Mary Hepburn Smith
- Written by William McDonald
Donated Duck Pond and Tiffani Window to Milford
Mary Augusta Hepburn Smith was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and lived in Manhattan and Stamford before her final 28 years in Milford where she left a lasting impression.
Four significant legacies remain today after her death in 1912: the Freelove Baldwin Stow chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of which she was a founder and Organizing Regent; Liberty Rock boulder memorial in the city’s Devon section; a Tiffany memorial window dedicated to the Hepburn family in the Taylor Library Building that currently houses the Milford Chamber of Commerce and the two block long park on North Street framing the Wepawaug River between Maple and Bridge Streets.
Born July 27, 1825, in Brooklyn, she married Edwin Porter Smith in Brooklyn at age 22 in 1847. He died in Milford in 1890. The couple had six children, two of whom lived to adulthood.
The Hepburn name in Milford goes back to when three brothers immigrated to the colonies from Scotland. Her ancestor, through whom she claimed DAR membership, was Lt. Peter Hepburn, a lieutenant during the American Revolution who died in Milford in 1815. She helped organize the local DAR chapter March 27, 1896, with 47 charter members. The first chapter house was on Broad Street on land donated by her. Today the site is the parking lot for Milford Bank. The current chapter house is on Prospect Street.
One of the chapter’s first actions was to erect a flagpole with a permanent flag waving over it on a 10-foot diameter 35-ton boulder dubbed “Liberty Rock” on Bridgeport Avenue. Originally higher on the hill, it was moved to just west of today’s Exit 34 due to the construction of the I-95 ramps in the 1950s. As noted in a ceremony conducted there September 7, 1897, the spot was the highest elevation in the area and served as a lookout post and signal station during the Revolutionary War. Lookouts were able to watch the Housatonic River, then called the Stratford River, to guard against invasion by British forces. The flag on the pole was changed every year with Smith personally paying for a new one. Her daughter continued to buy flags for the site into the 1930s. In recent years the property has been maintained by the Devon Rotary Club, landscaped on a fenced-in acre of land with a flagpole next to the rock as well as a historical sign and concrete benches to serve as an outdoor classroom.
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