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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - August 16, 2002

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Looks like it is getting back to the way I like it at "my" house - there are people around again. Yep, Keith, Jack and Greg are here and they are tuckpointing the house. They started on the south side of the 1845 addition and are now working on the 1820 house. Looks great! The money from the Township and Mike Campbell made it possible to get the tuckpointing completed. A big thanks to the Township for investing in the Benjamin Stephenson House, the community and Edwardsville's future generations.

The other day I heard Joe say that the paint tests show the house had not ever been painted by 1845. Folks, that means Col. Ben's house will remain unpainted, just like it was in 1820 and 1845!!! Also, be sure and take a drive through the alley and take a good look at the window that has been installed. It is called a 12 over 8 window which means 12 panes on the top portion and 8 panes on the bottom portion. These are windows from another era and you just do not see many windows of this style today. Do come by and see this absolutely gorgeous window! This style of window will be installed in the 1820 section of the house. The windows are made with hundred year old glass and this gives the slightly distorted look that existed in all early glass.

Henry here has heard Joe talk about the 1820 and the 1845 parts of the house from time to time and the other day I heard him explain all about them. Col. Ben built his house in 1820 with two rooms down, two rooms up and an attached kitchen. In 1845 the Wolf family added the part of the house that goes from east to west. Now, here is what Henry finally understands: Col. Ben's 1820 house will be restored to the 1820 period and the 1845 addition will be restored back to the 1845 period. Remember, the original woodwork, doors and fireplace mantels have been saved and will be used in the house. Sounds awesome to me!

So, with the tuckpointing underway, it which should be completed by early fall, after which the windows will be installed and the shutters will be hung on the house. I heard Carol describing the shutters and they are just like the ones great-great-great grandfather Samuel talked about. The shutters on the lower level are a solid wood shutter because they were at ground level and when closed they kept the insects and maybe an occasional raccoon out of the house. The shutters on the second floor are louvered shutters which will allow the air to flow through. The downstairs shutters kept the vermin out and the upstairs shutters allowed the fresh air to flow through. The way Henry sees it, today you folks have air conditioning but in 1820 they had shutters that allowed the breezes to blow through the rooms. The windows were placed to let the breezes to come through to keep the folks cool.

Now, back to Col. Ben and the often asked question: "what was the cause of Col. Ben's death?" Well, the other day Sid and Karen came by and they were talking a mile a minute. They had made a "find" in their research that leads them to believe that Col. Ben died of malaria. I really perked up my ears on this and listened carefully and here is what I understand how they came to that conclusion. Read on. Sid had been studying the Stephenson records and saw where yellow bark, lima bark and sulphur had been purchased just days before Ben's death. (Remember, Henry last reported that yellow bark was bought for dye, well, I am just a mouse and can't know everything!). Sid found that yellow and lima bark are from the Cinchona tree and are the source of quinine. The bark was ground into a fine powder and mixed with water or wine and was the treatment for the fever of malaria. He also found out that long ago sulphur was used as a vapor to fumigate disease infected rooms or homes. In the days just before Col. Ben's death, when the Stephenson's were buying barks used for the treatment of malaria, they also purchased four bottles of wine. We now know wine was used to mix with the ground bark for the treatment of malaria which was also called ague in the early days.

Dr. John Todd's bill for medicine and attendance was also found and there is a big difference in the amount billed over several years. Karen said the total of the bill for two years, 1819 and 1820, was $28.25. In the year of 1821 the total bill was $44.25 and the year of Col. Ben's death, 1822, the total bill was $44.75. These figures also lead Sid and Karen to think someone, probably Col. Ben, was having increased health problems.

Henry here listened and then he gave all that information a lot of thought and you know what? I agree with Sid and Karen's opinion that Col. Ben had malaria and that was either the cause of death or in combination with other ailments may have weakened him and resulted in his death. There was the purchase of malaria medicines and additional wine just days before his death that certainly does point to malaria as cause of death. Dr. Todd's bill shows that Col. Ben was having some health problems for two years before his death.
Good for Sid and Karen, now we have some clue as how Col. Ben died!

Now ole' Henry does not know anything about computers, but I did hear Andrew and Dan talking about the website and search engines where Col. Ben's house can be found. It sounded interesting so maybe you all should check some of this out. Here is the list: www.stephensonhouse.com, www.edglencofc.org/, www.edwardsvilleonline.com, Yahoo and Google. Have fun checking these out!!

"My" house is looking so great with all that new tuckpointing - I am going outside and sit in the shade and enjoy looking at the house. Keith mentioned the other day that the color of the mortar will get darker with time. You know, sometimes I think Keith knows I am here 'cause it seems like he makes sure I get extra crumbs. Life sure is good around here!

See ya' later,
Henry


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