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The Town of Milton is an affluent suburban community between the Neponset River and the Blue Hills. Although the first English traders used Milton in the 1620's, the earliest permanent settlement occurred in 1634 when colonists created an agricultural community growing barley, rye and Indian corn. A powder mill established in 1674 is thought to be the earliest in the colonies, taking advantage of the town's valuable water power sites. Boston investors, seeing the potential of the town and its proximity to the city, provided the capital to develop 18th century Milton as an important industrial site with an iron slitting mill, paper and sawmills and the first chocolate factory in New England in 1764. Benjamin Crahore began making pianos in 1800 in what is thought to be the first piano factory in the country. In 1809 the first public health drive in the country was held in Milton to inoculate residents against smallpox. Situated at the head of a tidewater, the town became a commercial trading center where goods from the interior could be exchanged for West Indian goods. Prosperous Bostonians, including Governor Hutchinson, followed their investments and moved to Milton, creating an early estate district which grew side-by-side with 125 farms. Also increasing the town's population were immigrants from Ireland, Nova Scotia and Scotland drawn to the jobs the community offered. Harvard University built a stone tower on Big Blue, the tallest hill on the coast between Maine and Florida, to mark the meridian in alignment with its observatory in Cambridge. Big Blue assumed an important meteorological role, the state created a reservation including the hill and Milton Academy and Fontbonne Academy were built, all during the 19th century. Laying of streetcar lines fueled the rapid expansion of residential development and between 1870 and 1915 Milton grew into essentially the community it is now, a wealthy streetcar suburb with only some chocolates, biscuits and market produce to remind residents of the past. By 1929 many of the big estates were broken up into subdivisions continuing the town's residential growth. Milton now retains a good many 19th century country houses and estates and early 19th century workers' housing. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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