Black Sheep Sunday: Edmond Henderson

The Family Of Wayward Edmond And Saintly Sarah

First, let me tell you the facts, then I’ll mix in some fiction, and hopefully then come back around to find some truth in this, my family’s tale…  Edmond David Henderson was born 13 Sep., 1849 in Lapeer Co., MI, to Zina A. Henderson and Orit L. Lee. Zina was the grandson of James Henderson, Revolutionary soldier, buried in Henderson, New York. The Hendersons were Scots-Irish.

O.K., now for the juicy part… One day in the early 1890’s Edmond simply disappeared. He was never seen again by his wife or children. He reportedly wrote a very few letters from Michigan, but one day the letters stopped, and not another word was heard from him.

Of course, the shock to the family was immense, and it still reverberates through the family today. Growing up, I heard a variety of stories about Edmond’s disappearance, and some are pure fiction. My favorite was probably the story my grandfather, Murl Lee Henderson, Edmond’s grandson, liked to tell. It goes something like this:

Warning: TALL TALE ALERT!!! Edmond was a horse doctor, the kind that knew how to doctor up a horse right before a race so he would run faster. Of course, the horse might drop dead afterwards, but then that was another matter. The trick was to win the race and not get caught.

Inevitably, one day, Edmond did indeed get caught practicing his illicit brand of medicine, which no doubt involved massive doses of coca-based medicines (i.e., cocaine). So Edmond was obliged to quickly and quietly exit the scene, stage West. Running from the law, he ended up in the Oklahoma Territory, where it is said he was scalped by the Indians.

…I should say that this is my interpretation of Grandpa’s story, not his verbatim account of it. GrandpaMy grandfather, Murl Lee Henderson, around 1940. He was always a natty fellow. would tell the tale with a unique combination of reserve, bluster and jauntiness that I could never duplicate. He was a man of very few words, but on most occasions, the few he offered were gems. Growing up, my brother and I would sit in his room for hours watching TV with him and waiting for a quip. All the while, Grandma would walk to and fro, talking incessantly (while Grandpa said little, Grandma easily made up for his reticence). Eventually (and often just as Grandma was out of earshot), Grandpa would say a very few words related to Grandma’s roving conversation, and my brother and I would find ourselves on the floor, rolling and laughing, prompting Grandma to reappear with hands on hips, insistently asking, “What’s so funny!?” So I guess I would say that a whole story told by Grandpa was a memorable treat.

Left with a family to raise by herself, Sarah worked tirelessly and became a much-revered matriarch. She did endless amounts of laundry in Fillmore and did whatever work that needed to be done to get her family by. Sarah lived to be 96 and was beloved by everyone who knew or met her. My Mother is still inspired by her and vows to live to be 100, an age her dear great grandma aspired to but did not quite make due to tripping over some stairs at church on Easter Sunday. (While taking a picture outside the church on Easter Sunday, Sarah backed up and tripped over the stairs up to the front door, breaking her hip I believe.) If history is any indication, Mom has a good shot at achieving her great grandma’s goal. It’s in the genes: Hendersons often live into advanced age.

In Fillmore’s Glendale Cemetery, there is a large stone that in my mind stands out from the others near the front of the cemetery. On it are written the names of Sarah A. and Edmond D. Henderson; Edmond‘s date of death is glaringly uncarved, and we wondered about him for over 100 years.

Now let me fill in some more details… Edmond’s father left Michigan in 1859, bound for Illinois, with his wife and sons Zina AlfonzoEdmond DavidCharles Freesnant M. His sons grew into men and married, and then things started to go very badly for Zina. First, his wife Orit(Oretta) died some time in the 1880s and Zina remarried to Lucy Henry Moon in 1888. Next his son Alfonzo died in about 1890. Alfonzo had been a school teacher, and he died in the middle of the term, so Edmond taught the remainder of the term. Then son Charles died in September,  1892. Zina’s second wife also died about 1892.

Whatever reason Edmond had for running away, Zina was no doubt distraught at seeing his family wither. Zina ended up returning to Michigan and living with his sister there, where he is last seen in the 1900 census in the home ofhis sister, Helen Groff and husband in Oakland County, just over the line from his previous home in Lapeer County. There is little doubt that Edmond decided to go with his father, but his leaving without a single word of parting is jarring.

Why did Edmond leave? While it is true that Edmond was his day’s equivalent of a veterinarian, noone really believes there was anything untoward involving fixing horses for races. Edmond’s father, Zina, was known to raise stock on his farm, and it would seem that Edmond had a taste for working with the animals. What is known is that there was a certain amount of scandal involving one of Sarah’s close relatives and Edmond. This certain person was branded home-wrecker by the family. As a boy we would go with Grandma and Grandpa to put flowers on the graves of all our ancestors every year for Memorial Day. I still remember walking past her grave in McInturff Cemetery, Vandalia, IL, with wariness and a scowl. Perhaps this scandal and the grief of Edmond and his father were the impetus for Edmond’s cowardice. In any case, this theory is likely the best answer we will ever have as to why he left.

Having started genealogy as a 9-year-old boy, I loved going to see all the relatives that Grandma and Grandpa constantly visited and hearing their stories. However, my favorite trips were those to see AuntAunt Ethel at her 100th birthday party; with a daughter and granddaughter. Identity Pending..Ethel, Edmond’s ancient daughter. Knowing the story of Edmond could whip me into a frenzy of fascination, my grandfather ordered me not to ask Aunt Ethel about her father so as to not upset her. Being a typical Henderson, Aunt Ethel was no China doll, however, and I would go to see her and gently ask my dear old Great-Great Aunt what questions I could, waiting for the day that she would mention her father to me without my asking. Indeed one day she did tell me about him, and you have read the bulk of what I remember of her account. She asked me why I had not inquired of him before, and I explained thatGrandpa wouldn’t let me. (I was a handful as a child, but disobeying Grandpa on a matter like this was truly unthinkable.) While she dismissed the notion that she would get upset at talking about her father at the age of 98 or 99, she was certainly as wistful as one so old can be when talking of him. When she finished, I told her solemnly that maybe I could find out what had happened to him, and she inferred that finding her father would truly be something wonderful to her.

Aunt Ethel’s granddaughter, Sharon Cothern Carroll (my family partner in the hunt), and I were hot on his trail for the first time in over 100 years. We believed that the Edmond Henderson, veterinary surgeon, listed in the 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 Amesbury, Essex Co., MA, censuses, is our ancestor. One day, in the summer of 2005, I got a letter for the Amesbury, MA, town clerk. In it was the death certificate of one Edmond Henderson, who died 19 Nov., 1938, in Amesbury, Essex Co., MA, of stomach cancer. His parents? Zina Henderson and Oriette Lee.

We found him, Aunt Ethel. We have found your father.

via Greg Lamberson’s Genealogy Website – Edmond Henderson Family.

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Family Recipe Friday: Grandma’s Devil’s Food Cake

Before we found this recipe after my grandmother’s death, there was serious talk of bulldozing her house in hope of finding this recipe, which perhaps was stored in some secret chamber underneath the floorboards.

Looking at this recipe today, it almost makes my heart stop, given its 4 cups of sugar and half cup of shortening for what isn’t that large a cake to begin with.

I am posting this as-is, with no explanation of how to perform the soft ball test or how to know when milk is properly sour. The mice got to this copy and chewed off the word ‘devil,’ and I only slightly pause to wonder why those demonic mice would want to hide the devil’s hand in this concoction.

Here it is, world: The Secret Chocolate Cake Recipe. May God forgive me.

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NSSAR Research Library, Louisville, KY: Almost Done! Watch The Video

The NSSAR is on track for their members-only ribbon cutting ceremony on the 25 of September and their goal of opening to the public in the latter half of October! This library, which is made up of a significant number of genealogies, is an exciting expansion of the offerings of the Sons of the American Revolution.

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Wedding Wednesday:Unknown Wedding ca. 1918

For one side of the family, even for the very old photos, Grandma drilled into me who the old folks were pretty well. On the other, however, I have many photos that are a mystery.  Maybe future photo recognition technology or further deduction will shed light on the past, but for now, the subjects of this photo remain, achingly, a mystery.

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Wordless Wednesday: Circus Folk

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Tech Tuesday: The Wayback Machine (Archive of the Internet)

Did you once cite a source and only record the web address where you found the original information, only to find that 3 years later the site no longer exists? Well, weep no longer! Once something is on the internet, it is out there for good. You need to pay a little visit to The Wayback Machine at

This little tool will take you back in time to see, most likely, several versions of the website you once found, and all you need to do is have the web address to find the info you depended on.

A couple of years ago a distant cousin assured me that his information was safe and sound on his own website, so I didn’t bother to record it myself and only referred visitors to my website wanting his information to his website. Now, with his website no longer active, I just used the wayback machine, copied his information, and incorporated it into my own. Problem solved.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Nelson and Mary Anderson, Swedish Immigrants

I can say with reasonable certainty that almost all of my ancestor families were in the United States before the Revolutionary War. These two are two of my three known ancestors who were not from pre-Revolutionary families. Great-great grandparents Nelson and Mary Anderson, or as they were known prior to August, 1869, Nils Petter Andersson and wife Maria Charlotta Persdotter, came from Sweden on a steam ship that had been a blockade enforcer for the Union Army but had reentered commercial service after the Civil War.  Three days after disembarking, a very pregnant Mary had their second child, the first born in America, Ella Josephine Anderson, in New York City.

After stopping for a few years at the Swedish settlements around Jamestown, NY, the Andersons followed a somewhat unusual migration path through eastern Virginia and thence to the north central Missouri town of Shelbyville, MO. When Nils died in 1917, their children gathered (even Ella, who had married that “lazy Virginian,” James Absalom Waller “Abby” Smith), and laid him to rest with honor at the edge of the local town’s cemetery. Mary lived about another decade, but as my grandmother, Mary (Anderson) Lamberson recalled, her grandmother, for whom she was named, never really knew much English.Nelson Peter Anderson laid to rest, 1917

I visited their gravesite for the first time in 2008, and the gravestone, though no longer at the edge of the cemetery, still looks exactly the same.

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Surname Saturday: Lamberson

Today I am focusing on my main dead-end relative, Timothy Lamberson. (Most details of this relative and “The Other Timothy Lamberson” can be found on my website.)

Timothy Lamberson married Rebecca Ferguson in May, 1814, in Madison County of the Illinois Territory. He is also there in the 1818 Illinois “Statehood” Census, but moved to the Missouri Territory after 1818 and so was in no census in 1820. He appears in the 1830 Pike Co., MO, Census and filed a will April Fools Day, 1831 (though he didn’t seem to be kidding).

Prior to this, I have no record of Timothy that I can be certain of. HOWEVER, There is another Timothy Lamberson in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1809. He owned land, paid taxes, got married and had a son, all of which is documentd. He also is mentioned in the will of his son Timothy, Jr., ‘s grandfather, Samuel Mosser. Samuel Mosser died in 1811, and in his will he provides for his grandson Timothy Lamberson’s education and welfare until such time his father, who had removed west alone, “should return and collect him [Timothy Jr.].”

So I have the potential for a connection to this previous Timothy Lamberson but nothing more substantial than a possibility. Besides these two and a couple of their later descendants, there are absolutely NO other Timothy Lambersons in any record I have seen whatsoever before 1860 or so. Of course what I’m interested in is before about 1820, and there are literally no references to this name or its variants besides these two characters, and very few of those.

Right now I’m trying to figure out what records I could possibly look at for the Indiana Territory (as this area was referred to at the time) to see if Ohio’s Timothy Lamberson filed for divorce. Elizabeth Mosser Lamberson promptly remarries in 1813, so if they are the same, there should be a divorce filed somewhere, and it’s not in Tuscarawas County.

Does anyone else have ideas? Like I said, I have this documented on my website. Just follow the links above.

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INDEXING ALERT: Familysearch Needs Your Help!

Goal for September

We are slightly behind in reaching our goal of 200 million records completed in 2010. To give ourselves a boost and help us get closer to our goal for the year, we want to challenge everyone to make the month of September our most productive month ever. So far March 2010 has been our best month, with 21 million records completed in just one month.

The question is, “Can we complete 22 million records in one month?” Yes! We believe we can, but we need help from everyone. Whether you can index or arbitrate 50 more records per week or month, or 5,000 more, every contribution large or small is vital. One person cannot do this work alone.

via FamilySearch Indexing Newsletter.

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Follow Friday: Of Trolls and Lemons

Well I just started blogging and participating myself, so I can’t help but feel I’m cheating since my opinions haven’t really formed yet.

HOWEVER, if I had to recommend someone else’s blog right now, I would have to say it’s Astrid’s Of Trolls and Lemons. Wow. I mean, WOW. Beautiful. She has lately been on a tour of Norway, her father’s (I believe) homeland, and she’s taking all who stop by along for the ride. Interspersed with unbelievable pictures of her trip are documents she’s found related to her family at the sites she’s visited where her ancestors lived.

If everyone’s this good, then I’m going to have to give up sleep to see them all.

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