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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - November 9, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again, keeping an eye on the preparations for the March opening of the Stephenson House. And believe me, there is a lot going on. Right now there are day and evening training sessions for volunteer docents. Henry is learning too as I listen from my hidey place. If you would like to attend these sessions call RoxAnn 692-1818, 'cause Henry knows she would love to talk with you.


And, how about that kitchen? Keith and Jack have the shake roof completed and are now working on the inside. The other day Ol' Henry heard Keith moving around in the kitchen way before the sun was up. That was kinda' early so Henry went back to sleep. Later in the day good smells were coming from the kitchen. Ol' Henry twitched his nose and perked up his ears to find out what was going on. Turns out Keith can cook and he was making ham and beans for dinner! He had soaked the beans before the sun came up until mid morning. Then he added leeks and ham hocks and then hung the big black iron pot over the fire in the kitchen fireplace. A couple hours later Keith took the pot off the fire and just sat it on the hearth where heat in the bricks continued to cook the beans. At dinnertime the beans were steaming hot and fit for a king. Everyone said they were delicious. Ol' Henry sure enjoyed the beans that I know Keith left for me. Thanks Keith!


A few days ago Henry here packed a lunch and headed for a visit to Cousin Jake in Lower Town. Now, that is a pretty long trip for a mouse, ya know. When Ol' Henry arrived he found Cousin Jake and his buddies sharing a big bag of corn chips. It sure was good to see everyone again and better yet, corn chips are Henry's favorite snack! It turns out they were talking about the punishment for fighting and stealing in Edwardsville around 1820. At that time, the state of Illinois was brand new but Madison County already had a Court, judges and juries to decide on punishments and fines. Hey, Cousin Jake and his buddies told about the Court ordering a man found guilty of stealing receive 31 lashes on the bare back, well laid on, at the public square in Edwardsville! This was punishment for stealing $13 worth of clothing and a book. And, get this, all of the stuff had been returned to the owner except for a $5 pair of pantaloons. Well, the guys gave Ol' Henry a hard time when they realized I did not know that this kind of punishment ever happened in Edwardsville. Ol' Henry had just never, ever heard these stories! Gosh, Ol' Henry had always thought the worst thing that had happened at the public square was the trial of Edward Coles about his freeing of his slaves. The same term of Court in 1820 tried two men for stealing $1050 worth of US notes, watches, compasses, magnets and magnifying glasses. The watches and money were returned to the owners. The Court ordered the two thieves receive 31 lashes, on the bare back and also well laid on. Henry was shocked!
You know, this old mouse does wonder how the Court decided 31 lashes for a theft of $13 and also 31 lashes for a theft of $1050.


Cousin Jake had a few more stories to tell about different treatment for stealing. On the same day Jacob Stump received 25 lashes for stealing and Charles, a Negro, was sentenced to 35 lashes for stealing. Later the Court reconsidered the case of Charles and increased his sentence to 40 lashes instead of 35. My gosh!
These fellows loved telling Ol' Henry about the whippings of 1820! They told me that James Foley, who stole a shovel and Benjamin Roe, who stole $15 worth of state paper, were w hipped by Sheriff Nathaniel Buckmaster. Each man got 15 lashes on the bare back, and, as usual, well laid on.
Sure looks to Henry that stealing was not to be tolerated probably because of the high value given to property rights. A lot of lashes on the bare back and well laid on should make a thief think twice before he stole. Henry learned a lot about the people and the law in 1820 Edwardsville.


Fighting, also called riot and assault and battery, brought a lot of men to Court. Cousin Jake's buddies chuckled when they told Ol' Henry that Hail Mason, a justice of peace, Theophilus Smith, a judge and David Gillespie, father of judge Joseph Gillespie, were all charged with fighting! They knew these men were friends of Col. Ben and loved to tell Ol' Henry the stories. Ol' Henry was embarrassed about how much he did not know. There sure must have been a lot of fighting going on in Edwardsville. When Theophilus Smith was charged, he was one of 39 men who were fighting. Wonder if it was the same fight. Well, at least they were not killing each other! Henry here did ask what the punishment was for fighting. Could Theophilus Smith possibly have received lashes for fighting? No. Cousin Jake made it clear the usual fine for fighting was $3.00, but some times the fine would be as high as $25, $50 or even $100. Jake said that Theophilus let the judge decide his fate, rather than a jury, and he got off with a fine of 12 ½ cents.


Cousin Jake's buddies were really having a great time telling Ol' Henry about who got in trouble in 1820! They had to tell me about William May who was charged for burglary and Jeptha Lampkin who was charged with kidnapping. Who in the world would a man kidnap in 1820 in Edwardsville? The burglar, William May, was a merchant and a friend of Col. Ben's and the guys loved telling Henry the story.
Well, it sure was some visit with Cousin Jake and his buddies. Ol' Henry certainly learned a lot and did a lot of thinking on the trip back home. One thing is for sure, 1820 was many, many years ago and life was really different in Edwardsville.


Right now "my" house has a yard full of beautiful leaves to play in and Ol' Henry is going to have some fun!

See ya' later,
Henry

 


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