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History Corner: This Old House…

History Corner: This Old House…

If it were a dress, it would be considered to be very tattered.  The seams might be worn, the fabric suspect, but its structure when all considered might have a second life.  Thus we see an original Treat house on Turkey Hill Road, just beyond the parkway entrance.  It stands with a legacy of the Treat family having been built, from all its interior details, in the late 1750s.  The map of 1850 shows the owner to be William Treat and again in 1868.  The Treat genealogy is extensive in both Milford and Orange with Robert Treat being among the original settlers of Milford in 1639.  By 1659 the population of Milford had grown to over five hundred and there was demand for more land and Robert Treat, among others, negotiated with the Sachem of the Paugussets, Ansantawae for land whose boundaries include the present Town of Orange.

Robert Treat, once again found himself in the public’s eye when a dispute over the combining of New Haven to the new Connecticut Colony caused him to take sides in 1662.  He was in favor of the move while Branford and New Haven were not.  The discussions continued until, in 1664, Milford grew tired of the delay and severed all ties with New Haven uniting with the Connecticut Colony.  Treat was active in the affairs of Milford becoming one of the most distinguished men of the Colony.  His fame didn’t stop there as he served as either Deputy Governor or Governor for thirty-two years.

The Treats have distinguished themselves throughout the history of Orange with houses still standing in town.  Another of the Treat family members fought in the Revolutionary War, leaving us his Journal of 1777 that now rests in the National Archives in Washington. D.C., 23 faded, dog-eared, 4×6 pages, written in pen and ink.  In this precious document, Treat describes his participation in the first battle of Saratoga on September 19th.  He writes of service with American Generals Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates* telling of problems with accommodations, food, illness and desertion.  At the age of 19, he recorded the events in his own manner, spelling the words as best he could but leaving us valuable information of that decisive Saratoga Battle.  His wife was Content Bryan, daughter of Jehiel Bryan and Esther Buckingham.  Jehiel also fought in the Revolutionary War with a fine service record of his own.

All the many acres around the house on Turkey Hill appear to have been settled by one Treat or another.  The land had been handed down from Governor Robert Treat, it having been given to him by Charles II, the King of England, known as the “King’s Grants” for service to the crown during King Phillip’s War.  The Treats were farmers and tilled the land growing wheat.  The lands were located on both the east and west sides of what is now Grassy Hill Road.  William Treat, owner of the house on the 1850 Orange map can be traced back to Robert Treat, as noted, one of the original members of the colony of Milford.

Some folks think of our very early history as romantic with heroes bigger than life but the area of town that might not be romantic is the area around the Turkey Hill house that eventually was owned by the Yarosh family.  Perhaps less in the hero category, but in the commercial category was the Orange Canning Company, a subsidiary of American Can Company, located on Park Avenue, New York City in 1931.  It was located across the street from the Treat house now referred to as the **Finer house, canning local vegetables and fruits; tomatoes, string beans, lima beans, peaches, pears and beets.

We were told that the cannery sold canned fruit to the State of CT for the prisoners in the state prisons.  Information put together in our research can connect the Treat family with the property where the canning factory was located.  One can only imagine how successful this Orange company was on land that might have, at one time, belonged to our first governor, Robert Treat.

  • Horatio Gates’ refusal to acknowledge Benedict Arnold and his successful strategies during the war was one of the reasons cited for his desertion.

** The Finer house is part of acreage that the Town of Orange has purchased recently from Mickey Finer and his wife, Terry.

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