Clay County

Biography - JOHN H. HENSON

Active and energetic, possessing good business ability and judgment, John H. Henson occupies an assured position as one of the leading general merchants of Xenia, and as mayor of the city is rendering efficient service. He was born December 25, 1864, in Wayne county, Illinois, which was likewise the birthplace of his father, W. C. Henson. His paternal grandfather, Reuben Henson, a Kentuckian by birth, migrated to Illinois during the twenties, took up land from the Government, and was there employed in tilling the soil until his death, while yet in the prime of a vigorous manhood. His wife, who survived him, married for her second husband Jerry Chapman, a pioneer settler of Wayne county and a well-to-do farmer. Philip Henson, father of Reuben Henson, was a soldier in the Revolutionary army.

Born December 16, 1844, in Wayne county, W. C. Henson began his career as an agriculturist, and for thirty years owned and occupied the same farm. He is now living three miles south of Xenia, where he is still engaged in general farming. During his earlier years he was an adherent of the Democratic party, but since the year in which William McKinley was nominated for the presidency he has voted the Republican ticket. Both he and his wife are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The maiden name of the wife of W. C. Henson was Nancy Catherine Martin. She was born in Wayne county, Illinois, December 29, 1846, a daughter of Andrew Jackson Martin, whose birth occurred, in 1809, near Wheeling, West Virginia. Mr. Martin came to Illinois about 1839, entering a tract of land in Sangamon county. Subsequently entering land in Wayne county, Illinois, he was there prosperously engaged in farming until his death, in 1902. He was a man of pronounced ability, by wise management and investment acquiring a large property, at one time owning a thousand acres of land. Two of his sons, Henry Martin and James Martin, served as soldiers in the Civil war, James dying from the effect of wounds received on the battlefield.

Receiving his high school education in Salem, Illinois, John H. Henson completed his early studies at Hayward College, in Fairfield, Illinois, although he was not graduated from that institution. Taking up then the profession for which he was so well fitted, he taught school from 1887 until 1891, after which he was employed at the Orchard City Bank, in Xenia, for a time. Resuming his educational work in 1893, Mr. Henson taught school until 1908, meeting with good success as an educator. Locating then in Xenia, he has since been here engaged in mercantile pursuits, having a finely stocked general store, which he is managing with most satisfactory success, his honest integrity and upright dealings having won for him a large and substantial patronage. Mr. Henson is also interested in the agricultural development of this part of the state, being the owner of a farm lying near Xenia.

On September 26, 1902, Mr. Henson married Nellie Mayfield, a daughter of James M. Mayfield, a well-to-do and highly respected man, who is distinguished as being the oldest resident of Xenia- Mr. Mayfield was born January 14, 1837, in South Carolina. As a young man he migrated to Georgia, where he lived until after the breaking out of the Civil war, which swept away all of his property, leaving him penniless. Coming to Illinois in 1864, he began working at the carpenter's trade, in that capacity building, or helping to build, the most of the houses in Xenia. He is now carrying on a good mercantile business, dealing extensively in lumber and building materials. Mr. and Mrs. Henson have three children, namely: Gladys Ray, assisting in her father's store; Inez Mae; and Harry Mayfield.

Politically Mr. Henson is identified with the Democratic party, and as a true and loyal citizen has never shirked the responsibilities of public office, having served for three years as assessor of Xenia township, and being now not only mayor of Xenia, but also clerk of its school board. He is likewise president of the Township Democratic Central Committee. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has passed all the chairs; of the Daughters of Rebekah; of the Improved Order of Red Men; and of the Modern Woodmen of America, in which he has served as clerk three years. Religiously Mr. Henson belongs to the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, while Mrs. Henson is a member of the Methodist church.

Extracted 09 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1250-1252.

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