INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - January 9, 2002
Please allow me to introduce myself; I am Henry the resident
mouse at the Stephenson House. I call myself the Stephenson House Mouse.
I live at the Stephenson House at 409 S. Buchanan St. in Edwardsville.
I have lived here for many years and I have heard and seen lots. I am
also one of those unique individuals who love old stories that are passed
down through the generations. There are family history stories about when
Col Benjamin and Lucy left Virginia in 1800. I have heard these stories
from the descendants of great-great-great-grandfather Samuel, the very
first mouse that lived at Col. Ben and Lucy's. I even can recall the stories
told about the parents of Col Ben and Lucy's family. I love these old
stories, and I love to reminisce about the old days. I want to talk about
these events in the lives of the Stephenson's AND I want to tell you all
about what is going on at the Stephenson House today! I have always thought
the life of Col Ben and Lucy was exciting and it gave me lots to think
about. WELL, what is happening at 409 S. Buchanan these days is one of
the most exciting stories that I have seen or heard in a long, long time.
Christmas has just passed and I have received a great
gift - a new roof! Have you seen my house in the last few weeks? There
are wreaths on the doors and candles in the windows just like in the old
days and now a new roof. That roof was really needed; believe me, Henry
the old mouse who lives here knows. Did you know that the new roof is
just like the one Col. Ben had put on in 1820? I know, because I was here
the day E. J. and Keith, the carpenters, found an old shake shingle in
the attic that was from the 1820 roof. They found a guy who could make
shingles just like the ones from 1820; they are called double sawn shingles.
The roof that is on the Stephenson House today is made of shingles just
like the ones from 1820. Now, that is called restoration!
There have been various people living in this house over
the years. Some I have known and others I know about from family stories.
The last people who lived here were a group of boys who were here a long
time. Then, about two years ago, the boys moved out - I hid outside. I
did not want to be in the wrong box and be moved away from here. Next
thing you know, the boys were gone there were all kinds of people tearing
things up around here! I am a small mouse and was quite scared. Those
people tore down the old porch, took the plaster off the walls and even
took the boys bathroom out. When they took out the radiators I was really
worried - how would I keep warm all winter?
I am an old mouse and I have heard many stories abut Col.
Ben and Lucy building this house and how they put their heart and souls
into the planning and building. I was really upset when I saw all the
tearing up going on around here.
Then one day, I heard Jack and Laura, they are the restoration
architects, talking to a fellow named Joe and I started to feel better.
They were talking about fixing this house up to be just like it was when
Col Ben and Lucy and the kids lived here! Joe was here later with his
friend Jim and they were taking down he door frames, doors and mantels
that Col Ben had his carpenters make many, many years ago. I listed to
Joe and Jim talk and I knew things would be all right. They talked about
the Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission who is in charge of
restoring the house. I learned that restoring is to put the house back
just like was using as much of the original as possible and authentic
reproductions. Joe and Jim, who are from HPC, were grinding the nails
down in the woodwork and putting little numbered gold tags on each piece
so they would know which room it came from. What a job!!! I listened to
them talk a long time and I knew it was going to be OK. HPC members and
Neil, Joe's son, even raked the leaves one day - now, I really had to
stay out of their way!! I don't know who HPC is but they sure care and
are spending a lot of time working around here.
Sandy and Andrew were helping one day and it sounds like
they are part of a group called the Friends of the Col. Benjamin Stephenson
House. These people are trying to find ways to raise money to restore
the house and ways to tell the people of the area about the house and
Col. Ben. I heard them say that if you want to help you just talk to Carol
Wetzel who is president of that group.
Well, these folks are around a lot these days and I feel
real at home with them. I know Col. Ben and Lucy would be pleased. They
were married almost twenty years before they built this house. They were
so happy and had parties and lots of fun with their friends and the kids
loved this place. Poor Col. Ben died after living in this house for just
two years. There were a lot of tears shed by Miss Lucy and the children
when he passed. The story that comes down through the Stephenson House
mouse stories is that Lucy and the younger kids stayed in the house for
a few years after Col. Ben's death. The daughter Elvira got married to
Bill Starr and went to Carlinville, young Ben went to Galena to be a minister
and Lucy finally went to Carlinville to be with her family.
When I look back over the last couple years I know Col.
Ben and Lucy would be really proud about what is occurring at their house.
Ole' Henry here has been thinking and there are a lot of Stephenson House
mouse family records about Col. Ben and his family that I am remembering.
I will be back to keep you up to date on the progress o the house restoration
AND I will give you lots of information on the Stephenson family.
See ya' later,