Milford is one of the oldest settlements in Iroquois county. The village is situated one mile east of the center of the township.
The first white settler was Samuel Rush, who came from Indiana in the fall of 1829. Robert Hill and Elisha Miles came about 1830. On October 4, 1832, William Pickerell joined the settlement.
The village was platted by Pickerell on September 24, 1836. The plat was described as situated at William Pickerell's mill on Sugar Creek, one of the main branches of the Iroquois river. Pickerell located on the north side of Sugar Creek in section 15, near where the bridges are located on Route 1 on the south edge of the village. Pickerell built a cabin on the north side of the creek near Hubbard Trace and built a mill for his own use. This mill was located near where the settlers forded Sugar Creek, giving the name "Mill on the Ford", or "Milford".
The first township election was held April 1, 1856, with 51 votes being cast. M.A. Thompson was moderator and John Gray was Town Clerk. Officers elected were: Supervisor Elihu K. Farmer; Town Clerk C. Secrest; Assessor William Gray; Overseer of Highways John Gray; and Collector George Gray. In the early years of the township there were six voting districts in the township. In addition to the elected officials there were also six men appointed as path masters. In 1887 their titles were changed to overseers of highways.
About this time the township was divided into two precincts instead of voting districts. The first elected Justice of the Peace was Robert Hill. He was also a member of the township board. This office was abolished about 1961.
Then three men were elected as Board of Auditors. The first were John Sobkoviak, who had been a Justice of Peace since 1955, Fred Brewer, and Paul Schaumburg. A fourth one was added some time later.
The present township building was purchased about 1965. Before that time equipment was kept in an old building along the railroad tracks, north of the elevator. Meetings were held in the City Hall by the old water tower.
In February, 1976, the Village Board purchased the depot and the property adjacent to it with plans for renovation as a Village Hall and community center. The characteristics of the old railroad depot have been maintained to preserve this historic building.
Village of Milford
Few villages in any section of the country could boast of more improvements, backed up with abundant promise of greater substantial property than Milford. On the east, west, and south sides were beautiful groves, while immediately to the north and also beyond these groves, extending in all directions were vast rolling prairies, well drained and yielding enormous crops of all kinds of grain and sustaining thousands of cattle.
The village of Milford was incorporated March 3, 1874. The president of the first Board of Trustees was the Honorable H.V. Brown.
In 1930 during the dark days of the Great Depression, Milford reached its 100th birthday. Not surprisingly, the birthday went by unsung. In 1931 when economic circumstances had improved slightly, the Milford Chamber of Commerce decided to have a celebration to mark the occasion of Milford being 101 years old. The week long celebration was called "Homecoming". The festivities included a parade, a Queen and attendants, afternoon and evening programs in a tent in the park, ending with fireworks.
The Sesquicentennial Celebration was held in June, 1980. It was the largest celebration held in this vicinity in recent years. The celebration began with an old fashioned "tent meeting" in the park. The opening ceremonies were held at Village Hall with a giant birthday cake depicting a mill and a wagon crossing the ford. The parade, the theme of which was "150 Years of Fact and Fancy", was a huge success with 150 entries. The plate auction of the first five Sesquicentennial plates was held after the parade. A pageant depicting events from the 150 year history was presented. Other events held were a queen contest, baked goods contest, draft horse pull, horseshoe pitch, square dance, antique tractor pull, tour of homes, styleshow, and judging of brothers of the brush and sisters of the cloth. Closing ceremonies were held at the Village Hall with mementoes of the celebration enclosed in a box for burial to be opened at the Bicentennial Celebration.
Milford Township Schools
Thomas school, built in 1837, was the first school house in the area. It was a typical wood frame, one room, country school of this era.
The first public school in Milford was built on the corner of Hickory and Hamilton streets and looked very much like a frame house. The second public school, built in 1874, was a two-story building. The third school was a two-story brick building built in 1906. For several years this school had grades one through twelve. The present one story brick school was built in 1956.
Milford Township High School was built in 1912 with an auditorium added in 1931. The grade school district and the high school district each has its respective school board.