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Rev. James Washington Monroe Henderson

By:  Esther M. Ziock Carroll


My great grandfather, Rev. James Washington Monroe Henderson was born 30 December 1878 in BonneTerre, St. Francois County, Missouri. He was the son of Emaline Lawson & George Washington Henderson.  In 1897 James married Martha (Mattie) Louella Briley in St. Francois County, Missouri and they eventually became the parents of ten children.    Rev. James was a Baptist preacher having been converted in 1919 at the Free Will Baptist Church at  Cherryville, St. Francois County and was a member of the Fredericktown Free Will Baptist Church in Madison County.  It is said that he learned how to read and write by studying the bible.  He was also pastor of a mission on South Broadway in St. Louis.  One evening in 1944 while crossing the street in St. Louis enroute to church James and Mattie were struck by an automobile driven by John Lyons.  James was seriously injured and later died.  Mattie suffered a broken wrist.
    The Henderson family reunions were held anually at Desloge Park in St. Francois County.  I remember one year in the 1960's or '70's a particularly humorous incident occured.  All of the food had been set out on tables under the pavilion and everyone was standing in line waiting their turn at the food.  An elderly man with a cane came hobbling down the sidewalk by the edge of the park.  When he looked over and saw all those people filling their  plates with delicious home cooked food he toddled over and got in line then he sat down and ate his plate of food.  Everyone at the reunion kept whispering, "Who is he?"  Then he just got up and wandered off down the street continuing his afternoon stroll!  No one ever did know who he was!
    One time after another reunion some of the Martin clan decided to go back to Berdie's home in Flat River.  Everyone arrived at her house and Mattie, who was so old she could barely walk, see or hear, was helped into the house and seated in an armchair in the living room.  Someone had a small sleeping baby which they put on a bed in the adjacent bedroom.  Then everyone filed into the kitchen for coffee and gossip.  After awhile I decided to go back into the living room where it was quieter as I had one of my usual migraines.  I sat near Mattie but she did not even seem to be aware of my presence.  I did not try to speak to her as one had to shout directly in her ear to be heard.   Soon the baby in the next room woke up and began to cry but no one paid any attention.  Suddenly Mattie spoke up loudly, "SOMEONE GET IN THERE AND TAKE CARE OF THAT BABY!!"  About a half dozen people immediately flew into the bedroom to tend to it.  It has always amazed me how this deaf little old woman could hear a tiny baby crying clear off in the other room!
    Mattie died in 1974 at the age of 95.  She is buried next to her husband, James, in Big River Cemetery at Irondale, Washington County, Missouri.

Children of Martha Luella Briley & Rev. James Washington Monroe Henderson:

Mary Emaline - Born 1898 in St. Francois County, Missouri. Married John (Willie) Harris.

William Robert - Born 1902 in St. Francois County, Missouri.   Married Pearl Miller in 1922.  Killed in mine accident 26 Sept. 1942.  Death Cert. states:  killed by falling rock in National end of Desloge Mine.

Birdie Mae - Born 1904 in St. Francois County, Missouri.   Married Guy Thomas Martin in 1921.  Died 1986 in Washington County Missouri.   Buried Big River Cemetery.

Gertie Hazel - Born 1908 Wayne County, Missouri.  Married first Otis Johnson.  Second husband was Charles Winfrey.

Virgie Isabell - Born 1911 in St. Francois County, Missouri.   Married Fred Harris.

Cora Marie - Born 1914 in St. Francois County, Missouri.  Married Arnold Clayton.  Second husband Herb Engelkenjohn. Died 1980 Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri.

Ora Lee - Born 1914 in St. Francois County, Missouri.  Twin of Cora Marie.  Died 1915. Could not find a death cert. for Ora.

Eugene Debs - Born 1916 in St. Francois County, Missouri. Married Pauline Dunn.  Died: 2009

Arthur Alfred - Born 1919 in Reynolds County, Missouri.  Married Elvie Thornton.  Died 1993.

Loren James - Born 1922 in St. Francois County, Missouri.   Married Nadine  ???

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Page Created: 9 Nov. 2002

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