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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 18, 2002

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. We had another gathering on the front lawn the other day. Did you happen to see Township Supervisor Mike Campbell as you drove by? He was here to present a check for $30,000 to the Friends of the Benjamin Stephenson House and Carol and Donna, the treasurer, were right there to accept the check. Mike said the Township is 'investing' in the Stephenson House and that is the right idea. Investing in the Stephenson House is investing in the future of Edwardsville and all its people. Here they will learn about the early settlers and early history of Edwardsville and early Illinois. It will be a fun learning experience here at "my" house and will be for all the schools as well as activities for both the young and the older folks. Many teachers and other interested folks are already working on plans for the activities and how it will all be accomplished, so, the Friends are on their way to get the House up and running.

The tuckpointing has not yet begun to happen. Jack and Laura, the architects, E.J., Keith, Joe and Carol are trying to find the color and a mortar mix that will be acceptable to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. I heard Joe say they thought a decision would be made soon. You can see samples of the mortar on the south side of the 1845 section of the house. Drop by and take a look.

The guys came by to cut grass the other day. That is when I stay inside for sure! The City does keep "my" yard looking good. Thanks guys!

Hey, today I am going to tell you about Elvira Amanda Stephenson. She was born in 1812 and was married in 1827 in Edwardsville. Her marriage was performed by Thomas Lippincott who was a justice of the peace and a Presbyterian minister. Now, this gets me to thinking about the Stephensons and where they worshipped. We know that Lucy was Secretary of the Female Sunday School Society which did not seem to be associated with any church. Henry has already told you that Lucy was an original member of a Presbyterian church in Carlinville. History shows that many families of Scotch-Irish descent, like the Stephenson's, were Presbyterians. Now, long ago Miss Ella Tunnell wrote about the Presbyterians in early Edwardsville. The Presbyterian church in Edwardsville was just beginning around 1820 and met at the Ebenezer settlement which was 1 ½ miles south of Edwardsville. The Ebenezer settlement began at the top of Tanyard Hill and extended probably beyond the Center Grove neighborhood. It was one of the best known camp grounds from 1817 to when it burned in 1840. There was a log church and school house at the corner of Valley View Cemetery where the Coles Monument is located today. The school offered Latin, Greek and mathematics. The burying ground was about a mile from the church and bodies were carried from the church to the cemetery by ox cart through the spring mud, the summer dust and the winter ice and snow.

Ebenezer was not the first church built near Edwardsville. The Bethel Methodist Church was built in 1805 in Goshen and Ebenezer was built in 1817. Methodists went to both churches and the Presbyterians and Cumberland Presbyterians attended the log church at Ebenezer. Washington Ballard was a prominent minister at Bethel and the Presbyterians waited the arrival of traveling preachers. By 1827 Thomas Lippincott was a Presbyterian minister and probably served the Ebenezer worshippers. Thomas Lippincott, a quiet and serious man, was a justice of the peace, Presbyterian minister and for several years publisher of the Spectator which he purchased from Hooper Warren. Well, lets get back to Elvira Amanda Stephenson and her marriage. The question is often asked as to where the Stephenson's worshipped and it seems to Henry that the Presbyterian Church must have been their choice because we know that Elvira was married by a justice of the peace who was a Presbyterian minister and her mother was active in the Presbyterian Church in Carlinville.


Elvira Amanda Stephenson was born in 1812 in Kaskaskia and came with her parents to Edwardsville when she was 4 or 5 years old. She was fifteen years old when the Kaskaskia newspaper announced her marriage to William E. Starr of St. Louis on April 26 1827. They were married in Edwardsville by Thomas Lippincott a justice of the peace who was also a Presbyterian minister. Ole' Henry did not know much more about Elvira and then the other day Cousin Seth from Carlinville stopped by for a visit. I asked lots of questions and got some answers from him about Elvira and William E. Starr and their family.

Cousin Seth and I figured out that William E. Starr had owned the first store in Carlinville with his brother-in-law Palemon Winchester. A guy by the name of Barrett ran the store which sold dry goods, groceries and whiskey. But, neither one of us could figure out what Starr really did for a living. We know that he bought Col. Ben's house in 1828 for $680.00; but, the only job we ever heard he had was around 1840 when he was Madison County Circuit Clerk.

Starr and Winchester still lived in Edwardsville when they owned the store in Carlinville. Cousin Seth and ole' Henry both overheard Karen talking about the two families and the census of 1830. Seems the census shows Palemon Winchester living in Edwardsville with a lot of people in his household where the ages of the folks match up with Palemon and Julia Stephenson Winchester and children and William and Elvira Stephenson Starr and children and Lucy Stephenson and son Benjamin V. It appears that Starr owned the house but the census was in Winchester's name and with Lucy and the two families living there.

Hey, the story about the Starr's gets even foggier. Cousin Seth said he knows that Elvira and William Starr were in Edwardsville in 1840 when he was Circuit Clerk and had four children - three boys and a girl. The next and last record of Elvira is ten years later when she lived with her mother, Lucy, in Carlinville. Cousin Seth says that is the last he has ever heard about Elvira. He did say that there was a James S. Starr in Carlinville in 1860 and he was the right age to be Elvira's child. But, like Seth says - nobody seems to know for sure. Henry here hopes that Amanda and Karen will pick up where Cousin Seth left off and start digging for more facts on Elvira Amanda Stephenson Starr!!

Enough of the Stephenson family stuff! Ole' Henry is on his way across the street to find some of those sunflower seeds they eat during the ballgames at the Leclaire ball diamond. Wow, are they good!

See ya' later
Henry



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