WILLIAM P. HENDERSON, a representative agriculturist living in Tallula township, was born September 27, 1833, in Morgan County, Illinois, near the city of Jacksonville. His parents, Aaron and Sarah (Bowles) Henderson, were natives of West Virginia, where they spent the days of their childhood and youth. The father was a farmer by occupation, and after he had attained adult age he and his brother ran a flatboat on the Ohio river to New Orleans. In the summer of 1830 Aaron Henderson arrived in Morgan county, Illinois. This section of the state was then largely wild and unimproved, much of the land still in possession of the government, and Mr. Henderson entered a claim about nine miles northwest of Jacksonville. He afterward purchased an additional tract of forty acres, so that his farm comprised two hundred and ten acres, which he owned up to the time of his death in 1844. He was one of the valued early settlers of the community, contributing in indefatigable manner to the substantial upbuilding and improvement of his section of the state. At his death his remains were interred in Arcadia cemetery and many friends deeply deplored his loss. In the family were seven children, two sons and five daughters, William P. being the third in order of birth. Mary Ann, the eldest, became the wife of John Smith and they went to California during the most prosperous epoch in the history of that state. They became the parents of twelve children, and three of their sons are now holding county offices, one being county sheriff, a second county clerk, while the third is county commissioner of Mendocino county, California. Both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are yet living. Eliza Jane, the second member of the Henderson family, married John Bridgeman and lived on Indian Creek, in Morgan county, near Kernsville, but both she and her husband are now deceased. They had two children, of whom one is living and is now county commissioner of Cass county. Virginia Henderson, the fourth member of the family, is the wife of James Bridgeman, who died at Memphis, Tennessee, while serving his country as a corporal in the One Hundred and First Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war. His widow yet resides on the old homestead farm in Morgan county and she has three children, two sons and a daughter. James A. Henderson married and made his home in Arenzville in Cass county. His widow still resides in that village. Lucinda Henderson became the wife of Andrew Osmun and they resides upon a farm in Cherokee county, Kansas. They have four children, two sons and two daughters. Emma Henderson died in childhood and the mother passed away at the very advanced age of ninety-three years.
William P. Henderson is indebted to the public school system of Illinois for the educational advantages which he enjoyed. He has always followed farming and for a time he also engaged in carpentering, knowing enough concerning the builder's art to erect an ordinary building. He made the clapboards with which he covered his first house and he also built a house for his mother, which he covered with shingles that he made by hand. He first began earning his own living by working by the month as a farm hand in the home neighborhood and he afterward farmed for his mother up to the time when he was twenty years of age, when he rented a part of her land and continued to thus engage in agricultural pursuits until twenty-six years of age. At that time he was married on the 1st of September, 1859, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary Ann McFillin, a native of Morgan county, Illinois, and a daughter of James and Mary Ann (Haines) McFillin. Her father was born, reared and married in Ireland, and on coming to America in 1833 he was accompanied by his first wife and two sons, Michael and Bernard. He settled in Pennsylvania but after the death of his wife removed to Morgan county, Illinois, where he was again married, his second union being with Miss Mary Ann Haines, by whom he had two children: Mrs. Henderson; and a son who died in infancy. For his third wife he married Mrs. Mary (Patten) Henderson and to them were born four children. He was a distiller and engaged in the manufacture of whiskey in Jacksonville. He died at the age of eighty-one years.
In the fall of 1867 Mr. Henderson and his wife removed to Menard county, where he has since carried on agricultural pursuits with good success, being classed with the capable business men and energetic agriculturists of his community. He has one hundred and fifty-four acres of land and in connection with the cultivation of his fields he has always raised considerable stock, making a specialty of cattle. He now has sixty head of cattle on his place, many of which are being fed for the market. He also has one hundred shoats. His farm is kept in good condition and his stock raising interests add materially to his annual income.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Henderson was blessed with seven children: Elizabeth Adeline, born June 13, 1860, married James Stiltz, and they reside in Cass county. They had seven children of whom one is deceased. James A., born in Morgan county, Illinois, March 28, 1860, is now living in Menard county, where he follows farming. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity. He married Lida Hewitt, and they have three children, two sons and a daughter. Recia Belle, born September 18, 1863, is now teaching in a government Indian school a short distance from Fort Defiance, Arizona, her school, however, being across the border in New Mexico. She was educated after attending the public schools in the Jacksonville Business College at Jacksonville, Illinois and she began the work of teaching in October, 1903. Charles W., born December 10, 1865, was a student in the high school at Tallula through one winter and is now engaged in farming on his own account, making his home with his parents. He, too, belongs to the Knights of Pythias fraternity. Mary E., born April 21, 1867, married Reuben Hewitt, now deceased. Mrs. Hewitt resides in Ashland, Illinois, where she is engaged in dressmaking. Laura E., born December 12, 1871, is the wife of Luther Noddingham, a resident farmer of Sangamon county, living near Pleasant Plains. They had five children, of whom two are deceased. Emma K., the youngest member of the Henderson family, was born September 13, 1873, and was educated in the home schools.
Mr. Henderson exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the Democratic party. He was road commissioner, has been judge of elections and has been a school director for fifteen years. The duties of all these positions he has discharged in prompt and capable manner for in all matters of citizenship he is faithful and loyal. His entire life has been spent in central Illinois and for more than a third of a century he has lived in Menard county, where he has worked earnestly and persistently in order to gain a good home for his family and as the years have passed his labors have been crowned with a fair measure of success.