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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 1, 2003

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. So many things have happened at "my" house that I have to decide what to tell you about first. But, I'll try to save the best till last! Well, we now have water lines and spigots installed on the lot and Jim, Sid, Rose Marie and Carol planted grass seed that Jason provided. Thanks, Jason! I saw Jim watering the seed the other day and it is turning green! I have heard that painter Bill will be here soon to paint the windows and all the trim on the house and the columns and ceiling on the porch. I was promised that it will be fun having Bill around here! The other day Joe took the guys in a truck to pick up the millwork that had been stripped in St. Louis. Soon I will really have company when the board members are here getting it sanded, primed and painted. And, remember, the Burgoo is coming up on October 18th. There is sure lots going on at "my" house!

Here is what I saved as the best for last! Let me tell you about the biggest discovery of all that was made last week. Contractor Christ Brothers from Lebanon had started to work on the parking area. They began digging trenches for the curbing and of course, when you say "dig", Sid, The Archaeologist, immediately appears and it sure was a good thing he appeared. The foundation of Col. Ben's barn was found!! That is the truth as sure as my name is Henry! Sure enough, Sid identified a brick foundation 60 feet from north to south and at least 40 feet from east to west. The remainder looks like it's under the alley. They found great big limestone rocks at the corners of the barn which were used for added support for the building. Sid and Joe are pretty sure the barn was made of wood and that it burned down because they found burnt materials as the digging progressed. Can you imagine the excitement! Carol, Joe and Sid were celebrating over the discovery and at the same time taking pictures. Me, I was just running around in circles, trying to remember if I had heard any stories about the barn. What a day that was!

Everybody wished they could keep the foundation uncovered so a lot of folks could see it, but, work has to go on. Although the new find was covered and the curbing poured, Sid came up with some ideas on how maybe a part of it can be kept visible.

The foundation of the barn confirmed that the Stephenson's had an elegant life style because a barn with a brick foundation was an extreme luxury in the 1820's. Remember, back then a lot of people lived in log cabins with dirt floors! The Stephenson animals had a wood barn with a brick foundation just like the bricks made right here for Col. Ben's house! Jim came over when he heard about the barn, took one look and said it was right in the barn area where he found a horseshoe the day they were clearing and seeding grass! I get so excited talking about it that I just get the shivers!!

Of course, there are all kinds of questions about the barn but there is one question that Sid thinks we can get answered. That question is when did the barn burn or come down. Henry thinks that the researchers are going to find some answers! Isn't this exciting!

Good things are happening! Karen recently had good luck in searching for facts on the Stephenson children when Sheila gave her some excellent leads and two obituaries were found. The obituary of William E. Starr and his wife Elvira Amanda Stephenson have finally been located! Henry thinks these obituaries will provide a lot of interesting and worthwhile information.

Do you remember that there was no information on William E. Starr after the 1840 Census? Well, now we know why. He had died and his obituary was found in the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review. He died in Edwardsville, at the age of 43 on April 20, 1843. The obituary told that in 1818, Starr arrived in Edwardsville from Rome, New York, probably with his brother Henry Starr, and they both settled in Edwardsville. Henry soon moved to Alton. William served in the Black Hawk War and was Justice of the Peace and Clerk of Madison County. In 1837

he was a member of the Illinois State Militia as aid de camp to the Brigadier General of the 3rd division. Elvira, 34 at the time of William's death, was a widow with three boys and a girl under the age of twelve. The obituary stated that William left "a young and interesting family to mourn". He was described as a man endeared to others by his kind, gentle disposition and his ability to resolve differences.

Elvira was now a widow residing in Edwardsville with her four children. The rest of her family lived in Carlinville. By 1850 Elvira appeared on the Census of Carlinville, living with her mother Lucy.

Henry is going to stop here with Elvira's obituary. I think one obituary a day is plenty, so next time I will tell you all about Elvira. Her obituary is interesting and has information on Elvira and her family.

Henry here has not heard the complete details of the Burgoo yet. However, I do know that there are going to be some young men over here digging two fire pits for the Burgoo. Yes sir, two pots of Burgoo this year and I betcha' it will be all gone by the end of the day! Wilma Jene and Lois will start cooking very early in the morning and the Burgoo will be ready at 2 P.M. on Saturday, October 18th, 2003. Sounds good to me - of course, I like that great bread and freshly churned butter too!

Cousin Jake and I are meeting at the fountain in the City Park at noon, so, I better be on my way. We might run by Stagger and see if we get lucky and find some food by the back door!



See ya' later,
Henry

 


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