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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - July 28, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. It seems there is always something interesting going on at "my" house. Well, add an energetic director and you will really have activity! This old mouse knew something was up when Dan installed a computer, but little did I know how busy things would become! RoxAnn was here bright and early last Monday to begin her position as Director. Well, RoxAnn was immediately busy with meetings! The Paint Crew was here; an evening meeting was held here; the garden and grounds folks were here and Sid's students worked at the excavation site 3 mornings! What a week! There were lots of people around and Henry loved every minute of it!
One thing Ol' Henry heard during one of RoxAnn's meeting was talk about docents to guide tours of The Stephenson House. This old mouse will keep his ears open and will get the scoop on docents to you as soon as I hear more.
Sid's excavation site has produced many artifacts including old clay drainage pipes and a great big old iron drainage system. Reckon' each owner had his own idea on water drainage! The unexpected find was a cistern dating from the Wolf family in the mid-1800's. Ol' Henry understands a cistern held the rainwater that ran off the roof to be used for washing, watering the gardens and anywhere else except drinking or cooking.
Let me tell you about THE greatest find of all in the excavation. A ham bone with serious mouse teeth marks! Yep, it was in with other artifacts that date from when Col. Ben and Lucy lived here. Ol' Henry just knows that it was Great-great-great-Grandfather Samuel who spent a lot of time with that ham bone! That old guy always did tell the young ones to nibble around on bones to get the calcium they needed. Hey, it's about time those archeologists started looking for my Stephenson mouse ancestors!!
The researchers continued to be busy too! They have new information and it must be good. They sure are smiling big smiles! They have located deeds for land Col. Ben and Lucy purchased. A land deed includes lots of information the researchers need, such as the date, name of buyer or seller, the county and state where they live in addition to a description of the land and purchase price. No wonder Karen and that bunch are happy!
Ol' Henry heard long ago that Col. Ben and Lucy lived in Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, Virginia in 1803, when their first child, Julia, was born. These newly found land deeds prove that the Stephensons did live in Jefferson County, Virginia, around 1803. I hear there are a number of Stephenson deeds for property in Jefferson County with the last one dated May 1806.
Col. Ben and Lucy were on the move and by August 1806, maybe as early as March, they were living in the Wellsburg area, Brooke County, Virginia. They had good reason to be there because Lucy was of age to inherit from her father's estate. It looks like Col. Ben and Lucy, daughter Julia and newborn son, James, lived in Brooke County while the estate was being settled. Ben Stephenson even served as a juror on 3 juries in Brooke County in August 1806. Ol' Henry knows Karen wishes there were more details about the settlement of the estate of Lucy's father, "Indian" Van's. The estate settlement records do show that in August 1806 Col. Ben and Lucy sold a parcel of the Brooke County land she had inherited. Col. Ben and Lucy sold 150 acres in Brooke County for $3000! That translates to $36,864 in today's money!
Well, the researchers continued searching for the trail of the Stephenson family before they came to Illinois in 1809. A deed for land the Stephenson's sold in 1807 shows Col. Ben and Lucy living in Logan County, Kentucky. The Stephenson's were still living in Logan County, Kentucky in March 1809, when their daughter Elvira was born.
The researchers have the 1807 Logan County, Kentucky Tax List that shows Benjamin Stephenson owning two parcels of land in Logan County and one parcel in Henderson County, Kentucky. This Tax List also shows Stephenson possessing a total of 7 blacks, 2 over the age of sixteen and 6 horses.
The other day Ol' Henry was hanging out in Great-great Grandpappy Ezra's great hidey place when Karen came with good news to share with Sid. The researchers have finally been able to pinpoint an actual area where Col. Ben and Lucy lived before they came to Illinois. Yep, a Logan County, Kentucky, deed for land sold by Ben and Lucy in August 1809 states the Stephensons lived on a thousand acres of land located "on the waters of the Whipperwill". It was time to get a map of Kentucky and find the Whipperwill! Sure enough, Ol' Henry was there when they located the Whipperwill River in Logan County, Kentucky. The river runs south from Russellville to Tennessee.
Remember, we knew Benjamin Stephenson was a charter member of the Free and Accepted Masons in Russellville. Now we know where the Stephensons lived in Russellville. They were living "on the waters of the Whipperwill". This mouse knows the researchers are very excited and happy with their findings! They have searched a long time as they tried to figure out where Ben and Lucy were before they came to Illinois. Finally they have been successful and as one said, they sure hope this is just the tip of the iceberg! Henry has all his fingers and toes crossed for you! '.
The Annual Stephenson House 50/50 Auction is October 2! So, ya' all be looking around your house for items to donate. Remember, the things you might think are old junk might be just what Sid and Jim would like to have for the auction!! Just give Jim 656-8752 or Sid 656-9408 a call and arrange for pick-up!
There is more good news from the garden! The grapes are growing and the sesame seeds are looking good! Ol' Henry is really, really fond of sesame seeds and will be the first to know when they are ready!


See ya' later,
Henry


 


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