Sunday, August 20, 2017 HOME | CONTACT US | SUPPORT US | VOLUNTEER
    Preservation Education Colonel Stephenson  



Inside the
Stephenson House
Henry's Maze
Henry Coloring Page 1
Henry Coloring Page 2

<<< Previous       Next >>>

INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 13, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Henry is sure most of you know about the doings at The Stephenson House here lately. Col. Ben's house was the place to be for the 4th Annual 50/50 Auction that was the best one ever, thanks to the generosity of those who donated items to the auction. There were lots of good auction items, good food and good people that all made for a fun day. Ol' Henry saw the Friends and some of the younger men from town all working to make the auction a success. Good going, Jim and Sid. You are good leaders!
The next weekend Mary and her committee served a tea for Lucy. This tea was undoubtedly the most elegant event to happen at Col. Ben's house in many a year! It was a day just for the ladies, with beautiful table settings, ladies in period dress serving tea as a dulcimer played in the background. Tiny cucumber sandwiches, scones and other dainty foods reminiscent of Lucy's time completed the tea. And, each of the lady guests purchased a piece of Lucy's Spode china pattern as a gift to her. Ol' Henry could tell that Lucy was delighted! The Friends have been busy raising funds for Col. Ben's house with these two fun events. Ol' Henry wonders what their next project will be!


Remember a couple of weeks ago when Ol' Henry learned about George Washington and other early surveyors as I listened to The Paint Crew talk? Well, a few days later Karen came in with a story to tell about Benaiah Robinson, one of Edwardsville's first surveyors that she had heard about from Jeff, the surveyor. Benaiah began his career as a surveyor in Edwardsville at the age of 21. Benaiah, born in 1796, came with his parents John and Mary Robinson, from North Carolina to Kaskaskia. In 1809 they settled in what would become Edwardsville. Do you remember that John and Mary Robinson were neighbors of Col. Ben and Lucy? In 1819 Col. Ben bought the land for his new brick home from John Robinson. Their homes were only about 800 feet apart. At that same time the men were business partners in the Todd and Others Addition. Ol' Henry thinks Col. Ben knew Benaiah real well. Anyway, Jeff the surveyor says Benaiah was a smart fellow! By the time he was 16 he had taught himself to read and write well. He then decided it was time to learn "figures" or mathematics. Maybe he was planning on being a surveyor! Benaiah borrowed books from other settlers and taught himself mathematics up to and including trigonometry. There wasn't paper available for practicing 'ciphering', so Benaiah got a plank board from the stump of a walnut tree that he blackened and used as a blackboard.


By 1817 Benaiah had acquired reading, writing and advanced math skills so he applied for a deputy surveyor position under Ashael Enloe, County Surveyor. John York Sawyer was appointed County Surveyor by the end of the year and he hired Benaiah Robinson. Sawyer really needed an assistant because he had an eyesight problem. Sawyer appointed Benaiah to perform the work in exchange for half of the pay of the County Surveyor. Benaiah worked as Sawyer's deputy until 1821 when he was appointed County Surveyor by the Illinois State Legislature. Among his jobs was the marking of the street right of ways for The Original Town of Edwardsville that was platted in 1825. At that time Benaiah also helped found the Edwardsville Library Association, the first public library in Illinois. During the early 1820s Benaiah ran for public office twice and lost. His father died in 1821and his brother, James, died in 1825. Well, Jeff the surveyor told Karen that Benaiah left the state in 1825 and didn't return until 1830. Ol' Henry thinks he must have just needed some time away 'cause he never did say much about where he was for those five years.
Benaiah came back to Edwardsville full of energy! He married Jane Hoxley upon his return, taught school and in 1832 and 1833 wrote a Farmers Almanac. In the year 1835 the position of County Surveyor became an office elected by the people in the county. Benaiah won the election by defeating Gershom Flagg and served for four successive terms plus a two year term. You might just remember that Henry here told you that the position of surveyor was even more respected than that of a school teacher. And, by golly, Benaiah had been a school teacher too!


The Second Constitutional Convention of the State of Illinois was held in 1847. Remember, Col. Ben was elected delegate to the First Constitutional Convention in 1818. Well, Jeff tells us that Benaiah was elected delegate to the Second Constitutional Convention with more total votes than all the total votes combined. Guess that was a landslide victory! Benaiah was a man of many strengths and interests. Jeff's research shows that Benaiah was well-educated man, mainly self-taught who owned or developed a lot of the land in the town of Edwardsville. And he was a business partner with Col. Stephenson and Ninian Edwards, major politicians of the day. He was elected County Surveyor and served the people for 18 years. He had been a teacher, an author, and served the interests of the people in helping provide a library for Edwardsville. As a politician in 1847 Benaiah was elected by an overwhelming vote to represent the people at the Illinois State Second Constitutional Convention. Benaiah Robinson, an Edwardville resident, was a very important, influential person in the early development of Madison County. In 1853 he packed up his wife and four children and headed over the Oregon Trail. Ol' Henry bets that life just got too settled and Benaiah was looking for a new frontier. He settled in Benton County Oregon and died there in 1869. At the time of his death he still owned 750 acres of land in the Edwardsville area.


Ol' Henry just knows that Benaiah was one of the many men who visited Col. Ben and Lucy at their home. Betcha' great-great-grandpappy Ezra enjoyed those visits from his hidey place that Ol' Henry now occupies. It is a great place to hear all that goes on around here!


This mouse is out of here for a nap! Been a very busy couple of weeks trying to keep up with all that was going on.

See ya' later,

Henry



 


<<< Previous       Next >>>

© 2007 The Friends of the Benjamin Stephenson House