INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - August 21, 2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. I
have lots to talk about. The electrical work is going well thanks to Mark,
the electrician. He really has helped Joe especially with his advice in
getting things done economically! Mark, you are great! Probably you have
noticed that the grounds have been graded and new soil added, thanks to
Jason for the soil. "My" house is looking good!
The 50/50 auction is coming up on September 7th. If you have items to
donate, please call Jim at 656-8527 and good ole' Jim will pick up your
donation. We already have some quality pieces for auction and would like
more. Henry hopes to see you at the 50/50 Auction on Sunday September
7th, beginning at 12 o'clock noon. Bring a friend and help make this auction
bigger and better than last year!
Now, let's get back to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Wm. H. Crawford,
and his reply to Lucy's letter that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.
In his reply, Crawford told about the information President Monroe had
used when he decided against appointing Palemon H. Winchester as Receiver
of Moneys at the Edwardsville Land Grant Office. As receiver, Col. Ben
had reported to Josiah Meigs, his immediate superior and Meigs reported
to Wm. H. Crawford. Since both Meigs and Col. Ben were deceased, Meigs
shortly before Col. Ben, Crawford was now the only person left who had
knowledge of Col. Ben's office. He provided all the information used by
the President in making his decision.
The first information provided by Crawford was that Lucy and Winchester
had declined to administer Col. Ben's estate. Now, Ol' Henry talked with
Cousin Jake, my cousin who seems to know everything! Jake said his side
of the mouse family often talked about Lucy's letter and he knew some
of the old stories. He said the fact that Lucy and Winchester declined
to administer Col. Ben's estate led to false rumors! Folks in Edwardsville
knew Col. Ben was suffering before his death and was unable to get the
land sale accounts for September and October written and sent to Crawford
before his death. Well, Jake says some of the folks in Edwardsville still
got all upset when Lucy and Winchester, her son-in-law, declined to administer
the estate because some knew Lucy had those two months of land office
money in her possession. So, the rumors really began to fly! The story
that Lucy and Winchester were defrauding the government of the land sales
money spread quickly. Eventually Crawford had heard the rumors and passed
them on to President Monroe.
Lucy said in her letter that she had "the proof" that these
rumors were untrue. She still had the land sales money and that was "the
proof" she spoke about. Lucy did not know what to do with the land
sales money, but she did know that Crawford had forbidden Col. Ben to
put any money in the Bank of Edwardsville for various reasons. With the
passing of Josiah Meigs, Col. Ben's immediate superior, Lucy had no one
to direct her. She asked Crawford for the reason no one had contacted
her and instructed her what she was to do with the money. Crawford's answer
was that she should get the money to the new receiver of moneys and he
would provide a voucher that would clear Col. Ben's account with the government.
That was a good answer, but failed to acknowledge that Lucy did not know
the identity of the receiver until April 1823, about the time she wrote
her letter to Crawford. Communications were very slow in 1820.
Edward Coles had resigned as Registrar of the Land Office in 1820 and
the records do not show a registrar appointed to the land office until
January, 1823. It appears Col. Ben was the only government employee at
the land grant office and Lucy was waiting to hear from Crawford or someone
in Washington about the handling of the receiver's accounts. Lucy and
Winchester, who was an attorney in addition to being her son-in-law, waited
for instructions from Crawford while the rumors flew that they were defrauding
Crawford also supplied President Monroe with the information that Col.
Ben had "misapplied" a portion of the receiver's money a few
months before his death. Cousin Jake remembers many of the old stories
about this "misapplied" money. They explained that Col. Ben
was expected to pay the Kickapoo, pay the surveyors, pay Captain Boltinghouses'
militia company and pay other legitimate government expenses. But funds
were not always allocated for these payments. So, some payments were made
without waiting for permission from the government. Crawford apparently
expected the Kickapoo to patiently wait for payment while letters authorizing
payment were going back and forth between Col. Ben and Crawford. These
letters could take two months each way! Cousin Jake said the Stephenson
mouse family even laughed at that.
The last bit of information Crawford gave to President Monroe was that
Col. Ben had not sent in the accounts for land sales from Sept and October,
1822. Crawford had to know that Col. Ben was sick during September and
died October 12, 1822, but still reported to the President that there
were irregularities at the Edwardsville Land Grant Office. The Receiver
of Moneys, Col. Ben, was sick and dying during September and October and
these accounts had not been received by Crawford. There was no one to
get the paper work together to send to Crawford.
When Lucy spoke of "the proof" that she and Winchester were
innocent of defrauding the government, she meant the September and October
land sales money. She still had the money but did not know what to do
Lucy and Winchester knew the information Crawford provided President Monroe
was distorted. But, the only other men who really knew what had happened
in the Edwardsville Land Grant Office were Col. Ben and Josiah Meigs,
both deceased. It was Crawford who provided the information that led President
Monroe to believe the Edwardsville Land Grant Office was poorly managed.
Well folks, what do you think about Lucy, a young widow in 1822, questioning
Wm. H. Crawford, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, about presidential appointments?
Henry here thinks she was quite a woman, especially for the 1820's. Lucy
was educated, intelligent and obviously a woman who stood up for what
she thought was right. Lucy, her husband and her son-in-law had been unjustly
criticized by U.S. Treasury and she took her position against the Secretary
of the Treasury and demanded an answer. However, her questioning letter
did not change the appointment. Samuel C. Lockwood, apparently the man
Crawford wanted, was appointed Receiver of Moneys of the Land Grant Office
in Edwardsville in February 1823.
Folks, this has taken a lot of words to try to explain what went on with
the appointment for the receiver of moneys after Col. Ben's death and
Henry hopes you understand.
Let me just say this - I am worn out and heading for a nap in my own special
See ya' later,