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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - December 16, 2004


Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Oh, this has been a wonderful week at 'my' house. The man who builds restoration staircases arrived and installed 'my' staircase. It is even more beautiful than I had ever dreamt it would be! Remember how great- great- grandpappy Ezra liked to sit on the landing to enjoy the breeze coming through the windows? Henry too feels good sitting on the landing and when I'm looking up or looking down the staircase it just gets more beautiful. The walnut handrail is splendid as it just seems to flow with the staircase. After I got over the great glow of the staircase I closed my eyes and pictured the rooms with the 1820's colors. Oh, how beautiful!


The stair steps and the handrail have protective covers on them until the time comes to paint and stain. The handrail is walnut and will be stained and the rest of the staircase will be painted a shade of white. This staircase is elegant and speaks to us of a grand lifestyle, but most of all it brings warmth to the home of Col. Ben and Lucy.


There is a lot of work going on around here at all different times. One cold morning I ran outside to see what Carol F., Jim and John were doing. They were planting tulips bulbs now so that tulips will be blooming in 'my' yard in the spring! The painters are continuing to do their good work as usual. They are an easygoing, fun loving group that takes on any task that needs to be done. Hey, this group continues to grow in numbers as a fellow named Bob joined them last week. I know the Friends are quite pleased to have this group of guys helping!


Hey, I have got to tell you that the mouse cousins did a lot of reminiscing about the Stephenson's when we were in Columbia, Mo. this summer. Cousin Elzey, you know the cousin who knows everything, got us to talking about how the Stephenson name and their descendants have all but disappeared. With that we all got to thinking and figuring out who the descendants of Col. Ben and Lucy were and are. From what we figured out there are no living descendants with the Stephenson name.


Now, there is a bright side to all this. There are descendants through Julia Stephenson and Palemon Winchester that are lineal descendants, but with a different last name. Lineal descendants? Those are words Ol' Henry didn't understand, I am just a mouse you know. Well, I heard Sid explaining descendants the other day and I learned a lot. A lineal descendant is in direct line to an ancestor like a child, grandchild, great grandchild and on forever. Henry understands that also means a niece, nephew or great niece or nephew and so on in not a lineal descendant. Hey, we have all learned something and that is good.


Now, let Henry here try to explain how all this happened. I gotta' think hard and carefully! Col. Ben and Lucy had four children, two boys and two girls. James, the oldest son, died young leaving a son, Kyle. Kyle died in Arkansas in 1884, apparently unmarried. Benjamin V., the youngest Stephenson child, went looking for bounty land in Yuba County, California at age 42. He was not married when he left and word did not reach Illinois that he had married in California. It is a pretty good guess that James and Benjamin V. did not have sons who carried on the Stephenson family name. If they did, it has all been lost over the years.
Well guys, that left it to the Stephenson daughters, Julia and Elvira, to propagate the Stephenson family line. There is little is known about Elvira and Bill Starr's four children. But, Ol' Henry did tell you long ago that Elvira's obituary said she had only one survivor, her son William E. Starr of the Arizona Territory. It appears to Henry that William was Elvira's only descendant.


Thank goodness Julia and Palemon Winchester had nine children to carry on the Stephenson line. Julia had seven girls and two boys. As with the Stephenson family, the boys did not have children to carry on the name so that ended the Winchester name. Ol' Henry could not remember about Julia's girls, but Cousin Elzey knew, like always. There were seven Winchester girls. Of those seven, two died as infants, four either died young, childless or have been lost to history because their married name is not known. You got it, that left one Winchester daughter to keep the Stephenson line going - and she did! It was Elvira Winchester who married Milton Matthews and had nine children of which six grew to adulthood.


Golly, when you think about a family name disappearing you can really see why with this family. Of the six living Matthews children, five girls and one boy, only two girls married and had children. So, any Stephenson lineal descendants would be through the two Matthews girls who married. These girls, Marion and Lucy, were the great grandchildren of Col. Ben and Lucy and one was Lucy's namesake. That sure makes her extra special to Ol' Henry
Marion Matthews Dearing was the mother of the four Dearing boys, including Fred whose old letter led Karen to the portraits of Col. Ben and Lucy. Lucy Matthews married David Thornton and it is through their son David that we have the Thornton and Hamilton families of the Lexington area.
You want to talk about the number of greats like in great grandchildren? The Hamilton children in Lexington are the great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of Col. Ben and Lucy. It was Elvira Winchester Matthews and her daughters who kept the Stephenson line going. It sure is good to know that there is a little bit of Col. Ben and Lucy around today!


Ol' Henry has heard another tidbit that is fun to know. The researchers do know that Col. Ben's sisters were very proud of Ben and the Stephenson name. Although Col. Ben's sisters married giving up the Stephenson name, during the next 200 years Benjamin and Stephenson are names used in the naming of his sister's descendants. The Stephenson name lives on in another way!
Well my friends, I am turning in for the night. My fluffy bed is ready and it is nice to sleep with the soft candlelight in the windows.


MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
See you next year,


Henry


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