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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 8, 2006

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Well, Ol' Henry must have been catching a nap when Carol talked about the plans for the Dedication and Celebration, not realizing it was a big event! There was a big tent full of people. There were many smaller tents, craftspeople of all kinds and lots of onlookers! A big day for the Stephenson House!


Ol' Henry did take notice of the Tuesday Morning Crew and the Gardeners doing lots of little extra touches this week. So, knowing something was going to happen, this old mouse decided to tidy up too. There were cubbyholes of seeds left from the winter and some extra bed fluff that needed to be cleaned up. My nest was the biggest and so it was my last project. Ol' Henry meandered up to the nest, planning on a short nap and to tidy up. But, my nest was gone! Yes, my nest was gone, completely gone! Do you realize the shock I felt? My nest was gone! It may have been untidy, but it was my nest! Ol' Henry needed to get outside and walk or run or do something to calm down. I just kinda' limped to the porch and found the Tuesday guys hanging out, so I had to stay inside and out of sight. Golly, I was feeling pretty sad by now.
Out of habit, Ol' Henry started listening to the guys talking and laughing like they always do. Then the word "nest" came up and something about Chuck finding a mouse nest. Oh, oh! Sure enough, Chuck had found my nest and threw it away! Ol' Henry was devastated! By golly, my old buddy Keith wouldn't have thrown my nest away, no way! Now Henry really had to work on really calming down after learning this!
Ol' Henry thought a long time and finally realized that Chuck really did me a favor by getting rid of my old nest ' cause it was in bad shape and I did need to build a new one. Keith probably would have agreed with Chuck. So, this mouse has been very busy finding dry grasses, twigs and all the other good stuff needed for a nest worthy of the Stephenson House mouse. My new nest is now finished, thank goodness, 'cause Ol' Henry needs a place to retreat to during the Dedication and Celebration.


What a weekend it turned out to be! The Dedication and Celebration was truly a celebration just like Col. Ben would have enjoyed in the 1820's. The crafts people of the 1820's were here demonstrating their skills. The wheat weaver was making fantastic hats while a cooper made barrels and a militiaman created bullets in molds over a hot fire. The Windsor chair maker, the rope maker and the herb lady were all working and enjoying the company of each other and visiting with the guests.
There was period music throughout the weekend and the Alton Fife and Drum Corp entertained folks in the porch area with a great performance. Ol' Henry enjoyed the weekend with cooking going on in the kitchen, seeing folks touring "my" house and seeing the kids jumping rope with rope they had made themselves with direction from the rope maker.


In recognition of Col. Ben's pride and enjoyment of the day when our nations independence is celebrated, the 4th of July, Carol and committee selected the 4th as the weekend for our Dedication and Celebration of the restoration of Col. Ben's home. You will remember that Col. Ben presided over the 4th of July activities in 1819, and it was a very long day!
Ol' Henry thinks the celebration Carol and her committee put together was probably very much like what occurred at Ben's 4th of July celebration, except for the length of the program. In Col. Ben's day there were speeches, as many as 40 or more. They were followed by cheers and then a toast, and more cheers and more toasts! The day ended with much gaiety, plenty to drink and finally dinner.


Ol' Henry listened carefully to the speakers and enjoyed each one. Henry remembers Carol introducing Ben Dickmann, who gave the invocation, and Paul Herbert, a high school student, who sang "America". Senator Bowles, Karen, Joe Weber, Director RoxAnn, Mayor Niebur, United States Congressman John Shimkus and Senator Bill Haine all made wonderful brief remarks. Ol' Henry sure was glad the speakers and the crowd did not do over 40 speeches, cheers and toasts like in the 1820's!
As you will remember, Senator Bowles was instrumental in getting the restoration started when she secured the initial grant money from the State of Illinois. In the years following, many people contributed so much in time and money to enable the completion of the restoration of Col. Ben's home. Each and every one of these people should be so proud of whatever she or he did in this great effort.


Joe emphasized the restoration was blessed with a structure that had a strong foundation on which to work. The substantial structure was the result of the hard work and quality skills of the Stephenson indentured servants. The work of Winn, Tobe, Hannah, Hark, Barksley, Caroline, Louise, Deborah, Washing Will and Jesse produced a home that has stood for almost 200 years, a home that we can all be so very proud of.
It was goose-bump time for Ol' Henry when the Fife and Drum Corp paraded to the flagpole and raised the official flag of 1820. Paul then led the crowd in the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner". What a beautiful closing of the weekend event.


Well, it was a long, hot busy weekend for this old mouse but I really had fun. I forgot to mention that Cousin Elzey and the cousins and my friend Emma came from Columbia, Mo for the Dedication. They stayed in Lower Town with Cousin Jake and surprised Ol' Henry when they arrived at "my" house on Saturday morning. It was a great weekend all the way around. I think the cousins and Emma are going to visit here for a while so we will be having lots of fun! Oh, Cousin Elzey counted and there are 23 stars on the blue field in the 1820's flag, one for each state in the Union at that time!


See ya' later,
Henry




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