INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - April 3, 2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. And
I am really back with lots of exciting news of happenings at "my"
house. Things are really moving along at a fast pace here. Mark has been
working on the electrical and the air conditioning and heating and E.
J. and the guys are here working too. You know, I am only a mouse and
I try to watch what is going on, but this time things are moving so fast
I can barely keep track. I know this, the downstairs floors are gone,
there is electricity where there wasn't before and trenches have been
dug between the floor joists; and, between these joists they installed
long round black things called ducts. This all has me impressed and it
also has me keeping way, way, way out of everyone's way because they are
moving fast. The other day somebody cut down the old mulberry tree and
with that Ol' Henry just headed for a nap in the sun, tried to relax and
ended up reminiscing about the Stephenson family.
Here is something for you to think about. There is tell of a Stephenson
House ghost! Yep, the family that lived in "my" house in the
1970's knew about the ghost and that ghost sure kept them alert! They
figured it was a male ghost because of the very heavy, noisy footsteps
and the folks wondered if it could have been Col. Ben!! Many times during
the day and night there were creaking sounds on the stairs that sounded
like someone was walking up the stairs. One time the family was in the
dining room when they all heard footsteps on the side porch - could it
be the ghost? The teen age son ran to the porch to see who was there -
no one! Those footsteps on the porch convinced the whole family that there
really was a Stephenson House ghost! Do any of you have a Stephenson House
ghost story to tell? Henry would really like to know, 'cause I may have
company here and not know it.
Henry here has been telling you stories he has heard about people and
other goings on at the Stephenson House. And, as you know, when you talk
about something, you learn more about it. Not long ago I talked about
the letter Lucy Stephenson wrote to her young friend, Patty Canal, who
was working for the rich Tiffin family in St. Louis. Well, turns out that
one Edward Tiffin was the United States Surveyor General and it is thought
that he lived in St. Louis at this time. It all seems to fit together.
Tiffin probably was a friend of Col. Ben's through surveying for the Land
Grant office and, if so, Lucy could easily have turned to the old family
friend, Tiffin, for help when she was helping Patty find work.
Every once in a while Henry here remembers some little thing that happened
to Col. Ben, like the time a small, black horse was left by one of the
Kickapoo Chiefs who were in town for the signing of the Treaty of 1819.
Col. Ben put an ad in the paper asking that the owner prove ownership
and take the horse away. Looks like no one claimed him and the horse became
Col. Ben's. Sid thinks this is the same horse that Lucy bought for 87
½ cents at the auction of Stephenson property.
Oh, I just thought of something else I wanted to tell you. Do you all
remember when I told you about Dr. Benjamin Edwards, the doctor who worked
such long hours in Edwardsville? Well, Henry overheard Karen say that
she has learned that he was Ninian Edwards' brother. Ninian had two brothers
in Edwardsville. Cyrus, the lawyer, and Dr. Benjamin Edwards the doctor.
Not a lot is known about the activities of the brothers in Edwardsville.
We do know Ninian died of cholera in Belleville before Dr. Benjamin could
reach him for treatment.
Henry has also been noticing that many of you are starting to really think
about all the folks who have lived in "my" house. Just the other
day Edna gave RoseMarie pictures of her great grandparents, Caroline Fix,
daughter of Philip Fix, and her husband Frederick A. Wolf. The researchers
are finding how the folks in 1820 and 1830 all fit together and now the
folks of today are finding how they fit into the picture of long ago.
It is great and much fun!!
Sometime ago Henry talked about Frederick A. Wolf, the husband of Caroline
Fix. Ol' Henry said Wolf had farmed at a latinere settlement in Belleville.
Now Henry has learned that latinere was a word used for a settlement of
German farmers. Many of these men had money and an education and were
unaccustomed and unwilling to do the work of laborers. The peasants in
these settlements called them Latin farmers, meaning overeducated farmers.
Wolf, like many of these "Latin farmers", soon saw that the
latinere settlement was not too profitable and he came to Edwardsville
to find his own land to farm.
Ol' Henry had some bad luck the other day. I cut my foot on a piece of
glass in the lot next door. Luckily, I remembered how to stop bleeding
with a remedy from long, long ago. I made a lump of old cobwebs and put
it on the cut and it stopped the bleeding!
Using those cobwebs made Henry recall stories about the many, many home
remedies that were used in Col. Ben's day. Like this one for mosquito
bites. This is how to stop the itch from a mosquito bite. You make a paste
of salt and vinegar and rub it into the bite. I hear this still works
today! Here is one remedy that great-great-grandpappy Ezra knew about.
He said the men would wash their heads in salt to keep their hair from
falling out! He said this also made the hair thicker. Now, Henry is not
too sure about this one.
But, here is a really good remedy to remember in case someone is struck
by lighting! You should keep the person showered with cold water for a
couple of hours. If there is still no sign of life, add a cupful of salt
and continue cold showers for another hour. Lots of luck!
Cousin Jake told me about this 1820 remedy for use for ear wax! Ear wax
would help prevent pain from injury by a nail or skewer. And, for those
who were troubled by cracked lips ear wax was a successful remedy. Jake
said it was one of those cures which was likely to be laughed at; but,
he heard it produced good results!
Henry is going to head back into the house and see if I can get a better
idea of what is going on inside and at the same time stay out of everybody's
way. You all can sit back and consider the use of ear wax for the relief
of cracked lips!
See ya' later,