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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 9, 2003

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again! Well, what can this old mouse say except that things just keep happening at "my" house. And I love it! The big trucks brought dirt to the lot next door and the next day, during my naptime, the big noisy machines changed the lot into a wonderful, level playground that my mouse friends and I will really like! I overheard Joe, Sid and Jim discussing what needs to be done to transform this lot into a garden and parking area. For example, the lot and the area around the porch and smokehouse need to be graded for appearance and good drainage. The underground power "stuff" and the watering system need to be installed. All this needs to be completed before the parking area or any planting can be done.

The back yard of "my" house is shaping up also. The smokehouse is finished and just waiting for the service lines to be completed. I can't wait to see the spire that will go on top of the smokehouse! Kenny and his company really helped out with the concrete for the floor to the porch. It was brought in by redi-mix trucks from Kenny's company and let me tell you, those cement trucks are really big and noisy! Now I am waiting for the porch columns to arrive.

Henry here really enjoyed having Jim, Joe, Sid, Greg and Larry around this week. They were getting the woodwork and doors ready for paint removal. They took the millwork out of the storage trailer and numbered each piece with a wood burning pen. Just watching them work wore me out! They removed all the hardware from the doors. Just ask these guys how hard it is to remove hinges that are covered with one hundred and eighty-three years of paint!

Then the guys loaded all the millwork into a truck and took it to a St. Louis firm who will remove the paint. Henry has heard rumors that after the paint is removed the Stephenson House board members will sand and apply a primer coat to each piece of woodwork and the doors. This millwork sure requires a lot of work!

During the last few years all those involved with the Stephenson House have been on the look out for information about Col. Ben, his family and friends. A lot of this information has been hard to find and was located after hours and hours of searching. But, some information appeared like "it was just meant to be" - like it was totally unexpected when Dottie from Austin sent a copy of the letter Lucy wrote to Patty Canal. Then a piece of the original wallpaper in the front parlor was found. Another surprise was a history of Lucy's family received from a professor in West Virginia. And just recently, the miniature of Col. Ben was located by Rose Marie. Total surprises that have been so helpful!!

Here is another "it was meant to be" for you. A gentleman named Howard had an old bank note he wanted to sell. He showed it to an Alton antique dealer who took one look and said he better talk to Bob at The Bank of Edwardsville. Howard went to the bank and showed the note to Bob and Mary. The rest, as they say, is history!

The note is from the Bank of Edwardsville of 1820. It is a ten dollar note to E. West signed by - you guessed it - Ben Stephenson! Now, Ben was president of this Edwardsville bank in 1820; however, that bank had no connection with today's Bank of Edwardsville, but the name is awful close.

Mary bought the note from the gentleman and I have heard her say that it looks like a regular dollar or $10 dollar bill we have today. Henry is just a mouse, you know, but he listened hard to understand what a note is and I think it is like a loan. The bank was loaning ten dollars to E. West and Col. Ben signed the note as president of the bank.

Ol' Henry caught a glimpse of the note. It is colored like the money I see you folks use and I heard Mary say the sketch on it is of the town of Edwardsville and Cahokia Creek back then. And, we know from the Stephenson House mouse stories that E. West, the man named on the note, was a political figure in Edwardsville and was the step-father of Patty Canal, Lucy's friend.

Hey, I also heard Mary say there is a picture of a ten dollar note in Edwardsville: An Illustrated History. Sid says to watch for other notes of $5, $10 and other denominations. Henry wants you all to look through the old, old papers you have tucked away because there just have to be more notes out there with Col. Ben's signature. Maybe you have one!

Sunday is the party for Col. Ben's 234th birthday!! Homemade ice cream and Lady Baltimore cake will be served on the new porch from 3 to 5 PM. Come see the progress at the house, enjoy cake and ice cream and visit with Col. Ben and his family and friends. Many of Col. Ben's friends will be there dressed in authentic historic clothing of the 1820's. Henry has heard that the Registrar of the Land Office, John McKee and his wife Polly, Patty Canal, Daniel Tolman and Lucretia Lusk will be there. Julia , Ninian's daughter, and Lucy's half-sister Drucilla are among those who will be there. Drucilla is coming all the way from West Virginia for the party! Of course, the kids are expected to be there for their Dad's birthday.

Hey, Col. Ben needs a staircase for his house and there will be a picture of the staircase for you to see. Col. Ben doesn't talk about it too much, but Henry knows that Col. Ben would be real happy if you included a monetary gift with his birthday card. This certainly is not required to come to the birthday party, but if you are feeling flush, please help Col. Ben out with his staircase budget!

Lucy Stephenson sincerely invites you to attend Ben's Birthday Party on Sunday, July 13 from 3 to 5 PM at 409 S. Buchanan. Henry will be looking for you!

I am on my way to meander past a house a few doors down. I think a neat girl mouse lives there and I want to check it all out!



See ya' later,
Henry



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