting honorees with special plaques along a corridor in the Parson’s Government Center since 2008. Inductees have lived in Milford and made a significant contribution toward promoting the quality of life in the city or earned distinction at the local, state, national or worldwide level.

Nominations for future honorees may be made by calling Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Gerard Patton at 203-878-5120.