Artifact Corner: Marriage Licenses

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at two small paper documents from 1856. The first is a document stating that Frank Hall and Fannie Delord Webb were intending to marry, and the second is the marriage license itself. Frank and Fannie were married on May 14, 1856. The couple was married in Hartford, CT, which is where Fannie Delord Webb was residing at the time. Marriage licenses were relatively new in the mid-19th Century. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of marriage licenses.

The first documented marriage happened in Ancient Mesopotamia in 2350 BCE. The initial reason for marriages was mostly legal, and was used to help navigate the complicated intermingling of families wealth and properties. So, the concept of the union of two people was more of a business transaction, than it was a love match. This ultimately meant that most of the marriages were amongst people of means. If you had no land or money, you didn’t have much to protect when entering into a union, therefore, you didn’t need to be legally married. The actual word marriage, comes from Middle English, and is first seen in literature somewhere between 1250-1300. So, we see marriage licenses being issued in England around the 1300’s. Again, marriages were entered into by both rich and poor, but a marriage license was issued for people with means, and it was a financial transaction. Most marriages in the Middle Ages for wealthy people were arranged. It was about creating alliances and consolidating wealth, not a romantic union.

With Europeans moving to North America, they brought their customs with them, and that included marriages. Marriage licenses have been required since 1639 in Massachusetts, with their use gradually expanding to other jurisdictions. Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries in America, it was not required for couples to obtain a marriage license before forming a union. It was until the mid 19th Century that the US formally made it a law for couples to have a license to marry. Actually, prior to Frank and Fannie getting married in 1856, we have the record of Fannie’s parents marriage. They did not have a marriage license, they instead had a marriage indenture. This literally meant that Fannie’s mom became the property of Fannie’s dad. Not cool. By the mid 1800’s, the licensure made each partner equal participants in the union, as long as you were a man and a woman of the same ethnicity. For mixed race couples, they had to wait until 1967 to have their marriage legally recognized. For same sex couples, they had to wait until 2015 to have their unions recognized legally in the United States.

These two small pieces of paper are a look at marriage in the Victorian period in the United States, and a reminder of how far we have come. Thankfully, most people entering into marriages today are for a love match, and not strictly a legal union. These pieces of paper are in quite good condition, and we are so lucky to have them in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Silk Stockings

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a couple of pairs of silk stocking from the early 1830’s. These stockings belonged to Frances Henrietta Delord Webb, and were likely purchased for her honeymoon to Europe in 1832. We have a pretty definitive date for these stockings, because she left for her honeymoon in 1832, and she passed away from child bed fever in 1834. These stocking are a lovely pink shade, which was very common for women in the early 1830’s. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of silk stockings.

The earliest example of a stocking was discovered in a tomb in Ancient Egypt and is over 2,000 years old. The socks featured a fitted heel and a draw chord at the top, so these were some pretty well constructed garments! All of these early stockings or socks as we would classify them today were obviously made by hand. Most of the stockings and socks were made from wool. Wool is an incredible fabric, because it can keep you warm even if it gets wet. In Northern Europe, where winters can be extremely cold and wet, wool stockings helped get people through the season. Now, while wool is fantastic for the winter, it could be a little too warm for the summers, but people still needed stockings or socks. Silk is also an amazing fabric. It dries quickly, it’s lightweight and breathable, and it’s absorbent. Not to mention the stunning shine that silk fabric has. But, knitting stockings from silk was far more labor intensive than knitting with wool. Because of this, only the uber wealthy could afford them. The first documented person to wear knitted silk stockings was Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. Because each pair were made by hand, the knitter had to know the dimensions of the person’s legs, ankles and feet in order to customize them for the wearer. And because there was no elastic in this period, the stocking were held up with ribbons or garters worn just below the knee.

Silk stockings continued to be very popular amongst the upper classes throughout Europe and North America through the 18th, 19th, and early 20th Centuries. The silk stockings could be made is a myriad of colors from white, yellow, blue, green, black and pink like the ones we have in our collections. They could also be decorated with embroidery on the ankle known as clocking. This embroidery could be done with metallic thread that could pick up candle light during dances and balls as your skirts swished about. The luxury and allure of silk stocking saw it’s decline in 1939, when the DuPont company developed the material nylon. Nylon had many uses, but it’s growth in the market of women’s stockings was stratospheric. DuPont estimates that they sold up to four million pairs of nylon stockings in the United States in a single day! Nylon stockings are cheap, durable and sheer compared to their wool and silk counterparts. Thus, nylon took over the stocking industry, and the expensive silk stockings fell out of favor.

Our silk stocking are in quite good condition, likely because they were not worn very much. Most of the outfits purchased for her honeymoon in Europe were worn very infrequently, and after Frances’ passing, her clothes were put safely away. Because of that, the garments are in very good condition. There are a couple of small stains, but they are pretty minimal. They are a beautiful example of women’s fashions in the early 1830’s and we are so lucky to have them in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: 18th Century Currency Conversion Chart

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a very rare survivor of the late 18th Century. This is a foreign currency calculator from 1793 that belonged to Henry Delord. When Henry moved to upstate NY, he had stores that he operated in both Peru and Plattsburgh. On February 9th, 1793, Congress and the Senate passed an act regulating foreign coins, making them legal tender, and establishing their value. This is also the first year the US struck their first coins. Any and all merchants needed to know what the currency would be worth vs the new legal US tender. Hence this chart was made and sent to businesses throughout the new United States. Henry also made a smaller “cheat sheet” which we have here, probably using the amounts he saw most frequently in transactions at his stores. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of money.

Since the beginning of human history, we have traded things amongst ourselves to survive. If there was someone in your community that was better at a certain task than you were, you would often have that person complete the task, and then give them something in return for their services. This is known as the barter system, and is very effective in small communities. As people developed larger and more complex communities and cities, it became harder for them to trade off goods and services, and the need for a more regulated economy grew. Hence the need for a common currency. The first known iteration of coinage were manufactured in ancient Mesopotamia and were called a shekel. They were usually made of silver, and were used in the cities of Tyre and Carthage about 5,000 years ago. The Shekel was not exactly a coin, but more a unit of weight, to connote the value of a good or service. In 1,000 BCE, the Chinese began making coins out of bronze and copper, very valuable materials in their day. The idea of metal coins, which held values specified by their makers spread throughout Asia and into Europe. The Ancient Greeks began to make coins out of silver and gold around 650 BCE. The earliest Roman coins were made around 200 BCE and were made of bronze, but they later started manufacturing them out of silver and gold as well. The most commonly used coin in the Roman Empire was the denarius, which was made from pressed silver, and remained in circulation for over 500 years! A roman denarius, simply based on the silver content today would be worth $2.60 in US dollars.

As we move into the Middle Ages, we see the first use of paper money, created by the Chinese sometime around the year 700. The paper currency was lighter weight, and meant that taking large amounts of it for trading around the world was much easier, but, many traders distrusted this new paper money, and questioned it’s value. The Chinese paper money fell out of use by the year 1450, and it would be a long time before paper currency came back into fashion. Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, metal coinage was king, and used throughout the world. This is not to say that the barter system completely disappeared, because it was still very common in smaller villages, through to modern day. The colonists settling in North America in 1690, had a form of paper money, well, kind of. Bills of exchange became a common part of the world economy during this time period. A bill of exchange is essentially a written order that one person or group will pay a specified amount of money on demand. So, while this is not exactly paper currency, it was a piece of paper that could be exchanged for a good or service. The first paper money made and issued in the United States did not happen until 1861. So, we’ve only had paper money in the US for 162 years, everything prior to that was coins or bills of exchange.

This table of conversions for foreign currency is in pretty good condition, given that is 230 years old. There are some ink stains, and the creases in it are pretty deep, mostly due to it being folded up, and likely stored in a pocket. It’s still a fascinating glimpse into our countries very early economy, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Silver Fork from 1820

Hi everyone and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at an absolutely beautiful silver spoon from the early 1800’s. This spoon belonged to the Webb family, and came into our collections through the marriage of Henry Webb and Frances Henrietta Delord. Their daughter, Fannie Delord Webb Hall inherited the Webb family collections, and that’s why we have these pieces at our museum. We have an entire set of this beautiful silver, and the family definitely used them. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of forks, and the maker of this gorgeous piece.

The oldest records of people using forks is from the Bronze Age, sometime between 2,400 to 1,900 BCE. Archaeologists found two pronged forks, made from bone, during excavations at sites in Gansu, a north-central province of China. Now, it’s not clear whether these were used for dining, serving, or for food preparations. Forks have also been found in Ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. But these earliest forks seem to have been used mostly for food prep rather than as a dining utensil. So, how did forks come to our table? The first mention of forks comes from a Byzantine manuscript from around the year 1,000 CE. The Emperors niece is described as eating her meals with a golden two pronged fork. The common practice at the time was to have a table set with a knife and a spoon. One would cut foods with the knife, and use their hands to pick up and eat it. A spoon was used for soups and porridges. The first appearance of forks in a cookbook comes from a 13th Century gift to the King of Naples. The cookbook states that diners should use forks to pick up slippery lasagna noodles. Forks continued to spread across Europe, becoming increasingly common for both the aristocracy and the average person. Forks could be made from a variety of materials, and the average person, wishing to emulate the upper classes could fashion their own forks from materials readily available to them. As Europeans immigrated to the United States, they brought their utensils with them, and the fork was introduced to North America.

Our fork is made by an American Silversmith named Thomas Chester Coit. Thomas was born in Norwich, CT On November 1, 1791. At the age of 14 he started his apprenticeship under an unknown jeweler in Canterbury, CT, and apprenticed there for seven years. From 1812 to 1816 he worked on his own as a silversmith and jeweler back in Norwich. In 1816 he formed a partnership with Elisha Hyde Mansfield and they created the firm Cost & Mansfield. An advertisement of theirs at the time says they offered, “ a good assortment of military goods, elegant gold and gilt hat loops; and sword knots.” This partnership with Mansfield lasted until 1819. In 1820 Thomas formed another partnership with a silversmith named Clark, no first name can be found for this craftsperson. They formed the firm of Clark & Coit. This partnership only lasted for two years, and this is the firm that made our silver set. So, we can safely date this set to between 1820 to 1822. Thomas continued in his trade, eventually moving to New York City in 1835, and working as a silversmith in the Big Apple. Thomas passed away on February 28, 1841, at the age of just 49.

Our fork, and the rest of this silver set are in beautiful condition. The Webb family name, hand engraved on the back is still very legible, as is the touchmark from the silversmiths. The forks tines are all straight, and the fork itself looks like it could have been made yesterday, rather than over 200 years ago. The whole set is just stunning, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Gavel

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a wooden gavel. We are not really sure why we have a gavel in our collections. Betsey Delord Swetland’s second husband was a prominent lawyer in Plattsburgh, and so could this somehow be related to William Swetland? That’s distinctly possible. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of gavels.

The origin of the word gavel come from the Medieval English word gafol, spelled GAFOL. The term referred to a tribute or rent payment made with something other than money. Gavel would be prefixed to any non-monetary payment given to a lord, such as gavel-wool, meaning the payment to the lord would be in wool. Another use of the word was gavelkind, which stood for inheritance in parts of the UK and Ireland, and could be used for inheritance of property or possessions.

So, how did the gavel go from being a term indicating payment or inheritance, to a small ceremonial mallet commonly made of hardwood, and typically fashioned with a handle? That’s a little less clear. We know that in the Masonic organization, a setting maul (which is a wooden hammer used to set stones into walls), was used to bring meetings to order. This might be the origins of the use of gavels in legal proceedings, but the history is quite a bit murky. The first use of a gavel recorded in the United States is when Vice President John Adams used a gavel as a call to order in the first U.S. Senate in New York in 1789. Gavels are used by judges in the United States, as well as in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House gavel is similar to the one we have, a simple wooden mallet. The Senate’s gavel is unique. It has an hourglass shape and no handle. In 1954, the gavel that had been in use since at least 1834 (and possibly since 1789) broke when Vice President Richard Nixon used it during a heated debate on nuclear energy, despite silver plates that were added to strengthen it in 1952. Currently, the senate uses a white marble gavel.

Our gavel is made from a hardwood, and definitely has signs of wear, so it was likely used for some period of time. It’s very hard to date this gavel. It’s likely Victorian, but it could be earlier than that. This design and style has been in use for hundreds of years now. It’s an interesting piece of history, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for all of your support in 2022, and we look forward to new and interesting videos in 2023! Happy New Year everyone, and thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Trans-Atlantic Steamship Brochure

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a brochure from 1857. This brochure lists the departures and costs for traveling from the port of La Havre France to New York City. So, why is this in our collections? Well, our Fannie Delord Webb Hall and her husband Frank Hall were married in 1856, and went on a year long honeymoon in Europe. This must have been the schedule they got in La Havre, when they were booking their return voyage home. This brochure was found in a purse belonging to Fannie, just another souvenir from their time in Europe. The brochure is mostly in French, but there is some English sprinkled in the text to make it mostly legible for the British and American tourists. Let’s learn a bit more about Transatlantic travel in the 19th Century.

At the dawning of the 19th Century, crossing the Atlantic Ocean was quite an ordeal. Steam ships had not yet been invented, so your only option was sailing, which meant you were at the mercy of the winds. If you were lucky, you could make it across in 21 days, which was a screamingly fast journey. If you were unlucky the trip could take over a month, this would mainly be due to lack of sufficient wind. All of this changed in 1819, when the steamboat Savannah crossed the Atlantic. Originally fit out in New York as a sailing vessel, the engineer onboard also included a steam engine and a side paddle wheel. On May 24, she left the US bound for Liverpool. Her owners had so little faith that the vessel would arrive in tact that they had no passengers onboard, and zero cargo. It took her 29 and a half days to reach her destination, and the crew only used the engine for about 80 hours of the trip, due to how little coal they could carry on the Savannah. Still, this was a big deal in the history of crossing the Atlantic!

Almost 20 years would pass before another steam vessel crossed the Atlantic. In 1838 rival British and American companies deployed their top of the line steam vessels. The American ship Sirius, and the British vessel Great Western cruised across the Atlantic. The Sirius made it in 18 days, and the Great Western made it in just 15, a huge leap forward for people who were traveling across the ocean. As steam engines were improving, so were the times at which people could safely travel across the Atlantic. By 1855, it would take around 10 days, by 1880 you could make it in 7 to 8 days, and by 1920’s you could make it across the ocean in just four days. So in a hundred years time a journey that would have taken you over a month, was now down to 4 days. An incredible feat of ingenuity. Fannie and Frank’s journey likely took them around 8 to 10 days to cross. Fannie’s Mother and Father went to Europe in 1832 for their honeymoon. Thanks to a journal Fannie’s mother kept of their travels, we know that their journey across the ocean took 3 weeks! The cost listed on the brochure for a first class ticket was 730 Francs, which was the equivalent of $142 in 1857. In today’s money that ticket would cost you $4,860. A hefty price tag.

This brochure is in fair condition. The paper is quite flimsy, but given that this was meant to be something disposable, or what we would call today a throw away item, it’s actually shocking how well it’s held up. It is a glimpse into world travel in the mid 1800’s, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Christmas Bells Poem


Hi Everyone, in honor of the Holiday Season, we are taking a break from our usual Artifact Corner video. Today we will be looking at a poem published in the Plattsburgh Sentinel on December 25th, 1868. The poem is titled The Christmas Bells. If this sounds familiar, then you might be thinking of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, also titled The Christmas Bells. But, this is a different poem, and sadly the author for this particular poem is not listed in the newspaper. Here is an excerpt from the poem from Christmas Day 1868:

The Bells – The bells – The Christmas Bells
How merrily they ring
As if they felt the joy they tell
To every human thing
The silvery tones – o’er vale and hill
Are swelling soft and clear
As wave on wave, the tide of sound
Fills the bright atmosphere.

The bells, the merry Christmas bells
Are ringing in the morn
They ring when in the eastern sky
The golden light is born.
They rang as sunshine tips the hills
And guilds the Village spire,
When through the sky, the sovereign sun
Rolls his full orb of fire.

The Christmas bells, the Christmas bells,
How merrily they ring!
To wary hearts, a pulse of joy,
A kindlier life they bring
The poor man on his couch of straw,
The rich on Downey bed
Hail the glad sounds, as voices sweet
Of angels overhead.

The bells, the silvery Christmas bells,
O’er many a mile they sound,
And household tones are answering them
In a thousand homes around
Voices of childhood blithe and shrill
With youths strong accents blend
and manhoods deep and earnest tones
with women’s praise ascend.

From all of us here at the Kent Delord House Museum, we wish you nothing but happiness this holiday season! Thank you for all of your support this year, and we look forward to seeing all of you again in the Spring. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Music: Holiday Atmospheric Symphonic
Available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license

Artifact Corner: 18th Century Mob Caps

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a collection of beautiful women’s caps. These lovely pieces are just a couple of caps we have in our collections. We have quite a few of them, with varying styles and decorations. These caps are made from either cotton of linen, and some have hand embroidery, lace trim, and needlework. All of them are hand sewn, as they all date before the invention of the sewing machine. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of these caps, and women’s hair covering in general.

The first writing we have on women covering their hair is from an Ancient Assyrian text dating to around the 13th Century BCE. It was a law stating that women must cover their hair when they are out in public as a sign of piety. This law only required women to wear a hair covering when the were in public though, women at home with their families did not need to wear a hair covering. This practice was popular within many countries and religions. Nations throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe required that women going out into public cover their heads with either a scarf, hat, or veil. It was considered immodest or even scandalous to go out of doors if you were an adult women without your head covered in some way. In many communities, head covering were not required for children and young adults. In Europe, throughout the Middle Ages, women’s head covering became a part of their fashions, and changed as frequently as their clothing. Again, in this period, it would have been socially and religiously unacceptable for a women of any social standing to appear in public without her head covered for modesty…… I’m looking at you THE LAST DUEL: whoever did your costuming, did you a disservice.

In the 16th and 17th Centuries in Europe and America, hats and caps were still very much in fashion, but due to elaborate hair styles, crowns and hair jewelry was also very popular. In the 18th Century we see our caps, often referred to as mob caps see their hay-day. These mostly linen caps were worn indoors, and also worn under hats and bonnets. The caps were almost always constructed of linen because the cotton gin was not invented until 1794, meaning that cotton was incredibly cost prohibitive. The mob cap is a round, gathered or pleated cloth bonnet consisting of a caul to cover the hair, a frilled or ruffled brim, and (often) a ribbon band, worn by married women in the Georgian period, when they it called a “bonnet”. Originally an informal style, the bonnet became a high-fashion item as part of the adoption of simple “country” clothing in the later 18th century. During the French Revolution, the name “Mob Cap” caught on because the poorer women who were involved in the riots wore them, but they had been in style for middle class and even aristocracy since the century began. The caps went out of style in the Victorian Period, although they were still used by certain people in the Service industry, such as house maids.

Our beautiful collection of caps or bonnets are from the late 18th to the early 19th centuries. They all have some form of wear on them, some are stained, others have fraying lace, but given that they are all over 200 years old, this is unsurprising. These pieces would have been heavily worn, so they are actually in good condition. They are a lovely glimpse into women’s fashions from well over 200 years ago, and we are so lucky to have them in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Civil War Epaulettes

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another Artifact Corner. Today we will be looking at a pair of epaulettes from the American Civil War. These are a combination of materials, brass, leather, and fabric. There is also a button on the epaulettes with and eagle and crest. Inside the crest there is a capitol letter I. The I signifies that the epaulettes were worn by an officer in the infantry. So, we have a really interesting question, why are they in our collections?! We only had one family member who served in the Civil War, Frank Hall. But, Frank was a chaplain in the war, and he was never issued a military uniform. He wore civilian clothing throughout his time in the NY 16th Volunteers. So, either Frank was gifted or somehow ended up with these epaulettes, or they were donated to the museum at a later time. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of epaulettes.

An epaulette (which in French means little shoulder) is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as an insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. The origin of our modern epaulettes start in the 17th Century. Military coats were decorated with bunches of ribbons, worn on the shoulders. These ribbons were partially decorative but also helped to prevent should straps from slipping. These ribbons were tied into a knot that left the fringed end free. This established the basic design of the epaulette as it evolved through the 18th and 19th centuries. Throughout the 18th Century and into the 19th Century, flexible metal epaulettes (which were often referred to as shoulder scales) were worn to designate the rank of the officer wearing them.

By 1851, in the United States the epaulettes became universally gold. Both majors and second lieutenants had no specific insignia. A major would have been recognizable as he would have worn a more elaborate epaulette, with the fuller fringes of a senior field officer. Epaulettes are fastened to the shoulder by a shoulder strap or passenten, a small strap parallel to the shoulder seam, and the button near the collar, or by laces on the underside of the epaulette passing through holes in the shoulder of the coat. The placement of the epaulette, its color and the length and diameter of its bullion fringe are used to signify the wearer’s rank. Although originally worn in the field, epaulettes are now normally limited to dress or ceremonial military uniforms. Today large metal epaulettes are not often used by the military. They have been replaced by cloth pieces that can be easily sewn in place and quickly replaced. Epaulettes have also become super popular in fashions today for both men and women. They can be a fantastic shoulder accent that can truly make any garment more chic.

Our epaulettes are in pretty amazing condition. The brass is in near mint condition, and the red leather covering the back of them is in quite good condition. The red silk and red velvet that form the shoulder piece is a bit more worn, which is to be expected as that is the part of the epaulette that would have had the most friction against the wearers uniform. These are in beautiful condition, and we are so lucky to have them in our collections, however they got here. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles

Artifact Corner: Thanksgiving Letter

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a letter that Betsey Delord Swetland wrote to her Granddaughter Fannie Delord Webb Hall. The letter was dated December 8, 1857, and reads as follows:

“My Beloved Child,
We have an open winter. So far the weather has been like September, only an occasional cold day. Our little bay was only frozen over Thanksgiving day. It was black with boys and girls skating, a fine sport. Next day all open and still continues open and raining today. I had rather have cold weather and snow. With the poor help I had, and not being well enough, I gave up asking Rev. Coit’s family for dinner Thanksgiving, as we always had them. I told Mr. Coit so, but as the time approached, I felt so bad about it and finally concluded to have them and do the best I could. We had a room full and made out a very nice dinner and all seemed to enjoy it. Since you left many friends calling and enquiring after you.”

Thanks to this letter, we know that the winter of 1857 seems to have been a rather mild one. Cumberland Bay was without ice and it was raining on December 8th. Betsey was 73 at the time of writing this letter, and putting on a big Thanksgiving spread would be awfully challenging, but she couldn’t let the day pass without making a big meal and inviting friends and family over to share it. I think we can all relate to that. Betsey does not state what exactly she served, but she has a couple of well preserved cook books from this time period.

In one of Betsey’s cookbooks from the 1850’s she has a really good recipe that we here at the museum have recreated. We think this could be a fantastic addition to any Thanksgiving dinner. Here it is, exactly as written:

“Stew five good sized apples, mash them fine and stir to cream two spoonfuls of butter, four of sugar, mix these with the apples, then stir in one pint of cream, half a nutmeg, grate in five crackers, and lastly beat six eggs to a froth, mix all together, beating it well, bake as a custard, and you will say it is splendid.”

The instructions are vague, which is unsurprising for recipes from the 1800’s. What do they mean by spoonful? What does, “bake as a custard mean?” If you plan to give this recipe a shot, I would use tablespoons, and bake this in a 350 degree oven for around 45 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. If you are feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to stew 5 apples, you could substitute in unsweetened apple sauce, which would work just fine.

Both the letter and cookbook give us a glimpse into life in Plattsburgh in the 1850’s, and we are so lucky to have them in our collections. From all of us at KDHM, we wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving, and we hope you are able to spend it with loved ones. Thanks so much for stopping by!

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/7813-sunny-morning
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
Artist website: https://cemmusicproject.wixsite.com/musiclibraryfiles