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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,


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