INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - January 23,2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. It
has been another busy and exciting week for The Friends of the Col. Benjamin
Stephenson House. The second annual meeting was held at Divot's, a super
good restaurant at Fox Creek Golf Club. Henry heard that the food was
really, really good, Carol was an outstanding MC and Sid was a tremendous
success with his stories about early Edwardsville. Joe had a power point
presentation going all evening showing the various phases of the restoration
and there was a chart of Col. Benjamin Stephenson's descendants to view.
The place was just full of interested people and everyone had a good time.
Except poor ole' Henry; everybody got good food except me!! Oh, well,
my turn will come again.
Hey, I am just glad one of E.J.s crew left some coveralls
here! It has been very, very cold but I think those coveralls saved me
from freezing. I curled up in one of the sleeves and I am keeping warm.
I am being very careful and to take care of the coveralls, so I don't
bring food inside the sleeve! Oh, they are so nice and warm!
And, to add to everything else going on, Carol, the Friends
president received a very nice honor the other day. She received the Athena
Award which is presented by the Chamber of Commerce to a woman who successfully
directs women in business and society. Henry always knew she was doing
a good job and deserved to be recognized. Good going, Carol!
I just heard that a few months ago the text of a letter written by Lucy
Stephenson to Patronella Canal appeared in "The Stalker", a
publication of the Madison County Genealogy Society. Yes sir, a real letter
written by Lucy to a friend. Now, Henry knows that is a real find! The
researchers talked with Dottie, the nice lady in Austin who contributed
the text of the letter, and she sent an actual copy of the letter to Edwardsville.
The first thing everyone was impressed with was Lucy's beautiful handwriting!
Now, here is what Henry here knows about the letter. Lucy
wrote to Patronella Josephine Canal on June 15, 1831, and she began with
"Dear Patty". The letter is full of news about Patty's friends
in Edwardsville including news of Fanny Dillon's wedding, news that Betsey
has been living with Elvira (has to be Lucy's daughter) for sometime;
and Louisa is going to the female school. Lucy mentioned a Dr. Edwards
who had an office in town. Henry doesn't think anyone really knows who
some of these people were, except they were Patty and Lucy's friends.
Lucy also wrote: "...there have been many tears shed
in Edwardsville for some days in consequence of the men being called out
to fight the Indians."
She then mentioned some of the men who went to fight the Indians (this
was the Black Hawk War), including Volney, Buckmaster, Emerson, Ben, Winchester,
Semple and Mr. Thomas. Mr. Starr was preparing to go "but a crazy
man who was in town struck him so severe a blow on his hip that it disabled
him..." she then goes on to say that Starr will follow the others
"if he recovers in time." She said she thought James (her oldest
son who lived in Galena) would be there too.
The second page of the letter is devoted to Patty and her concerns. Lucy
said she is pleased to hear that Patty has lots of business and has improved
in her sewing skills. Lucy gave Patty encouragement with her sewing and
advised her to continue with it so that she can "...obtain a genteel
support by your needle which is by far the easiest way." Lucy also
advised Patty that she must learn to cut out and fit patterns. Lucy asked
Patty if she had thought about the motherly advice she had given her "before
parting", and "if so how far have you followed it?" I bet
that sentence made you readers wonder what advice Lucy gave Patty.
In the last paragraph Lucy writes that "Rofs has
sung some dreadful songs about you since your absence." Why would
she write that to Patty? And, who is "Rofs"? Lucy closes the
letter with "Adieu Patty accept the best wishes of all the family
and especially your friend Lucy Stephenson."
Well, let Henry tell you this: Lucy's letter got some
folks busy with lots of researching and talking with Dottie who had sent
the actual copy of the letter. First of all they researched the names
of the young men Lucy said were going to fight the Indians. Volney was
Volney P. Richmond who later married Virginia West, daughter of Emmanuel
West. Buckmaster was Nathaniel Buckmaster who was eventually elected Major
of his battallion. Emerson was Amos Emerson of Edwardsville and Semple
was James Semple, a prominent Edwardsville attorney and U.S. Senator from
Illinois in 1843-47 Mr. Thomas would be Jesse B. Thomas, Jr. who was an
attorney with Daniel Prickett in the firm of Prickett & Thomas in
Edwardsville. He was the son of Jesse Thomas who had been appointed judge
in the Illinois Territory in 1809, and a U.S. Senator from 1818-1829.
Ben, of course, was Col. Ben and Lucy's youngest son
and Winchester was Palemon, their son-in-law and husband of daughter Julia.
Mr. Starr, who was disabled for a time, was another son-in-law, the husband
of daughter Elvira. William Starr served most of the years of the Black
Hawk War. James, who Lucy mentioned being in the war, was the Stephensons
oldest son who lived in Galena. It seems that when the locals spoke of
wars it was always with the pride of the men going off to fight. In Lucy's
letter we hear thoughts of a woman who watched the only 4 men left in
her family leave to fight the Indians. Lucy knew that many a tear had
been shed in Edwardsville.
These man served in companies under the command of local
men, Pruitt and Wheeler. They were part of the mounted Volunteers of the
State of Illinois commanded by Maj. Samuel Whiteside. Semple, Buckmaster
and Thomas served in the Company of Captain Solomon Pruitt, Odd Battallion
of Spies. William Starr, Benjamin V. Stephenson, Palemon Winchester and
Amos Emerson were in The Company of Captain Erastus Wheeler, Odd Battallion
of Spies. James Stephenson served in a company from Galena, Illinois.
Volney Richmond is not located in the list of Volunteers.
Lucy also spoke of one called Ise in connection with the
Black Hawk War. She said that Ise could not go to fight the Indians because
he had to stay and take care of that "Celebrated Cabbin". Henry
wants to know if anyone knows what cabin she was talking about and does
anyone know of a young man in 1831 named or called "Ise"? Maybe
the information will turn up some day.
The letter also mentions the friends of Lucy Stephenson
10 years after Col. Ben's death. Their later friends appear to be from
the same social circle as when Col. Ben was alive. Lucy's friends were
still lawyers, doctors and other prominent men and their families.
In her letter to Patty Canal, Lucy mentions a Dr. Edwards.
This, of course, brought up the question of his relationship to Gov. Ninian
Edwards. Research shows it is very doubtful they were related.
Henry is now going to talk a little bit about the Dr.
Edwards that Lucy mentioned in her letter. The life of the doctor in Edwardsville
in 1831 was a very strenuous and tiring job!! For two years Dr. John Todd
and Dr. B. F. Edwards were the only doctors in Madison County and their
practice included a fifty mile area. Dr. Edwards kept 4 or 5 horses and
sometimes would ride one-hundred miles in twenty-four hours. During the
"sickly" season Dr. Edwards would average less than 4 hours
sleep in a twenty-four hour period. Yet as hard and as long as he worked
he said that his income was not enough to support his family. In 1833,
Dr. Peter Randle began to practice medicine under Dr. Edwards and Edwards
was glad to turn his practice over to Dr. Randle. Edwards went on to become
prominent in the medical field in San Francisco. Henry thinks Dr. Edwards
sure chose a good climate!
Henry here has told you what he knows about the letter
and also how the research led to the men who Lucy mentioned in the letter.
But there is another question. Who was Patronella Josephine Canal, called
Patty by Lucy Stephenson? How did Lucy and Patty become such good friends?
That folks is going to have to wait to be answered until
the next time we get together. It is as interesting story, but, truthfully,
Henry here is cold! I am heading for those warm, warm coveralls that were
left at "my" house and I am going to curl up for the night!!
See ya' later,