We’ve know about Hickory Tree Farm for years especially while James P. Mills, Sr. was still alive and stallions such as Hagley called the Middleburg farm home.

What we didn’t know was some of the history revealed in a feature article in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred this month. The farm, which is now owned by Jim and Mary Lea Treptow, transplanted Texans, was developed into a horse property by William Ziegler, Jr. the heir to the Royal Baking Powder fortune. He used a team of mules to build the three-quarter mile training track.

Eleanora Sears, of Sears and Roebuck, bought the farm from Zielger in the late 1940’s. In 1961, she intentionally burned the house down to avoid paying taxes – evidently, in those days your real estate taxes were based on how windows your house had – key word being “had.”

In 1966, James P. Mills Sr. and his wife, the former Alice DuPont, bought Sear’s farm and combined it with several other plots. Alice Mills was a cousin of famous Virginia horsewoman Marion DuPont Scott. She named the farm after the tree that was used as a rendezvous point for Mosby’s Rangers.

If you are a subscriber to the magazine, you can read the story on line. If not, I suggest you find a copy of the July issue, it’s interesting reading.