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
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
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
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
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,