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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - August 24, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. These last weeks remind Ol' Henry of the summer not so long ago when EJ, Keith and Jack reinforced the old second floor joists that the monster termites enjoyed many years ago. Well, it was hot! One of the guys wrote the temp was 103 and the date on one of the new joists. He wanted that temperature and date to be recorded for the future generations. Now, just how hot do you think it has been as Keith and Jack work on the summer kitchen? Ol' Henry thinks it has been hotter than 103 - probably more like 109! I sure am glad that Keith's wife has kept them supplied with water!

Hey, how about that summer kitchen? Since it is new construction some of the rules of restoration do not apply and concrete blocks are being used for the frame. The summer kitchen is going to really look great and a big thank you to Kienstra, Inc. for the concrete blocks and to Richards Brick, our favorite brick company, who donated the bricks for the exterior walls. You are both wonderful friends! Just squint your eyes and picture the completed building with brick walls and a shake roof! Nice, huh?
The word summer kitchen means different things to different people. It could be the outside kitchen folks used during the hot months of summer to keep the cooking heat away from the living quarters. It could be the kitchen detached from the house for year round use. We know the Stephensons had an attached kitchen, but there is a good chance they also had a kitchen for summer use. So, the building is authentic to the time period.

Col. Ben's house has been restored as much to the original as possible but there are a few modern wonders! There is a bathroom, running water, electric lights in some areas, a telephone and a computer! The Stephenson House telephone number is 692-1818 and the email is stephensonhouse@sbc.net. You are welcome to telephone or e-mail for answers to any questions you may have.


Henry here has been lying back in the shade, staying real still, wishing for a breeze and just reminiscing. Got to thinking about how Col. Ben celebrated on the 4th of July. Why did Ol' Henry think of the 4th of July? Probably because it is so hot! And, Col. Ben loved the day! The stories the great-great grandpappys Samuel and Ezra told about the big celebrations on the 4th of July in Kaskaskia and in Edwardsville are still remembered. How did they celebrate the 4th of July when the United States was so young? In 1810 the men met under an arbor in Kaskaskia for dinner in the afternoon. After dinner they made toasts in celebration of the colonies' independence. They made toasts, drank to toasts and made more toasts and drank to more toasts. Each toast was followed with the firing of volleys. Toasts were held high for George Washington, President Madison, Liberty, the Constitution, the Vice President, Congress, the heroes of '76, the militia, industry and the economy! A St. Louis newspaper reported a toast to the demise of the bad guys Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr and their associates: "May every traitor like them, fall before the strong hand of American indignation". The patriotic fever was high!
Our friend Rose found information about the celebration in Kaskaskia in 1810 in an old St. Louis newspaper. It reported: "The utmost harmony prevailed throughout the day … the celebration of the day was closed by an elegant ball in the evening at Major B. Stephensons, where a brilliant circle of Ladies attended…" Col. Ben made sure the ladies also celebrated the 4th of July!


All the Stephenson House mouse families know the stories told about 4th of July 1819 in Edwardsville. Col. Ben presided over the activities of the day and probate records show that he spent a good deal of money on the celebration. Old' Ezra would smile real big as he told how the day began at noon with a procession that walked from the Edwardsville Hotel to Daniel Tolman's new building where a full day of speeches began. Gen. R. Hopkins, an old Revolutionary War survivor, read the Declaration of Independence, an oration was made by Nicholas Hansen and by mid afternoon it was time for the excellent dinner prepared by W.C. Wiggins, the popular innkeeper.


After dinner there were a great number of toasts made honoring Washington, Madison, Jefferson, President Monroe, General Andrew Jackson, the Army, the Navy, the Militia and the Post-Office Department. The men seemed to compete in proposing toasts and almost everyone and everything was toasted and cheered!
Cheers followed each toast and the number of cheers was recorded. Old Ezra's story relates that most toasts got three cheers; some got six cheers and one got nine cheers. Only two toasts received twelve cheers! One was the toast made "to the degraded and unfortunate sons of Africa. May man soon cease to dishonor his Maker and disgrace himself by trafficking in human flesh." The other toast to receive twelve cheers was the toast to the state of Illinois with its wise constitution, healthful climate, fertile soil and its diversified woods and prairie making it the most desirable of the new states!


Apparently some of the men had their toasts prepared before the day. Daniel Smith toasted with a poem that Ezra said went like this: "A comet appeared last night in the sky, To give us a toast for the Fourth of July: May she sail up Missouri, and - slavery - end it, And scorch with her tail those that wish to extend it."
Old Ezra loved to tell of that 4th of July full of toasts when every man there must have made at least one toast. It was a day when everyone got to talk, drink and cheer! Ezra said The Spectator wrote that the utmost hilarity that prevailed. The 4th of July celebration of 1819 was very different from our celebrations today. When was the last time you heard the Declaration of Independence read aloud?


The drawing for the Stephenson House Car Raffle is Sept. 5! You can buy tickets at the Goshen Market, Cassens Auto Dealership, from a Board Member or give RoxAnn a call at 692-1818. Hey, even a mouse knows that the odds are real good that you could be the winner of the car or $20,000 cash. Don't get left out - buy your ticket soon!
Oh my gosh! A little boy just dropped his ice cream cone on the sidewalk. Gotta go! Henry is one lucky guy on this hot day! Sorry about that, little boy.

See ya' later,
Henry


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