Captain Jehiel Bryan
- Written by Milford Hall of Fame committee
Defended self against the British
Milford took an active part in the struggle for independence in contributing men, money, and supplies. The town did not escape the occasional raids from Long Island organized by Tories, Britishers, and renegades who traded with the enemy.
Captain Jehiel Bryan and Captain Orlando Beach commanded the guard on the shore and they were so efficient that the British considered their capture imperative. Legend has it that the British Marines (one officer and two men) rowed across the Sound to the Milford harbor at dusk with the intention of capturing Captain Bryan. He had been warned of the attack, however, and had a large posse of Patriots hidden in the south parlor of the house. With sword drawn, the raider approached the house and entered, but upon meeting the doughty Captain Bryan in the hall, he was so thoroughly trounced and shaken that he fled with his men, leaving the sword behind. Later, retaliatory fire was directed on some of the Bryan property near the shore, but the British missed their target by a wide margin. The sword remains one of the most valued relics of the Revolutionary War and was in the possession of one of Captain Bryan's descendants, Mrs. B.T.D. Merriman. She later sold it and its whereabouts is unknown.
Jehiel Bryan was born in Stamford, CT on June 15th 1728. He married Ester Buckingham, great granddaughter of Thomas Buckingham, original settler of Milford, in June 1753. Ester was born on April 19th, 1730 and died on March 16th, 1823. Jehiel was a carpenter by trade and by the time he moved into the Buckingham homestead on North Street with Ester, the old house was in sad shape. He renovated the house inside and out where much of his handiwork can still be seen today, in particular a carved cupboard in the corner of the dining room and the dental carving on the dining room mantle. The Buckingham House (61 North Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, It is still standing on the Southeast corner of North Street and Governor's Avenue.
Another legend says that the French General and good friend of the Patriots, General Lafayette, came to visit Captain Bryan at the Buckingham homestead on numerous occasions and that he was quite a favorite of the ladies. Captain Bryan must have been a man of wealth. He had several journeymen working for him and also owned several slaves. After the Revolution, Jehiel and his son, also named Jehiel (who married Mary Treat) became one of the largest landowners and prominent citizens of Milford. They raised many crops and had a large herd of cattle which they exported to the East and West Indies, thereby setting Milford up as a thriving seaport town.
Captain Bryan died on Sept. 9, 1807 at the age of 78.