QR Code Tour #11 - William Crosby House
THE ‘FATHER’ OF THE TOWN OF MILFORD, NH
William Crosby, son and fourth child of Josiah and Sarah Fitch Crosby was born January 29, 1758 in what was then Monson, New Hampshire on the Crosby Farm on the road to Wilton (now Elm Street). William and his father served in The American Revolution at Lake Champlain, Battle of Bennington and in the defense of Boston. When he died at age 73 May12, 1831 he was regarded as “the father of the Parish” and “emphatically the father of the town” due to his generous gifts of land for the common or public square area and cemeteries. He served at the first treasurer, a selectman, representative to the General Court and had held many other offices in town.
When William married Sarah Shepard in 1883 at the age of 25 he received from his father Josiah a deed for a farm of 113 acres in size which included the downtown “compact part of which is now the village” and along the south side of the Souhegan River. William built his two story house just south of Shepard’s Mill on the east side of the ‘square’. At the time of Milford’s incorporation in 1794 it was one of only three houses in the downtown area. At the time of the death of Josiah Crosby, William sold his house and land to Benjamin French and moved back to his father’s farm on Elm Street. After passing hands again, in 1794 William’s brother John purchased the house and made it into a tavern. By 1798 the property was purchased by Dr. Robert Fuller who used the garden area to grow herbs for his medicines. By 1848 the property was sold by Dr. Fuller to Asa, John and Nathaniel Hutchinson of the Hutchinson Singers fame. A Dr. Hezekiah Eldridge came to Milford to replace Dr. Fuller and lived in the house until the Hutchinson family raised the building and added a story under it. In 1853 Nathaniel Hutchinson became the sole owner.
When the Civil War was over Milford worked on the needs of the town. Milford had grown very fast and the townspeople felt their greatest need was for a larger town hall. Where should it be built? Every lot in the middle of town had a building on it. The only empty lot was called the factory Lot because it belonged to the Cotton Factory but the lot was not very large and was too near the factory. A better place had to be found. On April 12, 1869 the town voted to buy the Hutchinson Lot at an amount not to exceed $8,000 for the location of a new townhouse. This house was the original William Crosby house and consisted of three stories and was located on the north side of the lot. The town bought the land and home for $1,545.84. There was considerable moving of buildings around the east side of the Square in 1869 to make space for the new town House. This period of time was referred to as “the year Milford walked”. The Crosby house was moved north to its current location on land that had been purchased from the Cotton and Woolen Mill on Bridge Street. After moving the building, the town sold it, dividing it into two sections. The north section has had several owners over the years – 1869 Joseph Lancaster, 1904 Herbert Bartlett, 1911 Fred N. Hutchinson, 1925 Mrs. Clara Beane, 1956 Edward Hallet Plumbing, 1978 James Wetherbee Plumbing and today it is The Hometown Insurance Company. At one time in its history there was a grocery store in the north half for eighty years..
The south half had the following owners – 1869 Charles Kittredge meat market, 1872 Joshua Foster Jr purchased the meat market and upon his death his two sons Oliver and Edward continued in the business. Daniel Gainey and Edward Cassidy purchased the meat market and ran it until 1917. In 1917 Abbott Turner ran a shoe store until 1922. Fred Bergami ran a hardware store and electrical business here from 1922 to 1933 when the Hatch Hardwar store and then the County Stores ran the hardware store downstairs and a toy store on the second floor. It was run by the Infanti Family, Mario Infanti being Mr. Hatch’s son-in-law. The Infanti Family ran the store at this location until 1972 when John Bilodeau purchased the building. The Fish Bowl is now located in the southern half of the old William Crosby House.
— Polly Cote,
Milford Historical Society Historian
Ramsdell Town History
Granite Town History
1894 newspaper story