INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 30, 2003
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Hey,
the Burgoo Day was a winner with an absolutely fantastic October day!
Chef's Wilma Jene and Lois and their efficient, hard working crew produced
some great Burgoo! The aroma of burgoo and the wonderful cook fire just
kept Henry feeling good all day!
Ol' Henry just kinda' laid back and took it all in. Golly, early in the
morning I saw Senator Bill Haine, Jack Minner, Mayor Gary, Mike Campbell,
Rich and Retired Senator Evelyn Bowles gathered 'round to check out the
Burgoo. Later in the day I saw some of the regulars here, like Henry,
Jean, Meg, Bob, Jack and Virginia and I saw Evelyn again as she was helping
on Mary's committee. That Evelyn is one great person! There were a lot
of new faces in the crowd including Michael, Kay, Michelle, Connie and
my friend Marion.
Keith, with his mandolin and guitar, played and sang some great folk tunes
that everyone enjoyed. Craftspeople displayed articles knitted from natural
dyed yards, basket making and spinning. Tracy from the Stephenson House
Heritage Guild was here with her loom. This guild is open for anyone who
is interested and Henry will tell you more about them at another time.
All these folks were dressed in historical dress that sure made ol' Henry
think about Col. Ben and Lucy and their family.
Sid and his crew had lots of folks around watching the excavation of the
privy. I heard the legs of a "frozen Charlotte" were found.
I could pretend that I knew what that was, but I won't. I learned that
a" frozen Charlotte" is a porcelain doll, about 3 inches tall
and from what I could see this little doll's legs were formed real close
together. I guess the whole doll was rather stiff and that is why they
called it a "frozen Charlotte". A piece of a clay pipe stem
was found and it even has the name of the company on it. Sid says there
are charts that help you determine how old the pipe is by the size of
the stem. There were a lot of shards found that will be easier to identify
when washed. In a rubbish burn pile near the privy they found an intact
ceramic ink well and also a 3 cent piece from around 1863. Boy, it seems
that a new discovery is made around here about every day. Henry is a just
little short of words to say how exciting this all is!
Did you notice all the concrete that's been poured around "my"
house? It's used as base for the brick porch floor, sidewalks and courtyard.
A great big thanks to E-Mix (this is the correct spelling) for the donation
of all the concrete. You are a great friend, Kenny!
Keith has already started laying brick on the concrete base. The bricks
will stay level for many a year - which means no tipping at "my"
house. This brick work is going to be absolutely beautiful!
All the activity around here is wearing ol' Henry out, so I retreated
to my special hidey place. When I got all cozy I got to thinking about
the Stephensons and their house and lifestyle and what the average guy
was doing in 1820. I think finding the porcelain "frozen Charlotte"
got me started thinking. That doll indicated once again that the Stephensons
were very much above average in their lifestyle. Not many little girls
in Edwardsville had porcelain dolls at that time.
Hey, the brick foundation of the barn that was uncovered was seven brick
courses deep and four bricks across for the wall base. This is where the
animals lived! The privy was very large. It measured nine feet by six
feet and was lined with brick. Then there was a brick courtyard that had
a well 40 feet deep, round in shape and lined with bricks just like the
bricks in the house, barn, privy and courtyard. Henry has heard that the
other day some people got to look inside this well and found it truly
awesome. The well is now secured with a cover that can be removed later.
Ol' Henry, Cousin Jake and Cousin Seth never heard any stories passed
along from the old Grandpappys about the size and number of buildings
on Col. Ben's place! I reckon it was so big that Grandpappys Samuel and
Ezra from long, long ago didn't have reason to leave the farm. My guess
is that they thought this was how everyone lived with big barns, big privies
and brick courtyards!
This old mouse thought about Edwardsville in 1820 and earlier. There were
only about 70 homes in Edwardsville around this time. A lot of the men
who were here were professionals and they were sort of passing through
as they made their way to the big time in
Springfield and Washington. They came to Edwardsville, location of the
Land Grant Office, where they either hoped to earn money, to become involved
in politics or both. Many of these young men boarded at W. C. Wiggins
or at John Lusk's hotel while in town.
At that same time most families lived in log cabins in Edwardsville or
the surrounding farm area. They sure did not live the style of the Stephenson
family. This was the new frontier and things were rather primitive for
most folks. The Stephensons, Edwards, Pricketts, and Whitesides were a
small group with the means to live in a grand style. But, ol' Henry is
sure you can be very proud of your ancestor if he was one of those who
lived in the log cabins. They were the new frontiersmen who were starting
out with very little and had great dreams of making a fine living from
the rich Illinois soil. They, too, could then provide some of the nicer
things available for their families.
The settlers in their log cabins, Col. Ben in his newly built house and
the Prickett's and the Whitesides were all pioneers and new frontiersmen.
Each did his part in his own way to help Illinois become a state. And,
all were here to improve the lifestyle of their families. Henry thinks
these families all loved adventure and were very brave to make the long,
hard trip to the Illinois Territory.
This mouse is heading outside to see if E.J. and the guys have made any
new discoveries. I can't just stay in my hidey place and nap - I might
miss a lot of excitement around "my" house!