Robert Henderson

Robert Henderson


The story of the family of Robert and Judith Hogan Henderson

Stories about Robert Henderson

South Carolina to Louisiana and Beyond

  • South Carolina to Texas

Robert Henderson was born about 1775 in South Carolina.  He was born at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.  About the time he turned three years old, the importation of slaves was banned by the US. Congress.  He was around 11 years old when the US Dollar was adopted as our national currency.  Our constitution was approved while he was only about 12 years old, and was implemented around a year later.  These things had to have affected his life and way of thinking about things.  He was definitely old enough to be aware of the happenings in his world.  He was right around 14 when George Washington became our first President under the Constitution!  We really know very little of his early life.  What we do know is that he must have moved to Tennessee as a young man, because he married Judith Hogan there in Davidson County on 13 February, 1804.  Interesting that the Louisiana Purchase had come about just the year before their marriage.    Shortly after this marriage, he and his new bride moved to Illinois where their first two children were born.  A daughter, Mary Ann "Polly" Henderson, was added to the family on the 5th of May 1806.  A brother, Daniel was born about 1810.  Sometime after Daniel's birth, but before the birth of their next proven child, Robert, was born in 1821, the family moved to Arkansas.  I have often wondered whether the big earthquake of 1811-1812 caused their move, or maybe the Indian Massacre at Fort Dearborn in 1812. I guess we'll never know why they headed South, but they did.  They weren't through moving yet though.  Between 1823 and 1827, they continued their trip across one more state border into Louisiana.  The last of their children were born in Claiborne Parish, later to become part of Bienville Parish.    Their son, Daniel, is my connection to this couple.  He ended up marrying a woman who must have been a very strong person.  Sarah Jane Brice was born in Mississippi, the daughter of James Winder Brice and his wife, Margaret Bryce.  Daniel and Sarah had 8 children born in Bienville Parish, Louisiana before they made a move to Texas about 1852, where their last 2 children were born.  Daniel, Sarah and children are found on the 1860 census living in Lavaca County, Texas.  We don't know just where, nor when Daniel died, but by 1870, Sarah is found living in Grimes County, Texas as a widow.  She never remarried.  Losing Daniel was just the start of her heartbreak.  Her young son, Ambrose, died of pneumonia in Goliad County in December of 1869.  He was only 19 years old.  Then, her son, Thomas was murdered on the banks of Blanco Creek in February of 1879.  His young widow, Narcissus Jane Crane Henderson, moved to Grimes County with her mother-in-law shortly after the murder.  Thomas' brother, Robert, shot and killed his brothers murderer just a few minutes after the original shooting.  This other son, Robert, finally married late in life and had Sarah a grandson.  He moved from Goliad County to Atascosa County, and just as life was looking up for him, he died.  He was visiting his mother in Grimes County when he came down with pneumonia.  He died there in his mother's home in 1886.  She also lost a daughter, Eliza Jane, who had married Washington Taylor Stem.  She died sometime around 1880.  Finally, Sarah lost another daughter, Hasiltine Ann, who died in 1886.  In her 68 years of life, she had seen the passing of not only her husband, but 5 of her 10 children, yet, through it all, she had managed to keep her family together, and somehow scratch out a survival in a hostile world.   My connection to the family above comes through Daniel and Sarah's daughter, Eliza Jane.  Eliza was born about 1849 in Louisiana, so she was still a small child when her family braved the frontier to make the move to Texas.  On the 18th of December 1873, she married Washington Taylor Stem in Grimes County.  She was only about 30 years old when she died, leaving her husband and three very young sons to make their way without her.  Washington remarried in 1884 a Catherine Johnson.  They added four sons and one daughter to the family.  Poor daughter Maud, growing up in a household with 7 brothers must have been - - - interesting to say the least!   Washington and Eliza's youngest son, Richard Lee Stem, didn't have an easy time of life either.  He married the love of his life, Lether Dobbs, Christmas Eve, 1905.  They soon had four small children.  Lee worked in the sawmill camps.  It was a hard life.  The men and their families were constantly on the move, the work was not only hard, but dangerous as well.  He ended up catching pneumonia.  The prognosis was not good.  Even Lether was sure that he was going to die.  He was very sick for a very long time.  Before he could recover from his illness, Lether fell victim to it too.  She died from the pneumonia shortly after falling ill with it, leaving a still recovering husband with 4 small children.  The youngest son was only 3 months old.  She asked him to make her a promise shortly before she died.  That was to keep the family together, no matter what.  He managed to do that, but often the price was high.  Lether's sister, Jennie Dobbs, came to help Lee with the kids.  He recovered from his illness and returned to work.  He worked hard all week, yet, somehow had enough love and energy to make a lot of good memories with his children on the weekends.  They are all passed now, but while they were still alive, they all spoke so very fondly of their father.  Even their memories of the really hard times through the depression when there was often not enough to eat were filled with happy, warm stories.  Thanks to the help of Jennie, better known to everyone as Auntie, Lee turned out to be a very loving, wonderful father to his children.  He never remarried.  He and Auntie both died in the home of his and Lether's youngest daughter, Lela Lorene Stem Cunningham, AKA Aunt Rena.

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