PLATTSBURGH — With a little detective work, Kent-Delord House Museum docent Marlene Waite provided a helping hand in finding the final resting place of one of the historic home’s former residents.
Riverside Cemetery Superintendent Ed Bourgois helped Waite locate Catherine Dowling’s memorial stone in an area called “Section O,” where some of the cemetery’s oldest gravesites can be found.
Dowling was a servant for the Delord family, and her gravestone is shared by another servant, Alice Farryer.
“You get very wrapped up in people and their past lives,” Waite said of her volunteer work at the Kent-Delord House, where she has been actively involved since 1995.
“Sometimes, the servants receive the least attention. The museum has folders on each servant, and I’ve enjoyed studying the information on them.”
Waite knew that several servants were buried at Riverside, and she and her husband, Irv Waite, had actually seen the marker for two other servants, Margaret Kirkwood and Margaret Shanks, in another section of this historic resting place off Steltzer Road in the City of Plattsburgh.
“Identifying the location of stones often involves a lot of wandering around,” she said. “Irv and I were walking up one of the roads (that cut through the cemetery), when we happened to see the (Kirkwood and Shanks) stone.”
Mrs. Waite’s interest in the cemetery was ignited in 1999, when she attended a lecture at the Plattsburgh Public Library on the Rev. Francis Bloodgood Hall, the husband of Frances Delord Webb Hall.
By using the buildings in the background of a slide showing Hall’s memorial, she was able to locate the marker in the cemetery, but she also found that Hall’s gravestone had been vandalized.
She contacted Plattsburgh Memorials for help, and the company donated the effort to repair the stone, which is located near the Dowling/Farryer graves, as well as those of Frances Delord Webb Hall and Henry Delord.
BETSY’S GRAVE UNKNOWN
Henry Delord purchased the house for $850 in 1810 from Elizabeth Bailey Kent through her attorney husband, James Kent. Henry then began to remodel what was originally a small cottage, creating the building that exists today.
Although the engraving on his stone is difficult to read, the marker identifies his birth as July 12, 1761, and his death as March 29, 1825.
Frances Delord Webb Hall, known affectionately as “Fanny,” rests near her grandfather’s memorial. She died in 1913 and represents the end of the Delord line. Dowling, her personal servant, died in 1923.
“Fanny lived in the Kent-Delord House for 63 years,” Waite said. “It was through her efforts that it eventually became a museum.”
The house was purchased by William H. Miner in 1924 and opened as a museum in 1928, fulfilling a request that the collection of historical records and artifacts owned by the Delords would become public material.
The burial site of one prominent member of the Delord family, Betsy Delord Swetland, remains a mystery. Betsy was the wife of Henry Delord and later married William Swetland after Henry had died. She died in 1870 at the age of 86, but her final resting place is unknown.
“If we could find Betsy, that would be icing on the cake,” Mrs. Waite said.
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