INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - May 24, 2006
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again! This
month of May has really been busy for the education and garden committees!
Ol' Henry overhead Joe say there were over 500 school kids here to tour
the house, play games, help in the kitchen, try out the bed and dress
in clothes like the Stephenson children wore. Ol' Henry could tell they
were having a good time. Henry sure loves to hear kids laugh!
The gardens just keep getting better and better as more old-fashioned
plants appear. Henry has fun running through the hydrangeas, peonies,
the herb beds and the hollyhocks behind the privy. There are hosta plants
in the relaxation garden and some neat purple flowers that are looking
real pretty! The vegetable garden has teepee structures! Well, they are
actually cages for the tomatoes and pole beans to climb on. Jim and Nancy
planted okra the other day and Henry sure hopes they remember to plant
sunflowers. I sure do love those seeds! There is a lot of work to be done
in the gardens and the eight volunteer Master Gardeners from the University
of Illinois Extension are a tremendous help in the gardens. Thank you,
thank you! Oh, Jim said there will be grapes, apples and pears ready to
eat this year! How about that!
Hey, do you remember my Cousin Elzey from Columbia, Missouri, who stopped
by here a couple years ago? Well, he came by again the other day and brought
a number of my cousins from Columbia with him. And, he brought my friend
Emma with him. Ol' Henry got all puffed up with pride while showing them
around "my" house and grounds. Cousin Elzey was absolutely astounded
to see that the house, the gardens and the kitchen, with its wooden gutters,
have been completed since he was here. Now, this was Henry's chance to
brag about The Friends group and the volunteers, our construction guys,
Keith and Jack, the Paint Crew and the support of The Friend's project
by the community of Edwardsville. Henry told Cousin Elzey that the first
money for the restoration came from the State through the efforts of Senator
Evelyn Bowles. The Friends group was soon formed with Carol as the leader
and it was at that time the community came forward. The folks of Edwardsville
knew Col. Ben's house could be a jewel for their city and they came through
with incredible support! Edwardsville and its people are the greatest!
When Cousin Elzey, Emma and Ol' Henry began talking about education, Elzey
spied Col. Ben's books in the parlor. Some of them were published in 1805
and have been donated to the Stephenson House. Col. Ben's collection included
the Life of George Washington and The History of Modern Europe, each a
five volume set. Col Ben originally donated The History of Modern Europe
to the first Edwardsville Library. Now Col. Ben's copy is in the Madison
County Museum. Elzey, the educated, avid reader, pointed out that these
books are long academic books or legal treatments of serious topics. They
were just the kind of books a serious, self made person might choose to
improve his education and enable him to converse with other politicians
and serious businessmen.
Ol' Henry told Elzey that Palemon Winchester had donated books to Edwardsville's
first library also. Do you think Cousin Elzey was familiar with Seasons,
a book of four poems by an English poet and The Adventures of Telemachus:
Son of Ulysses by a French author? Elzey knew about them right away and
said they were "sensitive" and "frivolous" books that
a "gentleman" with an education in the classics might read.
You know, Ol' Henry gave lots of thought to the difference in the books
as compared to the difference in Col. Ben and Palemon. The picture that
appeared was Col. Ben and Lucy both working hard to get ahead socially,
politically and financially. Next, Ol' Henry envisioned Palemon reading
poetry to Julia Stephenson when they were courting. Books tell a lot,
even about the reader.
Cousin Elzey's stories reminded Henry of the Stephenson family's belief
in education and the school that Madame Jerome had in Edwardsville in
the 1820's. You can be sure that Elvira attended this school. Among the
children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Col. Ben and Lucy were
surveyors, politicians, several lawyers, a U.S. Ambassador, and a great
granddaughter who did graduate work at the University of Missouri before
the year 1900. She later taught at Stephens College in Columbia before
Ol' Henry was proud to tell Cousin Elzey about education in the Boyd/Stephenson
families in Knoxville. Henry remembered that Col. Ben's two sisters, Isabella
and Maria, married the Boyd brothers, John and Samuel. In these families
education was just a matter of fact. The families had sufficient money,
time and resolve to provide for a good education for their children. As
a result the Boyd families developed lawyers, politicians, doctors and
a journalist, all in the Knoxville area. The first female newspaperwoman
in Knoxville was a Boyd. Miss Pattie, as she was called, was the society
editor of the Knoxville Journal before 1900, and continued for 50 years
in that position. She was one plucky, educated lady!
Cousin Elzey and Ol' Henry agreed it sure is nice to be part of a family
who treasured education! We had a good visit over the next few days, telling
old stories and reminiscing. Then Elzey decided to go to Carlinville to
see if he could find any of our cousins who were there with Miss Lucy
and the Winchesters. So, Cousin Elzey, Emma and the cousins left. We had
a lot of fun and Ol' Henry does miss them.
RoxAnn and Erin organized a really neat Mother Daughter Weekend for those
who toured the house. Vickie and Dixie demonstrated soap making, a skill
that was a vague memory for those was watched. They made plain old lye
soap and also had wonderful scented soaps too. Among the little insights
to the ladies life in 1820, was a Wrinkle Cream using green pineapples.
The directions read that the juice from green pineapples eliminates wrinkles
and achieves an air of youth for the complexion. In the event that pineapples
are unavailable, onion juice will do just as well. Wonder if it works?
It is time for Ol' Henry to stretch his legs and a run to the Dairy Queen
should be just about right! Maybe, just maybe, someone has dropped some
See ya' later,