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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - June 20, 2002

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. I have been playing in the big puddles in the streets and wishing "my" house had a lightening rod! The Take-A-Peek and Rt. 66 events went real good. Ole Henry likes to see people and he really enjoyed seeing new faces at the Take-A- Peek. It was a good time for all. Henry also overheard how much The Friends of the Stephenson House and HPC appreciate the words of support from the visitors at the Take-A-Peek. Even a mouse knows that you people are very special and can tell that your encouragement gives these groups renewed energy. Ya' know, the fact that you are there is support and encouragement! Thanks!! Things have kinda evened out around here with the work on the house. It has given me a time of rest!!!

Henry here knows it is time to start telling you about the Stephenson children. Remember, Col. Ben and Lucy had two girls, Julia and Elvira, and two boys, James W. and Benjamin V. Let's begin with the story of Julia and her family. Col. Ben and Lucy named their first child Elinor Julia when she was born November 24, 1803 in Harper's Ferry, Virginia. Later she was called Julia E. Stephenson. This information is on her tombstone, which was a lucky find. Believe me, we would never known these kinds of facts from great-great grandpappy Ezra! He just wasn't into things like dates of birth. Julia spent her first years in Virginia, Kentucky and Kaskaskia and when she was twelve the family came to Edwardsville. That was in 1817. In July 1820 Julia married Palemon Winchester here in Edwardsville. Kathryn is positive they had a beautiful grand wedding in the house on North Main Street! Palemon was a lawyer, born in Baltimore in 1794, educated in Tennessee and came to Edwardsville about the same time as the Stephensons.

In the late 1820's Julia, Palemon and their children left Edwardsville for the new town of Carlinville. Palemon and William Starr, Julia's brother-in-law, opened one of the town's first stores. Palemon was the first lawyer in Carlinville and later became a probate judge. Julia was active in church work and her name is found, as is Lucy's, as an original member of the first Presbyterian Church in Carlinville.

Julia and Palemon Winchester had eight children. The first child, Miriam, was followed by Sarah, Elvira, Ellen, Benjamin S., Laura, James and Texanna who was the last child. Texanna was born in 1845, died at the age of three, and is buried in the Carlinville City Cemetery.

Before Ole Henry tells you about all those kids, let me tell you about Palemon's death. He died in April 1860, leaving his widow Julia and various grown children. Palemon had broke his leg when he fell from a door step in 1856 and thereafter was confined to his bed up to the time of his death at age 65. A tombstone for Palemon cannot be located but he is undoubtedly buried at Carlinville City Cemetery in the Stephenson-Winchester family plot. At the time of his death his wife Julia and daughter Laura were his only family living in Carlinville. They left town shortly after his death which may be the reason for the missing tombstone.

All right, now let me tell you what happened to these Winchester children. Miriam Shelby received her middle name in honor of Anthony Shelby who was Palemon's law instructor. She married Nicholas Boise, a merchant and local politician who was fifteen years her senior. She died childless in 1854 at the age of 31 and is buried in Carlinville City Cemetery. Sarah remains a mystery. The last record of her is in the 1850 Census of Carlinville when she was 23 years old. Elvira married Milton Matthews in Macoupin County in May 1850 and she just seems to have disappeared. Ellen, the fourth child, married William W. Freeman in Carlinville. She died in 1865 at the age of 35 and is also buried in the Carlinville City Cemetery. Ellen and William Freeman had four children, Marion, Virginia, William H. and a son Edward who died at the age of one year. Benjamin S.Winchester married Brookey Ann Yowell October 15, 1857 in Carlinville. This couple also seems to have disappeared since there are no records to be found. Laura is on the 1850 Carlinville census and is living with her grandmother Lucy and the next census shows her with her mother Julia in 1860. These are the only two times Laura is found in records. It appears that another Winchester disappeared. James, the youngest son, is on the 1850 Carlinville Census at the age of eight. Guess what - it appears he disappeared too. Henry thinks this is getting pretty serious, with so many of the Winchester disappearing. Amanda and Karen have spent a lot of time searching the records and they would have come up with something if the information was available.

Here is the fun part! Do you all remember how excited Henry here was when my unknown Cousin Elzey from Missouri appeared at my door? Hey, he had brought information with him about Julia and her children Elvira, Benjamin S., and James! They had disappeared all right, but he knew they had gone to Columbia, Boone County, Missouri. Now, who would have ever thought to look there? Cousin Elzey's information led Amanda and Karen to search in Boone County, Missouri. What they found combined with what Cousin Elzey knew has helped to find some of the missing Winchester children!!

Elvira Winchester and her husband Milton S. Matthews evidently left Carlinville shortly after their marriage and before their first child Elvira Marion, was born in 1855 in Boone County, Mo. This child was followed by the births of Sarah V., Frances Susan, Laura A., Nicholas, Lucy S., and Milton S. From the records the girls found, Milton was a very successful carriage manufacturer and an avid temperance advocate. They found cemetery records showing Milton was buried in 1875 at the age of 60 and his wife, Elvira, was buried in June of 1877 at the age of 49. Their daughter Sarah V. was buried in 1880 next to her parents in the Columbia Cemetery. Sarah was 23 at the time of death.

Benjamin S., a teamster, and his wife Brookey also moved to Boone County, Missouri, from Carlinville. They apparently had no children. Cousin Elzey thinks Benjamin S. worked with Milton in the carriage manufacturing business. Guess who lived in Boone County with Benjamin S. and Brookey in 1870? None other than his mother Julia Stephenson Winchester, Palemon's widow! Julia lived to be 77 years old, dying in 1880. Benjamin S. died in 1899 at the age of 67 and Brookey died in 1930 at the ripe old age of 90 years!! They are all buried in the Columbia Cemetery. Amanda and Karen also found James, the youngest child of Julia and Palemon, in the Columbia Cemetery records where he was buried in 1873 at the age of 31.

Once again, the Stephenson mouse family came to the rescue! Cousin Elzey sure helped clear up some of the "disappearing children "of the Winchesters. So, now we know that Julia and her children Benjamin S., Elvira and James left Carlinville for Columbia, Boone County, Missouri where they lived and are all buried in the Columbia Cemetery. The only children still missing are Laura and Sarah and someday somebody will find them!!! Maybe one of my mouse relatives will be the one!

Gee, I am exhausted and I bet you are too. This took a long time to explain, but eight children is a lot of talk about. Take care!

See ya' later,
Henry


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