INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 31, 2002
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. I
have been having some quiet times at "my" house lately. No workers
and no guests, just very quiet. The other day I was sitting in the shade
across the street just looking at "my" beautiful house and got
goose bumps realizing all the fantastic things that have occurred here
in the last year or so. Just incredible!!! Then I got a little teary eyed
thinking about life when Col Ben and the family lived here in 1820.
Ya' know, this place was far from town and quite self-sufficient.
Great-great-great grandfather Samuel used to talk about orchards, vegetable
and herb gardens, corn, potatoes and beef and hogs that Col. Ben raised
on his land. The hogs provided food, bristles, bones, hides and fat for
many very important household purposes. About the only food Ole' Samuel
said Lucy bought was sugar, vinegar and the spices they couldn't raise
like nutmeg, cloves and cream of tartar. He also said they shopped at
Bob Pogue's Store to buy indigo and yellow bark to dye fabric.
The year Col. Ben passed away he and Lucy bought butter,
corn, oats, potatoes, corn meal and flour. They paid $6.75 for twenty
bushels of apples from their old friends, John and Mary Robinson earlier
that year. Ole' Samuel said he guessed Col. Ben wasn't feeling too well
and they were forced to buy some food that they usually raised themselves.
Of course, you must remember Col. Ben and Lucy loved to
entertain. That means at times they bought very fine items from Bob Pogue's
Store. One time they bought fifteen mackerel, a turkey, peppermints, bottles
of wine and cordials. Henry thinks they were getting ready for a pretty
Pogue's Store carried a lot of fine items including pickled
salmon, codfish, smoked herrings, ginger, raisins, cinnamon, Holland Gin,
and Imperial tea. Thomas Lippincott had a store in Milton which advertised
'cashimere', india muslin, calicoes, velvets and prime tobacco and "segars".
You can see from the items carried in the stores that there were a lot
of people in the area who could afford fine things. Edwardsville attracted
rich and educated people and the store owners carried the goods these
people wanted. Life in 1820 in Edwardsville was good for many. The town
was a center of political and social activity and food and game were plentiful.
Remember last time I told you about William Starr, the husband of Col.
Ben's daughter, Elvira? Jacob, my mouse relative from town, just came
up with some more information on William E. Starr (I told you new stuff
would come up!) Henry here could not figure out what Starr did for a living.
Well, here is some new information. He was a justice of the peace for
Madison County from 1831 to 1836. He was also in the Illinois State Militia
in 1835 as a quartermaster and in 1837, he was aid de camp to the Brigadier
General of the 3rd division.
Well my friends, we are down to talking about Benjamin
V. Stephenson, the last child born to Col. Ben and Lucy. Benjamin V. was
born in 1812 in Kaskaskia and I bet the V. stands for Lucy's father, Van.
Did you catch his birth date? All the records show that Benjamin V. and
his sister Elvira were born in the same year. They may have been twins,
however, we will probably never know for sure.
Good ole Benjamin V. had the adventuresome Stephenson
spirit. He ended up living in California and I bet there wasn't a Stephenson
mouse that had the nerve to travel that far! Grandpappy Amos used to tell
about Lucy and the family after Col. Ben's passing. I should have listened
better, but I think he said Lucy and sons James and Benjamin V. and Elvira
lived with her. Son James soon went to Galena to be a surveyor. Ole' Amos
said he thought Julia and Palemon Winchester and Elvira and her new husband,
William Starr, and both their families lived with Lucy and Benjamin V.
Benjamin V. volunteered at Edwardsville for the Black
Hawk War in May 1831 for three months. He served one month as a private
in Captain Erastus Wheeler's company in the Spy Battalion of Illinois
Mounted Volunteers. They were commanded by Maj. Samuel Whiteside. He was
honorably discharged about the end of June because of a treaty with the
Indians. Now, did you really think ole Henry remembered all that? Nope,
Elizabeth found all that information!
After the war Grandpappy Amos said Benjamin V. headed
for Macoupin County where he was a surveyor. In those days many men who
were raised on lots of land learned to be surveyors. In 1834 and 1835
he surveyed the town of Woodburn and laid out the town of Scottville.
Benjamin F. Edwards, son of Ninian, was working with Benjamin V. at that
time. Benjamin V. was elected Macoupin County surveyor in 1837 and 1839.
Now this guy moved around a lot. In 1839 he also lived
in the Galena area, in 1840 he lived in Carlinville with his mother Lucy
and by 1842 he lived in Grant County, Territory of Wisconsin. Benjamin
V. had purchased land in Carlinville from his mother and the deeds show
where he lived when he bought the land.
My Edwardsville Cousin Jacob says he remembers Grandpappy
Amos saying that in 1847 to 1849 Benjamin V. was a surveyor in Galena
and lived in Howard's Boarding House. It appears he was not married at
Henry remembers for sure that Benjamin V. took off for
Yuba County, California and in 1852 he applied for bounty land in California
due him as a veteran of the Black Hawk War. Grandpappy said Benjamin V.
had a hard time getting that land and Maj. Palemon Winchester was still
trying to get the bounty land deal done in 1856. He said he never heard
if Benjamin V. ever got the bounty land. I bet Karen and Amanda wish a
Stephenson mouse would appear with the answers to the life of Benjamin
V. Stephenson in California!
I have told you all Henry here knows about the Stephenson
children at this time. But, the way my mouse relatives keep turning up
with news I just have a feeling that we will hear more about these children!
I sure will be glad when E.J., Keith and Greg to come
back and start working on the tuckpointing. I really miss having them
around! Right now I am going up to South Main Street and check things
out. You know, Col. Ben owned some of that land long ago.
See ya' later,