Black Life in the History of New Milford: A Perspective of 150 Years since the Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 - 2013
2013 marked the 150th Anniversary of crucial turning points in the American Civil War, including the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863; the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863; and the Gettysburg Address in November 1863. It was also the 50th Anniversary of events that defined the American Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington in August 1963 and Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech on August 28, 1963. In recognition of these historic events, the New Milford Historical Society & Museum (NMHSM) created an exhibit entitled "Black Life in the History of New Milford: A Perspective of 150 Years since the Emancipation Proclamation."
The exhibit contains the pulpit, piano and bell from the Advent Christian Church of New Milford, founded by the Reverend Stephen Heacock and 22 black families of New Milford. The church building today houses New Milford's Theaterworks. Early photographs of the Heacock Family are prominently displayed. Also featured are maps and explanations of the Underground Railroad, which is known to have run through CT (and New Milford). We have also mounted copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address and a photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have A Dream" speech with a transcript of this famous speech.
In addition, there is a montage of the emancipation papers granting freedom to the slaves in early New Milford. Connecticut was an early proponent of Emancipation due to the strong influence of the Abolitionist movement in the state and included gradual emancipation of all black residents of the state in 1784, resulting in all slaves in New Milford being freed by 1810 (a full 50 years before the Emancipation Proclamation). The 1810 census of New Milford lists 147 freed blacks as residents of the Town of New Milford.
Business and Commerce in New Milford in the 20th Century
The New Milford Historical Society is pleased to announce that the last space in the downstairs gallery now spotlights the sixth of the mini-exhibits in the Lower Gallery or "New Milford Room."
This exhibit is entitled "Business and Commerce in New Milford in the 20th Century" debuts to the public along with the featured renovation of the Main Gallery of the Museum on Sunday, May 15th. The exhibit is sponsored by Ameico, Dr. Nestor Mejias and Dr. Benjamin Waldman. Kimberly-Clark is also a contributor to the exhibit.
The display of items “Made in New Milford”
can be viewed in the Main Gallery
The exhibit is a collection of items donated by the local businesses of New Milford in response to two requests by the New Milford Historical Society and Museum for items for the exhibit. The response from the town to the previous year's Centennial Exhibit had been so extraordinary that the effort was made to repeat the success, this time with the focus on the economic forces in town that have been its strength. The NMHS&M specifically requested business signs, logoed items, photos, and other memorabilia that would illustrate their business. About 30 businesses in New Milford responded to the call.
The exhibit is in three distinct parts. In the lower gallery the 16 featured 'THEN' businesses are those that once made their home in town, but which have since moved or ceased operation.
The second part is 'THEN & NOW', featuring businesses that have been in operation continuously for many years or are reusing a building or space created for a now defunct business, such as Village Center for the Arts in the Village Hardware Building.
Finally, the 'NOW'. These businesses are the modern businesses that call New Milford home.
This exhibit was researched and implemented by Nettie McKenna and Hilary McKenna under the supervision of Curator Lisa Roush.
New Milford's Pre-Colonial Peoples
which describes the Native American groups living in the New Milford area at the time of the town's first settlement in the early 1700s. On view are Native American artifacts from the museum's collection which are mostly authentic projectile points and pottery found on Fort Hill in New Milford. Other items included in this exhibit are early baskets, clothing, masks and descriptions of the different tribes and how they lived.
The Life and Times of Roger Sherman
Permanently on display as part of the Main Gallery exhibit
One of New Milford's most famous resident, Sherman was the only man to sign all of the "Founding Documents" creating the United States of America. He signed; The Articles of Association of the First Continental Congress, The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States. In addition to copies of these four documents, the exhibit includes a copy of a portrait of Roger Sherman, a timeline of his life in New Milford, reflecting his work as a Shoemaker, Surveyor and Lawyer.
Coincidently, Roger Sherman was also inducted into Connecticut's Hall of Fame this past April in Hartford, Connecticut. Sherman's name is now on proudly on display in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, joining the likes of Mark Twain, Igor Sikorsky and Katharine Hepburn. The museum now proudly displays a crystal trophy to honor our own Roger Sherman.
New Milford Pottery AKA Wannopee Pottery Co
founded in New Milford in 1887. During the company's 16 years of production, their designers created many different and unusual patterns. Most of these are included in the exhibit. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a collector of the Green Lettuce Leaf Pattern, (which is still very sought after by collectors today) is also in the display. Also included are early photographs of the factory and it's workers, an historical perspective of the company and it's founders, and an enlarged display of the company's many trademarks.
Tobacco Farming in New Milford
which looks at New Milford's rural past as a center of tobacco farming in the Housatonic River Valley. In addition to artifacts of various tobacco farmers and warehouses, there are also photographs of tobacco farming families from New Milford in the late 1800's and early 1900's, listings of New Milford's large tobacco farmers and warehouse owners. Also included is a step by step explanation of the process of growing and curing tobacco in the Connecticut region.
The creation of Candlewood Lake and its impact on New Milford
Sponsored in part by First Light Power. The creation of Candlewood Lake in the 1920s for the purposes of hydroelectric power generation was a regionally historic event that continues to have an economic impact on the state of Connecticut and the five towns surrounding the lake, including New Milford.
The exhibit includes 3 parts: "Demolition & Construction"; "Life & Leisure Activities at the Lake"; and "Environmental Issues".