HENSON WALKER’S CONVERSION
Henson Walker was born in Manchester, Ontario County, New York 13 March 1820. His early life was spent on his father’s farm where he was taught to work and to never spend more than he could earn. He was naturally of a religious nature and affiliated himself with the Methodist Church. He studied his Bible carefully and as he grew older he often went with the Methodist Minister around his circuit. As a boy he loved to hunt and fish and to him was given the responsibility of providing meat for the family. He had black hair and eyes, was tall, better than six feet, straight and well built and much inclined toward athletics. He liked to wrestle and was a good runner. He often told his grandchildren how he could stand on the ground, jump in the air and strike his heels together three times before his feet touched the ground again. He was active and quick in thought and deed. Often he walked to Clifton Springs with the village boys to swim in the mineral springs. He was about 14 or 15 years old when the family left Manchester to go west. (1834/35)
When the move was made westward to Oceola Township, Livingston, Michigan, several families went together, among them was the Bouck family. The chance for education came mostly from the school of experience. He learned to read and write and figure as necessity required. During those years the Mormon Missionaries made their way into parts of Michigan. Henson often preached at the Methodist services in a clear loud voice. The louder the preacher talked, the more effective it seemed to be. He said he always felt there was something lacking in his religion but he could not tell what it was. Henson went to a revival meeting looking for something to satisfy his thirst for a correct church. He left the meeting feeling very discouraged with what he had seen and heard. He would later in the day, be approached by a man with a new scripture which he bought and read. He completely read the Book of Mormon and it testified to him it was true. He wasn’t even told about Joseph Smith until he found the church and was baptized, this taking place on 16th of April 1840 by Nehitable Serrine.
Henson tried to explain this new faith to his family but they could not see it. His mother was nearly broken hearted because he took up with this new, unpopular religion. Henson knew he was right in his choice and he knew his Heavenly Father knew that he knew it. There was nothing to do but get away from the home and thus try to relieve the tension this situation had created. He loved his family and was devoted to his mother but he could not give up his religion. He made a little house on his property at Salem, Michigan and on the 24th Aug 1841, he and Martha Ann Bouck were married. Her father, mother and sisters had joined the church about the same time as Henson had.
Do not be too harsh on Henson, Sr. and Matilda—look at the date and place where Henson, Jr. was born. They had lived there since 1817 and lived there through all the church’s early beginnings.
My Dad told the story of Henson Walker, Jr. joining the church thus—in italics.
Compiled by Mary Jean Caldwell