OLD MILTON BUSINESSES FROM CHAMBER CLIPPER 1989
BY WILLIAM ‘BILL’ WAGAMON, HISTORIAN AND WANDA CLENDANIEL KING, REPORTER.
1700’S MAIN STREET – NOW FRONT STREET
Street names change, who knows why or when, but Milton’s Main Street in the late 1700’s has become Front Street today. This is where Bill Wagamon begins his story.
The 1909 fire destroyed many buildings at the corner where Federal and Union Streets meet and intersect with Front Street, and replaced with new buildings and businesses. Today this is sort of town center, so to speak, after all, a bank and town Police Station sit there. Going East on Front Street, river side, the first building was the S. J. Wilson & Son farm machinery and general hardware, feed and seed business. A popular item was a hand push/walk behind garden cultivator. Next door was Billy Robinson’s movie house. Bill Wagamon says Billy also showed movies on a platform on the pond for the entertainment of people in the hotel and adjoining park at Federal and Mulberry Streets.
Joe Wall’s butcher shop was next down the street, then, with no thoughts of zoning and planning , a two story structure with the union quarters of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, JROUAM, situated on the second floor and a printing or newspaper shop. The printers were Walter Crouch, printer of the Milton Times, the Bill McDaniel, Howard Carey and Tom Hughes. The next building was the shoe maker shop of John T. Crouch. Later, all of these, except the Wilson building, were demolished or renovated to make room for the Sussex Tavern, owned and operated for years by John and Mildred Geyer. Behind this line of businesses, on the river, was the Edgewater Milling Company operated by the S. J. Wilson family. The Royal Packing Company, canners of tomato products and strawberries, and a series of wharves ran along the river also. This business area was situated between Federal Street and Chestnut Street. According to Ms. Mary King Morgan , another great lady, local teacher and Milton historian, Chestnut Street was at first named Appletree Street.
Chestnut Street ends its northern way at Front. Across the street at this end was the Milton Creamery operated by J. William Fox, a nephew of S. J. Wilson. His mother, Ida , owned the theater and an ice cream parlor on Union Street. William Fox also owned one of three ice houses located on the pond near the grist mill, the other ice houses being owned by Joe Walls and Handy Prettyman. Later, Charles G. Porter took over the Fox creamery and operated an ice cream business. Next was a blacksmith shop where Walt Blizzard forged and hammered many years. Lately this section became a poultry processing factory, then a section of the city’s sewer disposal facility.
Walnut Street also ends at Front. It is unknown what name Walnut had at one time, but at the top of the hill going southward, a section was known as “Pudding Hill”.
There were more wharves along the river in this area of Walnut Street which were used to load barges with timber by Mr. Reuben Harrington. Somewhere along in this general area was an oyster shucking house.
The original structure of the Milton Academy, once situated near the Goshen Methodist Cemetery, had been moved to this river side area. It served as a community center and the local voting place. Jim Ponder had a pool room around the area but I am not sure it was located in the old academy building or not.
The next block, Walnut to Collins Street, was mostly marsh that had been filled in to make a road to one of the Ponder shipyards and the Birdsong Tomato Factory, run by the Apt Brothers. Skull Town was across Front Street and had its own “Mayor”. Right about now we are at ‘Round Pole Branch’ and that is the end of Milton town limits and this story.