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