- Milton, where the Suffolk Resolves was written in 1774, was the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence.
- Milton, home of the Blue Hill Weather Observatory, the nation's oldest continuously operating weather station, was founded in 1885.
- Milton, the birthplace of our nation's 41st President George H. W Bush.
- Milton, home of our State's current governor Deval Patrick.
A Brief History of Milton
by Brian Doherty, Chair, Milton Historical Society
Milton was first settled in 1640 as a village of the town of Dorchester. It was called Unquity from an Indian name, Unquity-Quisset, which meant where the head- waters of the Neponset River met the tidewaters of the bay. Some of the earliest mills in New England were built along the river here. Shipbuilding and farming were among the other major occupations of the early settlers. In 1662 the inhabitants of Unquity received permission from the Massachusetts General Court to separate from Dorchester and Milton was incorporated as a Town on June 11 of that year. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the mills of Milton grew and the town prospered greatly. One of these mills, the Walter Baker Chocolate Company, was established in 1764 and operated in Milton and Dorchester for two hundred years. Many of the mill owners and other wealthy elite of Boston came to Milton to build their stately mansions along Adams Street, Canton Avenue, and Brush Hill Road. Many of these mansions still stand today.
During the revolutionary period, Milton leaders stood strong in support of American independence despite the fact that the loyalist governor Thomas Hutchinson made his home here. In September 1774, a convention of Suffolk County delegates met in Milton to adopt the Suffolk Resolves, which has been called an early declaration of independence. Today the Suffolk Resolves House, located at 1370 Canton Avenue, serves as the main headquarters of the Milton Historical Society. Later generations of Miltonians continued to support their country during times of war throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. A marble memorial tablet inside Town Hall reminds citizens of the 25 Milton men who gave their lives during the American Civil War and the town office building and surrounding property hold numerous memorials to the sacrifices made by many local residents during times of war.
In 1826, the Granite Railway, the first commercial railway in America, was built from Quincy through East Milton, greatly influencing the growth of that section of town.
Here, granite was hauled over the railway to Gulliver's Creek for shipment to Charlestown for the building of the Bunker Hill Monument and for many other projects. Later, this part of the railway became a spur on the Old Colony passenger line and East Milton was called Railway Village for many years. A granite memorial of the railway and a piece of railway switch are displayed in a garden park in East Milton to this day.
Other interesting historic facts about Milton include:
- Milton Academy, one of the most prestigious private college preparatory schools in America, was founded here in 1798.
- In 1801, Josiah Bent began baking water crackers and other goods at his home on Highland St.; the Bent Cookie Factory on Pleasant St. continues his legacy today.
- Noted China Trade merchant, Captain Robert Forbes, built a Greek Revival mansion on Milton Hill in 1883. Today the Robert Bennet Forbes House Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Blue Hill Weather Observatory was established on Great Blue Hill, in the Milton section of the Blue Hill Reservation, in 1885 by Dr. A. Lawrence Rotch of MIT. The observatory is the oldest continuously operating weather station in America and has been the site of many pioneering experiments and discoveries of weather in the upper atmosphere. The Blue Hills occupy 22% of the land of Milton, giving the town a sylvan, rural feel less than 10 miles from downtown Boston.
- Thatcher Farms Dairy was established in Milton in 1891 and 120 years later the company still delivers first-class dairy products to many Milton homes early each morning.
- President George Herbert Walker Bush was born at 173 Adams Street in Milton on June 12, 1924. His father served as an executive with the Walter Baker Chocolate Company at the time, but soon after the family moved to Connecticut. Adams Street itself was named for Presidents John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams who were born and raised in neighboring Quincy.
Now, 350 years later, Milton is home to more than 27,000 citizens who enjoy the benefits of suburban life while residing less than 10 miles from the history and rich culture of the City of Boston. Many aspects of Milton's rural past remain in its wooded hills, green pastures, ancient walls, and flowing streams. The mills and railways and farms are gone now, but the beauty and charm that attracted so many of its earliest settlers remain and continue to attract people from all walks of life today.