Volume 2, Number 7, Spring 1966
Elder Thomas Henson was a circuit riding minister of the Baptist Church of Christ being ordained in Ruthford County, Tennessee. He came to the territory of Southwest Missouri in the early 1830s with his Bible church papers, his horse, and chopping axe. He rode about the trails preaching, marrying and burying folks. Mostly the trails followed the streams. He came from southern Illinois, (Morgan County). It is a matter of record of his having performed the marriage ceremony for Permelia Yokum and Joseph Philbert in 1883. He served in the War of 1812 from Morgan County, Illinois. He was allowed a leave of absence until he regained his health. That was from Ditton Landing, December 20, 1813, the leave being cosigned by G. F. White, 2nd Lieut., and Jno. Coffee, B. Genl.
Elder Henson was living in Tennessee in 1805. (Judge Charles L. Hensons History o f Stone Countys First Ninety Years, says that Elder Thomas Henson settled the first farm in Southwest Missouri Territory. Charles L. Henson was a great grandchild of Elder Henson. Charless father was Lafayette (Doctor) Henson, 1858-1919, a well known physician of Galena, Mo.)
Elder Hensons wife, Rebecca Langston, is thought to be a daughter of the Rev. J. C. Langston, who married so many pioneer folks of Tennessee.
In 1835 he brought his family of 12 through St. Louis and down the much worn trail to Springfield. They came by oxen drawn cart with most of the children walking. Rebecca said there was one general store at that time in Springfield. The family bought, among other things, an iron pot for cooking.
Traveling with the Hensons were the John Barnett Williams and Elijah McLain Todd families. The Williams family were from Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky. John B. Williams was a miller by trade and set up the first grist mill west of the Mississippi, at the mouth of Flat Creek where it meets the James, Mash Hollow at Cape Fair.
Elder Henson must have picked out this homestead to bring his family to because of his scouting the land earlier. He settled on a very nice farm on Flat Creek a few miles above Cape Fair. A great grandson, John Asher, now owns the farm. One of the landmarks there is a large burr oak tree that Elder Hensons daughter, Rebecca, spoke of as being a good sized tree when they came to the farm in 1835.
Elder people of the area say that these now fine bottom farm lands were full of large trees at that early time and that it was a problem to clear the land. The large burr oak yet stands on the bank of Flat Creek below the cemetery where Thomas and his wife Rebecca are buried.
When Eli Asher, a great grandson, was a small boy, a man came (from Texas he thought) and cut names and dates on their rocks to mark them. Eli, now 80 years old, helped clean up the groves by cutting and piling the brush.
December 25, 1835 was given as the Henson date of arrival, that was the date of the marriage of a son, Zechariah and Armalie (Millie) Williams, born 1819, died 1877, a daughter of John B. Williams. These young people had fallen in love on the journey. They settled above the Elder Henson place, just around the bend up Flat Creek, one
mile south of the Barry County line. There they built and lived in a crude log cabin until the year 1850.
The children of Elder Thomas Henson, b. Dec. 15, 1786 d. March 26, 1853, and his wife, Rebecca Langston Henson, b. Feb. 13, 1789, d. March 26, 1853, were Damaris (De Meris) b. Sept. 21, 1807; Mary, b. April 2, 1809; Young, b. Dec. 26, 1810; Elisha, b. Jan. 28, 1813; Zecharian, b. Nov. 15, 1814, d. 1877; Thomas, b. Nov. 10, 1816; Elizabeth, b. Nov. 17, 1818; Susan, b. May 1,1821; Rebecca, b. June 11, 1823 in Morgan County, Illinois, d. 1908; Martha, b. July 22, 1825; Wm. P., b. Oct. 10, 1828, (P. perhaps for Pleasant?); Sarah Ellen, b. March 16, 1831.
Damaris was a great hunter, an old rifle owned and shown by Dick OConner of near Wilson Creek Battlefield at the Crane, Mo. Centennial of Stone County in June of 1951. Ralph Bloomer of Cape Fair shot the gun that day.
Zechariah, who is my paternal great, great, grandfather and Rebecca, called Becky, who married Eli Foster (1820-1886) is my husbands paternal great, great grandmother. She was a midwife and home doctor. After her husband died she lived mostly with her daughter jane, and husband, William S. Asher.
Young Henson married Tilda Hilton, lived on Carney Branch.
Zechariah and wife, Rebecca and husband, are buried in a cemetery on the original Zechariah Henson farm.
Thomas Henson, Jr., went to Texas and never came back. It is said that he displeased his father.
Sarah Ellen married John Edmund Melton. Mrs. Joyce Davis Warren, Galena, Mo., is a descendant.
The descendants of Elisha and his son, Sam B. Henson (1837-1920) are living in Barry County and are working on their family history at this time. Loren and Espen Roden, children of Myrtle Henson, and Ethel Harrison Roden are some of Elishas descendants. Elisha was a minister and performed many marriages.
Some other descendants that were and are ministers; Jim Foster,. Cape Fair, Percy Asher, Cape Fair and Eddie Bowman, Purdy, Mo.
Mrs. Crystal Morris of Galena, Mo., is descended from Martha Henson.
Elder Henson must have set up some sort of school on his farm for the children, his grandchildren, remember going to a school in a building close to his home place and also near the now Cedar Bluff school house that still stands. No school being held there since 1951.
Once a year, on the fourth Sunday in September all the old friends of the district meet for an all day dinner on the grounds of the Old Cedar Bluff School. There we sing, tell old time school stories, recite poetry, take pictures and have a good time in general. 1965 marked the 20th year for this reunion. At one time it was District No. 2 in Stone County. One man, Lawrence Moore, 84 years old, sings the old song, "The Old School House on the Hill," from memory. There were 10 present who were over 80 years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Will Carr, Cape Fair, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January of 1966 were the oldest married couple present. Mrs. Carr is a descendant of Rebecca Henson Foster.
(I want to thank any one who supplied information for this article and hope to learn more. Write to me if you are a descendant of Elder Thomas Henson and Rebecca Langston Henson.
Ruth Henson Asher, Galena, Mo.)
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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