INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 11, 2006
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Yep, Ol' Henry has returned from vacation just in time to gather seeds from the House garden along with other goodies to store away for my winter munching! Ol' Henry also made sure he was back in time for the 50/50 Auction on Oct. 14. That auction is just too much fun to miss! It sure is good to be back at “my” house, the Stephenson House. I love it here!
The beginning of my vacation was spent with Cousin Jake and the guys in Lower Town. Ol' Henry stayed with them a long time and heard a lot of stories about the early Edwardsville folks. Then, one day I overheard a trucker at the car wash say he was heading for Columbia, Missouri. Hey, Ol' Henry grabbed his bag and scapered into this guy ‘s truck and rode with him all the way to Columbia. That my friends, is how I made my way to my relative and Emma in Columbia!
Ol' Henry had fun trading stories, exploring and reminiscing with all my Stephenson mouse cousins; and, believe me, there are a lot of them iin Columbia! I did pick up a little more information about the descendants of Col. Ben and Lucy who lived in Columbia, Missouri, but I mainly just laid back and had a good time!
During the last few weeks, the Stephenson House had exhibits that explained the mourning customs that were followed at the time of Col. Ben's death, on October 10, 1822. RoxAnn, Elizabeth B. and the Friends have shroud themselves in black as they display the look at how people dealt with death in the 1820's. Guess Henry needs to get a black armband, maybe four! The mourning customs exhibit will last until the end of this week. You all should stop by “my” house and learn the answers to age-old questions folks ask about death and funerals long ago. This is a very impressive exhibit!
Col. Ben's death and mourning was talked about when all the Stephenson House cousins were together in Columbia. Ol' Henry told about the sadness everyone felt at the death fo Col. Ben and I did my best to explain how deaths and funerals were handled on the Illinois frontier in 1822. Well, leave it to Cousin Elzey to know more than Ol' Henry! Elzey told us about a poem that appeared in the Spectator when Col. Ben passed. Then Elzey recited the poem! Ol' Henry is proud to share this poem with you as it appeared in the “Spectator”.
FOR THE SPECTATOR
“ ON THE DEATH OF COL. STEPHENSON”
The prairies spread with palls of brown,
Theirs summer's verdant gladness;
And autumn's leaves are fluttering down,
With rustling note of sadness.
How fled from heaven the cheerful blue
That decks a sky unclouded!
The air puts on a dusky hue;
The earth in gloom is shrouded!
Yes, nature seems to mourn with all
Who lingers, broken-hearted;
To let the tear of anguish fall,
On dust of friends departed.
But where is he- the just-the good –
Befriending and befriended;
Who firmly for his country stood,
And to her hail ascended.
I saw him in the summer's ray,
With manly frame unbending;
But ah! Behold, you corse of clay,
A funeral train attending.
I see their sable garbs of woe-
I hear their notes of sorrow;
Which bid the day in darkness flow,
And we can hope the morrow.
Oh! When he breathed his last farewell,
How wild his orphan's shrieking!
How did her grief, more stifled, tell
Her widow'd-heart was breaking!
Insane is woe! By fits, despair
Against the blow is raving;
Of resignation, bending there,
For aid divine is craving.
And may that aid, Almighty God!
He shed-on these, benighted;
And light them from this earthly sod
To where no joys are blighted.
This sad, beautifully written poem brings tears to Ol' Henry's eyes. The poet is unknown but our thanks to him whoever he is. Until this poem was found, Henry was aware of only one written description of Col. Ben and it described him as “as quiet, unassuming man”. Now, by the words of the unknown poet, we learn that Col. Ben's peers perceived him as “-the just-the good-“. We also see the poet's tribute to Lucy's strength “How did her grief, more stifled, tell Her widow'd-heart was breaking!” The poet speaks of the wild grief of the children at the loss of their loving father. A grieving poet's tribute to his friend and pee certainly give us insight to the family.
The researchers can be proud of their efforts! They have searched, read and studied all the materials that could be found about the Stephenson family and their description of Col. Ben and family is like that of the unknown poet who was Col. Ben's peer. The researchers, like the unknown poet, found Col. Ben, the just and good, friend of all men, who firmly served his country. And, there was Lucy, the loving and strong wife and the children of a loving father. Ol' Henry always throught the researchers were right and now the work a poet and peer of the Stephenson family was found that shows our researchers were right on track!
Hey guys, it is good to be back! I think this old mouse is going to head out towards Joe's and see what's going on around there!
See ya' later,