|Milford mill pond, Mt. Tabor church in the distance|
As it turned out, the photos were surplus to requirements, so I made them my own (since they were.) And unconstrained by any prohibition on first-person indulgences, I make Milford my own again. (If you want the fit-to-print story, the column appears here.)
I remember mom (nee Striker, of Royal Street) waxing nostalgic about the old Clapp-Scott mill on the western shore of the millpond - I think there was a Scott uncle and aunt living nearby, whom she visited as a girl.
|a 1980s visit|
Summer 2013, p.61.) It was informed by Murray Clapp's fine book, and an interview with a passionate local volunteer, who was instrumental in saving the old mill, and much of the original milling equipment inside.
|site of the Clapp- Dodge-Ellis mill, at the bridge|
I grew up knowing that our family was connected in some way to the milling history of Milford. Through my maternal grandmother, born Helen Dodge, in Milford, I was connected to the one-time proprietor of the mill on the Black River, in the village. I remember our Sunday visit to grandma's house on Royal Street, the day after the abandoned frame structure burned in October 1956. I remember being fascinated by the smoking rubble, and the adults' shocked reaction.
Once again I wish mom were here to connect the dots, now that I want to know the family stuff. As kids, we were surrounded with a wide interconnected family, one's 'people', among whom one belonged and felt comfortable. I realize now that most of the familiar surnames that formed part of adult conversations, the faces at gatherings like card parties and church events, were those of folks related by blood or marriage to one or other of our parents, in that way that old families, in one county since the late c18, branched out through marriage. I remember occasionally having dinner with a family who was not 'related', and how awkward it felt.
|former Knox, Pounder store|
In recent memory there have been people creating new ventures in the old stores that were 'the big city' when mom and her siblings might have stood at the counter wistfully surveying the penny candy. These would have been stores patronized because of family connections or long association. All closed now, a new convenience store/bakery opened in VanCott's garage.
|Dexter McKibbon's general store, then Chapman's Meat Market|
Dexter built a fine brick house (one of three brick houses I recall in the village, another being the Methodist Manse) in 1876, with the familiar projecting centre bay, bracketed roof, with verandahs at each side, and lots of lovely gingerbread. All gone now, replaced by an unlovely entry with vinyl windows and door. An extension at the back suggests a future as tourist accommodation.
A well-maintained 'twin' on a (the) back street was once owned by Fred and Julia Dodge, according to the Milford walking tour guide.
Grandma Striker was the daughter of Fenton and Augusta Dodge. I have a tiny old photo of him driving a wagon load of milk cans. I wonder what the family connection is? I have a genealogist 'relation' - scion of the other UE Clapp brother - who would know. I once considered getting more involved in genealogy; it was she who warned me to fill the freezer with frozen ready meals before I began. I stepped back from the edge, shortly after this 2012 post.
This forlorn abandoned store has history. It was home to a succession of mill owners (the river and the mill were conveniently right behind the house): Clapp, Dodge, Ellis and Hicks. Most recently, it was the ice-cream stop on Sunday drives, operated by the third generation of Hickses. We stopped once with mom and dad, back in the '80s. Dad was aghast at the cost of the newfangled Haagen Dazs ice-cream bars.
A chin-wag with an old-timer (likely not much older than me) who remembered my 'people' along Royal Street, and bemoaned the Toronto ingress along his street, led to some reflecting on change.
In recent years, history minded folks created a mural map on the east facade, well worth a stop. It recreates a 1912 photo of the village, when places like Dodge family bakery and the McNamara hotel and post office still stood.
|Mt. Tabor across the pond|
|marshy exit of the creek heading toward the lake|
Blame it on the winter bug I've succumbed to, this is more a blather than I intended. But I wanted to uncover some Milford layers, and perhaps I've taken you along with me. If you want more background, I revisited Grandma Striker's family house history in another story (same magazine, the following summer, page 48.)
Striker, Dodge, Clapp, Scott, Ackerman, Minaker, Welbanks, Hicks, Anderson, Ames, Hughes, Walker - genealogists know how all these connect. For me, it's enough to say the names. (Thanks, Al Purdy.)