INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - February 5,2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. It
has been a real quiet time around here lately and all I'm doing is trying
to keep warm. I will be glad when E.J. and the guys come back. It is always
nice to have them around, but especially when they come back this time,
because they will start working on the furnace in "my" house.
That sounds real good to me!
Henry here thinks it's time to get back to the questions
I left you with last time we talked. Who was Patronella Josephine Canal,
called Patty by Lucy Stephenson? How did Lucy and Patty become such good
friends? So, let's get on with the story. Ole' Henry thinks it is an interesting
story and it gives us some idea of the life of women in the 1820's.
Patronella's family was active in politics in Edwardsville
and Madison County. The newspapers and court proceedings of 1829-30 disclose
that in 1830, J.B. Canal, Patty's brother, was Madison County Circuit
Clerk and state representative at the capital in Vandalia. Emmanuel J.
West, her step-father, was appointed Receiver of Public Monies at the
Land Grant Office in Edwardsville in 1829, and in 1830 was appointed Chief
of Mission in Peru. Henry thinks that a street in Edwardsville is named
for his son, Edward J. West.
When Patronella was sixty-five she wrote about her life.
She writes that she was born Patronella Josephine Canal in the Canary
Islands in 1809. Her father died in 1811 and her mother, Isabella Guaredo
Canal, "a descendant of pure ancestors from Old Spain," then
married Emmanuel J. West. The family of 13, which included five Canal
children and two West children, came from the Canary Islands to New York
and then traveled by wagon to Edwardsville arriving in 1819. They lived
on a 650 acre farm that Emmanuel West purchased for $8.00 an acre. Within
the next year, West and his neighbor Gershom Flagg planted some of the
first apple orchards in the area. For some reason, West got his trees
from the state of New York while Flagg got his from Greenville, Illinois.
Sure would be expensive trees from New York!
Patty wrote about her early life and about her mother
wanted her to become a nun. At the age of 14, Patty was sent to Sisters
of the Sacred Hearts in Florissant, Missouri where she stayed for two
years and then was sent home at age 16. Later her brother Manuel Canal
took her to St. Mary's Seminary in Perry County, Missouri. Patty writes
that she joined the Sisters there for a short time but was unhappy there
too. So, in 1829, her sister Mary visited and brought her to St. Louis.
Henry here thinks Mary's visit may have resulted from a letter the Seminary
priest sent to Patty's step-father, Emmanuel J. West. The priest wrote
that Patty "is not called to a Religious life" and the family
should send for her as soon as possible. Patty agreed. She did not want
to become a nun.
The year of 1830 was hard for Patty. She wrote that her
step-father, Emmanuel West, died in Peru; one of her brothers died; and
another left the area. In 1876 Patty reminisced in her writings as she
wrote: "I was left all alone at the age of 20 and under the care
of Mrs. Stephenson. I was a perfect stranger to the evils of the world.
Stephenson turned my attention to going to school, teaching school and
serving in rich families both in St. Louis and Alton. I met with many
troubles, but I would not give up to sorrow." Lucy's letter, written
in 1831, was sent to Patty in care of Mrs. Tiffin in St. Louis. Apparently
Patty had followed Lucy's advice and was serving for the rich Tiffin family
in St. Louis. Henry knows from Patty's notes that she had worked as a
seamstress and in 1840 she taught school in Macoupin County. Lucy was
in Carlinville at the time. Remember, she moved there in 1834. Henry wonders
if she helped Patty get the teaching position.
It is not clear why Lucy Stephenson was chosen to care
for Patty. Whatever the reason, Ole' Henry thinks Patty was very fortunate
to be placed in Lucy's care. No question about it, Lucy provided warmth,
love, sound advice and encouragement to Patty. The more we learn about
Lucy it becomes increasingly clear that she went that "extra mile"
for a lot of people. She must have been a great lady!
In 1841 Patty married Edward Jones, Sr. She died on April
17, 1892, after 17 days in St. Joseph's Hospital, Alton, Illinois, at
a cost of $11.50. Patty and her husband are buried in Bethalto Methodist
The writings of Patronella "Patty" have solved
one questions relating to the 1830 Census. The Census of Edwardsville
shows lots of people living in the Stephenson household. The people on
the 1830 Census could be figured out be age and sex and it is evident
that both the Winchester and Starr families were living with Lucy Stephenson.
As you will remember, Palemon Winchester married Julia Stephenson and
William E. Starr married Elvira Stephenson. Karen could figure out all
the folks except for one female age twenty to thirty. She was Patronella
Canal, Lucy's Patty! See how Henry is learning. If we wait long enough
and keep looking, the answers will turn up.
Hey folks, Lucy's letter and Patty's notes have provided
us with lots of information. Now we know more about the Stephenson and
West families and we got a look at the life of a doctor in our area in
the early 1800's.
Henry has heard The Friends talking and they really liked
reading about Lucy and Patty. As Elizabeth said, "Finally, a look
at life in the early 1800's through a woman's eyes!" Just think what
an independent woman Patty was in 1829 when she resisted her mother's
wish that she become a nun. And, with Lucy's encouragement Patty learned
to provide for herself.
And Lucy, well, her letter told us a lot about her personality
which reveals a strong, compassionate woman. Now Henry has to agree with
that for sure. With the knowledge we have about Col. Ben and now further
insight about Lucy, Ole' Henry thinks Col. Ben and Lucy were both well-liked
and respected by the people in Edwardsville.
All right, that is the end of my story about Lucy and
Patty. Right now I am on my way to munch on the bag of corn chips somebody
dropped in the alley. I plan to find some sun, sit back with the chips
and admire "my" beautiful house. You all stay warm and well.
See ya' later,