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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - October 26, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. This has been a great time to just hang around, hang out and watch the people come and go. RoxAnn and the new volunteer Erin have put the volunteer and docent program into high gear, starting with training sessions in November. The volunteers will learn about the early history of the Illinois Territory, the county and the Stephenson House. They will learn about period clothing, period speaking and they will observe a sample tour of the Stephenson House. Long ago Ol' Henry said he would let you know when you were needed. Well, this is the call from Henry. You are needed now! Just pick up your telephone and call RoxAnn 692-1818 or Carol 656-0888 and tell them you would like to volunteer!


Keith has finished all the brickwork on the kitchen, including the beehive oven on the east outside wall. It is so cool! Now Keith and Jack are working to finish the roof, the interior floor and staircase. When done, the kitchen will be ready. The other day Ol' Henry looked out from his hidey place and saw smoke coming from the kitchen chimney! Keith was checking out his handy work, and yes, the kitchen fireplace does work! Next thing you know, RoxAnn will be cooking in the kitchen. Henry can't wait for that to happen!
Did you see the super cornstalk wrapped around the lamppost? Henry heard that Jill grows this kind of stuff for decoration and she gave this one to the Stephenson House. Thanks Jill! Henry loves it 'cause it is a good place to play and also watch the world go by. One sunny morning Ol' Henry was peeping out from the corn stalks at the cars going by and got to thinking about all where all those people were going. Did the folks in 1818, 1820, and 1822 do anything except work? Each day had to be filled considering the time it took to grow food, cook food, bake bread, take care of the animals, make soap and candles and chop wood needed for cooking and heating fires!
Henry here just knew that these folks had to get together and do some fun things! Finally, I started remembering the stories Great-great-grandpappy Ezra told. Henry here remembers what Ol' Ezra told about the physicians who formed a medical association. He said John Todd was the first president and the First District Medical Society of the State of Illinois met in Edwardsville in May 1820. At the same time the mechanics formed an organization known as the Edwardsville Mechanics Society. A singing society was also organized around this time and the first public library in Illinois was formed right here in Edwardsville. The librarian was John Randall and Benaiah Robinson, the surveyor, was on the board of directors. Great-great-grandpappy Ezra told that there was an annual meeting of the stockholders of the Edwardsville Library in January 1821. The meeting was held at the Courthouse where they would elect five directors. This was the first Courthouse and was a log cabin built in the Public Square.


There was a Female Sunday School Society in Edwardsville in the early 1820s. Ol' Ezra said that Lucy was secretary of this society. And, he heard her say there were two schools that met each Sunday. One was for "colored people" who attended regularly and were happy with the instruction. Lucy said the second school was for people of her race and it was intended to correct the morals of those who, by a series of oppressions, had been lowered to ignorance and vice. The society felt that only the greatest moral instruction could help them. Ol' Ezra said it appeared that the Society felt real strong about the Sunday School Society and even opened it to men. Looks like the women decided the men could use some help too!
All the societies had a cause and a reason for being formed, but Henry knows there was the social side of each group and the members had a good time.
The residents in the 1820's were not without entertainment. For example, the St. Louis Theatrical Corps performed dramatic theatre at the home of John and Lucretia Lusk. This took place on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening in May 1820. In September of 1820, Gov. Shadrach Bond reviewed the regiment of militia under the command of Col. William Parkinson. This was a special day with lots of activities for everyone.
The story Ol' Henry remembers the best is about the Museum of Fine Arts that came to Edwardsville. This exhibit had it all, including a variety of paintings and imitations of life in wax. There was also a powerful electric machine and apparatus to be observed. And, there was music on an elegant organ and more! The exhibition was held during the first week of Court and admission was 25 cents and kids half price.
So much for the bit of early Edwardsville culture for now, because this old mouse is going to take one more scamper through the garden. The gardeners are ready to put the garden to bed for the winter and Ol' Henry needs to make sure all the seeds have been gathered up for my winter meals!


See ya' later,
Henry


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