In 1795, a young French Creole, Pierre Baillio II received a land grant from the King of Spain. By 1762, France had ceded Louisiana to Spain, but by the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, France regained the area. Napoleon had envisioned a great New France in this new world. When vision failed to materialize, and faced with the possibility of renewed war with Great Britain, Napoleon knew that he would need to bolster his treasury. In April of 1803, he offered to sell the entire Louisiana territory to the United States. On November 30, 1803, the Spanish, who had never given up physical possession of Louisiana to the French, did so in a ceremony in New Orleans. Subsequently, in a second ceremony, on December 20, 1803, the French turned Louisiana over to the United States. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, Kent House was already three years old. Three flags have flown over the site and those three flags still hang on the front gallery every day.
The builder of the House, Pierre Baillio II was born in Natchitoches where his father was stationed at Fort St. John Baptiste as a member of the French Army. When he was eighteen years old, Baillio missed his planned trip to France to visit relatives as a result of the French Revolution. He went to work for Jean Baptiste Lacour, a planter in Pointe Coupee Parish, married his daughter, Magdelaine, and eventually settled and raised his family in Rapides Parish.
The plantation was sold by the Baillio descendents in the 1840’s to Robert C. Hynson who came from Kent County Maryland. Robert and Mary Hynson named their new property after his birthplace. Hynson descendents lived on the plantation until 1908. The original location of the House was approximately two blocks from where it is now located. The picture above, which shows the House at its original location, is part of the Joe Dellmon Collection located at the Northwestern State University Library.
When a landmark reaches a significant anniversary, it calls for a celebration. This September, Kent Plantation House will turn 210 years old and we will indeed celebrate! Kent House has played a significant part of the history of the Central Louisiana area. It is our history and all are invited to celebrate. Please join us on Sunday, September 19th when a Birthday Celebration will be held. There will be a grand party for a grand old House.