by Terry Rogers
On Thursday, September 20, Downtown Milford was filled with people dressed in maroon and gold to celebrate the City’s 231st birthday. The event was part of DMI’s 3rd Thursday events where businesses remain open later on the third Thursday of each month.
“Milford is a great little town,” Mayor Archie Campbell said as he cut the ceremonial cake at the celebration. “Welcome to all who are new here and thank you to everyone who works to make our City as great as it is.”
First State Dance Academy presented dances from their upcoming show The Nutcracker Express, which is a combination of the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker and the popular movie The Polar Express. Students also performed dances they presented at dance competitions throughout the year.
After the dance presentation, members of the Milford High School Band and Choir performed the song Happy Birthday as residents sang along. Many held candles that were then blown out when the song ended. Maroon and gold cupcakes were then handed out to those in attendance.
The first birthday celebration was held in 2017, the brainchild of Sara Pletcher who is now the President of Downtown Milford, Inc. While reading the Comprehensive Plan as part of the Planning Commission, Pletcher said she realized that significant dates in Milford history end in 7 with Joseph Oliver dividing his farm in 1787, the Kent County side of the town incorporated in 1807 and the Sussex County in 1887. For this reason, she felt that starting the birthday celebration in 2017 was the perfect idea. The success of the first event led DMI to establish the third Thursday in September each year as Milford’s birthday celebration.
Most of the land that is now North Milford was part of the Joseph Oliver plantation and was known as Saw Mill Range. It was warranted to Henry Bowman in 1680 and his son, John, sold it to Jacob Warrington. Oliver, who was Warrington’s son-in-law, purchased the land in 1773. Oliver’s mansion stood on Front Street between the river and the street.
Parson Sydenham Thorne arrived in Milford and purchased a 307-acre farm west of Tanner’s Branch. Oliver has been given credit with laying out the City on his farm but it was Parson Thorne who realized the potential for an active business center. Parson Thorne approached Oliver about building a dam and that partnership led to the formation of Milford.
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