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History Corner: The Cemetery has Stories...

October 26, 2023
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History Corner: The Cemetery has Stories...
Tenty and her daughters

The Orange cemetery started out with a half-acre when the Orange Congregational Church was approved by the General Assembly to combine the two Milford churches into one at Bryan’s Farms.  A portion of the petition reads “that they are deeply impressed with the importance of a constant attendance for themselves and families on public worship and while their attendance is always accompanied with inconvenience, it is sometimes rendered impossible.”

A former petition had been denied because of the opposition from the southern part of town (Milford) but a charter was granted and the society was organized in 1804.  This brings us to our first story with Joseph Treat, age 4 months and 4 days being the first person to be buried in the cemetery keeping in mind that Orange was not incorporated until 1822 so the cemetery was actually Bryan’s Farms/North Milford.  Joseph’s birthday was June 29, 1805, baptized on August 18, 1805 and he passed away on November 2, 1805.  Although the stone does not read his initial, from research records we have, he bore his mother’s maiden name, Newton.  Joseph’s father was Joseph Treat, a family well-known in early Bryan’s Farms.

Our records mention Bryan’s Farms and North Milford many times, sometimes overlapping so when North Milford used that name, it is most likely when folks moved into the interior towards the area of the Green so below that would be Bryan’s Farm and above, North Milford.  For accuracy in the recent cemetery tours, the stone restoration team of the Orange Historical Society used a variety of resources including what is referred to as the Hale Collection, a most valuable listing of the cemetery stones in the older section.  Between the years 1932 and 1935, Charles Hale and his staff identified each stone so that proper research could be done to tell their story, throughout Connecticut.

One of my favorite people is William T. Grant, 1807-1882.  I say this because I was able to procure one of his journals which outlines the many repairs he made on the shoes in his neighborhood.  Yes, he was a shoemaker with his house having once stood on the ground of the white house nearest the front parking lot of the Orange church.  This lot had been set aside by Samuel Treat when he gave the church the property upon which it stands today.  There he lived with his wife Esther Treat Grant whose Bible is also part of the OHS collection.

William Grant before cleaning

He came to New Haven as a young man to work for Andrew Smith about 1823.  He moved into Orange several years later so 1832 is most likely the year he built his modest home and shop.  His church activities were varied but the most interesting of his positions in town was that of Justice of the Peace.  His signature appears on many documents held by the Orange Historical Society in its research center.  William and Esther had 3 sons all enlisting in the Union army in 1861, and alas, their daughter Matilda, buried next to her parents, passed away in 1837.

Moving a little toward the left, in the first row, is a lovely carved stone for Tenty Treat.  The stone was initially cleaner than the others in the row, because it is probably 20 years old because the original one was destroyed when a pick-up truck plowed through the front row and her stone and several others were replaced.  What we found interesting about her stone is her husband’s name, inscribed as Everett BUT his name was Leverett which is on his stone nearby.  Tenty is a nickname for Content which was her mom’s name who was married to Robert Treat, also in row one.  Who we don’t have in our cemetery is Tente (different spelling), her older sister, who was a baby, born in 1792 having died in 1794 and buried in Milford.  To make it a bit easier to follow:  Robert Treat married Content Bryan:  children Robert, Charlotte, Tente, and Content (Tenty).

Leverett and Tenty had three children Lucy, Sarah and Leverett.  The two girls passed away 4 years apart and their stones are next to each other with the inscription on Sarah’s that reads; “Here sleep two sisters.  Loving and pleasant in their lives, in death they were not divided.”  Lucy’s epitaph is a bit too sad to write here because it appears that her marriage to Leverett Clark lasted a mere 7 months when she died of consumption which we know as tuberculosis.

Tenty’s stone before cleaning

You might have guessed that the cemetery has become of great interest for the Orange Historical Society cemetery staff as we clean each stone with care having proper instruction from experts in the field.  Nothing abrasive or chemical is used - soft brushes, tooth brushes and the like with hand-held spray bottles - will reveal the names, dates and in some cases an epitaph.  These epitaphs are a history in themselves that isn’t necessarily written where the average reader can find them.

One such case is Enoch Clark 1747-1807.  Enoch was a farmer, 59 years old at his death and diligent to the success of his crops.  Now you say, how do we know this?  His epitaph tells all.  As seen on the stone; “who was instantly killed by lightning whilst harvesting his grain and found dead at midnight in his field”.  Obviously, a storm was expected and as we know, any extensive rain, when a crop is due to be harvested can be damaged and rendered useless.  As a side note, if you have seen any Little House on the Prairie episodes, it deals with that.

Enoch was not only a farmer but a patriot as well.  As a member of the Connecticut Colonial Militia, he served as a private in the Revolutionary war.  What we found when reading a part of his will, on FindaGrave, is the change of spelling from Clark without an “e” to his two sons listed in his will with the “e”.  We have seen this in several of the stones already cleaned.

We use many resources to write this column and with the project of cleaning the headstones, more resources and information have been discovered and just using the names and dates after cleaning, we are finding their history, buried in books, ledgers and online that we never knew existed.  It is a fabulous way to look into the history of Bryan’s Farms/North Milford and Orange and bring these citizens to our readers.  We are not finished yet.  Stay with me.

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