MILFORD, PA — If legend is to be believed, Milford’s Tom Quick killed nearly one hundred Native Americans over the course of his lifetime. It was his revenge for witnessing his father …
MILFORD, PA — If legend is to be believed, Milford’s Tom Quick killed nearly one hundred Native Americans over the course of his lifetime. It was his revenge for witnessing his father being scalped and murdered by a group of Lenape warriors. This historic narrative is explored anew in an exhibition at the Columns Museum at 608 Broad St. in Milford.
The exhibition, “The Lenape, Original People, Reconciling the Past, Embracing the Future,” was feted to a crowd of over one hundred in an evening reception on October 6. The exhibit cements Quick’s role in Milford’s history and expands the understanding of the Lenape tribes in the area, their culture, their treatment at the hands of the white settlers, and their eventual resettlement outside the area.
The reception was held at the close of a day that featured afternoon tours of the exhibition and a private ceremony between the Quick family, represented by Don Quick, and the Lenape, represented by the Delaware Nation tribe. The ceremony was held on Sarah Street in Milford Borough, where the Tom Quick monument was once displayed and where the remains of Tom Quick are buried. The ceremony included a literal “burying of the hatchet” in the ground, to reflect the reconciliation.
The permanent exhibition has been five years in the making as a collaboration between the Milford Borough, the Quick family, the Lenape tribe, and the Pike County Historical Society.
Central to the exhibit is a replica of the original Tom Quick monument, which was cast in zinc and installed prominently in 1899. Over 1,500 people attended the original installation ceremony, according to Matt Osterberg, Pike County Commissioner and local historian. “Pinchot gave one of his first speeches soon after graduating from Yale,” Osterberg said. “There was no consensus, even back then, on Quick’s legacy, with several newspapers criticizing the event. There’s also no concrete evidence of the actual atrocities he is accused of, either.”
“What is truth and what is myth from the past may never be fully known, but we are proud to work with our local community and the leadership of the Lenape tribes to look forward, together,” Quick said.
“We cannot change the past but by addressing painful history through contemporary eyes and with a fuller historical understanding, we take an important step to reconciliation and building a stronger, more inclusive America,” said Milford Mayor Sean Strub.
The featured tribes—the Delaware Tribe of Indians, the Delaware Nation and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community (the three federally recognized Lenape tribes)—encountered similar treatment, as did Native American societies as a whole: genocide, devastating disease with little in the way of natural immunity, land and legal swindles, forced migration and a legacy of broken promises from the United States government.
“The Lenape story is the beginning of the Milford story; everything else comes later,” Osterberg said.
Brad KillsCrow, Chief of the Bartlesville, Oklahoma-based Delaware Tribe of Indians, said, “We have not vanished or even diminished as a People. We are, however, far from the hearts and minds of the people of Pike County and the Borough of Milford. Over 1,300 miles, in fact, due to the United States Indian removal policies. The removal from our Homelands still hurts our hearts today. We hope this exhibit will remind people that we are still here today—the Original People of Pike County.”
Bill Rosado, local champion of all things Milford and recent mega-investor in the borough, said he was not concerned with the connection of his flagship namesake restaurant and brand, Tom Quick Inn, with a “deranged murderer” or the inclusion of the Lenape story.
“I’m not worried,” he said, “Americans make up their own minds. Maybe it’ll be good for business, you never know.” He also said he met with the tribal chiefs, his “Native American friends” on the topic, and after thoughtful conversations and reflections, they relayed to Rosado they did not think a name change was necessary. Osterberg and Rosado both reflected on the genealogical detail that Rosado’s Mexican-Mayan Indian roots share ancestry with the Lenape people.
The Columns Museum is open every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment.