INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 23, 2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Let
me tell you, Ben's Birthday Party was great! There were lots of people
here enjoying ice cream and cake as they wished Col. Ben a happy birthday.
Mary, her committee and a lot of the FBSH Board members had "my"
house in tip-top shape. They had the windows sparkling clean and yes,
you are right, it was George who mopped the floors. The living room was
a step back to the 1820's with the antique furniture and antique accessories
on the mantel and tables. The breeze wafting through the open windows
completed a beautiful picture of Col. Ben and Lucy entertaining in the
Henry saw lots of you folks at the party, including Bob, Henry and Shirley;
Esther, David and Mary Deane; Corrine, Betty Jean and Jean. Hey, we had
two Colonels' at the party: Col. Ben and Eleanor and Colonel Charles were
here! I watched as you all were enjoying the ice cream and that super
delicious cake of Dottie's. I watched and listened as you talked with
the folks dressed in 1820's clothing! I counted seventeen of Col. Ben's
visiting friends and relatives in their beautiful, authentic clothing
and they were enjoying the day! Wasn't Elle cute as Elvira the Stephenson's
You can see that the FBSH Board loves to give parties! This one was rather
special in that contributions could be made to a fund for Col. Ben's new
staircase. Well, once again you all were very generous and contributed
over $1600. The people of Edwardsville have a wonderful sense of history
and a tremendous community spirit. Col. Ben loves it and so does Henry!
The researchers received another nice surprise. It was a letter written
by Col. Ben to Daniel P.Cook on April 22, 1815. It was written as Ben
was on his way back to Kaskaskia from his first session in Congress. Ben
wrote from Summerset: " I arrived here this evening with my family,
the road is extremely bad, in four days more I expect to reach Pittsburgh,
when I intend to take water to Furguson's ferry." In the letter Col.
Ben asked Cook to rent him a home at Kaskaskia, writing "Get any
house that you think will answer, we won't be particular for the present."
He also told Cook that he needed a place for a hatter's shop. A young
man was with Ben and he wanted him to "go to business immediately."
Ben also had the equipment with him that would be needed for the hatter's
So, it appears that Lucy and family did make the trip to Washington with
Col. Ben. The researchers have never been too sure if she went with Col.
Ben or not. Then just the other day good old Cousin Jake came up with
some recollections! Jake recollects that Great-great-great grandfather
Samuel used to tell how excited Lucy got when she found out she could
visit her relatives and enjoy seeing her children meeting their aunts,
uncles and cousins. The Swearingen and Stephenson relatives lived in Martinsburg
and Shepherdstown, Virginia, and both towns were almost right on the way
to Washington. It seems just logical that she did not go to Washington
but took this opportunity to visit her family.
It is doubtful, though, that Lucy would have stayed in Washington with
Col. Ben in 1815. The stories Ol' Henry heard about the streets, the living
conditions and the social life in Washington plus the condition of the
roads just to get to Washington at that time were scary! Most members
of congress did not bring their wives and families until around 1850.
Sure sounds to Henry that Col. Ben brought his family home to Kaskaskia
after they visited relatives in Virginia. Congress had recessed for almost
a month before they headed back to Kaskaskia. It seems like the Stephenson's
spent some time in Virginia before they began their trip home to Illinois.
I have an idea that the researchers will tie all this together and they
will also find out where Summerset and Ferguson's Ferry were located.
As I said the birthday party was sure great and Henry even got some cake
crumbs! Then I really got lucky when I jumped in the car to go home with
Cassie. As I told Cousin Jake, I ate like a king for a couple days and
no one knew I was there! I got back home when Cassie's mother stopped
by Col. Ben's house and I just jumped out of the car! Col. Ben and Henry
both had a great couple days!
Right now I am waiting for the columns for the porch to arrive - they
will be awesome! Folks, Henry is sincerely glad you took time for another
look at Col. Ben's house. I keep telling you, do not miss this restoration
as it progresses!! When the upstairs area is ready for a group, you must
come see the upstairs rooms and see how the beams and wood were used for
the roof. You know, in the near future all this wonderful old brick and
the interior roofing will be hidden from view forever with plaster.
The big weekend and my secret visit to Cassie's have worn me out and I
am going to go enjoy a long, long nap.
See ya' later,