Who we are, who we were,
and one family's story
This site dedicated in loving memory to
Joseph Ralston Henderson, 1915-2010
Hello, cousin. I'm glad you stopped by. If you are looking for the Robert
Henderson and Mary Ralston Henderson lineage, you can skip
down to it directly. Also on this page is a bit of Henderson history
followed by lists of notable Hendersons, real and
Digression before we even start: In my wife's lineage are Roger
Toothaker, an accused witch who died in prison during the Salem
witch hysteria, and several Mayflower
passengers. Hey, that's pretty good, but in my own family tree is also an
and the hero of an old Scots ballad (Can you be related to a fictional
character?). However, none of those folks were Hendersons. As for my
Henderson ancestors, as proud of them as I am, they were just ordinary
folks, farmers, house carpenters, school teachers, cattle thieves, and the
Hello, long lost Henderson cousin. Are we related?
- According to the General
Office for Scotland, Henderson was 29th most common
surname in Scotland in 2017. That hasn't changed much since 1975 when it
- According to the 2010 United States census, Henderson was the
surname in the USA. That's down from 103d most common surname in
2000, and 81st in1990.
- Variations on "son of Henry" have been found throughout the British
Isles and Europe. Among the variations are d'Enrico, d’Handresson,
Heinrich, Heinrichs, Heinrichsen, Heinrichsohn, Heinrichson, Heinricks,
Henders, Hendrick, Hendrix, Hendricks, Hendrie, Hendron, Hendry,
Henriksen, Henrikson, Henrisoun, Henry, Henryson, Hinrichsen, Jindrich,
Kendrick, MacEanruig, MacHendry, MacHenry, MacKendree, MacKendrick,
MacKendry, McHendry, McHenry, McKendrick, McKendry. More evidence of
- Over the decades, especially in North America, many of these
variations, as well as names similar in spelling or pronunciation, were
anglicized or modified to Henderson. So just because you are a
Henderson, it doesn't necessarily mean you are a Scot.
- In Scotland, there must have been many unrelated branches and enclaves
of Hendersons from different parts of the nation that shared a name but
not the immediate gene pool.
- Unfortunately, that means that even though you are named Henderson (or
your mother was named Henderson), there is an excellent chance that we
are not related.
- You are at least distantly related to me if you can trace your family
back to Robert Henderson, who was born
sometime in the mid-1700's in Northern Ireland, married Mary (or Mary
Ann) Ralston, and emigrated from Tyrone County around 1796, and settled
in what is now Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
Related or not, if you are a Henderson
living in the North America, we probably share some things in common.
- There is an excellent chance that you come from Scots
who had lived in Northern Ireland before emigrating to North
America. Many more Scottish immigrants departed from Ireland than
emigrated directly from Scotland.
- If your ancestors were typical Henderson emigrants
they were not Highlanders.
Although Henderson was a proud Highland name, Highlanders did not
emigrate to America in any significant numbers. Historian Horace Edward
Henderson goes even further saying that the residents of the Highlands
role in the settlement of the Plantation of Ulster. NOTE: Some
Highlanders did migrate directly from Scotland to North America,
especially to the Carolinas, following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden
- Before they emigrated to Ulster in Northern Ireland, your Henderson
ancestors most likely came from the Scottish Borders.
- If I had to be more specific, I would suggest that if they came from
the Scottish Borders, they likely hailed from Eskdale in Dumfriesshire
On what grounds do I say this?
- The Ulster
Scots (only North Americans seem to call them Scotch-Irish,
or now Scots-Irish to
use the term former Senator Jim Webb has popularized) were almost all
Presbyterians who were originally Scottish Lowlanders. After the defeat
of the Irish in 1603, the English took possession of the six northern
counties of Ulster, and James (I or VI, depending on whether you were
English or Scottish) offered land grants to English and Scottish
nobility and gentry in order to colonize the new acquisitions with loyal
subjects. Impoverished Scottish Lowlanders who lived in sub-marginal
land, however, were by far the most likely people willing to take
advantage of the opportunity.
Hendersons were found in many parts of lowland Scotland, including the
Fife peninsula and the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, where the
Henderson name was commonly found, the highest percentage came from
southwestern Scotland and Scottish Borders, areas that were
poverty-ravaged, beleaguered by decades of war (between both nations and
families), and filled with Presbyterian radicals. The Covenanters
were found in Perth and Fife, especially some of the ministers, but
their real heartland became the southwestern counties of Scotland.
- Highlanders were specifically excluded by King James VI and I from
Ulster Plantation settlement since they were Catholic
or supportive of the Catholic claimants to the throne, and not trusted
to populate Ireland. When Highlanders migrated as a result of the Highland
Clearances in the nineteenth century, most settled in Lowland
Scotland or the colonies (Canada and New Zealand especially), but not
the United States which was no longer a British colony.
- There is documented evidence of a large number of Hendersons living in
and Middle Marches at the time of the migration to Ulster.
- A map in George MacDonald Fraser's book The
Steel Bonnets places Hendersons in the border regions of
Liddesdale and Eskdale. They were a minor enough family or riding clan,
however, that Hendersons are not much mentioned or discussed in the
text. NOTE:The map above is not from Fraser's book. I failed to record
the source of the map, but I am sure checked first to see that it was in
the public domain. Apologies to its creator.
N.B.: My father was convinced that our Hendersons had
some connection with the Henderson family connected to Fordell
Castle in Fifeshire. The closest connection I can find between the
Hendersons of Fordell and Hendersons of Liddesdale is a brief and
undocumented statement on a Rampant
Scotland page that "the southern Hendersons spread eastwards from
Dumfries to Liddesdale." Although Fordell is not in Dumfries, according to
the same source, William Henrison of Dumfries was driven from his lands in
the fourteenth century, and one descendant, James Henderson, established
himself with a fortified mansion in Fordell in 1511.
The lineage of one Indiana County family of Hendersons has been traced
back to Fordell in Fife. This is not a case of Scottish nobility coming to
Pennsylvania, however. Three Scottish brothers who were at least five
generations removed from the Henderson barons of Fordell, came first to
Virginia from Fordell. One brother, Alexander stayed in Virginia many
years before settling in Kentucky; another, William, moved around a bit
before settling in North Carolina; and a third, John, moved to
Pennsylvania. His son, John Washington Henderson, became a preacher, one
of the first Presbyterian ministers in Westmoreland County (part of which
eventually bcame Indiana County). A great nephew of his, also John
Washington Henderson, born in Mahoning township in northern Indiana
County, later became sheriff of Jefferson County. I have found no record
that this family was in any way connected to my family. Since our
Henderson ancestors emigrated from Tyrone in northern Ireland, it is not
likely that they would have been related to these descendents of the
castle-dwellers. However, no roots have been traced from the northern
Ireland Hendersons back to Scotland.
Please don't be disappointed, but, if you
were descended from Scottish Border Hendersons or lowlander Hendersons
dwelling in Glasgow, Edinboro, Perth, or even Fife, alas, your
- did not wear
- did not play the highland
- spoke Scots English, not
- were quite an ethnic
mix of Danish, Saxon, Angle, Norman, Flemish, and, of course, a
little Celtic (unlike the Highlanders who ethnically were quite akin to
- not only weren't related to the unfortunate handful of Hendersons who
were slaughtered with the MacDonalds in Glencoe,
but, instead, probably would have despised them (since those Glencoe
Hendersons were Catholic or Catholic-leaning Jacobites).
- They were probably poor,
whether they were urban or rural dwellers.
- They were most likely hard-working tenant farmers or peasants --
without even a classy name like crofter,
since the term crofter was a euphemism for a peasant
of the highlands and islands.
- They might, instead, have been semi-lawless cattle thieves -- more
poetically called reivers.
- Their outlawry is somewhat in question, however, since they kept their
name off a 1587 Scottish Parliamentary list of border families and clans
condemned for lawlessness. One explanation is that they were honorable,
clean living citizens. The other is that, although they were thieves,
they were simply too minor and obscure to have gained the government's
- They were filled with poetry and music, as the Border
ballads, many of which were collected by Francis Child more than a
century ago, indicate.
- In the 16th century and earlier, they might have been illiterate.
- They feuded.
The Hatfields and McCoys didn't start the tradition
in Kentucky. They were just doing what many other Border Scots and
Border English families had been doing for centuries before them.
- They were dour.
Even centuries ago, Border Scots had a reputation for being silently
ill-humored and gloomy.
- Lawless as their reputation had been, once they got religion,
they became stern, forbidding Presbyterians.
To check on your own ancestors, you can try these
- Roots-Web and its WorldConnect
Project are free components of Ancestry.com. Through them you can
look up family trees generated by other genealogsts (often with
conflicting information), information about specific surnames, as well
as advice on obtaining vital records or how to start doing genealogical
research on the Internet.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the world's
largest resource centers for genealogical research. It is free, but you
will need to create an account to Family
These are more than 100 notable Hendersons that,
as far as I can figure, I am not related to
(I won't make assumptions about you):
Explorers and frontier pioneers:
Henderson, judge, financier of Daniel Boone, and Transylvanian,
was one of the greatest land speculators in history.
- Captain James Henderson, of the East India Company ship Hercules, who
in 1819 discovered (at least for the British) Henderson
Island, an uninhabited Pitcairn Island. Who knows when the first
Polynesian had discovered it, but it had been previously discovered by a
European in 1606 when Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandez de Quiros
claimed it for Spain.
Henderson, colonial American landowner and pioneer, after whom
Henderson Bay, Henderson Harbor, and Henderson, NY, are named.
- Robert Douglas Henderson, the discoverer of gold in the Klondike.
Politicians, organizers, and diplomats (some quite noted for
their lack of success):
- Neville Henderson, the British
ambassador to Germany, who advocated the policy of appeasement
towards Nazi Germany.
Brooks Henderson, a United States Senator who authored the
Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States and
courageously defied the Republican Party leadership in 1868 by voting to
acquit President Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial. Neither act
was popular in his home state of Missouri, and he subsequently lost his
bid for re-election and dropped out of politics.
Henderson was once known as the "most powerful man in the country"
after FDR appointed him chief of the Office of Price Administration,
making him responsible for civilian rationing during World War II.
- Nobel Peace Prize winning Arthur
Henderson, a British diplomat who fought valiantly, if
unsuccessfully, for disarmament prior to World War II.
Henderson, better known as Nicko, has been called one of Britain's
most distinguished diplomats. He became ambassador to the US after he
tried to retired and has been credited as being the catalyst for the
special friendship that developed between Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Henderson has been a mover and shaker in Australian politics since
her childhood as the daughter of a prime minister and is best known for
being a catalyst for the development of Canberra into a real capital
Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of the State of Texas, who
served most of his first and only term commanding a division of Texas
Rangers in the Mexican War. He was only a few months into his career in
the US Senate when he died.
- The Honorable Thelton
E. Henderson, a federal judge in the Northern District of
California, was the first African-American lawyer in the Justice
Department's Civil Rights Division and has been a key civil rights
- Rose Henderson, the
first woman in Canada to earn a PhD, and early advocate of the Bahai
faith in that country, but better known as a feminist, Socialist, peace
advocate, and labour organizer,
Bremner Henderson, Scottish-born, was Speaker of the US House of
Representatives from 1899 to 1903. If he did anything remarkable during
those years, however, I haven't discovered them.
Belknap Henderson, a US Senator from Nevada, who seems most noted
for a failed assassination attempt against him and having a desert
city named after him
- Zelma Henderson,
civil rights activist, plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education of
Topeka desegregation case. By the way, Cheryl Brown, one of the
namesakes of the case, married a Henderson when she grew up.
Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil
and Human Rights.
Henderson, a lawyer who initiated the landmark 1950 Supreme Court
case Henderson v. United States that outlawed segregation in
railroad dining cars.
Henderson, a diplomat in the Foreign Service and expert on Korea
at the time of the Korean War, was also a collector
of Korean porcelain.
Doctors, scientists, engineers, and inventors:
- Donald Henderson, the doctor who headed the team that eradicated smallpox.
Henderson, Scottish astronomer, who was the first person to
measure the distance of a star (Alpha
Centauri in 1832/33). A lunar
crater is named after him [Not to be confused Odessa
Meteor Crater, discovered by Julius Henderson].
- Lawrence Joseph Henderson, a leading biochemist of the early 20th
century, most famous for establishing Harvard's Fatigue
Lab and for writing what later became known as the Henderson-Hasselbalch
Lewis Henderson, an early follower of Carl Jung, credited with the
concept of a cultural unconsciousness. He was called the Shaman of
Henderson and his wife Jill have invented the first working hoverboard.
Back to the Future is now (sorta).
- Daniel Henderson
holds more than two dozen patents related to wireless picturephone
devices, so he can almost be credited with the invention of the
cellphone. Alas, he also ran a company that got into the business of suing
major companies over patent rights -- with mixed results. More
recently he has become a sculptor.
Henderson, among other things paleontological, has been
researching the biomechanics and locomotion of dinosaurs.
Roy Henderson, a giant in the field of animal breeding and
L. Henderson is the supervisor of Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife
Program in the Department of Natural Resources and author of numerous
field guides and other wildlife books.
- John Henderson,
partner of Fox, Henderson & Co., the firm contracted to build the
Crystal Palace and Paddington Station (following Isambard Kingdom
Brunel's outline plans). Fox, who was the designer, was knighted, but it
was Henderson who was in charge getting them built and ensuring "that
things got done."
Marr Henderson, Engineer-in-Chief of Imperial Maritime Customs of
China, was one of the first successful Western engineers in China. He
was especially known for designing and building lighthouses. He was son
of John Henderson, mentioned just above.
Henderson, the Scottish Presbyterian preacher most responsible for
the keeping the Church of Scotland Presbyterian (by preparing the
National Covenant of 1638 and serving as Moderator of the Glasgow
Assembly at a key time during the early 17th Century).
- Bobby Henderson, founder in 2005 of the Flying
Spaghetti Monster religion. Although some call Pastafarianism a
parody developed to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of
Education to require the teaching of intelligent design in the public
schools, this church has become "the most logical and fastest growing
religion on the planet."
Rhodes Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary.
Educators and scholars
Richmond Henderson, who died in 1915, was minister turned
sociology professor at the University of Chicago. As a social advocate
and reformer, he was a colleague of Jane Addams.
- Harold G. Henderson, the translator most responsible for introducing Haiku
to the English-speaking world.
Avenel Henderson, called the "first lady of nursing."
- Metta Lou
Henderson, honored pharmacist and author.
Henderson, mathematician and colleague of Einstein.
Henderson, Mayan scholar and co-discoverer of the "Cradle of
Henderson, Professor of Greek Language and Literature, especially
praised for his translations of Aristophanes.
D. Henderson is the F.D.G. Ribble professor emeritus, the
University of Virginia's School of Law. The labor law text book has been
through enough editions, that it now begin's with his name, Henderson's
Labor Law: Cases and Comment.
- Lianne Henderson
is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Glascow. Her research,
resulting in numerous books and articles, covers many areas, including
Folk Belief, the Scottish Witch-Hunts, the Transatlantic Slave Trade,
Arctic Exploration, and Scottish Emigration. She also sings and seems to
have a lot of fun.
- Paula Henderson,
scholar and lecturer on British architecture and gardens, especially the
Henderson, biographer and critic of several English authors,
including Swinbourne, Marlow, and Butler.
Otto Henderson was a historian of the working class and a
biographer of Friedrich Engels.
Cockburn Henderson, pioneering promoter of history being studied
as a science and for Australians studying Australian history.
Washington Henderson, in 1877, while as student at the University
of Vermont, became the first black student to be elected into the Phi
Beta Kappa honorary society. He became a preacher and a professor and
served as dean of theology at Fisk University in Nashville.
Our musical Hendersons:
Henderson, the twentieth century musical legend, poet, folksong
collector, and composer of what many called the unofficial Scottish
- Fletcher Henderson,
the real father of Big Band Music and the musician who broke an
important color barrier when he joined the Benny Goodman Band, becoming
the first black musician to appear on stage with a "white" orchestra.
- Fletcher's brother Horace
was a pretty good musician and arranger, too.
- Ray Henderson,
whose real name was Raymond Brost, was the tin-pan-alley tunesmith
responsible or co-responsible for such favorites as "That Old Gang of
Mine," "The Best Things in Life Are Free," "Five Foot Two, Eyes of
Blue," "You're The Cream in My Coffee," "Button Up Your Overcoat," and
"Bye, Bye Blackbird."
- Rosa Henderson,
nee Deschamps, was a vaudeville blues singer and the first female
vocalist to record with a big band.
Henderson, yet another gifted jazz arranger, who worked with
artists as diverse as Duke Ellington and the Canadian Brass.
Henderson, the late goateed Tonight Show bandleader, symphony
conductor, and composer.
Henderson, legendary and Grammy Award winning tenor saxophonist.
- Jarlath Henderson is a
renowned Uillean pipe player, if any Uillean pipers can claim renown.
- Chick Henderson, born
Henderson Rowntree, was a wildly popular English singer from the Big
Band era. Largely forgotten now, he was the first British soloist to
sell a million records.
Henderson is a luthier and a master of the steel-string guitar who
was honored with a National Heritage Award. He's been host of a music
festival in Galax, Virginia, since 1995. The guitar he made for Eric
Clapton has been called the perfect
Henderson, a Danish-Swedish pop and jazz singer whose biggest hits
have been "Kiss Me, Kiss Me," and "Made in Europe."
- Ella Henderson, was
Britain's hottest new singer-songwriter a few years ago. Is she still?
Henderson, the late Texas blues guitarist.
Hinderas, pianist, one of the first black artists to
establish an important career in classical music. She was born Natalie
- Zenna Henderson, the creator of the haunting series of sf stories,
collectively called "The
People." Born a Chlarson, she married into our family.
Henderson, leading author in the niche of inspirational romantic
- Eleanor Henderson, who just
happens to a writing professor Ithaca College, where I put in 37 years
as a librarian, had her debut novel Ten Thousand Saints
receive much critical acclaim. All three of her novels have hit the best
Henderson, whose debut novel, an unsentimental account of a child
with profound disabilities and an unspecified mental illness, challenges
- Bill Henderson writes
novels about Elvis and coaches other writers.
Henderson, English author of glam thrillers, chick
lit, and young adult novels.
Ruth Henderson, a New Zealand librarian, poet, and novelist, who
wrote under the names Paul Henderson and Ruth France.
- Smith Henderson
published his debut novel Fourth of July Creek in 2014, and it
has made it only several best of the year lists.
Henderson Eastman gained fame for a novel that tried to defend
slavery. It was written in response to Uncle Tom's Cabin. She
went on to publish sentimental tales of American Indians.
Journalists and non-fiction writers:
- Angelo Henderson is a Pulizer
Prize winning Detroit-based journalist. He is now a news radio host.
- Stephen Henderson is a Pulitzer Prize winning Detroit-based
journalist/commentator who was named the 2014
NABJ Journalist of the Year.
Henderson won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in
1982 as a reporter for The Seattle Times for a series of articles that
helped reverse a conviction of a man accused of rape. Henderson died in
Henderson, globetrotting photojournalist.
- Caspar Henderson, a journalist who has covered energy, science,
environment and human rights, has more recently has gained fame as a
writer about "things that
make the world astonishing."
Henderson is an Australian conservationist who writes about
endangered African wildlife.
- Janice Wald Henderson
is a renowned food and travel journalist, long associated with Bon
Penhallow Henderson, was a muralist, architect, and furniture
designer, whose most lasting work has been the Wheelwright
Museum of the American Indian, in Sante Fe. He was also known for
being the husband of Alice
Corbin Henderson, poet and editor of Poetry Magazine.
- Marge Henderson Buell, the creator of Little
Lulu, a comic strip from an earlier era.
Henderson is a cartoonist of another (alternative) era.
Henderson was a portrait painter, muralist, and book illustrator
(especially notable for his woodcuts). He was also an official artist of
Soldiers, both heroic and infamous:
Henderson, the fifth and longest serving Commandant of the Marine
Corps, after whom the USS
Henderson, a navy transport, was named.
- Major Lofton R. Henderson, a Marine Squadron Commander, who was killed
at Midways and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. His heroism was also
rewarded by the naming in his honor of Henderson
Field in Guadalcanal and the destroyer USS
- Charles W. Henderson,
Marine Vietnam vet, who retired to became a successful military
journalist and author.
- Bruce B.
Henderson, Navy Vietnam vet, who retired to became a successful
military journalist and author.
- Colonel Oran
Henderson, the colonel of the 11th Battalion, who was found not
guilty in a court martial related to the My Lai massacre.
- Artis Henderson,
author of the memoir Unremarried Widow, describes life as an
Army wife and how that life changed after the death of her husband in
Famous for film, televsion, theatre, and not wearing (m)any
- Shirley Henderson,
who may be most famous for portraying Moaning Myrtle, the annoying
ghostly character in the Harry Potter films.
- The Brady Bunch's mom
(Florence Henderson was the name she was born with, not just a stage
Henderson, a pioneering filmmaker who directed and acted in silent
films as early as 1908. In the talkie era, he became a familiar comic
foil to the likes of Laurel and Hardy, the Little Rascals, WC Fields,
and the Three
Stooges, but often not credited. His full name was George Delbert
Henderson, and occasionally his name appeared as Del.
Henderson, the "Bath Roscius," was a Shakespearean actor and rival
of Garrick, who was also known as an absolutely awful poet and
- Felicia D. Henderson
is a television producer, screenwriter, and director, who also writes
comic books. She may be best known for developing the TV series Soul
Henderson, a New Zealand actor and heart throb (think teens and
- Laura Henderson, British society lady and theatre
impresario personified by Judy Dench in Mrs.
Henderson is the first Henderson super-model. She had been
featured in several Sports
Illustrated swimsuit issues, but she hasn't been modeling
recently. Her grandfather gained more narrow fame after he discovered an
improved strain of rudy
L. Dodgson's photographs of his child friend Annie Henderson and
her sister Frances became controversial only long after the author of Alice
in Wonderland was dead.
Ann Henderson was the adventuresome "nymph with waist-length dirty
blonde hair" on whom the character Marylou in Jack Keroauc' On the
Road was based.
Our athletic kinfolk:
(baseball) -- the nearly unanimous Hall of Fame pick his first year of
(golf) -- is Canada's golf sensation. Her sister Brittany plays as well
(but not quite as well).
- Dave (baseball) -- great
player, but only made it to one All-Star Game.
- Thomas [Hollywood]
(football) -- more famous for what he did off the field
Rose (rodeo star) -- pioneering champion bronc rider at the turn
of the twentieth century.
(hockey) -- Canadians revere him for "The Goal
- Krazy George -- professional
cheerleader who was the inventor of "The Wave."
- Cam, a
pioneering college basketball coach, inventor of the fast break and
modern zone defense.
Princeton basketball player and head coach.
Agricultural innovators & environmentalists:
- Peter Henderson, pioneer seed
merchant. A prolific horticultural writer and innovator, he
founded a garden supply business, helped invent the seed catalog, and
helped turn New Jersey into the Garden State.
Henderson, Peacework Organic Farm, expert on sustainability and community
- Hazel Henderson, the noted authority on equitable
ecologically sustainable human development and socially responsible
business and investment.
- As an environmental lawyer, Clay
Henderson has worked for preserve Florida's natural lands.
Entreprenuers & capitalists:
Henderson, former GM president and CEO, who took the auto company
to bankruptcy and back again.
Henderson, a Scot who immigrated to Virginia and in the eighteenth
century became the "father of the chain store" when he opened stores in
Dumfries, Alexandria, Colchester, and Occoquan, Va.
- Bill Henderson is the founder of Pushcart
Prize and advocate for writing in small presses.
Henderson, "wild" and audacious chef, cookbook compiler, and cult
- Paddy Henderson, with his brothers George, Thomas, and Robert] founded
a steamship company in Glasgow in 1834 that spawned several related
firms and enterprises that lasted in some form with the Henderson name
until 1970. The Supreme Court case, Henderson
v. Mayor of City of New York (1876), established immigration
under control of federal law
- Seth Aaron Henderson,
fashion designer and a Project Runway all-star.
- Colonial timber mill operator Thomas
Henderson, after whom the Aukland suburb of Henderson and the Henderson
Valley (one of the most prolific winemaking areas in New Zealand)
- Charles Christopher Henderson, Arkadelphia financier, after whom a state
university in Arkansas is named.
- & 121. William G.
and Tom W. Henderson, pioneer motorcycle designers and
Henderson Lewelling was one remarkable individual, so I hope but can't
document that Henderson Lewelling was named for a Henderson relative. His
mother's maiden name was Jane Brookshire, but the names of his grandmothers
are unknown, and there were Hendersons among the Friends community of
Randolph County, NC, where Henderson Lewelling was born. Henderson Lewelling
was born on 23 Fourth (April) 1809, according to Quaker birth records. His
family opposed slavery and either found life in North Carolina uncomfortable
or were pulled by the desire to move West. In 1825, his family, led by his
father Meshack (his uncles were Shadrach, and Abednego) was one of several
Quaker families to move to Indiana. While living in Duck Creek, Henry
County, Indiana, Henderson married Elizabeth Pressnall on 13 Twelfth
[December] 1830. After about ten years of residence in Indiana, most of the
extended family moved to Iowa, where they helped establish a new
Quaker-filled community of Salem. The Lewelling family became successful in
establishing a merchantile store, orchard, and nursery. Henderson Lewelling
was also prominent (in the secretive way he needed to be) in the Underground
Railroad. The Friends community of Salem disagreed over the issue of
abolition. They agreed in their oppostion to slavery, but they disagreed on
how active to fight for ending it. The Lewellings were among 50 members to
be disfellowshiped for advocating activism.
Shortly afterwards, in 1847, the Lewelling family headed off by covered
wagon along the Oregon Trail in what was one of the most unusual pioneer
journeys recorded. Three wagons held the family of ten (Henderson, his
wife Elizabeth, five daughters, and three sons) and all their earthly
possessions. What was special about the trek was their additional wagon.
It had been specially designed by Lewelling and built with two long,
narrow boxes filled twelve inches deep with charcoal, composted manure,
and soil. The boxes were filled with more than 700 young fruit and nut
trees -- apples, pears, peaches, cherries, quince, walnut, and hickory --
as well as grape vines and currant and gooseberry bushes. The surviving
trees would become the parent stock of all of the early orchards in the
Pacific Northwest. The family started as part of a wagon train of more
than 100 wagons, but the wagon train soon left them behind. The
cumbersome, heavy-loaded nursery wagon, pulled by three yoke of oxen, was
slow, and the plants required daily time-consuming attention. These were
the varieties recorded:
- Yellow Bellflower
- Blue Pearmain
- Early Harvest
- Gloria Mundi
- Golden Russet
- King (Tompkins King)
- Northern Spy
- Red Astrachan
- Red Cheek Pippin (Monmouth)
- Rhode Island Greening
- Westfield Seek-No-Further
- Esopus Spitzenburg
- White Winter Pearmain
- Bartlett (Williams' Bon Chrétien)
- Clapp Favorite
- Early Butter (Craig)
- Fall Butter (White Doyenné)
- Vicar of Winkfield
- Winter Nelis
- May Duke
- Black Bigarreau
- Royal Anne (Napoleon*)
- Black Tartarian
- Early Purple Guigne
- Early Crawford
- Late Crawford
- Golden Cling
*The label was missing, so Lewelling named the
cherry Royal Anne. Later it was determined to have been a
Napoleon cherry tree, but by that time the Royal Anne was well
The family joined up with other wagon trains along the way, but usually
only for a few days. They had started with two other families in a caravan
of seven wagons, but when one of the men from another wagon died, the
Lewellings ended up traveling on their own. The trip west took seven
months, and only on the best days did the wagons travel as many as fifteen
miles. Toward the end of the journey, so the tale goes, a miracle saved
the lives of the Lewelling party. There was a war going on in the Oregon
Territory between the United States and the Cayuse, or Liksiyu, people.
The hostilities broke out because of tensions brought on by arrival of
thousands of new settlers whom the Cayuse thought were desecrating the
land. A family of missionaries living near The Dalles was massacred in
revenge for a doctor spreading a measles epidemic, or so it was believed.
The Dalles is a section of the Columbia River bordered by steep cliffs
where the Oregon Trail came to an end, and the massacre had occured only a
very short time before the Lewelling family approached that part of the
country. However, when a Cayuse war party started to attack on the
Lewelling wagon train, they suddenly turned peaceful. Henderson's daughter
Eliza, many years later, supplied an explanation. The Cayuse believed that
the Great Spirit lived in trees and when they saw the wagon full of trees,
they thought that this group of settlers should not be harmed. The Indians
even helped these settlers complete their journey safely.
The transfer of all those trees across the Columbia River was no easy
task, but Henderson Lewelling and family and trees eventually arrived in
yet another community Lewelling helped establish, Milwaukie.
Llewelling, with a partner and son-in-law William Meek, established the
first commercial orchard in the Pacific Northwest, and the grafted trees
they sold helped establish orchards throughout Oregon and Washington. To get
an idea of his success, within a few years, the partnership had sold more
than 100,000 trees at the price of $1.00 to $1.50. The California Gold Rush
lured Lewelling from Oregon, but as a market for fruit, not for the gold. He
sold his enterprise and holdings in Oregon to a son and moved south to
Alameda County. After a new cherry variety was discovered in the orchard
Llewelling had sold to his son, Seth Llewelling named it for the Chinese
worker who was responsible for the cross-breeding used to develop it. The
Bing cherry is the most produced sweet cherry variety in the United States.
In that time period, to honor a Chinese worker was shockingly just,
egalitarian, open-minded, and singularly unusual -- attributable to Quaker
principles. After the gold rush had died down and California settlement
became more permanent, Henderson Llewelling helped establish yet one more
community -- Fruitvale. The community was established in 1854, and Henderson
Llewelling and his son and son-in-law all made themselves another fortune.
Lewelling's story doesn't end there, however. While they were living in
Oregon, his first wife died in childbirth. It would have been their eleventh
child. It is speculated that something then changed in Henderson Lewelling.
In California, he took on a series of new wives in rather rapid succession.
It is not clear how legal the marriages were or how they ended. He was on
his fourth wife, when Lewelling came up with a new idea. He decided to
establish a utopian community based on a combination of Quaker principles,
spiritualism, vegetariansim, naturism (at least occasional nudism), and free
love. He sold his orchard and business and most of his property to raise
funds for the enterprise. In 1859, he sailed with about 30 eager colonists.
The departure was wondrously scandalous. The company of travellers included
a couple of his sons and his housekeeper, but not his wife. According to a San
Francisco Times article that was based on reports of returning crew
members of the schooner Santiago, that had been purchased and fitted
out by Lewelling for the Free Lovers, the ship left San Francisco at
midnight on the 5th of October with ten men, five women and six or seven
children. For several days, additional passengers who had "peculiar
difficulties in getting away" were able to board. One of the men, whom bill
collectors were after, "actually concealed himself...under the hoops and
petticoats of Mrs. B." One couple was delayed when their 17-year old
daughter refused to join them. Henderson Lewelling was the last to board the
ship before it headed out to sea. He did so furtively, successfully escaping
both wife and incarceration. His wife was in the process of having the
courts declare Lewelling a lunatic. The society of Free Lovers, known as the
Harmonial Brotherhood, failed almost before the ship reached Honduras.
Quarrels and fights broke out almost immediately aboard ship, and factions
formed. An "egg war" started at a stop in Mexico when the same eggs were
sold to two different men. Both women and men were observed by crew members
to secretly drink forbidden coffee and tea and eat salt pork. Once in
Honduras many of the community failed to adjust to the unfavorable climate,
caught fevers, got sick, and died. In 1860, Lewelling returned to California
He lived another 18 years, in obscurity, apparently far removed from the
fruit and orchard business, possibly estranged from family, and perhaps
crazy. The next recorded event in his life was his death by a heart attack
while he was clearing brush. His gravestone spelled his name Luelling,
although during his life before the free love expedition in documents his
name was spelled Lewelling. It might be attributed to a gravestone
engraver's mistake, except his first wife, buried in Oregon, had Luelling on
her gravestone, as well. Thus a sad end to a remarkable man who deserves a
place among the Hendersons.
There seems to be suprisingly few fictional
Hendersons, but they include these remarkable and forgettable characters:
- Eugene Henderson, a Connecticut millionaire with a wanderlust for
Africa, in Saul Bellow's Henderson
Rain King. A line from the novel inspired Joni Mitchell to
write "Both Sides Now."
- Ralph Henderson, the mystery solver in The
Notting Hill Mystery, the world's first detective novel,
written serially in 1862-63.
- Shepherd Henderson, in Bell,
Book and Candle, who was portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in the
movie and Rex Harrison on Broadway.
Henderson is an ally of James Bond in You Only Live Twice.
He was head of Australian security in Japan in the book, but an MI6
agent in the movie.
The name is Ian Fleming's homage to two friends, the journalist Dikko
Hughes and the diplomat Nicko Henderson, who was mentioned above.
- Travis, Walt, Anne, Hunter, and Jane Henderson are the leading roles
Texas -- they were played respectively by Harry Dean
Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Aurore Clement, Hunter Carson, and Nastassja
- Iris Henderson, the pretty young tourist in Alfred Hitchcock's The
Lady Vanishes, and, I'm pretty sure, also the main
protagonist in Ethel Lina White's The Wheel Spins, the novel
on which it was based.
- Ted & Alice Henderson, played by Eliott Gould and Dyan Cannon in Bob
& Carol & Ted & Alice.
- Mayor Jonas Henderson, played by Thomas Mitchell, in High
Noon, who cowardly but convincingly persuaded the people of
the town not to support the hero, Will Kane.
Henderson, of the Superman fame, who is found in the original
comic books, the TV show, and in some of the movies.
- Tiffany Henderson, the Austin-dwelling sweetheart of one of the
raunchy college boys from Ithaca, in Road
Henderson, in both the novel and film, The Martian, is the
ill-fated Ares III's mission director, who determinedly fights to keep
the crew informed of the truth.
Henderson, in Seven Days in May (book and movie), is a duped
colonel who followed orders without asking questions, but, as I recall,
eventually becomes one of the good guys.
in Battlestar Galactica. If it weren't for the credits you
would not know Henderson was her last name.
- A whole family of Hendersons in an Oscar-winning film about a family
that encounters Big Foot, Harry
and the Hendersons [OK, this film's only Oscar nomination
was for Best Make-Up, but it did win].
- Dr. Paul Henderson, as a scientist in a very cheap, very bad, 1968
horror film shot on location in the Phillipines, Brides
- Mr. Henderson (no first name provided) was the owner of an apricot
tree in the novel and movie Human Comedy. He appears to be a
mean old codger, but we learn he looks forward to the raids on his tree
and and enjoys the pleasure his scaring them off gives them.
- In the 1940s radio and 1950 television series Beulah,
the title character was employed as a housekeeper and cook for the
dimwitted Henderson family, Harry and Alice and their son Donnie.
C. Henderson, Internal Revenue Department, in You Can't Take
It With You, comically failed to explain why someone should pay
- I'm not sure what soap opera characters might have been named
Henderson, but in Search for Tomorrow, my Grandmother Elder's
favorite soap opera, the town was named Henderson.
A Family of Hendersons Come to
The Story of Robert Henderson and Mary Ralston Henderson and a few of
Note: Many of the family details and
stories have been preserved thanks to efforts of many individuals,
especially Big Aunt Helen and Little Aunt Helen and Aunt Mitch (Helen
Streams and Helen McFarland and Martha Allison), my father Joseph Ralston
Henderson, and his cousin Bob Duncan. Thanks to Faye Tyson for sharing the
scanned images used.
First Generation: Robert Henderson and Mary Ralston Henderson
Robert and Mary (Mary Ann Ralston) Henderson were Ulster Scots who were
born sometime in the mid-1700's, in Northern Ireland, probably in Tyrone
County. A family history at least indicates that Tyrone County was
their home before emigrating to the United States. Almost nothing about
their life in Ireland is known. They raised a family of six boys and three
girls. Probably all of them were born in Ireland. According to tradition
handed down through the generations, Robert took part in the Irish
rebellions before coming to America. If true, Robert Henderson was
possibly a member of the Society of United Irishmen, a organization that
united Presbyterian dissenters in Ulster with Catholics from the south in
a struggle for an independent Ireland. Inspired by the revolutionary and
republican principles of the American and French Revolutions, the group
was founded by Wolfe Tone in 1791. There was plenty of political ferment
while the Hendersons were still in Ireland, but it was only after the
Henderson family had come to America, that the Irish Rebellion of 1798
broke out. In one of the most violent and bloody wars in Irish history, as
many as 30,000 men, women, and children may have been killed in the course
of about three months. Rebels who were caught but not executed were
deported to Australia, but there is no indication that the Hendersons left
involuntarily because of Robert Henderson's involvment in rebellious
activities. In a quirk of history, members of a later generation of
Hendersons lived in the Vinegar Hill section of Indiana, Pa., and that
hill may have been named after the site of one of the last battles of the
Rebellion of 1798.
The Hendersons were probably members of the Seceders (Associate
Presbyterian Church). This speculation is made based on the fact that the
next generation of Henderson did not attend the Covenanter
Church which was the closest Presbyterian church to them, but helped
found the West Union church, which was affiliated with the Associate
Reformed Presbyterian Church (which in 1782 was formed to combine
the Seceders and Covenanters).
The History of Indiana County, PA, 1745-1880, published by J. A.
Caldwell, Newark, OH, 1880, lists the names of their nine children.
Unfortunately, it provides no dates and lists first the boys and then the
girls, so even their birth order is uncertain.
No written documentation has been found to indicate from where or when
the Henderson family left Ireland or whether or not they all came at the
same time. Family tradition, however, tells that the family left together
spent sixteen weeks crossing the Atlantic, and landed in Philadelphia
probably in 1796 or 1797. Since we know that Robert and his son Alexander
were naturalized as citizens, the family could not have arrived before
March 4, 1789, the date that the United States Constitution took effect.
Information provided in Caldwell's History of Indiana County (1880) is
inexact: "Alexander Henderson was a son of Robert and Mary, nee Ralston,
natives of Ireland, who settled about 1796 on what is now the Frank Cribbs
farm, Young Township." Records provided by Harry Danner Henderson of
Potosi, WI (original source unknown) indicate that two of Robert and
Mary's sons, John and Robert, Jr., sailed to America on March 26, 1797,
the day after John married Letitia Fullerton, and settled in Conemaugh
Township (Saltsburg area of Indiana County). A confused record in The
of Marion County Ohio (1883), indicates that David Henderson,
[oldest son of Robert and Mary Ann], and his wife, Elizabeth (Orr)
Henderson, "natives of County Tyrone, Ireland, ... emigrated to America in
1791, settling at Shippensburg, Penn., early pioneers. Later, they came to
Clarksburg, Ind[iana County, Penn.], remaining a number years, thence came
to Marion County, but he died in Delaware, Ohio, in 1834, aged
eighty-seven years." Researchers Scott
Kathryn Ives point out that David's dates are probably wrong, since
if the Marian History is accurate, he would be a quarter of a century
older than the next of his siblings. If the birth date is wrong, the
emigration date must also be held in question. However, if either of these
two latter accounts is accurate, members of the Henderson family might
have traveled across the Atlantic separately over the course of a decade.
The Hendersons were not Indian-fighting frontier settlers. They came
toward the end of the wave of the great Scotch Irish migration to America,
and they were part of the migration to Western Pennsylvania that occurred
after the end of Indian/settler hostilities. Mad
Anthony Wayne's troops decisive victory against the Iroquois at the
of Fallen Timbers (August 1794) led to the signing of the Treaty of
Canandaigua and the Treaty of Greenville (both 1795). These treaties
opened up a region which included all of western Pennsylvania to
settlement without the threat of Indian resistance.
We have almost no information about the Henderson family's journey to
America and what it did before it settled in what is now Indiana
County. If the Hendersons followed the usual pattern of settlers at
that time, they would have made the move for western Pennsylvania very
shortly after the family arrived in the country. The family would have
traveled along the public roads, using a wagon. The route they likely
would have followed was not far removed from the Pennsylvania Turnpike
today. The road went from Philadelphia to Lancaster, through Gettysburg,
down into Maryland, and back into Pittsburgh. The Hendersons, without much
doubt, would have bought their land from a land company. Land speculators
had long before purchased rights to the lands that had been provided to
soldiers after the Revolutionary War in lieu of other payment. Now that
the land was free of Indian claims and hostilities, the land market became
very profitable. Most likely, the Hendersons would have dealt with a land
merchant and outfitter in Pittsburgh to acquire the deed and goods to
The next date in the life of Robert Henderson that is recorded is
September, 1809, when he was naturalized as a citizen. Robert died in
either 1813 or 1814. The date of Mary Ralston Henderson's death is not
recorded. For many years the location of the actual gravesites of Robert
and Mary Henderson were unknown. Information provided by Harry Danner
Henderson, which at this writing has not been verified, indicates that
Robert and Mary were buried in the graveyard of Old Congruity Church,
about twelve miles from Saltsburg, across the river in what is now
Westmoreland County. Evidence supporting this idea is that the Old
Congruity Church was founded as an Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church,
and there was no other Associate Reformed Church in the area until the
West Union Associate Reform Church was founded (in part by members of the
Second Generation: Alexander and Hanna Thorne Henderson
First here is summary information about all the children of Robert and
Mary Ann Ralston Henderson, derived mostly from as compiled by Scott
Kathryn Ives, one of whom traces family back to oldest son, David
David (17??-1834) -- not likely born in 1747 as one
historical record indicates, possibly 1776 or 1782, as other records
Born in County Tyrone, Ireland; died in Delaware County, Ohio.
Married Elizabeth (or Elisabeth) Orr
Known Children: Robert
Born in County Tyrone; died in Pennsylvania.
Married Letitia Fullerton (1777-1858), who was also born in Ireland.
Family lore holds that John and Letitia were married immediately before
they left Ireland for Pennsylvania.
Children: Samuel, Mary, Jane, Lucy, Robert, James, Joseph, Letitia, David,
William, Andrew, Alexander, Elizabeth
James (dates unknown)
Born in County Tyrone
Married Jane Andrews
Born in County Tyrone; died on 26 August 1844 in Elder's Ridge, Pa.
Married Mary (Polly) McComb (1794-1871), daughter of James McComb
(1758-1814) & Nancy Agnes Jack (1764-1833).
[A family story digression: James McComb came to America from Ireland when
he was about 18 years old. Soon after moving into the wilds of
Pennsylvania, he was captured by Indians. He was able to escape by
stealing a canoe and almost immediately enlisted as a private in Captain
Thomas Askey's Company (1st; Fannett Township) of the 1st Pennsylvania
Militia Battalion (Cumberland County) and rose to the rank of Colonel.
After the war, McComb moved further west in Pennsylvania and became one of
the first settlers of Blacklick Township, which is now in Indiana County,
and one of the first Elders of Bethel Presbyterian Church (near
Jacksonville, Pa.). He was elected to the state Legislature and served for
13 years. During the War of 1812, he served as Brigidier General of the
Second Brigade of the Fifteenth Division of the Pennsylvania Militia. The
division served for three months near Erie and Buffalo, but it is not at
all clear that it saw any action.]
Children: Robert Ralston (b. 1819), Jane McKnight (1821-1895), Joseph (b.
1823), James McComb (1824-1868), John Fullerton (1826-1911), David Laird
M. (b. 1829), Mary Ann (1832-1906), Lucinda Smith (b. 1834), Nancy Jack
McComb (b. 1837)
Born in County Tyrone; died in 1871 in Saltsburgh, Pa.
Married Francis [or Margaret] Graham (1789?-1864)
Children: Mary Ann (married Robert McMeans); Eliza (married James
Carothers); Jane (married D. K. Daugherty); Isabelle; Joseph
A. (married Julia A. Wilson); Margaret G. (married Rev. Andrew Getty);
Lucinda F.; and Sarah R. (married John Longwill).
Reported to have fought in the War of 1812.
Born in County Tyrone; died in Clarksburg, Pa. (buried in West Union
Married Hannah Thorne on 2 February 1809. Hannah was born about 1780 and
died in Clarksburg in August 1844. Her father was probably Josesph Thorne,
who was living in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, in 1790. She is
also buried in the West Union Cemetery.
Children: Mary (1809-1883), Robert (1811-1852), Matilda (1813-1855),
Jane (dates unknown)
Born in County Tyrone; died after 1850 but before 1860, based on Census
Married Thomas Hood (b. 1783 in Ireland, d. before 1860)
Children: James, Robert, Mary, Veniza, Thomas C., Jane
Note: The Hood farm neighbored the Henderson farm in Young Township and is
now owned by a Henderson cousin of mine.
Isabella (dates unknown)
Born in County Tyrone.
Married Edward McKelvey
Known children: Mary (b. 1796), married Alexander Nesbit (b. 1799)
Lucy (dates unknown)
Born in County Tyrone.
Married James Smith.
Note: It is believed that a son of the Smiths gave land to his cousin
Robert Henderson in exchange for his building them a house.
More about Alexander:
Alexander took over the family farm (the same farm later sold to Frank
Cribbs as mentioned in Caldwell's History). Alexander was born in 1784;
since the dates of birth of most of his other of his siblings are unknown
to us, we don't know for sure where in the family order he comes. It is
likely that he came over from Ireland to the United States with the rest
of his family in 1796 or 1797. Tradition tells us that he had a reputation
for being a hard-working and successful farmer. He was married to Hanna
Thorne on February 2, 1809, by the Rev. Joseph Henderson [a relation?].
Hanna was 29 years old (five years older than Alexander) at the time of
their marriage. Alexander became a naturalized citizen in December 1811,
two years after his father. Robert, Alexander's father, lived with his son
on the old farm until his death, according to John G. Henderson, Sr.,
great grandson of Alexander. Alexander and Hanna had three daughters and
one son, Robert. Originally members of the Reformed Presbyterian
(Coventer) Church in the village of Clarksburg, both husband and wife were
among the founders of the West Union Associate Reformed Presbyterian
Church. Alexander and Hanna died within one week of each other in August,
1844. He was 60; she was 65. Both are buried in the West Union cemetery.
Alexander and Hanna had three daughters and one son. Mary (1809-1883)
married John Robertson. Robert (1811-1852) married Martha Henry, Matilda
(1813-1855) married Samuel McLaughlin, Margaret (1816-1893) married John
Third Generation: Robert Henderson and Martha Henry Henderson
Alexander and Hanna's son Robert was born on October 2, 1811, on the
Clarksburg farm. When he was twenty, he married Martha Henry. Martha's
parents were Robert Henry and Martha McKesson Henry. Although Martha had
no formal education, she was self-educated and became known as the
"scholar of the family." Originally both Robert and Martha were members of
the Covenanter Church in Clarksburg, which her father had been
instrumental in founding as one of its first elders, when Clarksburg was
still called Blacklegs. When her husband Robert started attending the
newly formed Associate Reformed Presbyterian in West Union that his family
had helped found, Martha continued to attend the Covenanter Church in
Clarksburg. Only several years later, after the Covenanter Church in
Clarksburg dissolved, did Martha start attending the West Union Church.
A history of the Covenanter
Church in Clarksburg lists several members of the Henry and
Henderson family in its original 1831 roll: Robert Henry, Moses Thompson,
David Henderson, Robert Henderson, Alexander Henderson, John Coleman,
Robert Coleman, William Coleman, James Gray, Thomas Gailey, James Gailey,
Miss Ann Gailey, John Henry, Mrs. Margaret Henry, Andrew McCreery, Samuel
McCreery, Miss Jane McCreery, Daniel Euwer, Samuel Gilmore, Nancy White,
John McCurdy, John Morrison, Thomas Gemmil, Miss Jane McKelvey, Mrs.
Martha Smith, Nathan Douthett, Samuel Barr, Mrs. Francis Barr, John
Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Kirkpartick and Mrs. Kimbal.
some farming, but his principle occupation was building houses. He
specialized in brick houses and made his own bricks. He may have learned
his trade from his father, but this is not known for sure. After he had
made several brick houses in the area, he made an agreement with the
Smiths (a cousin who was the son of his aunt Lucy) to build a brick house
for them in exchange for 100 acres (which was half of their property) in
Young Township near Elder's Ridge. The Smiths had been living in a log
house which was on the half of their property that was deeded to Robert
Henderson, so when the Smiths moved out of the log house, Robert and
Martha sold their old homestead to the Cribbs, and moved in the old Smith
place. The new living quarters were supposed to be temporary, until Robert
could build a brick house for his family. Before he could work on his own
house, he was hired to build a brick house for the Hood family on a
neighboring farm. About this time, however, Robert became sick with what
was called galloping consumption, probably tuberculosis or some kind of
pneumonia. After making the bricks, he became too sick to build the house.
The Hoods had to hire another builder, who constructed a frame house for
them. Robert's ill health became chronic, but after his health improved
somewhat, he was able to use the bricks originally made for the Hood house
to construct his own house. The house was built on higher ground, where it
was though to be healthier, even though the log house was in a "favorable"
location near a spring. There are stories of the log house having "running
water" -- probably a springhouse trough that ran through the basement of
house. The brick house was completed in 1850. Two years later, Robert
died. The Henderson, Smith, and Hood houses can all be seen on a plat map
of Young Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, dated 1870. The houses
are near the western border with Armstrong County just north of the
boundary line between the Watson and Elders Ridge districts.
Martha was left with four boys to raise (one child had died in infancy)
and a farm to run. As her granddaughter Ethel indicated, she must have
been a strong woman. Unusual for a woman at the time, she plowed the
fields herself. Perhaps less unusual she smoked a pipe. She was also known
for being strict, domineering, and hard to get along with. Her church
going independence was one indication. Her relationships with her sons was
another. Family lore says her eldest son moved away to Kansas as soon as
he was old enough to do so. After the Civil War, her sons John and James
almost immediately left home and moved out to what is now College Springs,
Iowa, in the southwestern part of the state. The two brothers were part of
a large group who followed a preacher from either the Olivet or the West
Union Church (or perhaps both). Family tradition says that it was a group
of sixteen young men. My grandfather used to recite their names. Many of
them may have been comrades in Company D of the 62d
Volunteer Infantry. Another source indicates that 40 people in
all, including single young men and some families, were part of the
The children (all sons) of Robert and Martha:
- Robert Alexander Henderson b: 1838; d: 15 May 1862; as
a member of the 1st
Regiment Missouri cavalry, he was
killed at Battle of the Little Blue Creek on 11 November 1861.
John Henderson b: 26 November 1840; d: 13 April 1917; served with 62d
and was wounded at Gaines Mills, Gettysburg, and Spottsylvania Court
House; moved to College Springs, Iowa, after the war; was a store
owner, carpenter, blacksmith, and undertaker. He and his wife had one
James Wilson Henderson, b: ? [died in infancy]
James Ralston Henderson b: 1845. He used the name
Ralston. He was lame, so he did not join the army during the Civil
War. He moved to College Springs, Iowa, after the war with his brother
and ran a store and became postmaster.
Joseph Henry Henderson b: 27 February 1847; d: 11 November 1913; Too
young to serve in the Civil War. Because his brothers had moved west,
he took over the family farm.
Portraits of three brothers:
Fourth Generation: Joseph Henry Henderson and Jenny Telford Henderson
Martha's youngest son was Joseph Henry. He was fourteen years old when
the civil war began. He stayed at home through the war years and beyond,
working the farm. Although the youngest, since all his brothers moved west
or died in the war, Joseph took over the farm. In the 1870 Census Martha
was listed as the head of the household, with Joseph listed as son. He
married Jennie (Prudence Jane) Telford two days before Christmas in 1874.
He was 27; she was 23.
the marriage of her son, when Jennie moved into the brick house, Martha
moved out into the old log house. There she shared the quarters with a
servant, Liza Been (Been, according to the 1860 and 1870 Census, but my
father thought she spelled her name Bean). Liza was known as quite a
character, an old maid, but she was hard working and also known for being
"a good person to have around." Martha lived another 19 years, continuing
to help with the farm work until the end. She died at aged 86 in 1893 and
was buried in the West Union Cemetery. Liza Bean stayed on the farm after
Martha's death and later took care of Jennie when she took ill.
Because his wife was the daughter of a preacher and sister to a preacher
and a lawyer, Joseph Henry Henderson seemed to have felt the need to prove
that farming was a profession equal to the others. He advocated scientific
farming, built the first silo in Indiana County, and acquired a herd of
registered Guernsey cows -- the westernmost herd in North America at the
time. He also planted and maintained an apple
orchard of 100 trees. They had eleven children, and all who survived
childhood not only received a high school education at Elders Ridge
Academy, but went on to some higher education.
After the death of Joseph Henry Henderson in 1913, John, the third son,
took over the farm, since his oldest brother had moved to Washington State
and his next older brother had become a banker. When John married Kate in
1914, Jenny and her oldest daughter Mabel moved into the city of Indiana.
They lived at 661 Water Street in a home that was given to Jenny by her
brother Stephen James Telford, the judge, who lived two houses away. This
was the Vinegar Hill section of Indiana. One of their other neighbors was
Alex Stewart, who owned a hardware store. The Stewarts had a rather famous
son, Jimmy Stewart, the actor.
The children of Joseph and Jenny:
- [Martha] Mabel Henderson Hopkins Rogers b: September 22, 1875; d: 21
April 1965. My dad said she moved out west (but
I'm not sure where, perhaps Iowa), then back to Pennsylvania. Although
my dad told me that all of the siblings received some amount of higher
education, census records indicated that Mabel completed no more than
the 8th grade. She may have received training to become a practical
nurse, but since practical nurses weren't licensed until the 1940s,
I'm not sure what or how much that training would have been. She cared
for several sick and convalescent individuals during the course of her
life. She married twice – both times to recent widowers in whose homes
she had lived while providing care to their previous wives. Both times
her husbands died within a year and a half of their marriage. She
married William Hopkins in 1928 and Johnson Rogers in 1950. Mabel died
on 21 April 1965.
Mary Hadessa (Dessie) Henderson Duncan b: July 1877; d: 4 September
1929. A school teacher before she married Archie
Wallace Duncan, a farmer. Wallace and Dessie's children included James
Telford, John Mathews, Joseph Henderson, Robert Cree, Mary E., Jane
Elizabeth, and Mabel Emily. Robert Cree Duncan died in June 2009, aged
97. Wallace prided himself by his progressive approach to farming,
building a large silo, purchasing new machinery and modern appliances,
and maintaining innovative practices and sanitary conditions on his
farm of 160 acres. His wife's death and the depression both hit him
hard. He died in on 22 September 1935.
Cree Telford Henderson b: 25 July 1879; d: 25 February 1944. He
was studying to be a school teacher at Valparaiso College in the state
of Indiana, when a summer job in the Pacific Northwest turned into a
career as a railroad engineer for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He
lived in Spokane. Cree was killed in a train accident near Colfax,
Washington. He married Vera Eliza Nesbitt, and they had daughter Cora
and ason Stephen.
This article from page 8 the Independent-Record (Helena Montana), from
27 February 1944 details the fatal accident:
Railroad Man Dies In Collision Of Train, Engine
Eva Belle Henderson Miller b: September 1881; d: 15 October 1970. She
moved to Idaho. Her husband was Curtis J. Miller, and they had two
daughters, Ruth and Maxine. Eva's name was pronounced with a short E,
like the ev in "seven", not the
ev in "evil".
Spokane, Wash., Feb. 26. (AP) C. T. Henderson, Spokane railroad
engineer, was killed and two passengers were hospitalized at Colfax as
a result of a collision between a Northern Pacific passenger train and
a light engine near Oakesdale, railroad officials reported here today.
Injured were Budge Eller, 36, Spokane, arm and head injuries, and Mrs.
Harry F. J. Schilling, Lewiston, Idaho, head injuries. Seven other
passengers were treated for minor bruises and shock.Cause of the
accident was not immediately reported. The train was bound from
Spokane to Lewiston, Idaho.
Robert Alexander Henderson b: November 1883; d: 17 February 1965. He
became a banker and industrialist in Meadville, Pa. He was a graduate
of Westminster College and received a graduate degree from the
University of Pennsylvania. His wife's name was Jean, and they had two
daughters, Dorothy and Betty. Among Robert's occupations were cashier
at the Marion Center Bank, trust officer of the Savings and Trust Bank
of Indiana, Pa., and Pennsylvania State Bank Examiner during the
governorship of Robert Fisher, and Chairman of the Board of the
Meadville Malleable Iron Company.
James Stewart Henderson b. 20 March 1885; d: 31 December 1890. Died
John Gordon Henderson b: 13 September 1887; d. 28 November 1978. He
survived the diphtheria that killed his brother. After taking the
short program at Penn State, took over the family farm. See below.
Harry Oram Henderson b: 5 November 1889; d: 11 December 1961. He
earned ungraduate and master's degrees from Penn State, and became a
county agent. Moved to West Virginia as an extention dairy agent and
helped organize the Dairy Department at West Virginia University which
he headed for 30 years. Earned his doctorate in dairy science at the
University of Minnesota. His textbook, Dairy Cattle Feeding and
Management went through four editions, and he authored or coauthored
over 100 research bulletins and scientific papers. Harry married
Marian Saltsman and they had one son, Robert Eugene. Robert was
stationed in Alaska during World War II. He remained in Alaska after
the war to teach and farm and lived there for six decades. He and his
wife Wilma had five children.
Ethel Kathryn Henderson Ross b: 31 July 1892; d: 24 May 1984. Ethel
taught school and raised a family; she and her husband James A. Ross
lived in many places including New Castle, Pa., Dryden, NY. Among
other occupations, he was a store owner and restaurant owner. Ethel
died while living with her daughter Alice Marie Ross Guye in St.
[Sarah] Helen Henderson Streams b: 3 August 1896; d: 26 March 1978. Helen
married Arthur Streams and moved to Brownsville, Pa. Returned to
Indiana, Pa., and was a schoolteacher for most of her life. She had
one adopted son, Jimmy.
Portraits of nine siblings:
Fifth Generation: John Gordon Henderson and Kathryn
Two of Joseph and Jenny's sons, Harry Oram and John Gordon were close in
age. They traded turns going to the agricultural college at Penn State.
After each had received two years of schooling, the brothers decided that
Harry was better fitted to continue at Penn State and John was better
fitted to take over the family farm. Harry O. Henderson, went on to earn a
doctorate in dairy science, wrote a standard textbook in the field, and
was head of the dairy program at West Virginia State University.
John Gordon Henderson was born in 1886. He married Sara (I have also seen
it spelled Sarah) Kathryn Holstein. Kathryn, better known as Kate, was a
loving women, but one of her daughters informed me that unlike her husband
who teased and joked a lot, Kathryn did not exhibit a broad sense of
humor. It was probably not amusing to her if someone pointed out that a
Guernsey farmer married a Holstein. As a student at Penn State, just
before he got married, John had a role in the evolution of ice
cream. He maintained a dairy farm, delivering milk to the nearby mining
town of Iselin, through the depression and more prosperous times. He
also maintained and added to his fathers apple
Children of John Gordon and Kathyrn Holstein Henderson and beyond . . .
The youngest members of the descendents of Robert and Mary Ann Ralston
Henderson are members of the ninth generation, and among them are four who
are the seventh generation of Hendersons to live at Richland, the
Henderson family farm. The old farm house in the picture above has been
torn down, but other buildings in that farm portrait are still standing.
The Henderson clan in its recent generations has extanded from coast to
coast and even as far away as India.
For privacy concerns of living persons, the family tree
ends here. If you are a family member interested in details of John Gordon
Henderson and Kathryn Holstein Henderson's family tree, please contact me
(jhenderson@ ithaca.edu) for additional information.
Can you be related to a fictional character?
The great great grandmother of John G. Henderson was Martha Tilford, who
of being a witch in Salem, New York. She and her husband, George Telford
were born in Liddesdale, which is a particularly stark, bleak part of the
westernmost Scottish Middle Marches. The area was famed as the home of the
worst of the Border reivers. George MacDonald Fraser, in his book The
Steel Bonnets, called Liddesdale the "cockpit of the the Border and home
of its most predatory clans." Liddesdale was the locale of an old ballad,
"Jamie Telfer in the Fair Dodhead," Child 190.* Was Jamie Telfer the
ancestor of Martha Tilford, George Telford, or both? The Oxford Dictionary
of Surnames indicates that Telfer has many variant spellings including
Telford, Tilford, Telfair, Tolver, Tailleferre, and Tulliver.
There is no evidence outside the ballad of an historical Jamie Telfer,
but ballad singer and scholar Andrew
Calhoun is certain there was an historical Jamie Telfer. Landmarks
of Liddesdale are featured prominently in the ballad, and other
individuals mentioned in the ballad are historical figures from the time
of the 1580s, including the Captain of Bewcastle; Martin Elliot; "Auld
Buccleugh" of Branxholme Hall, whose real name was Walter Scott, an
ancestor of the poet and novelist); and a Martin's Gibb (Martin's Hab in
the ballad). If Jamie Telfer had his cattle stolen in 1580, that's about
the right amount of time for George Telford to be Jamie Telfer's great
grandson. So my great grandmother's great grandfather's great grandfather
could be the hero of the ballad, fictionalized, if not fictional.
The ballad extends through 41 verses (more or less depending on the
version), but in a nutshell, it tells the tale of poor Jamie whose ten
cattle are stolen by the wicked English Captain of Bewcastle. Jamie
threatens to take revenge against the Captain of Bewcastle. The captain
laughs at him, since Jamie's only weapon is an "auld sword without a
scabbard that scarcely now would fell a mouse." Jamie then runs on foot
[barefoot in one version] through the snow to seek the aid of the local
powerful protector. When the first protector rejects him because Jamie
hasn't been paying him blackmail, Jamie then go to a rival protector as
well as his brother-in-law and some other neighbors. The band of Scots
eventually battle the English enemy, killing fifteen of English soldiers
and injuring the Captain in a place in his anatomy that had he lived a
hundred years he would never be loved by woman again [one version has him
shot through the head, but continues to speak in the very next verse]. The
bottomline was that in exchange for the ten cattle Jamie had stolen, the
Scots took back for him thirty and three. Lovely, eh?
Sir Walter Scott has been accused of altering the ballad from the
original to make his family appear to be the heroes. In another version of
the ballad, the head of the Scot family refuses Jamie for his failure to
pay blackmail, and it is the Elliots who come to his aid. In Scott's
version, it was the Eliots who refused Jamie, and the Scots who rode with
him against the English. Andrew Lang, in 1910, concluded that which
version of the story was in the original remains unknown, but that
"absolute proof that Scott did, or did not, pervert the ballad, and turn a
false Elliot into a false Scott version, cannot be obtained unless new
documents bearing on the matter are discovered." Andrew Calhoun, who cites
Scott's other known other perversions of ballads altered for his own
purposes, is certain Scott's version is not the original.
In case you wish to visit the home of a fictional or actual relative,
there is also some question about what and where the Dodhead was. Scott
places the Dodhead at a "near Singlee, in Ettrick," but Andrew Lang, in
his notes of the ballad, says Scott is wrong and places the Dodhead "near
Skelfhill, on the southern side of Teviot, within three miles of Stobs."
In both cases the Dodhead would have been well within Liddesdale.
Andrew Lang's commentary on the ballad can be found in chapter 5 of Sir
Scott and the Border Minstrelsy, now available online through
GoogleBooks. By the way, later editions of Scott's Border Minstrelsy were
Thomas Finlayson Henderson, a once prominent historian, author, and
*Child 190 is shorthand for the 190th ballad listed in Francis James
Child's collection of English and Scottish popular traditional ballads.
"Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead" is also found in Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy
of the Scottish Borders .
This page created and maintained by: John R. Henderson (jhenderson@
Last modified on 27 April 2021