North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Get to know your people.


Effenus Henderson (left) is an internationally known human resources and diversity thought leader. Wade Henderson (right) is president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. About 5 years ago, the two met at National Urban League conference. “You’re from North Carolina?,” asked Wade, “My father was from Wilson.” “You need to talk to Lisa,” said Effenus. Wade did. And last week there we all were, in Dudley, North Carolina — birthplace of our grandparents — at the Henderson Family Reunion.

North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

The Alex Henderson branch.

One of the highlights of my family reunion was reconnecting after many years with members of the Alex Henderson branch of the family. One of Alex’s granddaughters had displayed photos of members of this branch at the first reunion back in 1990, and I’ve been trying to get copies ever since. Many thanks to cousin E.B.H., who brought them to the meet-and-greet Friday evening and allowed me to make copies.

The 1860 census of Westbrooks, Sampson County, North Carolina lists my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson, 52, carpenter, with his second wife Eliza, 25, and children Anna J., 8, Susan, 6, Hepsie, 4, and Alexander, 1. By the 1870 census, the family had moved about ten miles southeast to Faisons township, Duplin County: James Henderson, 52, farmer, wife Eliza and children Ann, 17, Susan, 16, Hepsey, 14, Aleck, 13, John H., 11, Nancy, 6, and Betty, 3, plus James’ son (by his first “wife”) James, 27, and boarders James Ammons and Thomas Cox.  In the 1880 census of Faisons, Duplin County: James Henderson, 62, wife Eliza, and children Alexander, John, Nancy, Julia, Edward, and Lewellen.

On 19 March 1884, Alex married Mary Odom in Faison, Duplin County. The marriage register lists him as a resident of Wayne County, a few miles north. Witnesses to the ceremony included Isham R. Smith, who had married Alex’s younger sister Nancy in 1881, and James Henderson. (His father or his brother?)

AH marr

Alex and Mary settled in Mount Olive, Wayne County, where they are found in the 1900 census: Alex Henderson, 39, farmer; wife Mary, 35; children Willie, 17, Mary J., 11, Theo., 9, and Connie, 6; a lodger and three boarders. However, Alex was set to become the only one of James Henderson’s sons to leave farming, and the 1906 Goldsboro city directory lists him and his oldest son Will Henderson as laborers living at 615 North George Street.

Will had married Susan “Sudie” or “Susie” Budd, daughter of John and Alice Budd, on 26 December 1903. His sister Mary Jane was the next of Alex’ children to marry, tying the knot with Robert Wooten of Lenoir County on 24 February 1906 at her father’s house. A “Holy preacher” performed the ceremony and her first cousin Oscar Smith, son of Nancy Henderson Smith, were witnesses. (Another witness, John H. Smith, may have been Nancy’s son Johnnie.)

By 1910, Alex and his three-generation family had settled into a house at 762 North James, just inside Goldsboro’s northern city limits. The census of that year shows Alex Henderson, 50, laborer on city streets;  wife Mary, 44; son William, 23, felt factory laborer; William’s wife Susie, 23, laundress; daughter Mary Jane Henderson, 21, and her husband Robert, 27, hostler, and son Percy, 3 [this family’s last name was actually Wooten]; William’s sons Johnnie, 5, and William, 2; Alex’ son Theodore, 18, laborer at Goldsboro Buggy Company), and daughter Carnie, 16, nurse for a private family), plus five male boarders. [Oddly, as shown in this image from the 191x Sanborn map of Goldsboro, 760 and 762 North James were located between 704 and 712 and across from 709. The house is no longer standing, and the area is now primarily light industrial. Saint Stephen Baptist Church, however, has moved a few blocks north and is still attended by Henderson family members.] Later that summer, Mary Jane and Robert’s unnamed six-day-old infant died of convulsions. Mary’s aunt Nancy’s husband Isham Smith, an undertaker, buried the baby.

1912 Sanborn

The 1911-12 Goldsboro city directory shows that Alexander, Connie, Theodore and William Henderson continued to share the house on North James Street, by then renumbered as 708.

In October 1911, Connie Henderson gave birth to her only child, Roland Alexander Smith. Just before Christmas, 1913, Connie married Roland’s father John A. Smith, 21, son of Jacob and Cora Smith, at the Presbyterian Church in Goldsboro. Reverend Clarence Dillard performed the ceremony, and one of the witnesses was Connie’s in-law James Guess, an undertaker who was married to her cousin Annie Smith Guess, daughter of Isham and Nancy Henderson Smith.

In February 1916, Alex’ younger son Theodore, 22, married Bettie Hargrove, 20. Four months later, on 13 June, Alex Henderson was dead. Nephew-in-law James Guess buried him in Elmwood, Goldsboro’s African-American cemetery.

In the 1920 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: at 710 James Street, widow Mary Henderson, 54; son-in-law Robert Wooten, 40; daughter Mary Wooten, 30; their children Leroy, 12, George, 7, and Joseph, 2; grandson Roland Smith, 8; and four roomers. Little Roland was listed again in the home of his parents John and Connie Smith at 346 Thompson Street. Will had finally moved his family out of the “home house,” and he, Susie, and children John, Willie and Mary Alice are found at 219 East Vine Street in Goldsboro. Theodore is not listed in the census that year.

Mary J. Odom Henderson died 7 September 1926 in a hospital in Goldsboro after undergoing surgery for a strangulated hernia. Her death certificate reports that she was 60 years old and born in “Simpson” County. Her son Will Henderson was informant, and her husband’s nephew-in-law James Guess buried her in Elmwood.

At some point before 1930, the Smith family cast off into the Great Migration, fetching up in New Britain, Connecticut. In the census that year, John A. Smith, 39, wife Constance (“Connie,” no longer), 34, and son Roland, 17, shared a home at 311 East Enoch Street with another family, paying $18 a month. John worked as a laborer in a garage. Back in Goldsboro, Robert Wooten, 42, wife Mary Jane, 39, and their children Leroy, 22, George R., 18, Joseph, 13, Harrell, 7, Cleveland, 4, Mary E., 5, and Ruth A., 11 months, shared their household with three boarders, one of whom was the peripatetic “Rowland” Smith, 19, Connie’s son. Theodore Henderson was living in Goldsboro at 210 Brazil Street with a wife named Sudie, rather than the Bettie he married in 1916. He worked in cotton storage. William’s family seems to have been passed over by enumerators in 1930.

Connie & Roland Smith

Connie H. Smith and son Roland A. Smith, n.d.

Theodore Henderson was the first of Will and Susie’s children to pass away. He died of knife wounds on 15 November 1936 at the age of 45. His death certificate states that he was born in Duplin County to Elex Henderson and Mary Odom, both of Wayne, and married to Bettie Henderson. Cousin James Guess buried him in Elmwood cemetery.

The 1940 census found Will and Susie Henderson and their daughter Margaret trying their fortunes further afield. They appear in Danville, Virginia, renting a house at 625 Upper Street. Will had found work cleaning machines at a mattress factory and reported to the enumerator that the family had been living in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1935. The Smiths remained in New Britain, Connecticut, one of a handful of African-American families on Oak Street. The family occupied a second-floor apartment at #55, and John worked as a molders helper at an electrical factory while Roland was a garage handyman and Constance tended to matters at home. Robert and Mary Jane Wooten were still in Goldsboro, living at 908 North Centre Street with their children Harold, Mary E., Cleveland, and Angeline.

Rev. William H. Henderson died 6 December 1959 at his home at 712 North John Street, Goldsboro, of cerebral apoplexy.  His death certificate notes that he was born 1 December 1878 to Alaxander Henderson and Mary Odom and was married to Susie B. Henderson. The informant was his daughter Margaret Brown of 826 North Center, Goldsboro. He was buried in Lightner cemetery, just south of Goldsboro in the Mar-Mac community. (James Guess had died two years earlier and thus ended his long years of service to his wife’s extended family.)


Will Henderson, 1937.

Susie Budd Henderson died 20 November 1964 at her daughter Margaret’s home at 826 North Centre Street. Her death certificate reports that she was born 20 June 1891 to John Budd and Alice Jones. She was buried 22 November 1964 at Lightner cemetery.


Susie Budd Henderson, 1937.



R.W.B., only living grandchild of Alex and Mary Odom Henderson, July 2016.

Many thanks to Will and Susie Henderson’s granddaughter E.B.H. for copies of old photos of Alex’ descendants. I took the photo of Cousin R. last week at our family reunion. — LYH

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.

North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Front porch, 1957.


This image is EVERYTHING.

Reverend William H. Henderson and his wife Susie, 1957, Goldsboro, North Carolina.

The composition. The chiaroscuro.

Cousin Will’s hat and folded hands.

Cousin Susie’s pearls and busted shoes.

And that fan.

The rail with no balusters. The tongue-and-groove.

Fifty-four years married. Wont nobody playin’.


Many thanks to E.H., Will and Susie’s granddaughter, for this photo.

Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Your aunt-in-law.

Speaking of Caswell Henderson‘s wife Carrie, what do we know of her?

She was a young woman when she married the widowed Caswell, who was nearly 20 years her senior. Here is their marriage license:

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 7.29.43 PM

Caswell C. Henderson, 47 West 66th Street, age 42, widowed, customs clerk, born N.Y. City [not true], father Lewis Henderson, mother Margaret Balcum, married Carrie Louise Lowe, 200 East 99th Street, age 23, single, born Culpepper County, Virginia, father Warren Lowe, mother Annie M. Spillman, on 7 November 1907, by G.C. Houghton. (I’ve written of this here.)

The earliest sighting of Carrie is in the 1900 census of  Manhattan, New York County, New York: at 166 West 67th Street, Georgia-born Warren Lowe, his 35 year-old Virginia-born wife Annie, and their children Carrie L., 16, Elsie, 14, Lillie, 10, Walter A., 5, and Warren L., 3.  Carrie was born in Virginia, Elsie in New Jersey, and the younger children in New York. Warren Senior worked as a janitor, presumably in the building in which the family lived as the sole African-Americans. [Had Caswell and Carrie met in the neighborhood? 47 West 66th, a location now occupied by ABC New headquarters, lies between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West. 166 West 67th seems to be in what is now the middle of the median of Broadway, a block west of Columbus.]

In the 1905 New York state census: at 200 East 99th Street, 68 year-old watchman Warren Lowe, his 42 year-old wife Annie, daughter Carrie, 22, a waitress, and sons Walter, 12, and Warren J., 8.

As noted above, Carrie and Caswell married in 1907.

Interestingly, in the 1910 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York, Carrie L. Henderson, 28, married, is listed in the household of 75 year-old Warren Lowe, his wife Anna  M., sons Walter A. and Warren Jr., and daughter Elsie Lightbourn, her husband Paul H. Lightbourn, and son Paul H. Lightbourn.

However, at 55 East 130th, telegraph company messenger Caswell C. Henderson, 44, and wife Carrie L., 26.

In the 1915 New York state census, at 446 West 163rd Street, apartment 21: chief messenger C.C. Henderson, 49, and his wife Carrie L., 32.

In the 1920 census of New York, New York County, New York: at 446 West 163rd Street, Caswell C. Henderson, 54, custom house messenger, with wife Carrie, 35. In another apartment in the building: steward Paul H. Lightbourne, 35, wife Elsie L., 33, and son Paul Jr., 13.

In the 1925 New York state census, at 308-10 West 147th, file clerk Caswell C. Henderson, 59, and wife Carrie L., 40.

Caswell Henderson died 17 January 1927 at 6 Belknap Avenue, 10th Ward, New York City NY.  His death certificate lists his widow as Carrie Henderson, but curiously her sister’s married name, “(Lightbourne),” is written beneath her name.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 7.35.40 PM

In the 1930 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York: at 121 [East?] 100th Street, widow Carrie Henderson paid $20 to board.  She worked as a maid for a private family, and her age is listed as 28 — more than 15 years off.)

The 1933 city directory of Manhattan and Bronx carries a listing for Henderson Carrie (wid Carswell)  3778 3rd Ave [Bronx, Bronx County NY].

On 5 January 1934, Carrie L. Henderson married Fernando Borrero in Bronx, New York.

Almost exactly four years later, my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks sent Carrie a telegram notifying her of the death of Caswell’s beloved sister, Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver (who was my grandmother’s great-aunt and adoptive mother):

Sunday Jan. 9. 38

My Dear Hattie

I received your telegram to-day.  1 P.M.  it was certainly a shock to me you & family certainly have my deepest sympathy & also from my family.

I did not know your mother was sick you must write later and let me know about her illness.

It is so strange I have been dreaming of my husband Caswell so much for the past two weeks he always tells me that he has something to tell me & that he feels so well so I guess this is what I was going to hear about your mother.

I wish it was so that I could come to you & family but times are so different now seems we cannot be prepared to meet emergencies any more but you must know that my heart & love is with you & family

I am just writing to you a short note now will write you again.  Let me hear from you when you get time to write.

From, Your aunt in law, Carrie L. Borrero

32 E. 100th St. N.Y. City

In the 1940 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York, 54 year-old Carrie Borrero is listed sharing a household with her 86 year-old mother Anna Lowe. Carrie was described as white and Anna as negro. Carrie is also described as married, though Fernando does not appear in the household (or, apparently, elsewhere in the 1940 census.)

On 28 May 1953, Carrie L. Borrero filed a claim to receive Social Security benefits. An index lists her birthdate as 26 November 1885.

I have no further information about Carrie Louise Lowe Henderson Borrero.

Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

No information that the deceased left a will.

Little more than a month after his death, Caswell C. Henderson‘s widow Carrie applied for letters of administration for his estate.


Her petition noted that he had been a resident of 1884 Belmont Avenue, Bronx; had died in Yonkers; and had left no will.


She identified his next of kin and heirs at law as his brother Lucian Henderson of Dudley, North Carolina, and sister Sarah Henderson Jacobs of Wilson, North Carolina.



Bronx Probate Administration Records, #161-193; New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999 [database on-line],

Births Deaths Marriages, Paternal Kin, Uncategorized

Cousin Nancy’s descendants, found.

While I was away in Mauritius, I received a thrilling message in my Ancestry mailbox. “I am still recovering from the shock of finding info on Nancy Smith,” it began.  The amazement was mutual. “Wow,” I responded. “God bless the Internet.”  The writer’s partner is the son of Bessie Lee Smith, daughter of Nancy Henderson Smith of Goldsboro, North Carolina. She promises to provide what additional information she can about this branch of my Hendersons, whose descendants have long proved elusive. I’m looking forward to the collaboration. My grandmother spoke often of her Smith cousins; how I wish she could have lived long enough to learn what had become of them.