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Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.


HENDERSON, JACKSON, one of the most widely known and highly respected agriculturists of Morgan County, residing in Literberry, Morgan County, was born on his father's farm half a mile southeast of Arcadia (now owned by Mr. Henderson's younger brother, M. M. Henderson), July 24, 1827, and is a son of David G. and Mary (Henderson) Henderson. David G. Henderson was born in Hampshire County, Va., August 23, 1796, and was a son of John and Phoebe (Gano) Henderson, who were representatives of two of the oldest and most highly honored families of the Old Dominion. John Henderson was a tailor by trade, having chosen that vocation on account of his lameness. A few years after the birth of David G., the family removed to Pennsylvania, and thence to Ohio, finally locating in Pickaway County, that State. On that farm the son David was reared to manhood, attending the early schools of the neighborhood. At the age of eight or nine years he had been bound out to Jacob Ersom, a farmer on the south branch of the Potomac. At the age of twenty-six he left his home in Pickaway County and was married to Mary Henderson, his cousin, the daughter of David Henderson, a pioneer of the county named. Having determined to remove to Illinois, of the wealth of those prairies he had heard much, in 1824 he started with a four-horse wagon for this State. Reaching Greene County, he located for the winter on the banks of Apple Creek. There were no roads in Illinois at that time, the only paths across the country being narrow Indian trails, and the settlers along their route informed them that they could not travel in the daytime, on account of the great swarms of green-head flies, which would kill their horses. The groves, about fifteen miles apart, were the resorts of all emigrants. Upon approaching their first stopping place, Hickory Grove, their horses were covered with blood as the result of the attack of these pests. At sundown they resumed their journey, after a short time arriving at Linn Grove. With the exception of the howling of the wolves which surrounded their camp, they suffered no further discomforts during their journey. On this trip they remained one night at the residence of the Rev. John Greene, a true friend to all emigrants and pioneers, and on August 25, 1824, they arrived at Apple Creek, near the present site of Whitehall. Here Mr. Henderson found three uncles who had preceded him. The cabin occupied by the family that winter was a rough structure such as few farmers now would offer shelter for their stock; but although it had neither floor nor loft, it served, in a measure, to protect them from the severe cold of the winter. For forty days and nights it did not thaw, and the sufferings of these pioneers may well be imagined. That fall Mr. Henderson occupied a portion of the North Prairie, and planted five acres in wheat, hoping to have white bread during the next season, instead of corn, which, for a long time, had been the only grain from which they had made flour. A pioneer settler named North, who had a small mill and still house, permitted the early settlers to grind their grain there, they paying him twelve and a half cents per bushel for the privilege.

On April 1, 1826, Mr. Henderson started for Morgan County, passing through Rattlesnake Spring (now Winchester) and the prairie where Lynnville is now located, to Swinnerton's Point and to James Deaton's home, which was located in the timber. As a destructive storm of the preceding year had blown down many trees along the route, Mr. Henderson was compelled to cut his way through with an ax much of the way. On the evening of Sunday, April 2d, he arrived at Jersey Prairie, and began looking about for a permanent home. Moneyless and friendless, mr. Henderson entered upon an era of hardship which the present generation cannot comprehend. As soon as possible he purchased of Augustus Smith a cabin, for which he gave a cow valued at $10. Mr. Henderson now possessed two cows and two ponies. Renting of Thomas Barston a tract of land, he planted some corn and cotton. The grain crop proving a failure at harvest time he started for Greene County to look after the wheat crop, traveling about a distance of over forty miles, with his sickle in his hand. Threshing this grain in the old-fashioned way, by the trampling of horses, he carried it to Alton, where it was ground by a treadmill. This furnished the first white flour which the family had eaten since they had left Ohio. All the clothing worn by the family, after that which they brought with them was discarded, was made by hand from cloth spun from the flax and cotton; the coarse flax being used for trousers and the finer, for shirts. Night after night Mr. Henderson would sit and pick the seeks from the cotton by hand, while his wife would spin and weave to meet the requirements of her family. For coloring the cloth indigo was raised and prepared by hand, a dye-vat being made by hollowing a large log.

Mr. Henderson immediately took an active interest in public affairs in Morgan County. Soon after arriving in the precinct he was elected to the office of Constable, serving in this capacity for eight years. His eminent fitness for official life having become evident to all, he was then elected Justice of the Peace, filling that position for over sixteen years. For over twenty-eight years he served as Township Treasurer, and in 1847 he was elected County Commissioner, holding that position for a long period.

"Squire Henderson," as he was popularly known throughout Morgan County, was one of the most striking figures of the pioneer period. A man of great integrity, strength of character and a disposition which prompted him to accomplish everything possible for the betterment of the condition of the whole people, he found many opportunities for assisting materially in the promotion of the public welfare. No citizen of his day was more highly honored than he; and this brief record of his life, preserved forever in the annals of the county, forms no unimportant chapter in the history of the early development of Morgan County.

Reared amid typical pioneer surroundings, Jackson Henderson early became imbued with those principles of thrift and industry which were so characteristic of his father and his grandfather. The house in which he was born was a one-room cabin built of round, unhewn logs. It had a puncheon floor, one window and one door, the latter of land-split clapboards. The first school which he attended was taught by Johnathan Atherton, and was located about three-quarters of a mile from his home. Its architecture was very similar to that of his home - built of round, unhewn logs, with slab seats, puncheon floor, and plank desks running along the walls. Here he received instruction during the winter months, but the remainder of the year he assisted his father in the important work of clearing his land and developing a farm out of the wilderness prairie. He remained upon his father's farm until his marriage, which occurred December 24, 1847, and united him with Dianah Petefish, daughter of George Petefish, one of the pioneer farmers of Morgan County. (An extended sketch of the Petefish family will be found on other pages of this volume.) In 1849 he purchased a small farm near that upon which he was raised, where he remained one year. He then purchased 33 acres in the same neighborhood, which he operated for three years. In 1852 he disposed of this property and removed to Louisa County, Iowa, where he purchased 160 acres of land at $5 per acre. Upon this he erected a log cabin, one of the first built in that part of Iowa, of which he was one of the earliest pioneers. Indians were numerous in the Territory in those days, and for several winters they hunted and fished in the vicinity of his home; but they were peaceably inclined and gave him no trouble. In 1862 he returned to Morgan County and purchased a farm of 120 acres, the nucleus of his present farm of 460 acres. Here he was successfully engaged in general farming and stock-raising until his removal to Literberry March 7, 1905.

In politics Mr. Henderson was originally a Whig, casting his first presidential vote for William Henry Harrison. Upon the organization of the Republican party, he entered its ranks, being one of the first men in Morgan County to align himself with that organization and cast his vote for General John C. Fremont. Though a stanch supporter of the men and measures of that great party, he was never sought nor consented to fill political office. He became one of the charter members of Arcadia Lodge, No. 92, I. O. O. F., which was organized in 1852, and has passed all the chairs and been Representative to the Grand Lodge.

Mr. Henderson's wife died in 1863, leaving the following named children: Minerva, who died at the age of fourteen years; Commodore Perry, who resides upon a farm located near that of his father; Phoebe A., wife of Richard Gudgell, residing in Iowa; Mary E., who died at the age of twenty; and Ada M., wife of John Myers, residing near Literberry, Ill. On October 24, 1865, Mr. Henderson was united in marriage with Mrs. Martha E. Ray, widow of James K. Ray, who was killed at the battle of Dallas, Ga., May 15, 1863, the day on which Mrs. Dianah P. Henderson, Mr. Henderson's first wife, died. Mrs. Henderson is a daughter of Ira Henderson, a native of Morgan County and a son of David W. Henderson, who migrated to Illinois from Ohio in 1824, taking up Government land in Morgan County. By her marriage to Mr. Ray she became the mother of one son, Charles T., now a resident of California. Four children have been born of her union with Mr. Henderson: Nora, wife of Lewis Maul, a farmer near Arcadia; Fred J., a farmer near Arcadia; Allen, who died at the age of twelve years; and one son, who died in infancy. Mrs. Henderson is an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Arcadia.

The life of Jackson Henderson has been such as to entitle him to recognition as one of the conspicuous landmarks of Morgan County. Inheriting from his ancestors those strong and striking characteristics which were so noticeable in the character of his father, he has made the most of the opportunities which have presented themselves to him, and has won an honorable success solely by reason of his own energy, industry and perseverance. Throughout his entire career he has been inspired by the highest motives. He has never shirked his duty as a citizen, and has been a generous contributor of his time and means for the advancement of all worthy enterprises calculated to elevate the material, social, moral and intellectual status of the community.

1906 Index