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
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
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,