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|Size||32.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 11,900 items)|
|Abstract||John Steele Henderson, member of the North Carolina General Assembly, United States congressman, lawyer, and a founder of rural free delivery of the mail, was born 6 January 1846 in Salisbury, N.C., the son of Archibald II and Mary Ferrand Henderson, a descendant of General John Steele, comptroller of the United States Treasury. In October 1874, Henderson married Elizabeth Brownrigg Cain (1850-1929). They were the parents of Elizabeth Brownrigg Henderson, who married United States Navy Captain Lyman A. Cotten; Archibald Henderson, professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina, who married Barbara Curtis Bynum; John Steele Henderson Jr., electrical engineer for Westinghouse, who married Ruth King; and Mary Ferrand Henderson, who was active in the Democratic Party and in the Episcopal Church in North Carolina. The collection includes letters, financial and legal papers, and other items of John Steele Henderson and members of the Henderson and related families. Earliest items are deeds, indentures, wills, and other legal documents. Items from the 1820s and 1830s chiefly relate to Archibald Henderson's plantation business dealings. In the 1840s-1850s, most letters deal with family activities, especially those of John S. Henderson and his brother Leonard at school in Asheville, N.C., at the University of North Carolina, and at the University of Virginia. There are also items relating to slavery, including lists of slaves hired out, slave bills of sale, and at least four letters from slaves. During the Civil War, there are many letters from John S. Henderson at the University of North Carolina and from Leonard, an officer serving chiefly with the 8th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. After the Civil War, most of the items relate to activities of John S. Henderson, including his political career, and of his family. Included is material about Reconstruction; the United Daughters of the Confederacy; the women's suffrage movement; Democratic Party politics; literature and the performing arts; and travel, especially that of Lyman and Elizabeth Cotten in Japan, where Lyman served two tours of duty as naval attache with the United States embassy in Tokyo before World War I. Other family members in the post-Civil War correspondence include John S. Henderson's brother, Richard; his brother-in-law, William Cain; and his mother-in-law, Sarah Jane Bailey Cain. Volumes include several diaries, most notably that of Mary Ferrand Henderson, 1854-1861, in which she documented family activities.|
|Creator||Henderson, John S. (John Steele), 1846-1916.|
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John Steele Henderson, member of the North Carolina General Assembly, United States congressman, city planner, lawyer, and a founder of rural free delivery of the mail, was born in Salisbury, N.C., on 6 January 1846, the son of Archibald II and Mary Ferrand Henderson, a descendant of General John Steele, comptroller of the United States Treasury under Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. John S. Henderson was educated at Alexander Wilson's school in Alamance County, N.C., and entered the University of North Carolina in January 1862. Five months after the death of his brother at Cold Harbor on 1 June 1864, Henderson, at the age of 18, left the University and enlisted as a private in Company B, 10th North Carolina Regiment.
Following the war, Henderson and other former students who had left the University before qualifying were granted degrees. Henderson then studied law, first under Nathaniel Boyden, then, beginning in January 1866, under Judge Richmond Pearson. Five months later, he obtained his license and, although not of age, opened a law office in Salisbury. He was soon elected register of deeds, serving until September 1868. In 1871, he was elected a delegate to a proposed constitutional convention, but the convention question was not approved by a vote of the people. After declining nomination to the General Assembly in 1872 and 1874, he was elected a delegate to the constitutional convention in 1875 and served in the 1876-1877 General Assembly, which implemented changes made at the convention. In the 1879 General Assembly, he was returned to the state senate, and, in 1880 and 1916, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He was one of three men selected to codify the law of North Carolina.
In June 1884, Henderson was elected presiding justice of the inferior court of Rowan County, and three months later was nominated for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Henderson was elected to the 45th Congress and to four succeeding congresses, serving from 1885 to 1895. In Congress, Henderson was a member of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads. His speeches on tariff reform and the internal revenue system attracted wide attention. In 1890, when the Farmers' Alliance was gaining power in the state, he declared that the subtreasury scheme was unconstitutional. His stand on the issue was opposed by most Democratic leaders, but he was still reelected by a majority of more than 4,000 votes.
Henderson's most important work in Congress came in 1893, when he safeguarded an appropriation bill for the Post Office Department that included $10,000 for free rural mail delivery. The first trial routes under the appropriation, after it had gradually been increased to $40,000, were in West Virginia, but soon after a trial route was established out of China Grove near Henderson's native Salisbury.
Henderson's opposition to the free coinage of silver was contrary to the view of most of the farmers in his district and probably was the chief reason for his defeat at the hands of the Populist-Republican fusionists in 1894.
Outside the political sphere, Henderson was active in the development of his county and state. It was he to whom the Southern Railway turned in acquiring land near Salisbury for its large steam engine repair shops, which Henderson helped to locate in what became, in 1898, the town of Spencer. In the development of the Narrows of the Yadkin River, he was associated with the men who secured capital for the development of water power in the area. While hard times caused this project to be aborted, it was later completed by the Aluminum Company of America, which added the great Badin Dam to the development.
Henderson, probably the largest landowner in Salisbury and the surrounding areas, was one of the city's earliest planners. When the Zion Wesley Institute (now Livingstone College) was established in Salisbury in 1882, Henderson purchased the adjoining land and laid out streets and lots. In July 1891, he bought a large parcel of land and, under the name of the Central Land Company, developed streets and lots in east Salisbury. In 1900, Henderson's real estate company purchased land on the east side of the Southern Railway opposite Spencer and established Southern City, which, after its incorporation in 1901, became East Spencer.
A member of Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, Henderson was senior warden for many years. In 1881, he wrote and published a history of the Episcopal Church in Rowan County. During the 1880s, Henderson co-published the quarterly parish paper.
Henderson was also active in education. He was instrumental in acquiring a large house and lot in Chestnut Hill for a boys school, which operated successfully from 1891 to 1899. His interest in education was further demonstrated in 1880, when, as a member of the General Assembly, he adjusted the Salisbury city tax rate so that the graded school law could pass on the local level. As a result, the law passed in the city by a vote of 311 to 11 and two new graded schools, one for each race, were erected. He also served for many years as chair of the Rowan County school board.
After retiring from Congress, Henderson served as state senator, 1901 and 1903, and as alderman for the city of Salisbury, 1900. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina from 1877 to 1886 and received an LL.D. from Trinity College in June 1890. In 1877, he was elected a director of the Western North Carolina Railroad and served until 1880, when the railroad was sold by the state. He was also a director of the Yadkin Railroad, which ran from Salisbury to Norwood; a bank director; and a director of the Yadkin Valley Fair Association.
In October 1874, Henderson married Elizabeth Brownrigg Cain (1850-1929) in Asheville. She was the daughter of William and Sarah Jane Bailey Cain of Hillsborough and a sister of William Cain, electrical engineer and mathematics professor at the University of North Carolina. They were the parents of Elizabeth Brownrigg Henderson, who married United States Navy Captain Lyman A. Cotten; Archibald Henderson, professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina, who married Barbara Curtis Bynum; John Steele Henderson Jr., electrical engineer for Westinghouse, who married Ruth King; and Mary Ferrand Henderson, who was active in the Democratic Party and the Episcopal Church in North Carolina. The Hendersons also had three children who died in childhood.
Henderson died on 9 October 1916 at Blythewood, the home he built on the edge of Salisbury in 1878, and was buried in the city's Chestnut Hill Cemetery.
(Adapted from the biographical note by James Shober Brawley in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume III, 1988.)Back to Top
The collection includes letters, financial and legal papers, and other items of John S. Henderson, Democratic Party politician, member of the North Carolina General Assembly, United States congressman, lawyer, and a founder of rural free delivery of the mail, of Salisbury, N.C., and and members of the Henderson and related families. Earliest items are deeds, indentures, wills, and other legal documents. Items from the 1820s and 1830s chiefly relate to Archibald Henderson's plantation business dealings. In the 1840s-1850s, most letters deal with family activities, especially those of John S. Henderson and his brother Leonard Henderson at school in Asheville, N.C., at the University of North Carolina, and at the University of Virginia. There are also items relating to slavery, including lists of slaves hired out, slave bills of sale, and at least four slave letters. During the Civil War, there are many letters from John S. Henderson at the University of North Carolina and from Leonard, an officer serving chiefly with the 8th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. After the Civil War, most of the items relate to activities of John S. Henderson, including his political career, and of his family. Included is material about Reconstruction; the United Daughters of the Confederacy; the women's suffrage movement; Democratic Party politics; literature and the performing arts; and travel, especially that of Lyman A. Cotten and Elizabeth Henderson Cotten in Japan, where Lyman served two tours of duty as naval attache with the United States embassy in Tokyo before World War I. Other family members in the post-Civil War correspondence include John S. Henderson's brother, Richard Henderson; his brother-in-law, William Cain; and his mother-in-law, Sarah Jane Bailey Cain. Volumes include several diaries, most notably that of Mary Ferrand Henderson, 1854-1861, in which she documented family activities.Back to Top
Letters, financial and legal papers, and other items of John Steele Henderson and members of the Henderson, Cain, and related families.
Earliest items are deeds, indentures, wills, and other legal documents. These papers deal with ancestors of John S. Henderson, including his father, Archibald. Especially notable documents from the 18th century include a typescript of Colonel Richard Henderson's 1775 journal relating to the Transylvania Colony in Kentucky (the original apparently in private hands) and a contemporary copy of General Nathaniel Greene's 1781 address to the citizens of Salisbury, N.C., about the importance of their support for the Continental Army. Another notable early letter, dated 8 December 1813, recounts a campaign against the Creeks in Alabama during the War of 1812.
Slave bills of sale (especially prevalent in 1807), receipts, mercantile account statements, and other business papers constitute the bulk of the material before the 1840s. Material for many years, particularly in the 1850s, conclude with a list documenting the hiring out of slaves for the year. Other items related to slavery include a 1786 letter lamenting the high cost of slaves and letters from Anderson Henderson, a slave belonging to Archibald Henderson who was apparently hired out to a Mr. Wilkins in Wilmington (see 26 January 1849, 14 June 1857, and 9 March 1865). There is also a letter from a slave named Isabella to Mrs. Archibald Henderson concerning her unhappiness in being hired out to a black mistress (see Undated Letters Before 1866). In addition, several letters concern Archibald Henderson's attempts to recover some runaway slaves who had gone to the Midwest (see 19 February, 13 July and 27 August 1847). Finally, a copy of a will from Surry County, N.C., deals with sending freed slaves to Liberia (21 May 1841).
Beginning in the mid-1840s, there is an increasing amount of personal correspondence and progressively fewer items related to business so that, by 1860, the collection consists largely of personal correspondence. Much of the correspondence (some undated) is between John S. Henderson's mother, Mary, and her sister. A few items in 1833 note the death of Leonard Henderson, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, who was John Steele Henderson's great-uncle. Beginning in the late 1850s, there is a set of correspondence between John S. Henderson's older brother, Leonard, who was away at school and then college, and his parents. During the Civil War, there are also many letters to his parents and to John from Leonard, who served in various North Carolina regiments and died at Cold Harbor in 1864. A muster roll dated 29 February 1864 from the 8th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, with which Leonard served, is included. There is also correspondence from John, a University of North Carolina student beginning in 1862, to his parents, often expressing his desire to leave school and join the Army, which he did in late 1864.
A few letters concern politics, including several written in September 1848 about that year's presidential race. Other political items include a 24 January 1854 letter in which North Carolina Congressman Burton Craige sought Archibald Henderson's advice on strategy related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act; a 5 May 1858 letter to Archibald Henderson from North Carolina Governor Thomas Bragg about matters apparently related to the state's interest in railroads; and a 3 November 1860 letter from John S. Henderson to his father about a Whig barbecue in Graham, N.C.
Several pamphlets and similar documents are part of this subseries, including a pro-slavery speech delivered by Georgia Senator Robert Toombs in Boston (1856), an anti-Republican tract by former Mississippi Senator Robert Walker (1856), and a copy of the Mount Vernon Record (1858), a publication of the association seeking to preserve George Washington's home. A circular letter from this group is included in the 1854 materials.
|Oversize Paper OP-327/10|
Postwar letters, financial and legal papers, and other items. Many items relate to the political life of John S. Henderson, though these political letters usually mention other subjects such as family and church affairs. Letters reflect his activity in Democratic Party politics, including his service as party chair for his congressional district in 1872, delegate to the state constitutional convention in September-October 1875, state representative (1876-1877) where he sought the speakership, and state senator (1878-1879). In the late 1860s, numerous letters touch on Reconstruction politics. Some letters in 1866-1867 are from a Henderson relative in Washington who mentions Andrew Johnson's problems with the Republican Party. In a comment on local politics in Reconstruction North Carolina, both Henderson and his mother complained in separate letters dated 11 August 1868 about how the "carpet bag" mayor of Salisbury turned the Democratic club's meeting place over to a group of Negroes. Henderson took great interest in presidential elections, but repeated Republican victories led him to ruminate upon the diminished political position of the South in the reconstructed Union (e.g., 3 December 1876).
Correspondence also documents Henderson's efforts to promote economic development. In 1872, for instance, he expressed interest in the turning the Yadkin River into a commercial highway. In the 1880 legislative session, he supported the "Best Bill," which provided for the sale of the state's interest in the Western North Carolina Railroad to a group of New York businessmen who would aggressively seek to complete the line. Other correspondence concerning railroads include letters of William Cain and of Ferrand Haughton, Henderson's cousin who was associated with a Tennessee railroad, circa 1881-1882.
During this period, Henderson also courted, married, and began a family with Elizabeth Brownrigg Cain of Asheville. Correspondence related to their courtship appears in 1872 and increases in frequency until their wedding in September 1874. From the mid-1870s, items are mainly family correspondence, including references to the Hendersons' attendance at the 100th anniversary of the Mecklenburg Resolves in 1875 and their trip to Philadelphia in 1876 for the nation's centennial celebration.
There are several letters written by John S. Henderson's brother, Richard, primarily to their mother while he was a student at the United States Naval Academy and also from various ports in Latin America and the Mediterranean during the late 1870s and 1880s. In one 1882 letter, Richard provided a detailed description of sites on his trip to the Holy Land.
Some correspondence is included from Elizabeth Brownrigg Henderson's brother, William Cain. These items relate to his years on the faculty of the Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte, circa 1874-1880, as well as to his work with the North Carolina Geological survey and with railroad surveys in both Carolinas, circa 1880-1882. In addition, his letters from the fall of 1882 when he joined the faculty of the Citadel until he left for Chapel Hill 1890 provide insights into the social and cultural life of Charleston, S.C.
Only a few items relate directly to Henderson's legal practice, primarily letters from his law partner, Luke Blackmer, in 1875. A set of notes relating to a case, Hauser v. Tate, involving the Bank of Statesville, N.C., is filed in the undated 1870s material.
Correspondence and other items from the period that begins with Henderson's campaign for and election to the United States House of Representatives in 1884, covers his five terms in Washington (1885-1895), and continues through his death in 1916. Much of the material focuses less on Henderson himself than on the activities of his wife, children, and other family members. Thus, while Henderson's political affairs are significant in this subseries, a considerable amount of correspondence is devoted to other topics. Because a single document may touch on more than one topic, the papers have been kept in chronological order. In the inventory for this subseries, however, the papers are described in four categories--family life, politics and public affairs, business matters, and social and cultural life.
Correspondence and other papers that document the private and public activities of the Henderson family. These items make clear the importance of family to John Steele Henderson. He complained about the loneliness of a congressman's life (e.g., 9 December 1885), and expressed his desire to leave Congress so that he would not miss the growth of his baby (16 April 1890). His concern about his children is reflected in his letters to them when he was away in Washington. His correspondence with his wife reveals a rather close partnership. Many of their letters from Henderson's congressional years deal with errands he could run for the family (such as buying clothes for the children or purchasing little luxuries unavailable in Salisbury) or with matters of family finance.
Correspondence from the Henderson children to their parents and maternal grandmother, Sarah Jane Bailey Cain, documents their growth into adulthood and their establishment of independent lives. The correspondence of John Jr., usually with his mother, from the time of his University of North Carolina graduation in 1902 until his wedding in 1914 is especially full. He faced the daunting task of making his way in the world far from home--working as an engineer for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, Chicago, upstate New York and Massachusetts. His letters express constant dissatisfaction with his jobs and also contain observations about northern social life and women from the perspective of a single, southern male. He eventually married a young woman from Massachusetts, Ruth King.
Correspondence of the Henderson daughters, Bessie and Mary, provides insights into the world of young, upper-class southern women at the turn of the century. Many of their letters concern parties, dances, and other social events designed to pair them with eligible young men. One correspondent of Bessie's wrote about the fine points of flirting in September 1892. From that year through 1898, Bessie received numerous letters from a young John Sprunt Hill (later a prominent North Carolina philanthropist and banker) and had other suitors as well. Both Bessie and Mary were apparently popular "southern belles." When students at the University of Virginia dedicated their 1895 annual to "southern womanhood," they asked to include Bessie's photograph (March 1895). In 1908, a beau of Mary's suggested poetically that she was the perfect belle.
During these years, the Hendersons also experienced the deaths of two young sons. William, Mary's twin brother, died in June 1886 at the age of eight months. Almost exactly ten years later, in June 1896, a second son named William, aged six years, died after a short illness. Both deaths elicited outpourings of sympathy from friends and members of the extended family (see especially June 1886 and June-July 1896). Mrs. Henderson's young cousin, Carrie Freer, also died during this period. She died shortly after giving birth to twins, a situation that prompted Bessie to write her mother than Carrie never should have married (November 1892).
POLITICS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Politics was a family affair for the Hendersons. Much of the political correspondence here is between various members of the Henderson clan and often touches on non-political matters as well. Political topics covered include Henderson's congressional campaigns, various presidential races, and the inaugurals of Grover Cleveland in 1885 and 1893 as well as subsequent Cabinet gossip. Henderson was plagued by persons seeking federal jobs such as postmaster (especially 1885 and May 1893). He also was called upon to assist constituents in other ways. H. H. Helper, a Rowan County native who had served in the Union Army and was the brother of controversial author Hinton Rowan Helper, sought Henderson's help in securing the job as superintendent of the federal cemetery in Salisbury (September-October 1885). Several letters in 1885 document a Dr. Long's efforts to enlist Henderson's aid in receiving compensation for two horses that Long lost while he was a federal employee in the 1870s. A veteran of the Mexican-American War also sought the congressman's help in securing a pension (May 1886).
In Washington, Henderson allied himself with President Cleveland and several items relate to their relationship. The collection includes correspondence about Cleveland's wedding as well as two calling cards signed by the president, apparently as gifts for the Henderson children (18 May 1886). Early in Cleveland's second term, Henderson showed one of Bessie's school compositions to Mrs. Cleveland. At the time, as he confided to his wife, he was trying to get close to the president in order to secure a federal appointment for himself (March 1893). As a Cleveland Democrat, Henderson defended gold coinage (e.g., January-February 1890). This position, as well as his opposition to the subtreasury, made him a target of the Farmers' Alliance, which led to his defeat by the Populist-Republican fusionists in 1894 (e.g., March-April 1890, October-December 1894). During this last congressional campaign, Josephus Daniels, Woodrow Wilson's future Navy Secretary but then an Interior Department official, corresponded with Henderson about the Populists (October 1894). Although Henderson told his wife he looked forward to leaving Congress and Bessie thought he looked much happier when she visited him during his last congressional session, still he was despondent about the future--especially because of the loss of his congressional salary (January 1895).
Following his congressional career, Henderson served in the N.C. Senate during the 1901 and 1903 legislative sessions. Important issues from this period include the divorce bill, which Henderson vehemently opposed (1902-1903), a Prohibition bill (January-February 1901), and the impeachment of several state Supreme Court judges (March 1901). There is also correspondence related to the 1916 Democratic national convention, which Henderson attended as a delegate (May-June 1916).
Women's suffrage, a political issue with which several female members of the family were especially involved, appears in some correspondence, although subseries 1.4 has more on this topic. Mrs. Henderson, when uncertain about her position on the issue, attended a suffragist meeting in Baltimore (see 8 and 11 June 1912). Mary Henderson objected to the more radical tactics of English suffragists. She labeled as "outrages" the tactics that closed much of London while she was visiting the British capital in June 1914. Overall, though, the women in the Henderson family were firm believers in women's suffrage. The Henderson men also supported women's suffrage, as demonstrated by John Jr.'s 7 February 1915 letter criticizing The New York Times's opposition to extending the vote to women.
This subseries also reflects the family's interest in international events, especially the war in Europe. Bessie commented upon German "atrocities" in France (18 April 1916), while on the homefront, John Jr., expressed his opinion that German-Americans should have their citizenship revoked (20 April 1916). His wife Ruth observed that all the maids were "colored" because white working women in her part of Massachusetts preferred to take jobs in munitions factories (25 April 1916).
Letters and other papers relating to John Steele Henderson's support for the economic development of Piedmont North Carolina are included in this subseries. In letters of 18 and 19 April 1890, he noted the economic potential of North Carolina and how a boom in his home state might improve his own financial situation. He pushed railroad construction, suggesting after his defeat for reelection in 1894 that "The Southern Railway ought to give me lucrative employment" (25 February 1895). He promoted the development of the Yadkin River as a power source (e.g., August-September 1901) and was a director of the North Carolina Power Company (19 May 1903). A large landholder in the Salisbury area, he had a keen interest in the growth of that town (e.g., February-March 1903, 8 July 1906, 18 June 1912).
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE
The correspondence of John Steele Henderson and his family provides insights into numerous aspects of the social and cultural life of North Carolina (and to some extent of the United States as a whole) during the half century centered on 1900.
A good deal of the correspondence in this subseries touches on education. Two members of the Henderson circle, John and Elizabeth's oldest son, Archibald, and Mrs. Henderson's brother, the mathematician and civil engineer William Cain, were members of the University of North Carolina faculty. Cain left the Citadel, South Carolina's military college, for the University of North Carolina in 1890 and remained there until his retirement in 1920. He wrote numerous letters to his sister and to his mother, Sarah Jane Bailey Cain, on Chapel Hill happenings, including a hazing incident that resulted in a student's death (13 October 1912). In the mid to late 1890s, Archibald Henderson and his younger brother John Steele Jr., were students at University of North Carolina. Their letters mention not only their studies but also sporting events and social life in Chapel Hill. It was after graduating in 1898 that Archibald joined his uncle, William Cain, as a mathematics instructor. (Archibald succeeded Cain as department head in 1920 when the older man retired.) Women in the family also pursued their educations. Mrs. Henderson's niece, Carrie Freer, whom the Hendersons raised after Carrie was orphaned, wrote about her experiences at Saint Mary's School for Girls in Raleigh (see 1883-1884). The Henderson daughters, Bessie and Mary, also attended Saint Mary's (see, for instance, 23-27 December 1892 and 16 May 1893). In addition, Mary attended the Stuart School in Washington, D.C., from 1902 to 1904 and wrote about social and cultural life in the nation's capital as well as scholastic matters (see October-November 1903, January 1904). Mary also studied law at the University of North Carolina in 1915-1916 (e.g., 23 September 1915).
Both John and Elizabeth Henderson worked to preserve the memory of the Confederate cause. In July 1896, Mrs. Henderson helped found and for many years presided over the Salisbury chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization that, as the letters in this subseries attest, occupied her time and that of Bessie for years to come. Her duties included keeping track of which Salisbury veterans should receive United Daughters of the Confederacy Crosses of Honor in commemoration of their Confederate service. The collection includes requests for Crosses of Honor from veterans as well as lists of those so honored (e.g., March-April 1901, October 1908). In October 1912, the year Mrs. Henderson stepped down as chapter president, the Salisbury chapter hosted the state United Daughters of the Confederacy convention, and John Steele Henderson gave the town's official welcome to the group. The next month, Mrs. Henderson attended the national United Daughters of the Confederacy convention in Washington. The Hendersons were involved in raising money for a Confederate soldiers' home and for a they were instrumental in the commissioning and unveiling of Salisbury's Confederate memorial statue by the sculptor F.W. Ruckstuhl (e.g., 24 March 1909). There is also correspondence from 1900 to 1908 concerning a United Daughters of the Confederacy-related play, Under the Southern Cross, by Frances Christine Fisher Tiernan, a North Carolina writer and relative of the Hendersons known by the pen name Christian Reid. Related items include a KKK postcard (4 November 1908), a piece of a neckerchief allegedly worn by Stonewall Jackson (enclosure, 20 April 1901), and an invitation to a reunion of a New York infantry regiment (20 September 1916).
Though few letters in the collection explicitly deal with race relations in North Carolina, this subseries contains several of interest. During October and especially November 1898, for instance, several letters deal with the racial situation in Wilmington and the riot that followed the 8 November election. Two letters, from a cousin of Mrs. Henderson who worked at a mill outside Wilmington, give an account of that election day and the day that followed. Other items document racial violence at other times and places during this period. In an October 1890 letter, a friend of Mrs. Henderson noted that she and her husband had been attacked in their bedroom by "a drunken infuriated negro," and she referred to other incidents of violence in her area. A July 1906 letter concerns accusations that three black men had murdered a white man near Salisbury and notes that troops would probably be required to prevent a lynching.
John and Elizabeth Henderson were quite active in the Episcopal Church. John attended a church convention in Richmond in October 1907, where race was an issue of discussion. Other correspondence documents his attendance at Episcopal conclaves in Nashville and Cincinnati in October 1910 and his activities at a meeting about Bible teaching in June 1909. Henderson took umbrage at Byron Clark's claim that the early Christian Church had a presbyterian rather than episcopal form of government, and he wrote a long letter to Clark explaining his errors (30 November 1909). His wife expressed concern that their daughter Bessie was not truly prepared for confirmation, but John urged that she go ahead and be confirmed (10 and 19 April and 14 May 1893).
Although the Henderson family was always closely associated with North Carolina and especially with Salisbury, they also saw much of the world on numerous trips. John Steele Henderson's brother Richard served in the United States Navy and occasionally wrote to family members from points around the globe. These letters often urged John to use his political influence to get Richard a transfer to better duty or a promotion (e.g., 1890-92). Richard also provided some observations on the role of United States planters in the move to annex Hawaii to the United States (e.g., 18 October and 8 November 1892). Another naval officer in the family, Bessie's husband Lyman Cotten, wrote to his parents from the Indian Ocean and the Phillipines during the period before his marriage (see July 1899). After their July 1908 wedding, Bessie, who had previously traveled to Europe in 1905, spent time overseas with her husband. Most extensively covered in this collection are the periods when Lyman served two tours of duty as naval attache with the United States embassy in Tokyo. The first of these tours, in the mid-1910s, is included in this subseries. While Bessie was in Japan, her younger sister Mary came to visit for nearly a year during 1913-1914, after a brief stop in Hawaii. On her way home to Salisbury, Mary also toured India and Europe. Archibald made several trips to England from 1907 to 1911 in connection with his biography of George Bernard Shaw (see THE ARTS, below). Closer to home, members of the family vacationed in the North Carolina mountains and at the beach during the summers. These trips, like the foreign adventures, family members amply documented in letters home.
The entire Henderson family showed a terrific interest in the arts--theatre, concerts, opera and fine literature. When they traveled, family members often took in live performances and provided reviews for those back home. Mary, for instance, frequently commented on plays and voice recitals that she attended while a student in Washington (e.g., October 1902, January 1904), while Archibald kept his mother up to date on the London stage when he visited England (e.g., July 1907). Indeed, Archibald, made quite a name for himself professionally as a drama and literary critic through his articles and books on these matters. His biography of George Bernard Shaw is the subject of several letters from 1906 to 1911 (e.g., July 1906, April-June 1907, 30 March and 31 July 1909, July and September 1911). En route to England to interview Shaw in 1907, Archibald struck up a relationship with his shipmate, Mark Twain, that is recounted in letters of 18 June 1907 and 16 March 1909. He also had the distinction of introducing Twain to Shaw (see 20 June 1907).
A few items touch on subjects of interest to historians of medicine. Letters mention outbreaks of meningitis (April 1890) and smallpox (January 1900) in Salisbury; the influenza epidemic (October 1918); and smallpox in Washington, D.C. (January 1895). There are also references to efforts to prevent the sale of cigarettes to minors (March 1903). Mrs. Henderson also kept detailed medical information including medications for a sick person--most likely six-year-old William, who died in 1896.
Correspondence and other papers related to the Henderson family following the death of John Steele Henderson on 9 October 1916. The bulk of the materials are from 1917 to 1929 with only three folders with material from after 1929. Letters to and from Mrs. John Steele Henderson until her death in 1929 make up a plurality of the items in the subseries. Second most significant and predominating beginning in the late 1920s are items related to Bessie Henderson (Mrs. Lyman) Cotten and her family. The 1962 items are two copies of an agreement about a financial trust involving Bessie Henderson Cotten, Mary F. Henderson, and John Steele Henderson Jr.
Correspondence documents the family's continued interest in politics, particularly in women's suffrage and women's participation in political affairs after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Letters document the activities of Ruth King Henderson, wife of John Jr., in securing the vote for women. She raised money for the cause at a suffrage bazaar (16 June 1920) and joined the National Women's Party (e.g., 16 March 1920, October 1922). In late 1917, Archibald and his wife, Barbara, used stationery imprinted with the heading "Votes for Women." Once women could vote, Bessie Henderson Cotten was approached about running for mayor of Salisbury, which she declined to do (28 February 1921). In the 1930s, national Democratic officials contacted Bessie about fundraising in North Carolina (18 September 1931) and about her interest in a federal job (20 January and 5 September 1933). Although Mary Henderson was quite involved in politics, only a few items relate to her political activities. One such item is a telegram she sent from the 1924 Democratic national convention, which she termed "preposterous" (9 July 1924).
Correspondence related to World Wars I and II as well as other international matters is included in this subseries. Notable items document Lyman Cotten's World War I service aboard the U.S.S. Nebraska, and Archibald Henderson's unsuccessful attempts to obtain an officer's commission in the army. On the homefront, William Cain noted the effect of the war on the University of North Carolina (see 1917-1918, especially April and December 1917, and September 1918) while John Steele Henderson Jr. considered its effects on the stock market (26 December 1917). After the war, concern about Bolshevism cropped up in family letters (e.g., April 1919). The Washington Disarmament Conference is also briefly mentioned (11 December 1921). In the early 1920s, Lyman and Bessie Cotten returned to Japan, where they experienced the 1923 Tokyo earthquake. Items from World War II include an invitation to the launching of the U.S.S. Cotten, named for Lyman, who died in 1926 (see 12 June 1943), and copies of Archibald Henderson Jr.'s army service records (e.g., 15 October 1943 and 18 November 1945).
Correspondence between Bessie Henderson Cotten and her sons, Lyman Jr., and John, gives insights into student life at Virginia's Woodberry Forest School and at the University of North Carolina in the late 1920s. Alcohol consumption, sports, and motion pictures are topics touched upon (e.g., November-December 1927). John Cotten exhibited the traditional family interest in the arts, as shown in his commentary on a concert given by the Polish pianist Paderewski in Charlottesville (see 18 January 1928).
Short biographical pamphlets and typescripts of biographical items published elsewhere relating to members of the family include two items of tribute to William Cain (December 1930); "A Cosmopolitan Villager," about Archibald Henderson (17 June 1937); and a piece by Bessie Henderson Cotten on Frances Christine Fisher Tiernan, also known as Christian Reid (13 May 1938).
Arrangement: Alphabetically by recipient.
Chiefly post-1865 (roughly 1865-1935) undated letters, arranged by recipient. In addition to the folders with letters to specific individuals, there is also a file of letters whose recipients are unclear, unknown or tangential to the collection.
Arrangement: by subject.
Some writings of John Steele Henderson and others on politics, religion and other topics; lists of John Steele Henderson's books; undated bills and receipts; recipes and cures, mainly written by John Steele Henderson's mother, Mary Ferrand Henderson; undated papers related to the United Daughters of the Confederacy; and other undated miscellaneous items. Please note that any dated items, such as bills and receipts and United Daughters of the Confederacy papers, are included with the correspondence and other papers in the chronologically appropriate subseries.
Archibald Henderson's account with J. F. Chambers & Company., including an itemized record of small expenditures for household and personal goods. Entries are irregular after 1851.
Volume 2: Diary of Mary Ferrand Henderson, 1854-1861, about 1,400 pages #00327, Subseries: "2.1. 1850-1866." Folder 406
Consists of a series of 18 diary segments. Most of the entries, which tend to be long and recorded at intervals of a week or more, are concerned with illnesses of her children and other family matters. Typed transcriptions of parts 1-5 and a portion of part 10 were prepared in the 1940s and are filed after the parts to which they pertain. Some of the typescripts contain information from materials in private hands and not included in the holograph diary sections as it currently exists.
408: Part 1. Typed transcription #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 408
409: Part 2. 30 June-20 July 1855 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 409
410: Part 2. Typed transcription #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 410
(Typed transcription contains a small amount of additional information.)
412: Part 3. Typed transcription #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 412
413: Part 4. 3 September-11 October 1855 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 413
414: Part 4. Typed transcription #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 414
415: Part 5. 12-29 October 1855 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 415
416: Part 5. Typed transcription #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 416
417: Part 6. October-December 1855 with a few detached pages from 1855 or 1856 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 417
418: Part 7. December 1855-January 1856 and detached pages from February-December 1856 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 418
419: Part 8. 10 January-9 April 1857 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 419
421: Part 10. 11 January-4 April 1858 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 421
(1-10 January 1858 included in typed transcription.)
422: Part 10. Typed transcription (1-10 January 1858 and 11 January-1 February 1858) #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 422
423: Part 11. 5 April 1858 (continued)-23 January 1859 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 423
424: Part 12. 23 January (continued)-31 May 1859 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 424
425: Part 13. 1 June-23 September 1859 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 425
426: Part 14. 29 September 1859-20 January 1860 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 426
427: Part 15. 12 February-11 August 1860 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 427
428: Part 16. 11 August (continued)-6 November 1860 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 428
429: Part 17. 28 December 1860-14 April 1861 #00327, Subseries 2. Volumes, 1850-1909. 2.1. 1850-1866., Folder 429
Volume 3: Account and memoranda book, 1865-1866, 96 pages #00327, Subseries: "2.1. 1850-1866." Folder 431
Possibly of Mary Ferrand Henderson, including a list of slaves belonging to Archibald Henderson in May 1865 and amounts owed to freedwomen.
Volume 4: Diary of John Steele Henderson, September 1864-January 1866, 43 pages #00327, Subseries: "2.1. 1850-1866." Folder 432-433
During this time, Henderson was at Poplar Grove in Rowan County, a student at the University of North Carolina, and in Salisbury reading law under Judge Nathaniel Boyden. A typed transcription is included.
Volume 5: Notebook of John Steele Henderson, June 1865, 60 pages #00327, Subseries: "2.1. 1850-1866." Folder 434
Chiefly contains notes on young ladies in Poplar Grove.
Volume 7: "Reminiscences of men and women who once lived in Salisbury, North Carolina," 1878 #00327, Subseries: "2.2.1874-1909." Folder 436
Written by Archibald Henderson at Poplar Grove in April 1878. Among those mentioned are Peter Brown and his descendants, p. 3; Albert Torrence, p. 13; A. T. Powe and his connections, p. 15; Daniel Cress, p. 29; John Murphy and his son William; and Thomas L. Cowan.
|Oversize Volume SV-327/9||
Contains mailing lists and notes concerning items mailed.
Contains notes on political party registration of each person. Included are voters from Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Iredell, Randleman, and Yadkin counties.
Volume 11: "Charles Frederick Fisher: A Tribute: A Contribution to the History of the First Battle of Manassas and How It Was Won," 1901 #00327, Subseries: "2.2.1874-1909." Folder 441
Address delivered at the Presbyterian College for Women, Charlotte, N.C., 9 October 1901, on the occasion of the presentation of the portrait of Colonel Fisher to the Daughters of the Confederacy for the Confederate Museum at Richmond, Va.
Volume 12: Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, 1884-1905 #00327, Subseries: "2.2.1874-1909." Folder 442
Clippings relating to John Steele Henderson's public and political activities.
Volume 13: Diary of Elizabeth B. Henderson, 25 February-16 July 1905 #00327, Subseries: "2.2.1874-1909." Folder 443
Diary of a trip to Italy, France, and England.
Assembled by John Steele Henderson, 1881-1909.
Newspaper clippings on various topics, including politics, obituaries of family members and friends, drama, and poetry. Some antebellum and Civil War period papers are included, but most of the clippings are from approximately 1875-1925. There is one file of clippings and notes on various public policy issues that John Steele Henderson apparently collected in 1888 when he served in Congress. Most of the clippings are from newspapers in Salisbury and other North Carolina towns, although Washington papers are also represented in the antebellum years. There is also a copy of the Honolulu Sunday Advertiser from 1913, apparently brought home by Mary F. Henderson.
Photograph of an unidentified house #00327, Series: "4. Pictures, circa 1880-circa 1935 and undated." P-327/11
Enclosed with a letter of Mrs. John Steele Henderson to her family that was postmarked 10 August 1912 from Chapel Hill, N.C.
Photographs of Taj Mahal and other sites in India #00327, Series: "4. Pictures, circa 1880-circa 1935 and undated." P-327/12-24
Sent to Salisbury, N.C., by Mary Ferrand Henderson while touring India. See April 1914 correspondence.
Photographs of Waverly and its grounds, dated 1935 #00327, Series: "4. Pictures, circa 1880-circa 1935 and undated." P-327/25-34
Waverly, located near Columbus, Miss., was the home of a relative of Mrs. John Steele Henderson through her mother's Bailey relations. Elizabeth Henderson Cotten got the photos in March 1945.
Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom and Robert Tinkler, July 1994
Encoded by: Bari Helms, March 2005
Updated by: Nancy Kaiser, November 2020
This collection was processed with support, in part, from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access.Back to Top