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History pays Paddock a visit

Photo by Joyce Ervin
Photographed are second-grade students in Julie Frank’s Paddock Elementary School classroom. In 1800s attire are Milan Area Historical Society members Sallie Bancroft and Martha Churchill, who presented a history lesson on Milan.

By Joyce Ervin

Milan Area Historical Society members, Sallie Bancroft and Martha Churchill, visited Paddock Elementary School students and brought a history lesson on the student’s hometown. To make the presentation even more interesting, they dressed in 1800s attire.
Addressing Julie Frank’s second-grade classroom, the ladies pointed out Milan was established 188-years ago in 1831 by three settlers, John Marvin, Bethuel Hack and Harmon Allen.
To make the facts more interesting, the members asked questions of the students such as, do you know where the parking lot on W. Main St. is? When a show of hands went up, they were told that’s where John Marvin built his house.
The students learned the city had three names before the postmaster general named the town Milan. They were Farmersville, Woodward Mills and Tolanville. The first school was built in 1837 across from the post office. 1891 found the town with its first fire department and electric was put in homes and businesses in 1896. In 1887 the first bank was opened; first library came in 1874 and in 1888 the Hack House was built.
Bringing the students up-to-date on improvements, Wilson Park property was donated in 1921 and a water fountain that now sets by the historic old fire barn on E. Main St. that was once a fire station, was installed on the corner of E. Main St. and Tolan.
Henry Ford came along in the 30s and much information on his cottage industries and his requisition of Milan’s 1926 fire truck that was ultimately placed in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn was shared.
To keep the children’s interest, the students were directed to view murals that are on display throughout the city provided by the Milan Beautification Commission. The trestle bridge mural showing the 1889 version can be viewed near the entrance to Wilson Park, two murals on the Hamden Law Office building on W. Main St., where a store and hotel were located, a 1913 mural in Tolan Square featuring the Milan Woman’s Club and the crooked tree that set at the corner of Dexter and County Streets is on the station wall near the entrance.
Fascinated by the history of Milan, the students looked forward to the upcoming annual trip to visit the Friend-Hack House Museum on County St., where they would learn how people lived in the 1800s, Franks said.
Bancroft said the children were enthusiastic, very attentive, and she and Churchill were pleased with how well they were received by the students.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan. She can be contacted at: jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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