Portsmouth New Hampshire Sugar Plum Maker: Stephen Delande

If Clement Clarke Moore (author of the poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas“) had his way, we would all have “visions of sugar plums dancing” in our heads. Now I pose these questions: what are sugar plums and did anyone in New Hampshire ever make them?

Modern-day sugar plum recipes and candy offerings do not appear to resemble the 17th and 18th century ones either in physical characteristics or creation process. First, the “plum” part of this confection has nothing to do with the plum fruit, nor the color purple.

The sugar plum was a sugar coated seed or nut that was created through a lengthy, careful process. The sugar plum was an expensive candy — definitely a luxury item. I don’t often link to a commercial web site, but the True Treats Historic Candy Company knows its stuff when it comes to the origin and process of making sugar plums.

Sugar plums were very much in vogue by the time of the Civil War. According to Mary P. Packwood, a writer for the Binghamton Press (NY) newspaper in 1955: “In the 1850s and 60s sugar plums were part of the tree decorations, along with candles, apples, cookies and candy. Sugar plums were stuffed into tiny cornucopias made from colored paper, then strung on the tree. American ornaments of that period also included egg shells cut in half, colored and carefully hung to the branches. Toys for children were attached to the tree as part of the decorations.”

Sugar plums were popular in New Hampshire as early as 1802 when a notice appeared in the Republican Ledger newspaper of Portsmouth NH.  A detailed advertisement was published for STEPHEN DELANDE, Confectioner and Fruit Preserver. He had an upscale shop in  Portsmouth New Hampshire, offering not only a long list of confections, but also promoting his groceries (fruit spices, sugars, chocolate) hair powder, pomatum, and perfumes.  This ad provides us with a delightful peek into a colonial candy shop.

Focusing on only the “Confections” section of the list, they are:
Drop Peppermints
Conk Lozenges (I suspect this is a lozenge that is conch-shaped)
Sugar’d Almonds
Burn’d Almonds
Sugar Plums
Cinnamon Sugar Plums
Anniseed Sugar Plums
Coriander Sugar Plums
Caraway Sugar Plums
Lemon Sugar Plums
Coat Sugar Candy
Barley Sugar Candy
Spanish Sugar Candy
Conserve of Loaf Sugar
Conserve of Brown Sugar
Currant Jelly
Quince Jelly
Preserved Quince
Preserved Pear

In 1802 Stephen Delande moved his confectioner’s shop to Buck Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. [Editor’s Note: The original New Street became Queen Street, then Buck Street, then Broad Street, and is now State Street.] Then in 1804 he moved “opposite the post office.” Both of these events were noted in the local newspaper. By 1814 he had moved his confectioner’s establishment to Exchange Street, Portland Maine, next door to the Cumberland Bank.   A partial genealogy is shown below.

Pre 1900 postcard of Portsmouth New Hampshire harbor.

( Information contained here used a small amount of information from Ancestry family trees, but most of my work came from primary evidence, records, documents, and newspaper notices. If you find  a discrepancy, please leave a comment).  The surname is spelled both DELANDE and DELAND in local records.

Stephen Delande born 25 Dec 1773 in (Paris) France; died April 1820 Wilmington, Delaware [Mortuary Notice in the Weekly Eastern Argus, Portland Me of 17 October 1820: “In Wilmington (Del.) Stephen Delande, formerly of this town, aged 48] ; He married September 1800 in Portsmouth NH to to Phebe Sherrieve/Sheriff, daughter of Samuel & Hepzebah Sherrieve/Sheriff. She was born abt 1783 in Portsmouth NH and d. 4 Feb 1851 in Portland, Cumberland Co. Maine. There is a naturalization record for Stephen Delande, address: Portland Maine stating he was born in France (date of birth not stated). He states he arrived in Portland Maine in 1805 (which we know to not be true since he was already in Porstmouth NH at that time). Date of naturalization: Oct 21, 1811.
The next was the long one story building which served Mr. Samuel Sherive (Sheriff) [grandfather of the one who now bears the name] for a painters and glazier’s shop, and dwelling house for his family, consisting of himself, wife and the twenty-two children which she bore him, only a part of whom survived their parents. One of the daughters (Phebe) was married to “Stephen Delande who makes sugar candy,” by which cognomen, being a confectioner, he usually introduced himself and his business to strangers. Mr. Sherive’s house was bounded westerly by a narrow passage way, directly opposite Water street, leading to a small dwelling house of Mr. Joseph Stoodley….” from Rambles About Portsmouth, 1861.
Children of Stephen & Phebe (Sherrieve/Sheriff) Delande:
1. Angelique “Ann” Delande, baptized 23 Aug 1801 Portsmouth NH, and d. 6 Jan 1872 in Portland ME. “Angelic Delanda” married 29 February 1822 in Portland Maine to George Webster Jr., son of George & Abigail Webster. He was b 22 Feb 1798 in South Portland, Maine. They had at least one child, George H. Webster who married 3 Feb 1847 in Portland Maine to Sybil Goddard Graham. In the 1850 U.S. Census she is listed as “Ann,” and is living with her son George and family in Portland, Maine.
2. +Stephen Delande b 13 March 1803 Portsmouth NH, d. 1877; m. Ruth Rideout
3. Elinor Deland, b 2 Sep 1804 Portland Maine and d. 28 May 1869 in Portland ME. She married 24 January 1824 in Portland Maine to Robert Johnson.
4. Hepzibah Deland, b and d. 1806.
5. Phebe Shereive Deland, b. 24 May 1807, and d. 26 July 1866 in Portland Maine.
6. Frederic(k) J. Deland, b 6 May 1809 Portland Maine Maine; d. 15 Dec 1883 Portland Maine. He m. 9 Aug 1837 in Portland Maine to Mary G. Bennett. She was b. abt — in Maine and d. 20 Aug 1881 in Portland Maine. Children include: Frederick Deland Jr. (b 18 June 1838 Portland ME, m. 19 May 1866 in Portland ME to Elizabeth Jane French; children include Ellen Virginia Deland-Nason, Annie G. Deland-Morrison, Marie, Ida F., Frank K., and May. He is buried Western Cemetery, Portland ME); Mary L. Deland (*1840-1899 who married William Nelson Barry); Phebe H. Deland (b abt 1846 Maine, m. George N. Rice, buried Western Cemetery, Portland Maine.)
7. Albert Delande, b. 14 No 1810, d. 13 Nov 1811 Portland Maine
8. Jacob Delande, b. 29 April 1812 Portland Maine, d. 8 March 1835.
9. Daniel Ilsley Delande b 19 Nov 1814 Portland Maine. He married Sarah J. Robinson and Jane C. Houston. 2 children Henrietta Houston and Phebe Jennie.
10. Abner Phelps Deland, b 24 Arp 1817 in Boston MA, and d. 12 May 1877 in Bangor Maine. He m. Catherine Cox.


Stephen Delande, son of Stephen & Phebe (Sherrieve) Delande was baptized/born 13 March 1803 Portsmouth NH. He d 2 July 1877 in Boston MA of meningitis, (Delande). He married 5 Sep 1849 in Portland Maine to Ruth Rideout. She was b abt 1812 in Maine and d. 24 Feb 1867 in Portland, Maine. Trader.
Children of Stephen & Ruth (Rideout) Delande:
1. 4 MONTHS OLD child d 22 Sep 1841 (b abt May 1841) Portsland Maine, “son of Stephen Delande.”
2. Phebe Deland, b. 30 Apr 1843 Portland MA.
3. Ruthella Adelaide “Ella” Deland, b 11 March 1845 in Portland Maine, and d. 1932 in Salisbury MA She m. 30 Nov 1863 in Portsmouth NH to Charles A. Collins, son of Samuel H. & Elizabeth Collins. He was b. 18 October 1840 in Portsmouth NH, and d. 10 July 1913 in Salisbury MA. They had at least one child, Ruth Elizabeth Collins (1873-?) who married 1st) Fred Charles Knox, m2d) Enoch H. Nichols.
4. Stephen G. Deland 3 born 18 April 1846 Portland Maine.



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One Response to Portsmouth New Hampshire Sugar Plum Maker: Stephen Delande

  1. Amy says:

    I always imagined they were just small plums like those little Italian plums! Of course, I should have realized that back then, getting fresh plums in the northern hemisphere would have been extremely unlikely! Merry Christmas, Janice! I hope there are lots of sugar plums awaiting you!

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