INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - May 8, 2002
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House Mouse is back. It has been
a very busy week at "my" house. Joe and Greg from the market
Basket have been making all kinds of noise spreading gravel on the Clark
Station Lot. Joe is always ready to help and now he has his son Greg following
in his footsteps. You guys are great, but we all know that Linda is the
power behind you two! The paint removal guys are all over the place doing
their thing and then on Saturday HPC and the Friends showed up to clean
up the yard and wash windows. George even mopped the floors! This place
is sparkling! I listened and then I remembered that the Members Only Tour
and Reception was the next day! You know, this is a lot of activity for
a more-than-middle-aged mouse!
Hey, I told you I wouldn't miss the tour and I didn't!
I was there looking for you. It was really something! Mary, Donna and
Wilma Jene had the table just like Lucy would have done it. There was
a white table cloth, a vase of dogwood flowers, lovely silver and crystal
and, of course, candles. Joe was dressed just how I have heard Ben dressed.
Joe knows so much about the restoration and he shared his knowledge with
everybody. In the next room was Drusilla, Lucy's half sister. I finally
got a peek under the hat and saw that Drusilla was really Karen. Looked
to me that everyone was happy and having a good time. I heard the Friends
say how glad they were that you all came to visit.
Last time we got together I told you a lot about Lucy.
Then I started thinking about Col. Ben and 'reckoned he should get equal
time. Henry here is just wishin' one of our mouse cousins in Martinsburg
would show up with stories about Ben as a young man. Well, in the meantime,
we have stories that great-great-great-grandfather Samuel told us about
Col. Ben around the time he married Lucy. Samuel was with Col. Ben for
many, many a year.
You know, it was great-great-great grandfather Samuel
who knew Ben's friend, James Stewart. Ole' Samuel said that when Ben was
out of town he would have Stewart pick up his letters at the post office.
Elizabeth of HPC said the other day that she read that in 1800 there was
a letter for Ben at the Lexington post office in care of James Stewart.
Karen said she has seen deeds and land records of Ben's that include the
name James Stewart. Sounds to me that HPC knows Stewart was Ben's good
friend and they are trying to find out who he was.
Ole' great-great-great grandfather Samuel was a feisty
guy, you know. He knew more little things about Ben and I have always
wondered - how did he know? He knew that Ben owned property in Woodford
County, Kentucky in 1800. And Ole' Samuel also said that when Ben was
a young man he went to Cuba for his health. Now, I have not heard another
word about that. Sure would like to know more!
Here's one story that great-great-great-grandfather really
got a kick out of telling. A woman named Belle Boyd was a spy for the
Confederacy in the Civil War. She was a famous spy and at the age of 21
years Belle had been arrested 6 or 7 times and had been in jail 2 times.
Some record! The New York papers called her "That Secesh Cleopatra".
Well, get this, she was Col. Ben's great niece! Belle was the granddaughter
of Ben's sister, Isabelle Stephenson Boyd. Samuel really chuckled when
he talked about what the quiet Col. Ben would have thought about his great
niece, Belle Boyd, the Confederate spy!!
Remember, we knew from Uncle Samuel that James, the Revolutionary
War soldier, and Mary Reed Stephenson had three sons: James, Benjamin
and William. Well, James Sr. died in 1804 and in his will appointed Mary,
his wife, executrix of his estate. By his will, James gave certain gifts
to his wife Mary and their children. Ben received his father's wagon and
gear and one hundred Dollars cash. The will then provided that the residue
of his estate be equally divided between his son Ben and daughters, Sarah,
Isabelle and Maria. In the will the father made it clear that sons James
and William had already received their fair share. Do you ever kinda wonder
where Ole' Henry would get this information? Have to confess, I was eavesdropping
when Karen was telling Joe how she had received a copy of the will from
the historical society in Ben's hometown of Martinsburg. I do try to keep
alert to what is going on so I can pass it along to you!
So far no mouse relatives have brought word of the brother
William. All we know is that William was alive in 1804 and included in
his father's will.
Through Samuel we know James, the oldest son of James
and Mary, was a politician in Virginia. He was elected from Virginia to
the United States Congress for the 8th, 11th, 17th and 18th sessions.
It was great-great grandfather Ezra who remembered Col. Ben sending Warren
Hooper's Edwardsville newspaper The Spectator to his brother James in
Virginia. This tells us how much the people in Virginia were interested
in Illinois events and the respect held for Warren Hooper and his paper.
Hooper printed an article in The Spectator about James being elected to
Congress in October 1822. James Stephenson, the son and politician, died
in Harpers Ferry, Virginia August 29, 1833, leaving his widow and five
Let's get back to Ben and Lucy. In 1906 they had purchased a lot in Middleway,
near Martinsburg, but a year later they were residing in Russellville,
Logan County, Kentucky. Ole' Samuel said Ben and Lucy fit right into the
social life of Russellville. Col. Ben was an original member of the Russellville
Lodge No. 17, Free and Accepted Masons. That Ole'Samuel attended the first
meeting of the Russellville lodge in January 1809. By golly, he went along
in Ben's saddle pack and then scampered into the meeting room with Ben!
That Ole' Samuel was a character! In that same year, 1809, Col. Ben and
his family and great-great-great-grandfather were headed for the Illinois
Right now I am headed for the gingerbread from the tour
that I know Mary left just for me!
See ya later,
P.S. Remember the 50/50 Auction May 18th at the Col. Benjamin
Stephenson House!!! Starts at 10:AM.