Benjamin Stephenson, US Congress, Territory of Illinois

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Colonel Benjamin Van Stephenson

Birthplace: York County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: October 10, 1822 (53)
Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, United States
Place of Burial: Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Stephenson and Mary Stephenson
Husband of Lucy Eleanor Stephenson
Father of Julia Eleanor Winchester; James E Stephenson; Elvira Amanda Maddox and Benjamin Van Stephenson
Brother of William Stephenson; James Stephenson; Margaret Sterrett; Sarah Kennedy; Isabella Stephenson and 1 other

Managed by: Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c)
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Stephenson, US Congress, Territory of Illinois

Benjamin Stephenson was born in Pennsylvania on July 8, 1769. He moved to Virginia in 1788, and then to the Illinois Territory. He became sheriff of Randolph County, Illinois in 1809.

Stephenson became a colonel in the Illinois militia, and commanded a regiment in the War of 1812. In 1813 he was appointed adjutant general of Illinois. He served as the representative of the Illinois Territory in the United States Congress from 1814 to 1816. He was a representative to the convention that wrote the first constitution for the State of Illinois in 1818.

Stephenson built the Benjamin Stephenson House in Edwardsville, Illinois. This is one of the oldest houses still standing in the State.

Stephenson died on October 10, 1822, and is buried in Edwardsville. Stephenson County, Illinois was named for him.

Colonel Benjamin Stephenson's 1769 – 1820

Benjamin Stephenson was born on July 8, 1769, in York County Pennsylvania. He was the son of James and Mary Reed Stephenson. His father, James, was a Private in the Revolutionary War, and served as a Waggoner including a period at Valley Forge during the time of the long and severe winter of 1777. Mary was the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Reed, Benjamin’s grandfather, an officer in the Revolutionary War. In the early 1790’s, James and Mary Stephenson and their seven children moved to Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia.

The next record of Benjamin Stephenson is in the 1799 Augusta County, Virginia, legal records that report him married to Lucy Swearingen. The Stephensons began their family in Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, Virginia, in 1803 when their first child, Julia, was born. In 1806, James Stephenson, named after his grandfather, was born in Brooke County, Virginia, during the family’s stay while Lucy was attending to her inheritance from her father.

In 1807, the family moved to Logan County, Kentucky, awaiting the opening of the Illinois Territory. The territory opened in 1809, and by June of that year Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards had appointed Benjamin as the first sheriff of Randolph County, Illinois. Stephenson was appointed adjutant general under Commander-in-Chief Ninian Edwards during the War of 1812. In September of 1812, eight companies, totaling 570 men, were under Col. Benjamin Stephenson’s command at Ft. Russell in Edwardsville. In 1814 and 1815 he served in the United States House of Representatives as Illinois Delegate. In 1815 he accepted the appointment by President James Madison to Receiver of Moneys at the Edwardsville Land Office. He held this position until his death in 1822.

During Stephenson’s tenure as Receiver of Moneys he served as representative to the convention that framed the Illinois Constitution and was Sub-Indian Agent working with Auguste Chouteau and Edwards in negotiating the Treaty of Edwardsville to purchase land from the Kickapoo Indians. Stephenson was President of the Bank of Edwardsville and was appointed to the first Board of Trustees for the town of Edwardsville. He also held various other local township offices. Benjamin Stephenson was a true servant of the people.

Benjamin Stephenson died October 12, 1822, and is buried in Lusk Cemetery, Edwardsville, Illinois.

Life Timeline


1769 Born on July 8, in York County, Pennsylvania. About 1791 Emigrated with parents to Berkeley County, Virginia.

1799 Married Lucy Swearingen in Virginia. 

1809 Second Sheriff of Randolph County, Illinois Territory. 1812-1814 Advanced to Colonel in two campaigns of the War of 1812. September 1814 Elected Delegate from Illinois Territory to the 14th United States Congress. September 1814 The unprecedented third term of the 13th Congress convened. Washington had been burned by the British in August. October 1814 Stephenson is appointed to fill the seat of Shadrach Bond, retiree, in 13th Congress. November 14, 1814 Stephenson takes his seat in the 13th United States Congress, filling the seat of Bond. May 11, 1816 President James Madison appoints Stephenson Receiver of Moneys of the newly established Edwardsville Land Office. 1818 Edwardsville’s first bank opens. Stephenson is one of organizers and elected president of the bank. 1818 Stephenson is a Madison County Representative to the Constitutional Convention in Kaskaskia, to frame State of Illinois Constitution. February 23, 1819 Edwardsville receives town charter from State of Illinois. Stephenson appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees. August 6, 1819 Stephenson, Illinois Sub-Agent for Indian Affairs, assists Auguste Chouteau in negotiating treaty for the United States to purchase 14 million acres in central Illinois from the Kickapoo Indians. 1820 Began construction of his new home south of Edwardsville. 1822 Died October 10, in his home. Was buried in Lusk Memorial Cemetery, Edwardsville, Illinois.

Birth: Jul. 8, 1769 Death: Oct. 10, 1822 Edwardsville Madison County Illinois, USA

US Congressman. He lived in Virginia and Kentucky before moving to Randolph County, Illinois Territory in 1809. Later that year he was appointed Randolph County's first Sheriff by Governor Ninian Edwards, with whom he remained friendly for the rest of his life. Stephenson later moved to Edwardsville, Madison County, and operated a general store and other businesses. During the War of 1812 he was appointed commander of a regiment of the territorial militia with the rank of Colonel, took part in two campaigns, and was later appointed as the militia's adjutant general. In September 1814 he was elected as the territory's non-voting Delegate in the United States House of Representatives, serving a partial term from November 1814 to March 1815, and a full term from March 1815 to March 1817. Stephenson did not run for reelection in 1816. In April 1816 he was appointed Receiver of the United States Land Office in Edwardsville, an office he held until his death. In 1818 he was a Delegate to Illinois' first constitutional convention. In 1819 he was a founder and the first President of the Bank of Edwardsville, serving until his death. The Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House in Edwardsville, which he built in 1820, is operated as a museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (bio by: Bill McKern)

Family links:

 Maria Reed Stephenson (1742 - 1828)

 Lucy Eleanor Swearingen Stephenson (1788 - 1850)

 Julia Eleanor Stephenson Winchester (1803 - 1880)*
 James W. Stephenson (1806 - 1838)*
 Elvira Amanda Stephenson Maddox (1809 - 1881)*
 Benjamin Van Stephenson (1812 - ____)*
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Burial: Lusk Cemetery Edwardsville Madison County Illinois, USA

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Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: Bill McKern Record added: Sep 06, 2007 Find A Grave Memorial# 21400076

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Benjamin Stephenson, US Congress, Territory of Illinois's Timeline

July 8, 1769
York County, Pennsylvania, United States
November 24, 1803
Age 34
Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States
Age 36
Brooke County, West Virginia, United States
Age 39
Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, United States
Age 42
October 10, 1822
Age 53
Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, United States
Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, United States