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1907 Past and Present Biographies

Henderson, James A.

One of the leading attorneys and prominent citizens of Jefferson is James A. Henderson, who is a native of Iowa, born in Johnson county, in 1862.  His father, Daniel W. Henderson, was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, December 15, 1830, a son of William H. and Sarah M. (Howard) Henderson, who were married in Kentucky, in which state William H. Henderson was born on the 16th of November, 1793.  His father was John Henderson, who went with Daniel Boone and others from Virginia to Kentucky during the latter part of the eighteenth century and assisted in Opening up that region for settlement.  Of Scotch ancestry, two branches of the family located in this country at an early day, one settling in Virginia in 1746 and the other in North Carolina.  To the latter branch belonged Richard Henderson, who was manager of the Transylvania Company, which sent Daniel Boone into Kentucky and was that gentleman's partner in purchasing from the Indians the territory now comprised in Kentucky.  He was a man of more than ordinary ability and a distinguished lawyer of his day.  William H. Henderson, the grandfather of our subject, was in the battle of the Thames under General Beverly Johnson during the war of 1812.

In the family of this worthy gentleman were nine children.  John W., the eldest, was a member of the Illinois Legislature and sheriff of Stark county during his residence in that state and later made his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for forty years.  William P., a farmer by occupation, spent the most of his life in Linn county, Iowa, but in later years was a resident of Jefferson.  Thomas J. is a distinguished lawyer, who has been a member of the Illinois general assembly and of congress for ten terms.  He is now a member of the United States board of ordinance and fortifications, also first vice president of the board of managers of the national homes for disabled volunteer soldiers, and makes his home in Princeton, Illinois,  Henry C., deceased, was also a lawyer by profession and served as district judge at Marshalltown, Iowa, and as a member of the state senate representing  Greene county.  Stephen H., deceased, was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church.  Daniel W., the father of our subject, was the next of the family.  James A., deceased, was an attorney living in Jefferson.  Elizabeth died in infancy.  Mary Ann married John Sevier, of Brownsville, Tennessee, a representative of a noted family of that state. John Sevier was the first and last governor of state of Franklin.

Daniel W. Henderson, the father of our subject, came to Iowa in 1845 from Toulon, Illinois, with his father and located in Iowa City, where he pursued an academic course. Later he taught school for a time and then engaged in milling and merchandising for seven or eight years. At the end of that time he purchased a tract of land in Johnson county, Iowa, and turned his attention to farming, which occupation he subsequently followed in Linn county, where he also bought land. He next came to Greene county, where in 1873 he purchased a farm near Buttricks creek, to the improvement and cultivation of which he devoted his energies until the 1st of January, 1879, when he assumed the duties of district and circuit clerk, having been elected to that position the previous fall. So acceptably did he fill the office that he was twice re-elected and after his third term virtually retired from active life. While residing on his Greene county farm he was licensed as a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church and was later appointed by the bishop as a local elder. He served as pastor of various charges in the Boone district. Feeling that his country needed his services during the dark days of the Civil war, he enlisted August 14, 1862, at Iowa City, in Company H, Twenty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and had attained the rank of first lieutenant when he resigned in April, 1864. He had been wounded by a minie-ball passing through his shoulder at Port Gibson while approaching Vicksburg and his health was shattered. His father, too, was not expected to live and these circumstances prompted his resignation. He had taken part in all of the important engagements in which Grant participated up to this time and at the time he received his wound was in command of his company in a skirmish. He was a man of strong physique, untiring in his industry, of a very gentle disposition but strong in his convictions. He was extremely charitable to those in need or distress and his wise counsel was often sought by his neighbors and friends and he was universally respected and esteemed.

In early manhood Daniel W. Henderson married Miss Susan D. Campbell, who was born in Rushville, Indiana, in 1832, and is still living at the old homestead in Jefferson. Her parents, John and Bertha (Smith) Campbell, were natives of Virginia and of Irish ancestry. After a usefull and well spent life Mr. Henderson died on the 9th of August, 1906. In his family were five children, of whom the eldest died in infancy. Sarah B. married Sylvanus Emory Coon, a farmer of Washington township, Greene county. James A. is the next in order of brith. Alice M. married Henry M. Halloway, a farmer of Kansas. J. Will is engaged in the insurance and real-estate business in Jefferson.

James A. Henderson was reared on his father's farm and acquired his early education in the district school, later attending Jefferson Academy. In 1889 he entered the Iowa State University, where he pursued the law course and was graduated on the 17th of June, 1890. Immediately following his graduation he opened an office in Jefferson and has become one of the leaders of the Greene county bar. Success has attended his well directed efforts and he now has a large clientage and a lucrative practice for he is a fluent speaker, an able advocate before judge and jury, and has a thorough knowledge of the law. He has other interests aside from his profession and was one of the organizers of the Citizens Mutual Telephone Company, serving as its secretary from the start to the present time. He was also one of the incorporators of the Jefferson Savings Bank and is one of its directors.

In 1883 Mr. Henderson was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Betzer, who was born in North Liberty, Indiana, in 1864. Her father, Nicholas Fetzer, was a native of Germany and an early settler of Indiana, where he followed the occupation of blacksmithing. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Henderson have been born four children: Curtis E., deceased; Aimee, now attending the musical conservatory at Indianola, Iowa; John McKinley; and one who died in infancy.

Mr. and Mrs. Henderson are active members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has been a director of the choir for many years and is also a member of the board of trustees. He is a Knight Templar Mason and is also identified with the Sons of Veterans. In his political affiliation he is a stalwart republican and has taken a very active and influential part in political affairs, frequently serving as chairman of the county conventions and as a member of the county central committee. He is usually a delegate to state conventions and his council carries weight in his party. For five years he served as deputy clerk of the district court and was subsequently twice elected clerk. He has also served as justice of the peace and member of the city council, has been township clerk and was the first city solicitor of Jefferson after its incorporation. His official duties hav always been most capably and faithfully performed and he has left office as he entered it with the confidence and trust of the entire public.

Transcribed from "Past and Present of Greene County, Iowa Together With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead," by E. B. Stillman assisted by an Advisory Board consisting of Paul E. Stillman, Gillum S. Toliver, Benjamin F. Osborn, Mahlon Head, P. A. Smith and Lee B. Kinsey, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907, pp. 239-241.
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