PLATTSBURGH — “Sharing and Caring,” the theme of the Kent-Delord House Museum’s Holiday Open House, references the philanthropy of three generations, who lived in the historic Plattsburgh residence.
The event, hosted by the Garden Club, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. today and Sunday.
The theme was the idea of Trudy Burger, a Garden Club member.
“Our goal is to emulate the Delords,” said Donna Bell, also a member and Board of Trustees secretary.
“There are two particular stories that we just love to share. And one of them is about Henry Delord supporting three forts of soldiers for a year to the tune of $20,000 because the government had no money to pay them. He had a little store on the side lot here, and he was selling things on credit, first-ever MasterCard. So, they (soldiers) were here when the British did come down the lake and attacked us.”
The soldiers were attached to Fort Scott, Fort Brown and Fort Moreau and patronized Delord’s Red Store.
“So, the town thought Henry was such a wonderful help to their town and such a ‘savior’ that they thought Henry was our hero, because he kept the soldiers here so we were not all burned down,” Bell said. “Yes, there was bad stuff. There were deaths and bad stuff and burnings and all that but we still had a town. And, Henry was the hero.”
Henry Delord (1764-1825) immigrated from St. Lucia during the French Revolution. He settled at the Quaker Union in Peru and married Elizabeth “Betsey” Ketchum (1784-1870), the daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Ketchum, who settled in Plattsburgh in 1785.
Henry and Betsey’s daughter, Frances Henrietta Delord (1813-1834), married Henry Livingston Webb (1795-1846), an Albany merchant. Frances Henrietta died of childbirth fever leaving behind a daughter, Frances “Fanny” Delord Webb (1834-1913), who married Francis “Frank” Bloodgood Hall (1827-1903), a Presbyterian minister.
“The other wonderful story we like to share is about Fanny, Henry’s granddaughter,” Bell said. “She trained herself to be a doctor. Of course, she had no official degree. She didn’t go to college but we have her ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ that she studied. She had all these medicines, and we still have all the bottles back there. She would treat sick people for a pittance in her back hall of her home, people who couldn’t afford the doctor. On Saturdays, she would have her kitchen staff make soups. They would make big pots of soup, and she would have tin pails and tin pots and they would fill them with hot soup. And she would call her man who ran her carriage, and they would go all over town bringing hot soup to all her sick people that she worried about all week. That just makes us want us to be like them. We want to give to our community.”
The Garden Club members decorated the historic residence with themes from Christmases past. Evelyn Heins adorned the Blue Parlor with the twin themes of Adirondacks and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
In the Gold Parlor, Angela Brown and Linda Harwood worked on a musical motif.
“Our goal is to emulate the Delords and show the caring for the community that they did,” Bell said. “We feel like the house looks very nice. The outside is all fixed up nicely. We’re working really hard inside, and money isn’t easy to come by. But this year, there are more and more people in our own community who need help. So this year, for our Open House, we never charge admission, but we’re asking anyone coming in to please remember to bring a little something for the community for the people who need extra.”
Proceeds will benefit the Interfaith Food Shelf.
“We can take money or food,” Bell said. “We’re going to put the food in that cradle, which is also going to be raffled. The raffle money will go to the Food Shelf. And, we’re also going to have a donation box next to the original Home for the Friendless donation box that Fanny and her friends started years ago in the 1800s. It was home for indigent women and children. Fanny and her friends started that, and we have the box. It’s wooden, and it says ‘Home for the Friendless.’ So that’s going to sit on this table next to a box to put monetary donations for the Interfaith Food Shelf.”
Two cradles, a natural-stained one and a green-painted one, will be raffled off.
“The cradles were given to the museum a few years ago, and we just hadn’t done anything,” Bell said. “This one is stained, and this one they (Morgan Judkins, docent, and Justin Tetreault) painted flowers and everything. This one will include real florist poinsettias, and this one has a homemade mattress and quilt that Melanie (Waugh) made to fit in this one. I can imagine these in the summer on a porch as planters if they were lined. They’re huge or they could hold wood by your fireplace.”
“Sharing and Caring” is a tribute to the Delords and their extended family.
“Because they all were so giving to this community,” Bell said. “Henry and Betsey, they remodeled the house in 1810 and moved in. He had the Red Store, where he offered credit to the soldiers. The second generation was their daughter, who died in childbirth but still lived in the house. Betsey lived here and her second husband (attorney William Swetland) had young children, so they were in the house.”
After serving as a Union Army chaplain, Frank Hall, Fanny’s husband, preached in the Perestrome Presbyterian Church for 30-plus years without pay.
“He and his wife lived here,” Bell said. “After he died, Fanny lived on, and she doctored people. She was the last person who lived in this house, and she died in 1913 in this house.
“It was all the people who lived here and all the caring and sharing that they did, and we just want to do it in honor of them because we’re in their home trying to take care of their things and if they were here, they would be doing that. So this year, we’re doing that for them. That’s it, caring and sharing.”
Email Robin Caudell:firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
WHAT: "Sharing and Caring," the Kent-Delord House Museum Holiday Open House. WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. today and Sunday.
WHERE: 17 Cumberland Ave., Plattsburgh.