A look at the dedicated citizens of Milford, Ellis County, Texas and their
service in WWII
From History of Ellis County
Ellis County History Workshop
Milford is located on a beautifully rolling ridge half a mile from Mill Creek, about twenty miles south of Waxahachie. It dates back to the early fifties. In 1851 Colonel Arvin Wright, who had bought six hundred forty acres, together with William R. Hudson and J. M. Higgins laid off the town site. They designated certain lots for school purposes. The first store was opened by William R. Hudson and the second by Major J. P. Bennett. The first postmaster was William R. Hudson. In 1855 the Reverend Michael Dickson taught school in the Rock schoolhouse.
The Milford Presbyterian Church was organized Saturday June 23,1855 when twenty persons met with Reverend Michael Dickson. The sixteen enrolled as members were: W. R. Hudson, Lucinda T. Hudson, N. S. Couchman, Ann Couchman, and John D. Couchman, from Mt. Olivet Church, Texas; J. A. Wilson, Susannah Wilson, Joseph C. Wilson, Martha Wilson, Sarah Ramsey, Sarah Ramsey, Jr., Thomas Ramsey, Joseph Ramsey, H.G. Bostwick and Mary Bostwick from Brunswick Church, Illinois; and Mathew M. Houston, Cedar Bluff Church, Alabama.
The congregation first worshipped in the Old Stone School House but sometime prior to 1860 erected a small frame house of worship, to which a belfry and columned porch were added a little later. Their second church building was completed in 1896 and dedicated in 1899. Their third church building was dedicated November 27, 1921 and is now serving the Milford Presbyterian congregation.
The Baptist Church at Milford was organized the second Sunday in July 1855. On that day Brother J. M. Perry preached a sermon and after services he was chosen as chairman and Brother S. C. Dyer was chosen clerk. The charter members were: James M. Higgins, Sr., Eliza A. Higgins, James M. Higgins, Jr., Robert Smith, Mildred Smith, Nancy Smith, Martha E. Wardlow, Uriah Dodson and Elizabeth Dodson.
A short time after the O. S. Presbyterians organized there were religious services held by the Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterians. About 1867 these two denominations built a church as joint property. The first Cumberland Presbyterian preacher was Reverend Richard Groves, who had begun preaching in 1855 in the schoolhouse. The Methodist Episcopal South built their church in 1887. It was blown down some time later but promptly rebuilt.
The following historical sketch was deposited in the cornerstone of the school building July 4, 1891.
"In 1853 N. S. Couchman, J. D. Couchman, W. R. Hudson, and I. R. Hudson with their families were living in Cherokee County, Texas. The whiskey traffic and bad morals determined them to seek a moral and religious community in which to rear their children. At the solicitation of Mr. A. Wright some or all of these bought lands from Mr. Wright at fifty cents an acre, the land on which Milford now stands. N. S. Couchman, J. D. Couchman, and W. R. Hudson arrived in 1853, I. R. Hudson the following year. In 1854 town lots, with broad streets crossing at right angles, were laid off a half-mile south of Mill Creek. The town was named by W. R. Hudson who had taken a fancy to the name Milford, a factory town in Massachusetts.
"The first house in Milford was a combined residence and store erected by W. R. Hudson in 1853, the site now covered by McDaniel Hotel. The second was a residence built by Mr. Goodale in 1854. This mansion of the time, thirteen by twenty-eight feet, from floor to ceiling seven feet, a shed room seven feet wide was built of plank with a shingle flat roof. Dr. A. Long built the third residence. I. R. Hudson built the fourth in 1854. The lumber was hauled from the mills in Anderson County by ox-wagon, delivered in Milford at thirty dollars per one thousand.
"In 1854 W. R. Hudson opened the first general store, goods being freighted from Houston by ox teams. In 1857 I. R. Hudson and W. F. Hague built the first mill, an ox treadmill to grind wheat and corn.
"The first stock of goods was shipped from New Orleans by Galveston then up the Trinity by steamer to Pine Bluff thence by ox teams to Milford. Afterward goods were hauled from Houston. The first three years flour was hauled from Dallas County. It retailed for from five to seven dollars a barrel, that is two dollars fifty cents to three dollars fifty cents a hundred. From 1854 to the beginning of the Civil War goods retailed as follows: best prints fifteen to eighteen cents a yard, domestic ten to twelve cents a yard, best jeans all wool seventy five cents, sugar five to ten cents a pound, and molasses, pure best, one dollar a gallon, bacon a bit to fifteen cents a pound. Brogan shoes one dollar to one dollar fifty cents. Farm labor ten to fifteen dollars a month.
"For several years all deeds to town lots contained a clause prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors; but this prohibition was declared null as coming under entailment. However, there has never been a saloon or at least none that cut any figure, in Milford, and the temperance and law-abiding sentiment here is strong. One was licensed, but the keeper could not get patronage enough to sustain him."
Milford was incorporated in April 1888 with these city officials: Mayor, W. R. McDaniel; Aldermen, N. R. Rutherford, H. L. Caldwell, W. G. Suggs, F. E. McKnight, W. T. M. Dickson; Marshal, S. L. Dickson; City Attorney, H. N. C. Davis.
Milford Lodge, No.262 A.F. & A. M. charter was granted June 14,1861. Charter members: Champ Carter, W. M.; J. P. Burnett, S. W.; L. H. Gideon, J. W.; R. T. Brown, Arvin Wright, M. Dickson, James McDaniel, N. A. Willett, David Cook, James McCright, J. M. Higgins, William T. Smith.
Milford Chapter, No.144, R. A. M. was chartered June 20, 1878. In 1892 a membership of twenty had these officers: C. P. Haskins, H. P.; W. E. Ellison, K.; S. M. Love, S.; W. F. Weekly, C. of H.; J. R. McFadden, P. L.; W. R. McDaniel, M. 3d V.; G. M. Bounds, M.2dV.; J. P. McCain, M. 1st. V.; C. Kearse, Guard.
In 1892 officers of Lodge No.262 A. F. & A. M. were: W. E. Ellison, W. M.; J. E. Davis, S. W.; G. M. Bounds, J. W.; C. L. Davis, S. D.; J. K. McDaniel, Secretary; N. R. Rutherford, Treasurer; with a membership of sixty-two.
In 1892 there were two cotton gins, one was connected with a roller process mill which had all the latest improved machinery, with a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour per day, three general stores, four grocery stores, one grocery and confectionary, one drug store, one hardware, furniture and agricultural implement establishment, one implement and undertaker's goods house, one saddle and harness shop, two meat markets, one hotel, three blacksmith and wagon repair shops, one barber shop, a cotton yard, an opera house, two millinery stores, two good schools, two lawyers, three physicians, a fine cornet band of twenty members, and the M. K. & T. Railroad which came in 1890.
As early as 1853 the few pioneer families constructed a large two-story stone school building, which served until it burned in 1863. A two-story frame building was used until it was torn down. The Presbyterian and Baptist Churches were used as schoolrooms until 1878. The Masons and the community built a two-story school and lodge building which was used for school purposes till April 1891.
April 10, 1891 a mass meeting was called to discuss, among other things, the building of an adequate school building. These meetings were called weekly until a decision was reached. Messerís J. M. Webb, W. T. M. Dickinson, Captain James Chapman and Frank Hill offered to donate land and money for the location. Mr. Frank Hill gave two and one-half acres of land, a large cistern and one hundred dollars in cash. A committee composed of J. K. McDaniel, W. W. Darrow, G. C. Rosson, W. F. Weekley, J. M. Webb, and J. E. Davis was appointed to solicit subscriptions up to $5,000. The weekly meetings continued and on May 9 articles of organization for building a schoolhouse were adopted. May 15 a building' committee was appointed: Professor T. N. Elliott, J. K. McDaniel, Dr. H. E. Rogers, J. E. Davis, and W. W. Darrow. Their responsibilities were to solicit plans, adopt one, let the contract and superintend the work of building. May 29 a contract of building was let to Mr. H. Galbraith.
The building was completed and named Milford Academy. Doors were opened September 14, 1891 and classes were organized in a full academic course. The faculty consisted of: T. N. Elliott, principal, Latin, French, Natural Science; F. L. Crocker, Greek and Mathematics; Miss Sue McFadden, Primary; Miss Bernice Caradine, General Assistant; Miss Mamie McFadden, Elocution; Miss Adele Jennings, Music; Miss Maude Brooks, Art.
Mrs. Mollie E. Poe had a private school, with a good attendance, which was known as the Lone Star Institute.
A newspaper, the Milford Gazette edited and published by Joseph Kirgan, lasted only a short time. December 26, 1890, the Milford Courier appeared with Mr. Hugh P. Jones as editor and proprietor.
Postmasters who served Milford in early days
William R. Hudson, August 3, 1854; Lewis H. Gideon, July 15, 1858; William C. Holt, July 19, 1859; Lewis H. Gideon, August 25, 1859; Samuel M. Sneed, December 12, 1859; Wm. A. Long, December 27, ?; John K. Wemple, May 4, 1866; Edwin French, February 10, 1868; Lewis Tomlinson, August 16, 1870; Samuel P. Jones, March 6, 1871; John F. Dickson, April 8, 1878; Calvin L. Wilson, March 11, 1880; Joseph Wilson, December 26, 1890; Finis E. McKnight, August 21, 1897; Walter W. Thompson, October 20, 1903; George H. Griffin, August 17, 1906, reappointed December 16, 1907, reappointed December 20, 1911; Z. T. Bundy, January 5, 1916; George B. Wray, June 2, 1917; Wm. J. Hamlett, September 15, 1918; Commodore V. Varner, April 29, 1922, reappointed May 5, 1926, reappointed April 28, 1930.
In 1902 Texas Presbyterian College for girls was opened with Dr. Henry C. Evans from Missouri as president. The school accepted young local girls as day students and boarded out of town girls. Numerous Presbyterian families moved to Milford to enter their daughters in the only Presbyterian college for girls in the Southwest. The first graduate was Miss Minnie Ewing, in 1902. The following men served as presidents of the college: Dr. Henry C. Evans, 1902-1916; R. C. Sommerville, 1916-1918; Dr. Henry C. Evans, 1918-1921; Dr. French W. Thompson, 1921-1924; Dr. John G. Varner, 1924-1927; L. E. Petty, 1927-1929.
Texas Presbyterian College for girls closed its doors at the end of the 1929 session. It was consolidated with Austin College at Sherman, Texas and all the furnishings and the library were moved there.
Automobiles and good highways have affected Milford, as all towns,, but the cultural atmosphere remains and church life has an important place in the community. There are not as many businesses as in former days but these are very active: First State Bank; T. R. Leslie Insurance Company; Coats Dry Goods Store; Ennis Business Forms; The Cash Grocery; Littlejohn's Grocery; a good cafe; three garages; three beauty shops; a washateria. Milford also has an American Legion and an American Legion Auxiliary and a good volunteer fire department.
The Christian church building has been made into a community or "Youth Center" and is supported by donations.