The case for Nancy Henderson and Patsey Henderson as sisters is circumstantial, but strongly suggestive.
(1) With a handful of exceptions, they and individuals who appear to be their children are the only known free “colored” Hendersons in Onslow County, North Carolina, in the early 1800’s. I have not found record evidence of any colored Hendersons prior to 1809. (The exceptions: three Henderson girls apprenticed circa 1810 who may have been too old to have been Patsey or Nancy’s children. I have not been able to trace them forward from their apprenticeships.)
(2) Nancy and Patsey are named in Onslow County court records as mothers of children bound out as apprentices, and Nancy may have apprenticed two of Patsey’s. (Between February, 1821, and November, 1824, seven Henderson children were shifted from master to master nine times. In the 25 years between 1809 and 1834, 14 Hendersons — sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews — appeared before the bench on 17 occasions. A group of white families dominated the apprenticeship of Henderson children — Richard, Adam, and Houston Trott; Jesse and Jason Gregory; James Glenn sr. and jr.; Lewis, William, and Uzy Mills; John and Steven Humphrey, William and Jesse Alphin. I know no familial relationship between Nancy or Patsey and any of these families, but Mills relatives gave evidence concerning Nancy’s parentage.)
(3) Nancy’s children (Durant, Willis, Miranda, Patsey, Gatsey, Minerva, William and Betsey) and Patsey’s children (James and Bryant) were roughly the same age and were occasionally apprenticed together.
(4) Several names recur among the grandchildren of both women. Nancy’s son Durant Dove (alias Henderson) had children named Lewis James, Julia, Susan, Eliza, Edward and Nancy. Patsey’s son James Henderson had children named James, Lewis, Susan, Julia, Edward and Nancy. Durant reared his family in Onslow and Lenoir Counties NC. James reared his in Onslow and Sampson. James left Onslow in the 1850s. Despite the physical distance and probable lack of contact, both men drew from the same pool of names for children born well into the 1870s.