As one drives by the cemetery, covered with snow, looking positively gloomy, we need to remember that the gravestones on the north side hold stories of the folks that were our first settlers. Milford, established in 1639 held onto its members for quite some time but as the need for more personal property became apparent, one Richard Bryan purchased 208 acres encompassing Old Tavern Road, Orange Center Road (South Main Street) Porter Lane and Lambert Road. Of course, those names did not exist at that time but references were made using highway to the north, east on so and so’s land, the marsh etc.
So whom are these gravestones representing? A stone in the very front reads Content Treat lovingly known as Tenty. Looking at a pair of her socks, she appears to have been rather tall and if she didn’t make the socks for herself, someone thought a bit of color would be enjoyable showing us that not all colonial women wore dark colors. In fact, they didn’t.
Content was born on November 16th, 1795 to Robert Treat and his wife Content (Bryan). She was married to Leverett Treat in April of 1820 and died November 26, 1880. She and Leverett had 3 children, Lucy, Sarah and Leverett Bryn.
Along the second or third row, are two gravestones, Alanson and Ira Clark. Now Ira’s story is not a very happy one. Married to a somewhat younger woman, living on Derby-Milford Road just below what was known as George’s Cellar Hill. If you drive down the road from Turkey Hill, toward Milford, you go down a steep hill. Following an old map of Orange from the Congregational Church toward Derby–Milford Road, you can pretty much tell where George’s Cellar hill was located. Working his farm with the help of a farmhand named David Bowen, Ira was not to live out his life on his farm because David, in his love of Ira’s wife, did him in.
Walking away from a tumultuous situation, David and his love moved away from Orange, leaving the four children with Ira’s brother Alanson. Years later Mrs. “Bowen” returned home, sick and destitute living with Alanson where she died. Using the resource material by Susan Woodruff Abbott, the Clarks in question are not related to the Clark families of Orange.
You have read, in my columns how the Orange Congregational Church was formed as early as 1804 when a ½ acre of ground was set out as a burial ground. The first one to be interred there was a baby whose headstone has pretty much worn away to have an exact location but it appears to be near the driveway to the north. His name was Joseph, child of Joseph and Eunice Treat dying in 1805 at the age of 4 months 4 days. The inscription read, “In memory of Joseph, child of Joseph and Eunice Treat, who died Nov. 2, 1805, aged 4 mo. 4 days.
“Behold the babe the Savior blest,
Enjoys the pleasure of his rest,
I’m the 6th descent of this name
And the first buried in this place.”
Remember Lucy Treat? She married Leverett Clark in January of 1847. The tone of gravestones tends to be very melancholy as is hers, her death being August 23, 1847. Her stone reads “Lucy, wife of Leverett Clark, died Aug. 23, 1847, aged 23 yrs.
“She died as fair ones
Often die, when bridal flowers
Spring around their pathway
But to deck their graves.”
One of the most interesting is a series of stones that follows the three marriages of Benjamin L. Lambert. The first stone is in memory of his wife Anna who died 1815 at the age of 22. From the stone it would appear she dies in childbirth but her death was listed as consumption with the first two lines reading “A lovely daughter seven months old, She left an afflicted father to console. The next stone is a similar one with “In memory of Abigail* who died in 1816 from an infection during childbirth leaving a 4-week old daughter. One has to feel a great loss at reading these headstones as the times and health standards were hard to accept but then again, it was what life was about, hardship.
The third stone belongs to Mr. Lambert, himself. He died in 1825 at the age of 43 leaving 6 children with his stone stating that he “ leaves them all in the hands of God”. The last stone belongs to his widow, Eunice dying in 1845 at the age of 54. This stone reflects her children’s love with the words:
“Thou hast gone from us, dear mother
Thy voice no more we hear
Thou hast left our kindred circle
A brighter home to cheer”
What probably lessened the gravestone erecting in April of 1859 was many of the children were taken away from Orange during the diphtheria epidemic. According to Mary Woodruff in her History of Orange, 15 people succumbed to this dreadful disease. Some as young as 3 and with Phebe Porter being the oldest at age 36. The New Haven Journal-Courier headlined, “More deaths in Orange”. It continued with listing the most recent deaths with the April 12th issue carrying the article entitled “The Orange Malady”.
One family whose life is an open book is that of Dennis Stone. With the 1830 homestead open to the public, docents in their tours with visitors tell about the two children who Dennis lost during this siege. His son Collin, age 10 and his sister Ellen age 22. It has long been noted to be a young person’s disease, but she and Phebe were the oldest. These two young people are buried with their mother in the area closest to the old section marked with a large obelisk type gravestone. This honors Dennis as well, although he is buried in Kansas where he lived with his son Legrand.
For a small town, we can be proud of our early military history with the earliest military record in 1698. As was said, our beginnings were in Milford, but by 1708 Richard Bryan had purchased those 208 acres from Antsantawae, the Sachem of the Paugussetts. So by the time the Revolutionary War was upon us, several commissions were issued to the men of North Milford, serving honorably in that war. Fourteen men from our town are buried in what is now the Orange Cemetery having been the cemetery belonging to the church previously.
One honored member was Joseph Treat, who was part of rescue mission of 200 soldiers who were left on the beach in Milford from a prison ship, near the home of Stephen Stowe. The men were cared for in several homes until it was discovered that they had smallpox. At this time they were brought elsewhere to be cared for by Treat and others. Stowe and Dr. Carrington died but Joseph had previously fought the disease and was able to care for them.
In as much as cemeteries give some people the shivers, the older sections are far enough from our own families’ history that reading the stones is like reading a book. On the next sunny day, park in one of the driveways and walk around the stones and see what history of Orange you can learn.
*In both Susan Abbott’s book and the Congregational Church cemetery records Benjamin’s 2nd wife was listed as Sarah.