Henderson and Caroline Graham – Alabama

header ato z 2016This is my 4th year participating in the A-Z Challenge.  I am writing about people who were born into slavery and  lived to be free and their descendants.

Today I will write about Henderson Graham of Alabama. This is another case of the name appearing in the estate file of William A. Graham of Autauga County and then turning up with his family in 1870 in Elmore County. Elmore County was created from parts of several other counties, including Autauga. I need to look and see who the Graham slave holders were in that area. William A. Graham and his children can’t have been the only Graham slave holders in the area. Or maybe they were. At any rate, here is the story of Henderson Graham as pieced together from records.


Henderson appears in the 1860 estate file as a seventeen year old young man given a value of $700.00. He was born about 1843.  In 1870 the only Henderson Graham in the area is found living with his family in Elmore County. The family includes Eli Graham, 48; Hester Graham, 47; Henderson, 15 and 12 year old Eli.  Eli senior was a farmer. Hester was keeping house.  Living next door were John and Anna Graham and their two children Otis and Ester. John was also a farmer.

griffin henderson marriag lisc
Click to enlarge.

 On October 23, 1873 Henderson married Caroline Duncan in Elmore County.  When I looked at the marriage license, I noticed that Griffin and Texas Jackson were the couple above them.  Griffin was Prissa Jackson’s son. Both couples were married by George Washington.

In 1880 Henderson was farming.  He rented the land for shares, that is he had to give part of his crop in payment. His father and brother Eli were also farming this way.  Henderson worked 50 acres. He had $90 worth of livestock. The estimated value of everything produced on the farm in 1879 was valued at $400.  He had one milch cow and one other cattle; six swine; ten barnyard fowl who produced 20 dozen eggs in 1879. He planted 18 acres of Indian Corn which produced 180 bushels and 36 acres of cotton which produced six bales. He grew 15 bushels of sweet potatoes on a quarter acre.

Henderson and Caroline had two small children, a daughter Alice three years old and a son Judge one. His niece Otis lived with them.  She was eleven and attending school. Hester Duncan, Caroline’s fourteen year old sister lived with them and worked on the farm, as did Mary Long.  Henderson did not live far from his father and his siblings. His dwelling was #279 on the 1880 census and his father was #311.  None of them were literate.

Between 1880 and 1900 three more sons were born, Eli in 1885; Butler in 1887 and Clinton in 1889. Caroline died sometime after the birth of Clinton. In 1899 Henderson married Patsey, who had one daughter, Minnie King.  In 1900 Henderson was farming. He owned his farm but it was mortgaged.  His four sons and step-daughter, ages 22 to 13 were living on the farm.  Only the oldest, Judge, was able to read and write.  They were all listed as farm labor and none were in school.  Patsey had birthed five children and four were still alive.

Henderson’s daughter Alice, her husband William and their three year old daughter Rosa lived next door. They had been married three years. Alice had birthed two children and one was alive. William was farming on his own mortgaged farm. He was illiterate while Alice was able to read and write. Nine year old Alfried Owens lived with them and is listed as ‘nurse’.

In the 1910 Henderson is listed as 62 years old. Every year he gets closer to that birth year in the estate file. He and Patsey had been married nine years. It says this is his 3rd marriage and her 4th. I take this with a grain of salt as I have found no other marriages. He now owns his farm free and clear (Yay!) His son Clinton lives with them and works on the farm. Two step-grandchildren, Patsey and Peter Duncan live with them. Fourteen year old Patsey attended school while eleven year old Peter did not. Both Clinton and Patsey are literate.  Henderson’s son Eli rents a far down the road and farms with his wife Mary.

Patsey died in Montgomery in 1915. Henderson died on January 4, 1925 in Elmore County, Alabama.  He was buried in Goodship Cemetery. He was 82 years old and his birth year is given as 1843, which finally gets us back to the birth year in the 1860 estate file.

I saw a lot of tangents to go off on while researching Henderson and I plan to come back to this family later in the month. I especially enjoyed finding the connection with an extended family member of mine in the marriage record book. I am glad he was able to own his farm free and clear.

6 thoughts on “Henderson and Caroline Graham – Alabama”

  1. The families persist and stick together, their children get educated, and they pay off their land. I hope Henderson was able to pass on his farm to Clinton. So interesting to think that the Grahams were married by the same person as your relative, that perhaps they knew each other, or some of their children were schooled together.

  2. It’s awesome he was able to eventually own his farmland free and clear. That’s a milestone that many farmers struggle to achieve.

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