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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 22, 2004

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Golly, do I love this time of year when the sun is warm and the fallen leaves are wonderful and crispy to run and play in. It's a perfect time to show off 'my' house so I asked Cousin Jake to drop by. So many new things have been done while we were gone and I wanted to give him the grand tour. Well, he was impressed and especially liked the sunflower seeds in the garden as we toured the grounds.


Ol' Henry also told Cousin Jake that he will be extremely impressed when the staircase is installed! Yep, I hear that the staircase will soon be here. I overheard Joe and Chuck talking about the staircase as they were painting the millwork. They said the next work to be completed is the staircase and that Keith and Jack will be back when it is ready to be installed. A staircase in 'my' house, now ain't that grand?


Hey, Ol' Henry is anxious to start telling you about our big vacation! Cousin Jake and I hitched a ride on a plant truck that was leaving the Market Basket and, low and behold, it went straight to Columbia, Mo. Talk about luck! We found Cousin Elzey in no time flat and the fun began as we explored, ran, played, ate scrumptious food and met all the Stephenson mouse relatives in Columbia. There sure are a lot of them. Naturally, we reminisced about the old Stephenson days and this is when I met Cousin Isaac.


Cousin Isaac is really an interesting mouse. He is a balding, skinny old fellow who barely can see and uses a cane to stay on his feet! But, he is one sharp dude who tells great stories. He had new stories to tell about when Lucy was growing up told to him by his great-great-great grandpappy Josiah who lived at the fort in Wellsburg, VA where Lucy was born in 1788.


Before Lucy was born, "Indian" Van Swearingen, Lucy's father, built his fort on the banks of the Ohio River in Virginia. Today that area is the town of Wellsburg, WV. Cousin Isaac stories paint a real picture of life on the Ohio River when Lucy was young. The Revolutionary War ended just four years before Lucy was born. Her father had fought in that war and he also fought the Indians in the frontier along the Ohio River. The white man was coming west to the Ohio River Valley and for many years the Ohio River was the scene of a lot of bloody fighting between the white man and the Indians. Lucy grew up hearing talk of the Revolutionary War and lived through the years of fighting with the Indians. Her older half brother, Thomas, was killed by Indians when he was out hunting. This tragedy occurred shortly before Lucy was born, but the story was familiar for it was told over and over as her father grieved. The last white man killed by Indians in Brooke County, the Wellsburg area, was in 1795. Lucy was seven years old. Lucy's older sister, Drusilla, was married to Samuel Brady the famous Indian scout in the Ohio River Valley. Brady would leave on scouting trips for long periods of time and Drusilla and her two children would be left alone at their home near the fort. Lucy no doubt realized the fear Drusilla experienced for her husband, herself and the children during their separation.


Lucy Swearingen Stephenson was one plucky lady, says Ol' Henry. She left all the turmoil she had grown up with and headed for the new frontier at Kaskaskia of the Illinois Territory and more Indians. The War of 1812 on the horizon surely had to bring back memories of all the Indian fighting along the Ohio River and trigger fear in Lucy's heart. Yes sir, she was one plucky lady!!


Cousin Isaac also told us a new story about Lucy's father's will. He died in 1793 and he willed one mulatto boy by the name of Tobe to his son Van and he willed a small Negro to Lucy; or, if she preferred she could take fifty pounds of lawful money instead. Well, that is when Henry here jumped up to add to the story! I remember great-great-great grandpappy Samuel talking about Tobe after he arrived with Lucy from Kentucky. He said that Tobe was 23 years and 9 months old when Col. Ben registered him as an indentured servant in 1809 at Kaskaskia, Randolph Co. Old grandpappy Samuel said Tobe's term of indenture would be up in 4 years and 3 months, when he was 28 years old. Well, by golly, when Col. Ben registered his people in Madison County in 1817, Tobe's name was not there. He was 28 years old and a free man!


Cousin Isaac agreed with Ol' Henry that Tobe was probably the same Tobe that was willed to Lucy's brother Van. Cousin Isaac said that Lucy and her brothers Thomas and Van did some trading around on the property left to them in their fathers will. Thomas and Van were Lucy's natural brothers from her father's third marriage to Eleanor Virgin. The other brothers and sisters were from his first and second marriages. Gosh darn, it sure does get complicated!!!


It sure was good to talk to Cousin Isaac. He is a character, full of facts, fun and advice. He shook his finger at me and said that Cousin Jake and I should get going to Wellsburg, Brooke Co., WV and we would find out lots more about Lucy and Col. Ben. We didn't know if we really wanted to go that far on our vacation, so we thought a long time before we made a decision. We decided to go and it was a long trip that I will tell you about later.


Well folks, I am on my way across the street to Dairy Queen's parking lot to see if anyone has dropped any food. I have eaten a lot of sunflower seeds and am ready for a change in diet. A hot dog on a bun sounds mighty great!


See ya' later
Henry


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