INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - January 3, 2007
Hi! Henry is back to bring you news of the Stephenson House and more information about people and life in Edwardsville in the 1820's. Right now I have an important message for all of you about the Winter Hours at the Col. Benjamin Stephenson House. The Stephenson House will be open only on Saturday and Sunday during the months of January and February. Saturday hours are from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and Sunday from noon until 4:00 pm with the last tour beginning at 3:00 pm each day. Henry also wants you to know that “my” house will be open by appointment on other days and to make an appointment just call 692-1818!
The Friends of the Benjamin Stephenson House Annual Dinner will be held January 18, 2007, at Sunset Hills Country Club. It all begins at 6 pm. I hear that Joe and Kathy will demonstrate the educational trunks the school kids learn from before they tour the Stephenson House. Place your reservation with a check for $35 made payable to the Stephenson House and mail it to The Benjamin Stephenson House, P.O. Box 754, Edwardsville. Henry will be looking for you!
There are still a lot of things going on. The ladies are busy sewing clothing for docents. And, right before Christmas we had a tour for school kids from Woodland School. The extra special part of that tour was that Show Me St. Louis was here at the same time filming “my” house for their show! Pretty neat!
Sometime ago Ol' Henry overheard the researchers talking about the Edwardsville men who volunteered to serve in the 1831-1832 Black Hawk War.
They knew that Benjamin V., Col. Ben's youngest son, was nineteen when he volunteered to serve for sixty days in the 1831, and they also knew that in the 1850's he had received Bounty Land in California for his service. But, the researchers wanted to know more about Benjamin V. and the Black Hawk War.
Sure enough, it wasn't long after that when Ol' Henry heard Joe, Sid and Karen talking about Benjamin V. and the Black Hawk War. It was then I was able to learn about Benjamin V., Capt. Erastus Wheeler's battalion and more about the Black Hawk War.
The main cause of the Indian troubles in 1831-1832, known as the Black Hawk War, was warrior Black Hawks uncompromising decision to remain in his ancient village on the Rock River in northern Illinois. His village was located on land the U.S. government had purchased through various treaties with the Sac and Fox Indian tribes. By 1828 the land had been surveyed and it, including Black Hawks ancient village, had been sold. Black Hawk was sure to react, and he did! He and his warriors were determined to keep their ancient village and made it clear they were prepared to fight the white men for the village.
Upon hearing about Black Hawk's threat of battle the governor of Illinois, John Reynolds, issued a call on May 26, 1831, for a militia of 700 men to rendezvous at Beardstown on the Illinois River. Benjamin V., Bill Starr, John Lusk and Joseph Gillespie were among the many men from Edwardsville who responded to the call. They were enrolled in Capt. Erastus Wheeler's Company of the Odd Battalion of Spies of Illinois Mounted Volunteers commanded by Major Samuel Whiteside. The men traveled on horseback for eight days to reach Black Hawk's village near Rock Island. Here they joined United States forces where they encamped and the next morning the forces marched to the village. However, during the night Black Hawk and his warriors had escaped and crossed the Mississippi.
The volunteer militia called out by Governor Reynolds and the United States forces commanded by General Gaines had traveled many days and miles in answer to Black Hawk's decision to fight for control of his ancient village on the land the U.S. owned in Rock Island. With all the saber rattling and threats of war, Black Hawk and his warriors had left the scene and there was no battle. It was estimated that he had 400 to 600 men and was out-numbered by the United States forces. This may well have been the reason Black Hawk escaped!
U.S. General Gaines sent word to Black Hawk and his warriors that they must come back to Rock Island and make a treaty of peace or Gaines and his troops would come to battle them. Black Hawk and twenty -eight of his men came back to Rock Island and a peace treaty was signed on June 30, 1831, in the presence of General Gaines and Governor Reynolds. Hey, Ol' Henry wants to remind you that Governor John Reynolds was one of five Illinois governors who lived in Edwardsville.
But, when did the war take place, Ol' Henry wondered? I could only keep my ears open to hear about and understand more about this Black Hawk War! There was a war declared by Black Hawk and his warriors in June 1831 that ended with no battle and a peace treaty. Then, in 1832, there was a big flare up between the white man and Black Hawk. Black Hawk had been upset all winter about the white men taking his village and had convinced the Sac and Fox tribes to join him and his warriors in a war against the white men. The battle that did not happen in 1831 and the 1832 hostilities were the two campaigns of the Black Hawk War that ended in September 1832 with a major peace treaty. Henry did learn that the real fighting was in the second campaign in spring of 1832!
When the troubles began again in 1832, the original members of Capt. Wheeler's Company of mounted volunteers reassembled and traveled to the Ottawa area where they were to remain and guard the frontier until the United States troops arrived.
Ol' Henry learned that there were some very bloody battles during the second campaign. Joseph Gillespie, a member of Capt. Wheeler's company wrote about an encounter at Kellogg's grove near Galena, Illinois, during the second campaign. Benjamin V. Stephenson was a Sergeant in Capt. Wheeler's company that was involved in this rather bloody encounter. Ol' Henry will tell you all about it next time!
Henry wishes you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!
See ya' later,