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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - February 1, 2006

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. The first thing Ol' Henry wants to talk about is the entertainment at the Annual Meeting when The Paint Crew turned into the Tuesday Morning Militia! Armed with brooms and paintbrushes in their back pockets Sid, Joe, George, Chuck and Bob drilled under Commander Walt to the cadence written by Stephenson House poet laureate Elizabeth. Henry was around for the practice sessions where this fun loving group once again had a lot of fun as they developed into an outstanding drill team. Good going to all who had a part in this!


Hey, when Ol' Henry was in Lower Town a while back I learned an interesting tidbit from Cousin Jake and the guys. In 1803 Meriwether Lewis was at the U.S. Armory and Arsenal in Harpers Ferry to have guns and ironworks made for his expedition. Take a guess as to who else was there! Yep, Ben and Lucy were living in Harpers Ferry when Lewis was there. Someday Karen may find out that the men knew or at least met each other in Harpers Ferry. The guys said they have heard that Meriwether Lewis bought rifles, lots of tomahawks, knives, powderhorns, bullet molds, fish gigs and other items made of iron, including extra parts for repairing the guns to take back to the Wood River camp. Cousin Jake thinks that Lewis probably brought all these items back by the route Col. Ben followed when he returned with his family from Congress and Washington City in 1815. This could well be true.


Ol' Henry has a mighty fine life here at "my" house and does wonder how it could possibly get any better. Well, it just did! Keith and his wife Karen bought a big bag of corn and I just know it is for me. Henry has been very busy storing the corn away just in case we get some cold, cold weather like we had a few years ago. I now have secret stashes of corn all over the place. The other day the sun was shining and the day turned nice and warm. It was a perfect day for Ol' Henry to open the stash of corn in the vegetable garden, relax and nibble away on corn while admiring "my" house. I sure do like the Stephenson House sign in front. It is very appropriate and looks perfect near the post lamp and the brick sidewalk. The kitchen looks simply great! By the way, have you checked out the shape of the Bee Hive oven on the outside wall of the kitchen? It sure looks like a bee hive to me.


Henry here has also noticed that the privy is constructed on the site of the original privy Col. Ben built. That's where it belongs, don't you think? Keith and Jack have it completely under brick and it looks great. Everything about "my" house and grounds is looking so good, Henry can hardly stand the excitement.
From my spot in the garden Ol' Henry could see the new drapes in the windows. All the rooms in the 1820s part of "my" house now have drapes and are they beautiful! Kathy has been very busy and has to be staying up rather late at night to get all this done. Henry overheard Kathy telling RoxAnn that she has everything finished except the bed in the master bedroom. Hearing this, Henry took a look at the bed. Seems that Kathy has a lot more sewing to complete the bed linens and hanging. But, Kathy is something else and will do it. We are so lucky to have her, don't you think?


Another thought just crossed Ol' Henry's mind. I overheard Karen talking about how in the early going a lot of the records led her to believe that Elvira and Benjamin V. were either twins or very close in age. You will remember that they are Col. Ben and Lucy's two younger children. Well, Elvira's obituary was located not long ago and it provided the date and place of her birth. Henry wanted to be sure he had reported this to you folks. So, for the record, Elvira was born in Logan County, Kentucky in 1809 and Benjamin V. in Randolph County, Kaskaskia, Illinois in 1812. With this another question mark in the research has been solved.


The Acquisitions Committee is doing a phenomenal job finding period furnishings at good prices. Their most recent purchase is a corner cupboard that will be placed in the dining room and will display Lucy's china. Henry knows they will put it in the perfect place in the room. Ol' Henry overheard Elizabeth and Sid talking about the "sunburst" on the back of that wonderful old settle that I told you about a couple weeks ago. They understand that it is a Pennsylvania Dutch design for good luck. Sure enough, Henry here took a good look at the settle and there is a "sunburst". Many people must have rested their backs on this settle that caused wear to the sunburst, but it is visible. This settle makes Henry think of a family and warm, cozy evenings in front of a fire.


Well, Ol' Henry has also heard of another purchase by the Acquisitions Committee. They just purchased a candle box with a slide lid. Now, Ol' Henry isn't sure what you all know about the old time candles that the Stephenson House will be using, so I will fill you in. Old time candles are made from tallow, also called fat, and also from beeswax. Tallow and beeswax are at the top of Henry's list of very nutritious and great tasting snacks and I have been looking forward to them. A slide lid candle box! Indeed!


I now hear RoxAnn and Erin working with the volunteer docents teaching them about the history of the house and the Stephenson family. I think I better quit eating corn and go see how that the docents are coming along.


See ya' later,
Henry




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