Two years in the making, "Our New Milford, an American Town" kicks off next week at New Milford Public Library.

Ten talks on New Milford history will be interwoven with a Center Cemetery tour, a murder mystery party, and a genealogy program for kids, as well as story sessions throughout the month of May.

"We started planning for this series in 2011," said Carl DeMilia, the longtime library director. "From its initial stages, we wanted to cover a variety of aspects about New Milford's history."

"We've made the series multi-generational as much as historical," he added.

The featured lecture in the series, "Sharing the American Experience," to be given May 17 by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at New Milford High School, quickly sold out.

However, signup is still open for the other events by calling 860-355-1191, ext. 201.

The series kicks off Wednesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. with local historian and author Michael John Cavallaro's talk about slavery in New Milford during Colonial times.

Cavallaro authored the book "Tales of New Milford: Slavery, Crime and Punishment on the Connecticut Frontier."

In his research for the book, he turned up facts about a family who kept slaves and found the "Freedom Documents" from the 1700s.

Kept by then-town clerk Elijah Bostwick, the documents list the first slave freed in New Milford, occurring in 1754.

Other talks in the library series will follow the town through The American Revolution and the Civil War, and explore the tobacco industry and hat industry as they impacted New Milford.

Fun is assured May 10 at 7 p.m. with the murder mystery party, "Murder At Candlewood Lake: Who Killed the Journalist?"

This ticketed event is limited to 42 participants.

Long before Europeans or journalists arrived in the area, a native woodland people lived here in villages and settlements going back an estimated 10,000 years.

Their cultural history will be shared May 11 at 2 p.m. by Matthew Barr, director of education with the Institute for American Indian Studies, in his talk and demonstration, "Woodland Native Lifeways."

"New Milford would have been the home of the Weantinock people," Barr said. "An egalitarian people, they settled mostly along the rivers and would have lived in wigwams -- sapling -pole, domed structures covered with bark and woven cat tails."

For more information and registration, call the Main Street library at 860-355-1191 ext. 201 or visit