Historians and local residents took the last step in officially recognizing an important part of Milford’s history when the Delaware Public Archives dedicated a historical marker to Col. John Haslet on Friday.
Along the south side of Airport Road, buildings and businesses almost hide the fact that the area is rich in history. But the current location of the Milford Business Park was once referred to as Longfield, where Haslet made his first land purchase and established his residence in 1766.
Haslet, who emigrated from Ireland, spent his adult years in Milford actively working with local churches and as a local landowner before serving as the first colonel of the 1st Delaware Regiment to fight for Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War, where he lost his life in 1777 during the Battle of Princeton.
Although the physical evidence of a historical home has been overrun by brush and new developments, local residents and history buffs gathered their knowledge to pay tribute to this landowner, soldier and contributing resident of Milford.
In an effort to highlight and remember that history, Milford resident Dave Kenton, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution Col. Haslett Chapter, members of the Milford Museum and members of the Milford Historical Society worked diligently for about a year to obtain official recognition of the area through the Delaware Public Archives’ historical marker program.
“He was someone of important to the constituents and this group realized his importance and wanted to commemorate his influence,” said Kate Fair, coordinator for Delaware’s historical marker program. “The whole point is to commemorate historic locations, buildings and people who made a difference in Delaware’s history and these markers are a great way to do so.”
For Milford resident and Daughters of the American Revolution Col. Haslet Chapter Historian Nancy Simpson, erecting the marker was a vital step in helping to share a local piece of history left out of the textbooks.
“It seems to be missing from schools, the history of our nation, and I think it should be brought up more,” Simpson said. “We’re proud of the marker. Milford, when they get more used to it and start reading it, they’re going to be proud, too.”
More than 500 historical markers have been placed throughout Delaware since the historical marker program was established in 1931.
While Delaware Public Archives assists in researching the validity of sites chosen for potential historical markers, it is local organizations and residents that do most of the leg work in identifying which sites are in need of recognition.
“This is the fruits of their labor,” said Stephen Marz, director of Delaware Public Archives. “This is our history and this marker is a great way for future generations to know the history of Delaware.”
Page 2 of 2 - Funding for the historical markers is provided by state legislators, including Sen. F. Gary Simpson (R-Milford), Rep. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Rep. Jack Peterman (R-Milford).
Peterman, as well as those who implemented the process for marking the area where Haslet once lived, showed a sense of pride in the ability of residents to pull together the resources needed to officially mark this part of Delaware’s history.
“I’m so proud to have this marker put in little Milford,” he said. “I’m just proud to be here.”