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
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,