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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - November 12, 2003

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Hey, I really have a great life, filled with good people who are fun to watch and who keep my life exciting here at "my" house. Let me tell you about what those good folks are either planning or working on inside and at the back of "my" house.


E.J.'s crew is moving along. They have enclosed all four fireplace walls, finished the enclosure for the back stair case and are putting the 1820 woodwork back in place. When in place, the plan is to sand and prime it and then paint it just like the original. The front stair case has been changed back to its original position on the north wall, just as it was in 1820. Boy, this has made the hallway look a lot larger, the ceiling looks a lot higher and the back door is easily seen as you come in the front door. Henry likes to see that back door because it gives the hallway a real homey feeling.


Keith has been laying bricks on the concrete base furnished by Kenny and Ready-Mix Service. Ol' Henry said the name wrong last time. Sorry, Kenny. The brick work that Keith has done on the porch floor is absolutely incredible. He almost makes it a form of art! Now, I am just a mouse, ya' know, but I sure can tell quality brick laying when I see it. It was when I watched Keith trim the back of the bricks to fit the gentle slope of the handicap ramp that this ol' mouse knew Keith was exceptional! Come see the beautiful brick work!


Some more good news! The white columns for the porch have finally arrived. They are just as authentic as they can be, handcrafted by Melvin from Missouri. Soon they will be in place and Henry expects they will be totally awesome!


Lots of work's been going on in the yard too. Jim's dug a bunch of holes and planted lots of donated evergreens. I also saw Carol F. and Bena planting evergreens and taking care of the winter berry bushes that await planting. While they planted trees, Sid finished the privy excavation and, finally, they were all very tired!


This mouse has noticed that the bits of food left by Keith (I am sure that it is Keith who takes care of me) have been exceptionally good lately. I thought Keith had taken up gourmet cooking, but that isn't the case. There are neighbors cooking for Keith and the crew! Sure enough, one lady brings soup two times a week, another lady bakes awesome pies for the guys and one gentleman prepares supper for them twice a week. What a great group of neighbors! A big thanks from Henry too because my tidbits sure have improved! It's folks like "the meals crew" that makes Edwardsville a great place to work, live and play. Just ask Keith!!


Cousin Jake, my cousin who lives near Rusty's, came by to check out the progress at "my" house and ended up staying a couple of days. We had lots to talk about, including a story Cousin Jake heard about men's clothing during Col. Ben's time. Jake heard some men talking about the clothes men owned in the early 1800's. One of the group said he read that in 1807 in Washington, D.C. the property of a Daniel Neall was offered at auction in payment for his board and lodging. Jake said the list of clothing was really long. Here is what he remembered was listed: a black surtout coat (pronounced surtoo; a long, close-fitting overcoat), black cloth coat, pantaloons and vest, three pair of boots; two pair of shoes, one blue cloth coat, three blue cloth military coats, four new ruffled muslin shirts, seven new plain shirts and one linen shirt; one pair of cloth pantaloons, three flannel jackets, one pair of drawers, three sheets, two pillow cases; two pair of silk hose, one pair of gloves and a variety of other clothes.


Well, this sure seems like a lot of clothes to own in 1807. Did Col. Ben take that many clothes with him when he went as Delegate to Congress in Washington in 1814? Jake and Henry here decided Col. Ben did have to take a lot of clothes with him; but, we do wonder if he took as many as was listed for auction and he surely did not take military coats! Col. Ben was in Washington for six months and he had to go to the Congressional sessions and various other events, riding or walking through streets full of mud holes and sidewalks that were muddy paths. So, it seems he would have needed a lot of clothes and a good laundry! Since the auction list even included sheets and pillow cases, it made us think that some boarding houses did not furnish sheets. We cousins believe he needed a big trunk full of clothes!


Cousin Jake and Henry did have a good, long chuckle when we thought about pantaloons, vests, ruffled shirts, silk hose and fancy jackets worn at the Congressional sessions. The stories we always heard told was that many of the Congressmen were country bumpkins, spitting tobacco with their feet up on the tables. We've heard tales about the rough language and name calling that went on and Congressmen jumping out of windows to sneak out of sessions. When Cousin Jake and Ol' Henry thought about the rough behavior, the fighting and bad language, we had to laugh when we pictured the silk hose and pantaloons that were supposed to be the dress of gentlemen. A few good fights and then add the silk hose and pantaloons to all this and we really had a good laugh! What a time in history. Henry here thinks the Stephenson family was well dressed and Col. Ben went to Congress dressed in fine clothing. He may have come from the Illinois Territory but he was not a country bumpkin!


Henry wants you all to understand that the Friends of the Stephenson House are anxious to get the house to a point in the restoration where the house is comfortable enough to be opened to the public! When the house is open to the public the Friends will then be able to apply for certain grants that will help with further costs of the restoration. There are a lot of folks working hard to get "my" house open so The Friends can get on with the many activities and programs that will bring life in the 1820's to all age groups.


One big thing Henry wants remembered is that now there is a furnace at "my" house and this winter I will not have to worry about how I am going to keep warm. I am so happy! Thank you, thank you! Hmmmmm, I do wonder if there will be any turkey tidbits around here soon.


See ya' later,

Henry


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