DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Religion

Ain’t you glad?

My great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson has no known patrilineal descendants, but his brothers James Henry and John do. About a year ago, I reached out to my cousin C., who is in the James Henry line, to ask if he would test with 23andme. After some hesitation, he agreed.

C.’s results returned in a few weeks, and I called him to share the details. “So, am I a Henderson?,” he blurted. I laughed: “Of course you are, crazy!” C. is the spitting image of his father, but — his parents had not married. Hearing that Hendersons (including my father and K.H.) were among his top matches and that he shared the same haplogroup as other patrilineal Hendersons had vanquished lingering uncertainties that I had not even known C. harbored.

The core of the Henderson family is deeply religious, and our reunions feature a farewell prayer breakfast at the host hotel. C., who is an ordained Baptist minister, rose to deliver a mini-sermon to those gathered. “Blood done sign my name,” he said. “Blood … done sign my name.” You may know this traditional gospel song, whose lyrics speak to the belief in the redemption of sinners through the blood that Jesus Christ shed on Calvary. C. preached on salvation Sunday morning, but he also invoked this metaphor in a different way. With a simple DNA test, C. was free from doubt and able confidently to claim his place among the Hendersons. Blood had signed his name on the roll books of our family.

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Religion

Memorial page.

In 1915, forty-five years after her husband Lewis Henderson helped found Dudley’s Congregational Church, Margaret Balkcum Henderson was buried in its graveyard. She was the last member of my direct Henderson line on the church rolls. To this day, however, my kin can be found in Congregational on Sunday mornings, worshipping, singing, ushering, fellowshipping.

In 1970, the church published a photo-filled anniversary booklet commemorating its centennial. A Memorial Page lists more than 150 members who had gone on to their reward before the church marked its hundredth birthday. At least a third of those memorialized are my direct or collateral kin.

Memorial Page

  1. The Aldridges were my grandmother’s father James Thomas Aldridge‘s family. Frances Aldridge [Newsome] (1883-1961) was Tom’s elder sister. John J. Aldridge (1885-1964) and Ora Bell Mozingo Aldridge were his brother and sister-in-law, and Fitzgerald Aldridge (1917-1962) was their son. John W. Aldridge (1853-1910) and Louvicey Artis Aldridge (1865-1927) were Tom’s parents (and my great-great-grandparents), and Lula Aldridge (1882-1917) another sister.
  2. Joshua Brewington married John W. Aldridge’s sister Amelia Aldridge Brewington (1855-1895).
  3. Richard Boseman married Lillie Aldridge (1871-1944), daughter of William Aldridge and Cornelia Simmons. William’s father was John Matthew Aldridge (ca. 1810-ca. 1868), brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Robert Aldridge (1819-1899.) Estelle and James were Richard and Lillie’s children. Arlander Boseman, their cousin, married Flora E. Manuel, daughter of Shafter and Mamie Cobb Manuel, below.
  4. I’ve written of the Carters here. Marshall Carter married Frances Jacobs, sister of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. Ammie, Willoughby, Freddie, Granger, Johnnie, and Littman Carter were Marshall and Frances’ sons. Hersey Carter was a grandson. And Florence Carter Camp was their only daughter. Florence’s son William Homer Camp married Onra Henderson, daughter of Henry L. Henderson and Nora Aldridge Henderson. Ammie Carter is listed as Nora Aldridge Henderson’s cousin on her delated birth certificate. Johnnie Carter was my great-great-great-uncle James Lucian Henderson‘s caretaker and sole heir. And their brother Milford E. Carter married my great-grandfather Tom’s sister, Beulah M. Aldridge (1893-1986).
  5. Mack D. Coley, grandson of Winnie Coley, married Hattie Wynn (1873-??), daughter of Charles Wynn and Frances Aldridge Wynn (1853-??). Frances was a daughter of J. Matthew Aldridge and Catherine Boseman Aldridge. Roosevelt Coley (1905-1977) was Mack and Hattie’s youngest child.
  6. Mittie Boseman Flanagan (1896-??) was another daughter of Richard and Lillie Aldridge Boseman.
  7. Archie Barfield Grantham’s father, also named Archie Barfield Grantham, married Carrie Henderson Boseman, sister of my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson (1874-1893), in 1899. Carrie died within the next five years.
  8. John H. Henderson (1861-1924) was half-brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson (1836-1912), father of Carrie and Loudie and others. John married Sarah Simmons. Their son Henry L. Henderson (1901-1942) married Nora Aldridge (1902-1961), another daughter of John and Vicey Aldridge. Aaron “Jabbo” Henderson (1922-1944) was John and Vicey’s son, and Katie Lee Henderson, wife of Horace B. Henderson, was their daughter-in-law. (My Henderson line: Lewis and Mag Henderson’s daughters Ann Elizabeth, Carrie, Loudie, Mary Susan and Sarah Henderson were members of Congregational Church.  And probably sons Lucian and Caswell, too, in their youth. Ann Elizabeth and Loudie’s children were baptized in the church in the 1890s. By 1910, however, only, Lewis and Mag remained. He died in 1912, and she, in 1915.)
  9. Elizabeth Syrona Simmons Hill (1925-1965) was the daughter of George Gideon Simmons and Luella Solice. George G. Simmons (1895-1962) was the son of Samuel M. Simmons and Elizabeth Wynn Simmons (1876-1930), whose parents were Edward J. and Susan Henderson Wynn. Susan (1854-1907) was the sister of John and Lewis Henderson.
  10. Solomon Jacobs was the brother of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.
  11. William Shafter Manuel (1898-1966) was the son of Alonzo Manuel and Sallie Wynn Manuel (1877-1967). His mother’s parents were Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn.
  12. Blonnie Coley Flowers Matthews (1898-1948) was the daughter of Mack and Hattie Wynn Coley.
  13. Yancy Musgrave (1892-1961), son of Alfred and Polly Ann King Musgrave, married Annie C. “Dolly” Simmons (1898-1934), daughter of Hillary B. Simmons and Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons (1862-1900). Ann Elizabeth was the sister of my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson.
  14. Amanda Aldridge Newsome (1892-1919) was a daughter of John and Vicey Artis Aldridge.
  15. Hillary B. Simmons (1855-1941), son of George W. and Axie Jane Manuel Simmons, married Ann E. Henderson in 1879.
  16. Frances Aldridge Speight was possibly the daughter of William and Cornelia Simmons Aldridge.
  17. Charles Sykes (1920-2004) was the son of William O. and Gertrude Wynn Sykes (1885-1954). Gertrude’s parents were Charles and Frances Aldridge Wynn. [Why was Charles included in a memorial in 1970? Was there another Charles Sykes?]
  18. Blanche Coley Williams (1900-??) was another daughter of Mack and Hattie Wynn Coley.
  19. Charles Wynn married Frances Aldridge, daughter of Matthew and Catherine Boseman Aldridge.
  20. Eddie Wynn (1886-1965), son of Edward J. and Susan Henderson Wynn, married Fronnie Greenfield.
  21. Israel H. Wynn (1892-1967) was the son of W. Frank and Hepsey Henderson Wynn (1856-circa 1894) (who were the brother and sister, respectively of Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn). Israel married his first cousin Frances “Frankie” Henderson (1891-1985), daughter of John and Sarah S. Henderson.
  22. Levi Wynn … well, there were lots of Levi Wynns in Dudley. (Levi was one of the “five Wynn brothers” who headed a large and prosperous free family of color in southern Wayne County and northern Duplin County in the antebellum era. I use quotation marks because (1) there were more than five male Wynn heads of household in the period; (2) there is evidence that, though surely very closely related, they were not all brothers; (3) there were women who appear to have been Wynn sisters heading families.) This may have been the Levi Wynn (1883-??) who was a son of Charles and Frances Aldridge Wynn.
Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Religion

Reverend Silver’s circle.


  • This is the license for my great-great-great-uncle Joseph Aldridge‘s second marriage. I’ve written about Martha Carrie Hawkins Henderson Aldridge Silver here. What startled me was to see who performed the ceremony — Reverend Joseph Silver, whom Martha would marry almost 20 years later!
  • I still don’t know why the wedding was in Wilson, unless that’s where Martha lived. Reverend Silver lived near Enfield, so he was pretty far off his beaten path.
  • And how did Columbus “C.E.” Artis, brother of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge, get involved? Joseph was Vicey’s brother-in-law, but that hardly seems a reason for C.E. to apply for his and Martha’s license.


  • Reverend Joseph Silver, Sarah Henderson Jacobs‘ second husband, was prominent in North Carolina’s Holiness Church movement. Until recently, I’d been unable to find their marriage license, though I knew when and where they were married. When I tracked it down I realized that its illegibility probably has resulted in its being misindexed.
  • That’s Joseph Sliver at the top.
  • Barely legible, Sarah Jacobs and her parents Louis [sic] Henderson and Margaret Henderson.
  • I haven’t been able to find anything about Reverend J.H. Scott. I assume he was head of a Holiness congregation in Wilson. Sarah herself was very active in the domination as an evangelist.
  • I knew they’d married on Elba Street. My grandmother told me this: “When Mama got married there on Elba Street, there at the house.  Yeah.  He come up there …”  It’s so funny to imagine my four and not-quite seven year-old uncles with my grandmother, squeezed in a corner of that tiny front room, fidgeting as Mama Sarah took her vows.


  • Five years after Mama Sarah died, Reverend Silver married Martha Aldridge. Astonishingly, he lived almost a decade and a half longer.
  • A Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony? That’s odd for such a prominent Holiness preacher.
Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Religion

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 7: Iredell County Public Library.

Iredell County Public Library has a nice local history and genealogy room, and during my sojourn I spent a nice hour or two there, disturbed only by the raucous banter of three students prepping for a nursing assistant exam. Anyway.

A back wall of cabinets contains files from the Homer Keever collection, and I found several of interest. Under “Black Churches,” I found a four-page handwritten document, apparently compiled by Alice Murphy Ramseur in 1973, entitled “Historial [sic] Data of Holy Cross Episcopal Church.” Holy Cross, of course, was the church my grandmother grew up in in Statesville. Its earliest services were held in 1887 in “the old brick storehouse on depot hill” and with success moved to the Good Samaritan Hall at 118 Garfield Street. This was all very interesting, and then: “May 24, 1899 the Bishop conmfirmed twelve Members they was William Pearson, Mrs Laura S. Pearson, Mrs. Lucy Chambers, Henry McKneely, Mrs Marther McKneely, Mr John Reeves, Mr. Will McCulland, Mrs Rebecca S. Allison, Mrs Clara S. Seaborn, Miss Carrie Bidding, Mr Mik Stevenson.”

Henry McNeely? What was this Presbyterian doing joining an Episcopal Church? Had Martha been an Episcopalian all along?

Here’s the entire piece, with thanks and acknowledgement to the library:





Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs, Religion

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 6: Western Rowan County churches.

In Church Home, no. 9, I wrote about Back Creek Presbyterian, the church that my great-great-great-great-grandfather Samuel McNeely helped found and lead. I wanted to see this lovely edifice, erected in 1857, for myself:


And I wanted to walk its cemetery. I didn’t expect to see the graves of any of its many enslaved church members there, but thought I might find Samuel McNeely or his son John W. Dozens of McNeelys lie here, many John’s close kin and contemporaries, but I did not find markers for him or his father. (I later checked a Back Creek cemetery census at the Iredell County library. They are not listed.)


Within a few miles of Back Creek stands its mother church, Thyatira Presbyterian. This lovely building was built 1858-1860, but the church dates to as early as 1747. There are McNeelys in Thyatira’s cemetery, too, and this is the church Samuel originally attended.


Just up White Road from Thyatira is Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. I visited its cemetery in December 2013 and took photos of the the graves of descendants of Joseph Archy McNeely (my great-great-grandfather Henry McNeely‘s nephew), Mary Caroline McConnaughey Miller and John B. McConnaughey (siblings of Henry’s wife, my great-great-grandmother Martha Miller McNeely.) Green Miller and Ransom Miller’s lands were in the vicinity of this church.


Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2015.

Maternal Kin, Photographs, Religion

Church home, no. 9: Christ the King Catholic Church, Jersey City, New Jersey.

After my recent 52 Challenges post, I started wondering about the church my great-grandmother and cousins are standing in front of. My grandmother and her sisters were reared Episcopalian (and AME Zion), so I assumed that it was an Episcopal church. To my surprise, my cousin G.W., son of the oldest daughter of my great-aunt Launie Mae Jones Colvert, identified it as Christ the King Catholic Church.

Catholic??? Aunt Launie Mae was Catholic?

Another cousin, K.J., chimed in. She’d talked to her mother, who said that in Aunt Launie Mae “had told her she converted to Catholicism after my grandfather was sick (with TB), and the Catholic church was there for her.” (Aunt Launie Mae’s husband was Isaiah James Jones (1912-1984), a native of Georgia.) This would have been in the early 1940s. The things you learn when you least expect.


(I wonder what happened to those beautiful wooden doors?)