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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - August 9, 2006


Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again! This hot weather has convinced Ol' Henry to move to a new, cooler hidey place. My new "digs" are dark and cool but located a little too far away from RoxAnn and the docents. But, it is a temporary location until the weather cools down.


The folks around "my" house are singing lullabies and knitting pink booties for Calla Shea, Erin's baby girl. She was born on July 26 and her mommy says she is beautiful. Ol' Henry can't wait to get a first peek at her. Everyone is anxious to meet Calla!


There is sure some big excitement at the Stephenson House. We have just received an original letter written by Lucy Stephenson in 1831! On June 15, 1831, Lucy wrote to her friend Patty Canal, who lived and worked at the home of Mrs. E. Tiffin in St. Louis. With her own quill and paper, Lucy wrote the letter here in this very house. Just picture that for a minute!
Do you remember sometime ago when Henry told you about Patronella "Patty" Canal? Well Patty, who was born in the Canary Islands, wrote her memories in 1876, and Henry would like you to know what she said! Here is Patty's story. Patty was born in 1809, and she wrote that her mother was of "pure Spanish blood" and her father, Pete Canal, was of "pure French blood". He died of Yellow fever in the Canary Islands in 1811. Patty's mother then married Emanuel West and they came to the U.S. on the ship "The Elizabeth". Then in 1818, they came by wagon to the property West had purchased in Edwardsville.
In 1823 Patty, at the age of 14, was sent to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts in Florissant, Missouri. Her mother wished her "to remain with them always" but Patty wrote that she "would not be a nun". She was sent home at the age of 17. So, her brother then took her to St. Mary's Seminary, Perry County, Missouri. Patty wrote that she joined the Sisters for a short time but was not happy there. The Superiors of the Monastery recognized her unhappiness and decided that Patty was not called to a Religious life and should not remain there. They asked the family to come take Patty home. In 1829, her sister Mary brought her home to St. Louis. Patty wrote in her memories: "I was left all alone at the age of 20 under the care of Mrs. Stephenson. I was a perfect stranger to the evils of the world. Stephenson turned my attention to going to school, teaching school and serving in rich families in St. Louis and Alton. I met with many troubles, but I would not give up to sorrow." Patty became a teacher in Carlinville, during the time Lucy was living there. Later she married Edward Jones and lived in Bethalto where she died and is buried. Lucy Stephenson guided her in her decisions and a long lasting friendship developed.


Dotty, from Austin, Texas, the great-great-great granddaughter of Patronella "Patty" Canal-Jones has graciously loaned Lucy's letter to the Stephenson House. Lucy's letter was just one of many papers that Patty had saved and Dotty, the family historian, now has received all of Patty's papers. Ol' Henry thinks Dotty is a genealogist and family historian who believes items of historical significance should be placed in the hands of those who are most closely associated with the item. And, believe Henry, the Stephenson House and The Friends are overwhelmingly thankful to Dotty!
It was surely another "meant to be" when Dotty sent a typed copy of Lucy's letter to the Madison County Genealogy Society that printed it in their publication. You can just imagine how quickly Karen made contact with Dotty! Lucy's informal letter to her friend was an incredible find because it revealed so much about Lucy's life in 1831. Oh, Dotty, how everyone thanks you!
The fact that Patty was put in the care of Lucy Stephenson also tells that Emanuel West, Patty's stepfather, was in all probability an acquaintance of Col. Ben. West was a respected politician, filling several important offices including Representative to the State of Illinois, Justice of the Peace, Clerk of the Circuit Court and in 1829 was appointed Receiver of Public Monies at Edwardsville Land Office. In 1830, he resigned that position to fill the post of Charge d'Afffairs in Peru. He died enroute to Peru.
Why are the folks at the Stephenson House so thankful for Dotty's generosity? The loan of Lucy's letter has given us our only original piece or item that was actually the property of Col. Ben's or Lucy's! We can only repeat our many thanks from the bottom of our hearts. All of us hope that Dotty will come see us someday in the near future!


Children's Day was a complete success with about 40 children and parents stopping by to spend time with 1820's activities. They wrote with a quill pen, learned bookbinding, learned to do the militia drill, enjoyed printmaking, played lots of 1820's games and listened to African-American stories. They learned that life was different in the 1820's as RoxAnn and the volunteers kept the children entertained! Ol' Henry was right there and loved watching the boys and girls having fun.


Ol' Henry has kept a sharp eye on things at "my" house for a long time and ya' know, everything is absolutely fantastic. This old mouse watches as everyone continues to do a good job! Hey, with all this watching and listening this mouse now needs a rest! Ol' Henry plans to hangout with Cousin Jake and the guys in Lower Town and eventually head out to see the relatives and Emma in Columbia, Missouri. Just gonna' take a little vacation without any certain plans. Ol' Henry shall return. In the meantime, everyone keep up your good work at "my" house!
You know, Henry knows better not to stay away too long or the seeds that need to be stored for winter will be gone. Maybe there should be a guard cat at "my" house to keep another mouse from trying to move in!!! You all please watch for any mouse intruders!

See ya' later,
Henry


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