Uriah Henderson, Who Were Your Parents?

Uriah Henderson

Uriah Henderson is a puzzlement, as Anna would have said to the King of Siam. Much is known about his life and family, but documentation is silent on any hints as to who his parents might be.

Uriah is not my ancestor, but the 3X great grandfather of a friend, and researchers have worked on his line for years with little success.

First, here are the proven facts:

By all accounts, Uriah was born in Pennsylvania, but his reputed birth year varies from 1811-1817, based on census records and his death certificate.

1850 Census, Dunbar, Fayette County, PA

1855 State Census, Putnam County, IL

1860 Census, Putnam County, IL

1865 State Census, Putnam County, IL

1870 Census, Putnam County, IL

1880 Census, Putnam County, IL
Source: All Census Images from Ancestry

Illinois Death Certificate

Uriah was a Civil War soldier and his pension file included proof of his marriage to Eliza/Elizabeth Hartman on 8 July 1838 and notes that both were residents of Washington County, Pennsylvania, which neighbors Fayette County in the western part of the state.

Source: Civil War Pension File

Uriah and Eliza are nowhere to be found in the 1840 census; possibly they removed from Washington County to Fayette County that summer and missed the census taker in each place.

However, Uriah first appears on the Fayette County tax rolls in 1841:

Uriah Henderson, middle right side, first name in the H section
Dunbar, Fayette, Pennsylvania Tax List 1841

Uriah does not appear on any other Dunbar tax list before 1841. Note that this tax list includes the occupation of the taxable person. Uriah, unfortunately, was a shoemaker and therefore not prone to buying and selling land.

Uriah and Eliza were the parents of eleven children, all of whom were born in Fayette County except the two youngest, Levi and William, who were born in Putnam County, Illinois:

  1. Isaac, 1839-1919; married Sarah Ann Smith
  2. Samuel, 1840-1864; married Mary A. Bashore
  3. Uriah, 1841-1895; married Catharine Hieberger
  4. Joseph H., 1844-1912; married Cassie D. Smith
  5. Alexander, 1846-after 1920; married Elizabeth Clemens
  6. Morgan, 1847-1927; married Jane Johnson
  7. Sarah Elizabeth, c1848; probably died young, but alive in 1850 census
  8. Sarah Elizabeth, born c1851; unmarried and at home in 1880
  9. Chaffin, 1853-1940; married Nancy Johnson
  10. Levi, 1858-1945; unmarried
  11. William H., April 1860- after 1880; no further record

Uriah died on 5 September 1895 and is buried next to wife, Eliza, in Putnam County, Illinois.

Now to review the much murkier clues about Uriah’s life before he married Eliza in 1838.

First, both his death certificate and that of his son, Morgan, state that Uriah was born in Dunbar, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It also says his nationality was Irish.

However, while it’s possible Uriah was born in Dunbar, there are no Hendersons there in 1810 or 1820. The 1820 census includes three Henderson heads of household – Robert, who has no male in Uriah’s (wide) age range, Stewart, who died c1833 and left a will naming his nine children (no Uriah) and William, who lived in Luzerne Township and had 2 males under 10 and 2 males aged 10-15. William was over 45 years old. In addition, there was a second male over 45 living there as well as one female under 10, two females 10-15 and one female over 45.

Was this Uriah’s family? So far, there is no answer to that question. This family is gone by 1830. There is a William Henderson who appears in Washington County, Pennsylvania (remember Uriah was a resident of that county when he married), but that household appears to be a blended family and can’t be ruled in or ruled out as the same William who lived in Fayette in 1820. There was a male born 1750-1760, a female born 1760-1770 plus a male and female each born 1790-1800 (who would not fit into the family in Fayette in 1820) plus a male born 1805-1810, a female born 1805-1810 and a male born 1815-1820 (all of whom do fit in the 1820 Fayette County family) PLUS three females born 1820-1825 and two females born 1825-1830. My guess would be that the male and female born 1790-1800 were parents of all those young girls.

Next, there is another mystery. Take another look at Uriah’s family in 1850:

1850 Census

See the last person in the home? Margaret Boyd, aged 50, born in Ireland, listed as a servant. Could this be Uriah’s mother? I’ve frequently come across miscellaneous residents in a home and it turns out they were closely related. Uriah was a fairly young man and a tradesman – a shoemaker. With a household full of children, it wouldn’t seem like he would have the economic means to be paying a servant. If this is his mother, it’s also possible that Margaret did day work in nearby homes.

Where was Margaret Boyd in 1840? MIA, just like Uriah Henderson and his young family.

Where was Margaret Boyd in 1830? There is a Margaret Boyd enumerated in Georges Township with a male 20-29, female 10-14, female 30-39 and female 70-79.

In 1820, there is only one Boyd in Georges Township and that is Andrew Boyd. His household contains one male over 45, one male 10-15, one female under 10, one female 16-25 and one female over 45. So far, no probate has been found for Andrew Boyd, nor have any land deeds. However, as Uriah’s year of birth varies from 1811 to 1817, it isn’t much of a stretch to wonder if Uriah might have been born in 1810, in which case this Margaret Boyd might be the woman living with the Hendersons in 1850 and possibly be Uriah’s mother.

A quick check of the 1810 census shows no Andrew Boyd anywhere near Fayette County, Pennsylvania. There is a Robert Henderson who has a male under 10 at home; however, Robert’s 1820 Fayette County enumeration has no male in Uriah’s age range.

Next, Uriah’s marriage record contains the names of a number of witnesses. There were Morgan Hartman and his wife (brother of the bride), Cassie Crabb (who married Benjamin Milliken and moved to Wisconsin), George Crabb (unmarried and living with Morgan and Sarah Miller in 1850 if the same man),  Levi Blackledge and wife (who lived in Greene County and were old enough to be Uriah’s parents) and Jacob McCormack and wife (who lived in Warren County, Illinois in 1850).

Quick research on these witnesses shows all to be born in Pennsylvania or Maryland and the families had been here for generations.

As for other Henderson families in Fayette County in 1850, there are several and they aren’t all that many households away from Uriah in #Household 312. We have Anny in #330, Thomas in 329 and Margaret in #322. There are several other Hendersons in Dunbar, living in another part of town. The problem is that they are all related to Stewart Henderson who I mentioned earlier had left a will.

Lastly, there are a number of Hendersons in Washington County in 1830 and 1840. However, so far, no records have turned up hinting of any kind of connection to Uriah Henderson.

Ideas, anyone? Please leave suggestions. 🙂





2 thoughts on “Uriah Henderson, Who Were Your Parents?”

  1. Uriah is my 3rd great grandfather. I recently inherited some old family photos and I am excited to look through them to see what I can find out. Have tried to research this line for years.

    1. Would love to hear if you find anything in those family photo’s. As Morgan one of Uriah’s sons was the father of my gg grandmother, Millie Mae Henderson who married Edwin Defenbaugh

      I also have Uriah’s Civil War documents from the National Archives. From dates on affidavits when his wife was trying to get his pension after he died, the dates and the age when he died would put him with a November 1811 birthdate.

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