Monday, May 29, 2017 HOME | CONTACT US | SUPPORT US | VOLUNTEER
    Preservation Education Colonel Stephenson  



Inside the
Stephenson House
Henry's Maze
Henry Coloring Page 1
Henry Coloring Page 2

<<< Previous       Next >>>

INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - June 7, 2006

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. The hot weather sure hasn't slowed the gardeners down! While Ol' Henry was hanging around at the garden I heard that broomcorn was being planted. Well, what in the world is that, Henry wondered? Finally, I heard Jim explain it to Dr. Bob. Broomcorn grows up in stalks with a broom-like end on each stalk. Several stalks are lashed together and guess what? You have a broom! Ol' Henry will watch this stuff grow for sure!


Hey, on another matter, the researchers have found some more news about Palemon H. Winchester! You all remember him! He married Julia Stephenson and also was involved in a murder trial in 1825. Rose Marie and Karen learned about Palemon and his family through e-mails with Mechelle from Tennessee. Henry doesn't know about this thing called e-mail, I am just a mouse ya' know, but whatever it is, Mechelle and Karen used it to get information to each other.
Through Mechelle, a Winchester descendant who lives in the Winchester area near Gallatin, TN, a lot was learned that gives insight to Palemon's life. Palemon was the son of Stephen Winchester who was the brother of James Winchester. James had a tremendous amount of money and when Palemon was 14, his family moved very near his Uncle James and he spent his teenage years enjoying what James Winchester could provide and apparently Palemon's father could not. Palemon desired this grand lifestyle too and at 24 years of age, he came to Edwardsville to practice law and seek his fortune. Palemon met with a lot of disappointments in Edwardsville, however. Soon after he came here, he sought financial support from his Uncle James for a business venture in Edwardsville but James rejected him. Then Palemon failed in his attempt to get the appointment as Receiver of Moneys at the Land Office after the death of Col. Stephenson. Then there was the matter of his murder trial in 1825. Things were not going well for Palemon to say the least!
Here is some of what was learned about Palemon and his family. Palemon was the second child and first son born to Stephen and Sarah Howard Winchester on February 11, 1794, in Baltimore County, Maryland. Now Ol' Henry knows that Palemon's middle initial "H" is for Howard!
The Winchester family had its American beginnings in Frederick County, Maryland. Palemon's grandfather, William, bought land there in 1754, after his assigned five years as an indentured servant from England were completed. William was an intelligent man with a fine education and soon became a wealthy farmer. In 1760 he built his home, which still stands, founded the town of Westminster in what is today's Carroll County, Maryland and took an active part in affairs leading to the Revolution. William and his wife Lydia had ten children, including James and Stephen. It is these two Winchester brothers that Mechelle, the email friend, knew about.


Stephen Winchester, son of William and Lydia Winchester, and Palemon's father, was born in Frederick County, Maryland in 1761. He married Sarah Howard and they had 13 children. The occupation of Stephen is not clear but he was apparently involved in land buying and trading.
James Winchester, Tennessee Pioneer by Walter T. Durham provides a look at the lifestyle of James, the elder brother and, at the same time, gives a glimpse of Palemon H. Winchester's life before he came to Edwardsville.
James Winchester was an explorer, surveyor, businessman and politician who brought cultural refinement to the Tennessee frontier. He fought Indians in Tennessee, was a brigadier general in the War of 1812 when he was captured at the Battle of the Raisin. Hey, did Henry ever tell you that Edwardsville's Dr. John Todd also fought in the Battle of the Raisin? Who knows, Todd and Winchester may have known each other!
Now, let Ol' Henry tell you about Brigadier General James Winchester's business ventures! The long list includes, among other ventures, a millstone quarry, a cotton gin, a large distillery, a flourmill, a tannery, a cotton factory, a mercantile business and a shoe shop. He owned flatboats, keelboats and a steamboat. And, he was a founder of Memphis!
James Winchester felt that living in the remote frontier was not an excuse for failing to appreciate literature and the arts. As early as the 1790's he bought books for resale so his neighbors and his family could have books. His children were tutored and the boys and the girls were sent to Gallatin, Nashville and New Orleans when it came time for further education.


In 1802, after four years of construction, General James Winchester's stone mansion, Cragfont, was completed. It was the finest mansion on the Tennessee frontier and seldom a day passed without visitors enjoying the generosity and hospitality of Winchester. They often stayed for days or several weeks.
What an incredible lifestyle Palemon encountered at the age of 14 when his family moved to Sumner County, Tennessee and lived near Cragfont! Palemon surely spent a lot of time with his ten cousins at Uncle James's beautiful plantation with its lake, formal gardens, stream of visitors, tutors and the many books to read. It is probably where Palemon received his education in literature and the arts.
Cragfont and all it offered was a new experience for Palemon. Life was also different for the family of Stephen Winchester because Palemon's father seemed to be always in financial trouble. Brother James took over some of his debts in 1811 and again, three years later, shortly before Stephen's death. Stephen died at age 46, leaving a wife and 13 children and debts. Palemon was 21 at the time of his father's death.
James Winchester took an interest in his deceased brother's children, providing for their education and arranged for at least one boy to go to Baltimore for his schooling. Palemon, however, found the interest of his uncle more restrictive than useful. In 1819, shortly after Palemon began to practice law in Edwardsville, he asked his uncle for support in a business venture here, probably the Todd and Other's Addition. James rejected his appeal. Palemon, obviously sour over his uncle's refusal, wrote to him saying, " I am sorry that you are so very cautious and jealous of me."
In 1825, Uncle James did come to Palemon's rescue at the time of his trial for the murder of Daniel Smith. Felix Grundy, the famous Tennessee lawyer who defended Palemon, was a friend of General James Winchester. It is very likely that Uncle James retained the services of his friend Grundy for Palemon's defense. Palemon was found not guilty.
Sometimes life takes unfortunate turns. Palemon's Day Book includes a daily record of expenses that included a lot of money spent on alcohol early in his life in Edwardsville. Soon after his trial and acquittal for the murder of Smith in 1825, Palemon moved to Carlinville with his wife, Julia Stephenson and their children. He died in 1860 and his obituary indicates that Palemon was capable of so much in life and, knowing of his early drinking habits, it implies that drink was his downfall. Palemon and Julia's children were outstanding citizens who produced today's fine Winchester/Stephenson descendants.


The Taste of Downtown is June 17th! This is always a lovely evening that Ol' Henry and others enjoy. Be sure to get your tickets ahead of time and spend the evening at the Madison County Transit Center.


See ya' later,
Henry



<<< Previous       Next >>>

© 2007 The Friends of the Benjamin Stephenson House