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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 children.

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 Territory.

Right now I am headed for the gingerbread from the tour that I know Mary left just for me!


See ya later,
Henry

P.S. Remember the 50/50 Auction May 18th at the Col. Benjamin Stephenson House!!! Starts at 10:AM.



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