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
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
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,