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.

Migration, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin

The bread was all mashed up.

I won’t say this one of my grandmother’s favorite stories. It was too painful to be favored. But it was a story she told me over and over, without prompting and with little variation. It tears me up to read it even now, nearly a hundred years after the events it memorializes. I imagine that frightened little girl, a near orphan, left with this relative and that, yearning for comfort from a great-aunt who generally offered little in the way of emotion, but who, to provide, went North for short stretches for the extra money she could make doing “day’s work” for white families. Theodore and the bread and the doorbell. My heart breaks.


And I went over to stay until – Mama was working. And so Edward, that was – Edward or Theodore? Theodore. It was Carrie’s, Papa’s daughter Carrie, like Annie Bell’s sister Carrie. That’s where I was staying, over to her house. And Mama was working and staying on the lot with the people, and I was supposed to stay with them while I was up there. Until Mama, I reckon ‘cause she was gon be making a little money to buy something with, but I don’t know what she said she wanted. So by her being one place and I was in another. And then when her son, Theodore – we went to the store to get a loaf of bread, and I went with him, I wanted to go with him. And he took me on down to the store, got the bread, then he give me the bread to hold, and there was a place in the sidewalk of dirt, where wasn’t paved, and he stopped there with some children and started shooting marbles in little space, that little square. So I walked on down the street, and we wont too far from the house, but I kept looking and trying to figure out what house we were in. They were all joined together. And I had seen him go up there and put a hand upside the thing, and I said, ‘Must be a bell up there.’ And I went up there and mashed that button, and the door didn’t come open. And so then I went back down the street to where Theodore was, and he was still shooting marbles. And so, I said, “You better come on, I’m tired of holding this bread.” And so he said, “Okay, okay.” And so then he stopped, and we come on up there, and the door was cracked open. The door was cracked open. So when we got there, I said, “The door was open. And you didn’t even have to mash the button up there.” Mash the button where was to the apartment where you live in? And they would mash the button back to open the door. But the door was already open. But I had mashed it, see? I didn’t know. So when Theodore and I went back up there, and we went in, and I had the bread, and the bread was all mashed up where I had held it so tight holding it. And so she fussed him out and whipped him on top of that, and I went to crying ‘cause I thought she was gon whip me, too, ‘cause it was both of us. And so I said, “I want to go home. I want to go to where Mama is.” They said, “Well, she’ll be over tomorrow.” And I don’t know if it was tomorrow or the next day or two after, but anyhow Mama come and got me, and I told her that I wanted to come home. And she said, “Well, I thought you was doing all right. What’s the matter with you and Carrie?” And I said, “She beat Theodore.” And I said we were at the store getting a loaf of bread, and so we stayed too long. He was shooting marbles, and I was holding the bread, and I had mashed the bread up, and I thought she was gon whip me ’cause I forgot about the bread, and I couldn’t get in the house to bring it to her. And when I mashed the button, the door didn’t come open. So then when Theodore and I came back, went on up there, and honey, she took her husband’s belt, one of his belts he had, and she whipped him, and I was crying, and I’m still crying. I said, I reckon that’s where I started crying ’cause every time I see somebody else cry …. So I told them I wanted to go home, and she said, “Well, Mama’s coming over tomorrow.” And so I stopped crying, but I thought Carrie was gon whip me, just like she whipped Theodore, and I was the one that mashed the bread. But I didn’t tell it. But she said we stayed out too long. Bread’s all mashed up, said, “Should have come on home.” She was fussing with him, and then she took the strap and hit him two or three licks with that, and I thought she was ton hit me, too. And so Mama came and got me and took me back over Frances’ house. So then she said she was going back South. And I was just happy to go back there.


They said, well, [inaudible] get some bread, went to the store. I didn’t know where the store was, but I was just going with him to the store, you know? I got the bread, he give me the bread to hold, while he was shooting marbles in that little space was out there. And come on back, and I went way to the house and mashed the button ‘cause I’d seen him mash it. Didn’t want to ask nobody nothing. I said, I didn’t know them peoples up there. So the door didn’t open, and I went on back to find him and get him to come home. And I had held that bread so much and turned it from one end to the other under my arm holding it, and mashed the bread up. So Carrie looked at him: “Well, where y’all been so long?” And then she got that strap, ‘bout this long and ‘bout this wide. And she hit him a lick or two with that, and said, “I sent you out there after some bread, and you went off and stayed and stayed and stayed.” And so when she was hitting him, I went crying. So I thought she was gon beat me, too. But she didn’t. She didn’t even try to chastise me or talk nice to me or nothing. It was just simply ‘cause I’d done mashed that bread up – I had the bread when I went up there, see. She wont thinking ‘bout me. But I didn’t think that, nothing about it until it was later. I said, ‘No wonder she was gon beat me.’ ‘Cause I had done mashed that bread all up holding it up in my arms and changing it from one arm to the other, waiting on him shooting marbles. But I didn’t tell on him. But she knew he was shooting marbles.


... Mama took me to New York and everywhere she’d go. I stayed with Frances and her husband and son, when Mama went up there to work. And so I stayed with Carrie first. That was Albert Gay’s mama’s sister. She had one son, Edward. And she sent us to the store to get a loaf of bread. I’ll never forget it. And in the sidewalk, it was a block out the sidewalk where was closed up. And it just had dirt in it, and we went to get that loaf of bread. He handed me the loaf of bread, and when we got to that block it was boys shooting marbles in that little square where it was dirt. And so I got tired of standing there waiting on him. And I went on up to the house. And had seen them where they go up there and pushed the button. And the door didn’t come open then, and I went on back to where Ed was. And stood there waiting ’til he come to go in the house. And when we got to the house, the door was open. So when we got upstairs to the apartment floor, Carrie commenced fussing with him about ‘Who’s that coming in there playing with that bell?’ and opening the door, or something, I started to say it was me, and then I — she talked so hateful, and she beat Theodore, ’cause he got the bread all mashed up, with the belt. So I went to crying. I cried and I cried. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go where Mama was, but Mama wasn’t supposed to come over there ’til the next day or a day or two after that. I don’t know where she was working. Except that she was doing some day’s work. ‘Cause day’s work was plentiful then. People would clean up. So Mama wanted [inaudible] carried me with her and left Mamie there with Papa and knowing, too, Papa didn’t like Mamie. So, anyway, I cried so, and Mama took me over to Frances’ house. That’s where Mama come, after they took me over to Frances.’ I don’t think either one of ’em had no phone at that time and … but anyway, she come on over and got me, and I told her I didn’t want to stay there no more, I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go where she was. She said, “Well, you can’t go right now,” said, “I got a job to do.” She said, “Well, I’ll take you over to Frances’. So that’s when she took me over to Frances’ house, and Edward.


“Mama” Sarah Henderson Jacobs (1874-1938) reared my grandmother and her sister Mamie, her great-niece. Sarah’s husband, “Papa,” was Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. (1856-1926). Annie Bell Jacobs Gay and Carrie Jacobs Blackwell (1890-1963) were Jesse’s daughters by his first wife, and Theodore Blackwell (1908-??), not Edward, was Carrie’s son.  At the time this story took place, the Blackwells were probably living at 37 West 112th Street in Harlem, just north of Central Park. In 1920, this was an all-African-American, fifteen-family building in a block otherwise occupied by Russian Jewish immigrants. Frances Aldridge Cooper Newsome was my grandmother’s paternal aunt, sister of her father Thomas Aldridge. Edward Cooper was Frances’ son.

Interviews of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

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

Misinformation Monday, no. 1.

The first in a series of posts revealing the fallability of records, even “official” ones.


The “true facts”: Caswell C. Henderson was born in 1865 in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Balkcum Henderson.

Nonetheless, this is what the records say:

(1) Marriage license, issued 1893 in New York City: Caswell C. Henderson was born in New York NY to Lewis Henderson and an unknown mother.

(2) 1900 federal census: Caswell Henderson was born in New York to New York-born parents.

(3) Marriage license, issued 1907 in New York City: Caswell C. Henderson was born in New York City to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Balcum.

(4) 1910 federal census: Caswell C. Henderson was born in New York. His father was born in Virginia; his mother, in New York.

(5) 1920 federal census: Caswell C. Henderson was born in New York to New York-born parents.

(6) Death certificate, issued 1927 in New York City: Caswell Henderson was born in North Carolina to an unknown father born in North Carolina and an unknown mother born in an unknown state.


Who was the source of this misinformation? Did Caswell claim to have been born in New York? Why?

Sidenote: Though Caswell’s middle initial, “C,” is almost always noted, I have never seen his middle name spelled out and have no idea what is it.

Letters, Migration, Paternal Kin

Where we lived: Caswell C. Henderson’s New York City.

It’s not clear when Caswell Henderson arrived in New York, but 1890 is a good guess. In the 35 or so years that he lived in the city, Caswell claimed at least eight addresses in two boroughs and Westchester County, most during a decade in which he and his wife seemed to move almost yearly.

This is Caswell’s New York:


1. 326 West 37th Street. When Caswell married Emma Bentley in 1893, he reported this address. He is listed there in 1896 in Trow’s New York City Directory. It’s a bit south of the 1 on the map, between 8th and 9th Avenues in the overlap between Hell’s Kitchen and the Garment District, and is now a parking deck.

2. 47 West 66th Street. By the 1900 census, Caswell and Emma had moved north to an address just outside the notorous San Juan Hill neighborhood. Caswell was still living here when he married his second wife, Carrie Lowe, in 1907.  Address located in the block off Central Park West, now occupied by ABC headquarters.

3. 247 West 143rd Street. By 1909, Caswell and Carrie had moved way uptown to Harlem. Block between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass Boulevards, now the site of basketball courts in the Drew-Hamilton housing project.

4. 901 Grant Avenue. Per the 1910 city directory, Caswell and Carrie lived in Morrisania in the Bronx, a few blocks west of current Yankee Stadium, now the site of the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice.

5. 527 East 167th Street. In 1912, a little deeper into the Bronx, a few blocks from Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, now a parking lot.

6. 446 West 163rd Street. By 1915, the Hendersons were back in Manhattan at an address they held for the next ten years. Washington Heights, between Edgecombe and Amsterdam Avenues near Highbridge Park and the Harlem River, a few blocks southeast of Columbia University Medical Center.

7. 3777 Third Avenue. In 1926, they returned to the heart of the Bronx to an address that is now Gouverneur Playground. (Or did they? Caswell wrote his sister a letter from this address, but his widow was living on West 163rd when he died. Were they separated? He mentions the health benefits of living in “the country” — what did Third Avenue look like in the early 1920s?)

8. 6 Belknap Avenue. Caswell died at this home in Yonkers in 1927, though his death certificate lists his wife’s address as 446 West 163rd. It’s not clear who owned the Belknap Avenue house, but in 1930, it is occupied by French West Indian chef Marshall Mingo and family.

Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin, Politics, Rights

Uncle Caswell makes a fine point. … And then ….


Colored American, Washington DC, 20 June 1903.


(1) Who knew Caswell C. Henderson was “one of the best known Republicans in the County of New York”?

(2) Uncle Caswell worked at the United States Custom House, where positions were highly sought-after. In other words, they were patronage jobs. Now I understand the path the farmer’s son from North Carolina took to get one.

(3) It appears that Caswell wasn’t a white man at work after all. He was merely one when below the Mason-Dixon line.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

Edward Murray McNeely.

My mother’s brother went to World War I. Not Uncle John and Uncle Luther.  Oh, they were old.  Old men.  They went to the Spanish-American War.  Edward went to World War I — 

ed mcneely draft card

Yeah.  If he went.  ‘Cause he was the laziest man, dodged everything.  Running all the time.  The ladies were just crazy about him.  He had to leave Statesville.  He went to Asheville and, too ….  They were just about to lynch him because of, you know, these women running after him.  He went to New York.  I think he married two or three women up there.  [I laugh.]  Honey, he was sharp as a tack.  Lord, Lisa, that was one good-looking man.  Tall.  Like Carey.  And he was sharp.  I remember when I went to New York from Hampton to work, went to Jersey from Hampton to work.  He carried me to New York.  First time I had ever been to New York, and he carried me to New York to this Elks Club.  He was a big-time Elk, you know.  And those men swore that I was not his niece, that I was somebody else.  And they said, “Man, you know that’s….”  And I liked to dance with them, you know, and all.  And I would just go with him – I mean, I didn’t go there a lot of times, but I might have went two, three times, but he would take me to that Elks Club.  And he would never let me have anything to drink.  He would drink some wine or something like that.  But he would take me, and one time when I was in New York — Wardenur and I, he used to take us.

McNEELY -- Edward McNeely


Edward Murray McNeely, born 15 June 1894, was the youngest of Henry and Martha McNeely’s sons. He married Lucille Tomlin in 1910 in Statesville and worked as a bellhop in a local hotel. He and Lucille had a son, Quincy Edward McNeely, in late 1910. When the marriage broke up, the boy and his mother moved to Asheville and were lost to the rest of the family. (Or to my grandmother, his first cousin, in any case.) Ed McNeely was in fact inducted into the Army in 1917, but I have no details of his service. By the late 1920s, he had migrated north to join his mother and several siblings in and around Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1942, he registered for the “Old Man’s Draft” and reported his address as 344 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn. (A two-story brownstone in Clinton Hill worth $1 million today. He also gave his height as  5’11, some considerable inches shorter than my cousin Carey.) When he died on 28 September 1950, Edward was living at 454 Avenue C in Bayonne and was married to Delphine Peterson McNeely. Two days later, the Statesville Daily Record published this tragic report:

“Double Funeral Service Planned”

Double funeral services will be conducted for brother and sister here Monday.

Lizzie Long, who burned to death when her home on Bingham Street was almost completely destroyed by fire Thursday morning, will be buried with her brother who died that night in New York.  The brother, Edward McNeeley, a veteran of World War I, died in Veterans hospital, Staton [sic] Island, upon hearing the news of his sister’s death.  His body will be returned here Monday morning and services will be conducted jointly for them at 2:30 p.m. Monday.  Burial will be in Belmont cemetery.  

The funeral will be conducted by Rev. Spurgeon Frost at Rankintown Congregational church.

Photo of Edward McNeely in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson. Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.
Letters, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

I pray for the whole family.

A few months after my grandmother passed away in January 2001, my father, mother, sister and I converged on her little rowhouse at 5549 Wyalusing Avenue, Philadelphia, to clean it out. In a drawer of a large steel desk in the basement, I found a packet of papers. In them, a letter I’d never known existed, from my great-great-grandmother Loudie‘s brother Caswell C. Henderson to their sister, Sarah H. Jacobs Silver, who reared my grandmother. ImageImageImage

Though he does not say so directly, Caswell seems to have been responding to the news of the death of Sarah’s husband in early July. She has asked him to come home, for a visit or perhaps permanently, but he cannot, pleading health and finances. He is hopeful, though, that soon they will be together to “help one another.” He expresses the importance of his family (if not his wife, who garners no mention) by sending greetings to his great-nieces and inquiring after Minnie Simmons Budd, daughter of his and Sarah’s deceased sister Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons. Of course, while “prayers are wonderful when said in all sincerity from the heart,” the prayers of his friends could not keep Caswell forever, and he died 16 January 1927.