Minuteman's HomesteadAt 139 North Street lived Revolutionary War "Minuteman" John Downs (1745 - 1819). A "minuteman" was a patriot who, with the local militia, would respond quickly to an alarm. With musket in-hand they were ready "in a minute" to defend against attacks. From a diar he wrote in every day for 47 years (1763 to 1810), which still exists today, Downs recorded that he answered the call of duty several times during the war. He went to New Haven and Fairfield in 1779, to New London in 1778, to New York on Captain Stow's sloop on May 16, 1776, and also with Captain Charles Pond on August 11, 1776. Duing the conflict in New York, under orders from General George Washington, he retreated with thousands of Patriots across the East River from Brooklyn before defeating the British Regulars at the heoic Battle of Harlem Heights.
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While living in the house he built at 139 North Street he was a teacher during the winter months and also wove clothing for most of Milford's citizens. After Revolutionary War soldiers, who had been captured by the British, were put ashore in Milford infected with smallpox, Downs traveled to Salem, NY to become inoculated, presumably to assist with the victims.He almost died. On April 15, 1777 he writes "I broke out by thousands?thepox heavy upon me." His daily weather recordings are some of the earliest in American history, and his other recordinga offer a rare glimpse into daily life in Colonial New England. He is buried in Milford Cemetery.
National Register Milford Historic District
River Park National Historic District
Milford Preservation Trust 2011