INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - March 4, 2004
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. These
days I just lie back and think: ahhhh, the joys of life at "my"
house! I have a warm house with great folks coming around and they even
bring food. EJ and his crew and the guys that paint are great to have
around and they keep me entertained with their lively conversation!
Ol' Henry was so happy to see his old friends EJ and his crew back and,
as usual, they are working hard. They fixed the master bedroom floor so
it won't bounce anymore, put mesh on the walls in preparation for plastering
and put up ceilings. As the crew worked on those jobs, Keith laid more
bricks for the sidewalks. Those guys are really moving right along. They
An added bonus for Ol' Henry is the painting crew! Now, this is a rather
new bunch of guys for me to have around all day! Chuck, George, Sid and
Jim have been here for weeks now priming the mantels and millwork for
the final painting. Let me tell you, those guys are fun to be around as
they laugh, joke and tell one big story after another - and they get a
lot done!!! Ahhhhhh, the joys of life at "my" house!
Hey! Another "It was meant to be" happened! A portrait of Col.
Ben's mother was found! Yep, sure enough, I heard Karen say she had received
a copy of the portrait of Col. Ben's mother, Mary Reed Stephenson, from
Julie, our new friend and Col. Ben's cousin. Henry took a peek and he
thinks Col. Ben's Mom was a mighty fine looking woman! I heard that a
curator at the Missouri Historical Society has expressed the opinion that
the portrait is from around the 1800's, which would be about the time
it would have been painted.
The original portrait of Col. Ben's mother is in very poor condition and
is in Julie's care. But, talk about luck! Julie has an artist's copy of
the original portrait that shows Col. Ben's mother wearing a dark blue
dress, a large white shawl and hat. She sent a picture of this portrait
to Karen. Hold on, there is more to come! The original portrait shows
Mary Reed Stephenson holding the glass bowl that family stories tell she
had carried "on the long journey over the Alleghenys". Julie's
cousin Nancy has that very bowl today! The artist's copy does not show
the bowl and no one knows why - maybe the artist just didn't do hands
well and left hers out! Julie also has a photograph of the original portrait
with Mary Reed Stephenson holding the glass bowl. Henry can hardly stand
it! Wouldn't it be absolutely awesome if some of this would be displayed
in Col. Ben's house someday? Oh, my gosh!
The portrait of Col. Ben's mother came to light in 1947 when Julie's Aunt
Pattie Boyd died. Aunt Pattie had lived in the old Boyd family home at
Boyd's Bridge in Knoxville, TN all her life and the family treasures remained
with her. Three portraits were found among those treasures. One was the
portrait of Col. Ben's mother, Mary Reed Stephenson, and the other two
are believed to be of Col. Ben's sister, Isabella Stephenson, and her
husband, John Boyd. Julie has the portrait of Col. Ben's mother and her
cousin Nancy has the portraits of Isabella and John.
Carol asked: " how in the world did those portraits show up in Knoxville,
TN?" Well, remember sometime back when I told you about Isabella
Stephenson and husband John Boyd going to Knoxville to live around 1804
and taking Isabella and Col. Ben's widowed mother with them? It appears
that sometime after their journey across the Alleghenys they had portraits
painted, perhaps to celebrate their safe arrival to Knoxville.
Now, lets talk about the Knoxville Boyds. Julie, the Boyd relative the
researchers have located, is a descendant of the Knoxville Boyds, Isabella
and John Boyd. They married in 1803 in Berkeley County, VA and a few years
later they settled in Knoxville. John and Isabella and Col. Ben's mother
died there and are buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in
downtown Knoxville. Isabella and John had five children, Benjamin Stephenson
Boyd, James Stephenson Boyd, William Stephenson Boyd, Samuel Beckett Boyd
and daughter Sarah. Henry here thinks Isabella named three of her sons
for her brothers, Benjamin, James and William Stephenson and her daughter
for her sister, Sarah Stephenson.
Henry has heard that it was pretty well known that the Knoxville Boyd/Stephenson
family members were all well educated and a number of them became lawyers,
doctors and politicians. Julie tells about the many books in their homes,
a rather uncommon site in the early days. The Boyd/Stephenson families
certainly believed in the education of their children and obviously had
the money and time necessary to provide it.
Julie's Aunt Pattie Boyd was Col. Ben's grandniece and it is at her home
the portraits were found. Aunt Pattie is a good example of an educated
member of the Boyd family. She was the first newspaperwoman at the Knoxville
Journal in the late 1800's and had been society editress for the Knoxville
Journal for fifty years until her death in 1947. Henry here wonders if
she knew Nellie Bly, the newspaperwoman who wrote about our Leclaire community?
Henry thinks it is really wonderful that Julie was found and that she
enjoys sharing information about the Boyd/Stephenson family!! Julie even
has a picture of John Reed, Mary's brother, in his elegant Revolutionary
uniform. It is good we have Julie, a Stephenson relative, providing family
information. It's like someone said: "you have to talk to the women
to get information about the family history." The house is progressing
so well, and more and more information on the Stephensons is being located,
as well as the portraits and the glass bowl! Yep, it was meant to be!
Folks, I heard the Annual Meeting in January was a fun night. There were
lots of good people enjoying good food, a good speaker, a good display
of privy artifacts and Mayor Gary as auctioneer! Ol' Henry heard that
Mayor Gary ran a fun auction as he auctioned interior painting by David,
ball game tickets, glassware and more! Sounds like a good evening for
the Friends of the Col. Benjamin Stephenson House!
Oh boy, I hear my painters coming in the back door and I don't want to
miss a bit of the painting, the fun and stories. Gotta go!
See ya later,