INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - April 16, 2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back. As I keep
saying, things are really moving along at a fast pace at "my"
house. From what I overhear from Carol and Joe, Mark the electrician has
the electrical and duct work on the inside of the house completed for
now. Good job, Mark and crew!! Now my buddies, E. J. and his crew, are
back. I am so happy to see them and their good food! They are digging
the foundations for the porch and smokehouse. The smokehouse should be
a pretty neat hiding place, not only for the heating and cooling equipment,
but for me too!
OK folks, time for a little restoration talk. All of you do realize that
the work going on at The Stephenson House is a true restoration, right?
Believe me, it is a once in a life time opportunity to witness such a
restoration. Why once in a lifetime? Let Henry here tell you the reasons.
Number one, there aren't many 1820 brick houses around to restore; number
two, it takes an incredible amount of money and even a mouse knows that;
number three, it takes a group of truly dedicated, knowledgeable, and
energetic volunteers to get this sort of project going and completed;
and, number four, the group needs good guidance.
Well, folks, we have it all! Edwardsville has one of maybe five 1820 brick
homes in Illinois. Edwardsville was most fortunate to receive a large
grant from the State through former Senator Evelyn Bowles in 1998 when
the State had money. And, to put this all together, Edwardsville has a
group of dedicated and knowledgeable people at the Edwardsville Historic
Preservation Commission and The Friends of the Col. Benjamin Stephenson
House. These folks are giving their time and dedication to this project
and they love it! Some have been working since May of 1998, the very month
it all began. Good guidance on the restoration has been provided by the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and architects Jack and Laura. Edwardsville
had the house, it received the grant and it has the people who are willing
and able to oversee the project. And, the Edwardsville community is providing
the support needed. What a wonderful place to call home!
All those working on the Stephenson House are grateful for all your support.
But, they want you to see this restoration, follow it and understand the
work that is being done. One day in the near future, these volunteers
will present the completed 1820's restoration that will be a true jewel
for the City of Edwardsville and the State of Illinois.
Right now, Henry here says we must also keep looking at what Col. Ben
accomplished as a U.S. Congressman. When we look closely at Col. Ben and
his goals we get a glimpse of his persuasive abilities. We also get another
look at Ben as a person.
One of Col. Ben's major legislative accomplishments was getting the War
of 1812 Militia paid. Our Col. Ben worked until he was satisfied that
the Secretary of War and the paymaster for the Army would pay the men
without delay. It was the Federal Government who was responsible for paying
the Militia and this was a big, big problem because there was almost no
money in the Federal Government's pockets. The War of 1812 had seriously
hurt international trade and import duties were over three-fourths of
the United States income. So, the government was hurting bad!
The pay issue was solved when a resolution presented by Col. Ben was passed.
This resolution allowed the Militia veterans to receive a pay certificate
from the Army paymaster that could then be used in any government land
office to pay for land. The idea came from Illinois Territorial Legislature
and our Ben got it passed in Washington, D.C.
Ben had been able to convince the Secretary of War and the Army paymaster
to pay the militia with a land certificate! Col. Ben's persuasive powers
appear to have been considerable to get that agreement. Although the Federal
Government urgently needed the money from the sale of the Territory land,
Col. Ben was able to convince them to use some of the land to pay the
men of the Illinois Militia who fought in the War of 1812.
Here is a story Cousin Jake recalled hearing. The Illinois Militia was
being paid with land certificates and the Missouri Militia had not been
paid. Hey guys, this payment issue was the hot item of the day! Illinois
was being paid and Missouri was not. The Missouri Gazette carried a letter
in 1816 signed "A Ranger," who asks why the Missouri Rangers
had not been paid. Could it have been because the Missouri delegate had
less influence than any other delegate or member to congress? "A
Ranger" was clearly dumping the failure of pay for the Missouri Militia
on Rufus Easton, the territorial representative from Missouri. "A
Ranger" saw that Col. Ben could get the Illinois Militia paid but
Easton apparently could not do same for Missouri.
Henry and Cousin Jake were talking about this pay thing the other day.
The Militia had been promised they would be paid to protect the people,
but had only received delay, expenses and refusal. The Militia included
the Illinois Rangers and two of these four companies were commanded by
local men, Samuel Whiteside and William B. Whiteside. The Rangers furnished
their own equipment and horses when they ranged between settlements, spotting
danger. They kept the Indians off balance, hit hostiles before they struck,
pursued those who had attacked and provided protection for the isolated
settler. The Rangers were to be paid one dollar per day, which was good
pay, and Col. Ben, with the rank of Major, was to receive one dollar and
sixty-seven cents a day. The Militia was understandably upset! But, Col.
Ben solved the matter in Washington, D.C. He did a lot of good things
for the average guy.
Well, so much for that for today. I am on my way to check out the electrical
and ductwork. This mouse needs to get a closer look at what has been done.
Then, it is out in the sun for a nap!
See ya' later,
P.S. Remember, this restoration is a once in a lifetime
experience. Don't miss it!!!