Kent-Delord House, one of the oldest residences in
the Plattsburgh area, was built in 1797. In 1810, Henry Delord, a
prosperous merchant and political figure, and his wife Betsey purchased
the house and then enlarged and remodeled it into the classic two-story
Federal structure that remains essentially unchanged to this day.
Delord was born to a
upper class family in the southern French city of Nismes on July 15,
1764. At the age of 20 he immigrated to the island of Martinique in the
French West Indies. He worked on his uncle's sugar plantation, later
moving to the island of St.Lucia. Henry's crops were cotton and sugar
cane and his labor was provided by his numerous slaves. When the
turmoil from the French Revolution, and war with England, caused an
uprising among the slave population, Henry fled to the United States.
to northern New York as a land agent for Bernardous Swartout, a large
landholder. Henry soon settled in the Quaker establishment in the town
of Peru, about 10 miles south of Plattsburgh, NY. In 1799, Henry
married Betsey Ketchum. He was 35, she was 15.
In 1810 he
bought the cottage and three acres of land in Plattsburgh owned by
Judge James Kent, who was later to become the first Chancellor of New
York State. Henry was seeking a home closer to the hub of commerce in
Plattsburgh and the shipping on Lake Champlain.
In 1811 and
1812 he expanded the home to the full-size Federal-style house that
exists today. Henry became a gentleman farmer, experimenting with many
herbs and vegetables. He established the Red Store on his property,
selling everything from lumber to liquor to lace.
the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1814, Henry was persuaded by General
Macomb to extend credit to the officers and enlisted men stationed in
Plattsburgh. This led to his undoing as he was left with a fortune in
paper IOU's that he was never able to collect after the War of 1812. A
broken man, he died at the age of 61 in 1825. He is buried in Riverside
Cemetery in Plattsburgh.
Ketchum was born in Red Hook, NY,
in 1784 to Jospeh and Phoebe
Ketchum. Joseph was a veteran of the American Revolution who came to
Plattsburgh in the first wave of settlers in 1785. The proprietors put
him in charge of the new forge on the Saranac River and he was on his
way to becoming one of the new industrialists in the area. But he died
suddenly in 1794 while on a business trip to New York City and was
buried in Trinity Church yard. He left a widow and three daughters, one
of whom was Betsey.
three daughters to feed and take care of. When Henry Delord proposed
marriage, it probably seemed like a good idea to marry Betsey, who was
then 15, to a successful 35-year-old businessman. Marriages of that age
difference were very common back then and quite acceptable. Betsey was
well educated, could read and write, and brought to her marriage wide
family relationships. She and Henry Delord were married in Peru, NY, in
and only child, Frances
Henrietta Delord, was born in Plattsburgh in
October, 1813. Betsey's daughter and husband both died before she did.
After Henry's death in 1825, Betsey took over governance of her
grand-daughter - Frances (Fanny) Delord Webb - with Fanny's father
remarried to William Swetland, a prominent attorney in Plattsburgh and
New York state, on June 6, 1829. He had been a friend of the Delord
family prior to Henry's death. Betsey died in Plattsburgh on May 23,
1870, at the age of 86. To this day, her exact burial site is not known.
Frances (Fanny) Hall was
born Frances Delord Webb in Albany, NY. She was the grand-daughter of
Henry Delord. Her parents were Henry Webb and Frances Henrietta Delord.
She was to marry Francis (Frank) Hall of Hartford, CT. Her family, the
Webbs, also were from Hartford. Both the Halls and the Webbs were
wealthy, and both Frank and Fanny, as they were to be known, inherited
much of their wealth. They never had to work for a living as we know it
today. Fanny and Frank devoted their lives to community service.
became a self-taught nurse and doctor and administered to the medical
needs of the poor and elderly who could not afford a regular doctor.
She was a local leader in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and
helped found an orphanage in Plattsburgh. Her skills as a doctor and
chemist were good enough that she formulated her own brand of skin
ointment, called Fanoline, and received a patent for it. She and Frank
manufactured and packaged this ointment in a workshop in the house and
sold it to dealers from Maine to Ohio.
out her adult life in Plattsburgh, NY, and was the last family member
to live in the Kent-Delord House. She died there in 1913. She and Frank
had no children.
Bloodgood Hall was born in New
York on November 16, 1827, the son
of Major Nathaniel Nye Hall and Margaret Bloodgood. Frank grew up in
Hartford, CT, and Schenectady, NY. He graduated from Princeton
Theological Seminary and was a Presbyterian minister all of his life.
He married Frances (Fanny) Delord Webb on May 14, 1856.
was a chaplain for the 16th New York Regiment during the Civil War. He
kept an extensive journal describing his camp life during the war. He
refused any pay for service to his country. He was at the battles of
Fredericksburg, Chancelorsville, and Salem Heights, VA. At Salem
Heights he rode his horse out onto the battlefield to rescue wounded
soldiers, and he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for
that bravery in combat.
war, he and Fanny returned to Plattsburgh and he established the
Peristrome Presbyterian Church. He was active in the Plattsburgh
community and every year took a long hike in the Adirondack Mountains
with friends. He was a minister to the prisoners at Dannemora state
prison; a member of the State Charities Aid Association; an advocate
for Fresh Air Children; and a frequent visitor to soldiers at the
Plattsburgh Barracks. He joined his wife in the production of Fanoline
skin salve. Frank died at the Kent-Delord House on October 4, 1903.
Members of the Delord family lived in the house for more than a
century. After the death of the last family member in 1913, Fanny Hall,
the house continued to be occupied by the family’s housekeeper,
Catherine Dowling, who charged a small fee for showing visitors through
There always has
been local public awareness of the importance of the
Kent-Delord House. The Delords were prominent in the community
throughout the 19th century, helping to shape the political
and social development of the region. Also, the house had been
preserved intact with most of the furnishings, documents and personal
possessions of three generations. Initially, the local Daughters of the
American Revolution assisted in the maintenance and exhibition of the
house, but they realized more help was needed to prevent serious
deterioration of the building.
persuaded philanthropist William H. Miner to buy the house and
establish it as a museum. In 1924, a non-profit corporation
administered by a board of trustees was established to operate the
Kent-Delord House. The museum received a provisional charter from the
New York State Board of Regents in 1928 and was awarded it’s absolute
charter in 1938. In the early years, the museum was staffed by couples
who served as caretakers and guides.
the late 1960’s, the trustees realized the museum should operate on a
more professional basis, with curatorial attention paid to the
collection, with opportunities provided for research and education. The
current mission statement supports this expanded role.
The Kent-Delord House remains as an historic museum,
with a collection of furniture, portrait paintings, books, domestic
objects, and personal possessions of family members. The collection
illustrates the lifestyle of an upper-class family of this region
throughout the 19th century.
Objects in the collection also
connect the Delord family to important events in the region: a decisive
battle of the War of 1812 that took place around the house, early
retail trade in Plattsburgh, domestic life, temperance and religious
movements, and the role that area residents played in the American