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
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
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,