Henson Walker, Sr.

HENSON WALKER, SR.

Henson Walker Sr. was born Nov 7, 1787 in Prince Georges Parish, Maryland.  He was the son of Richard Walker, Jr. and Mary Gilpin.  Henson was the fourth child in a family of five children.  The names of the children were Benjamin, Sally, Jane, Henson, and Mary.  Richard and Mary Gilpin obtained their marriage license Aug. 23, 1778 in Prince Georges County and were married Aug. 25, 1778 by the Rev. Henry Fendall of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Charles County, Maryland.

His grandparents were Richard Walker, Sr. and Polly Walker and they had seven children, Charles, Henry, Richard, Jr., Joseph, William, Betsy or Elizabeth, and Benjamin.

Henson worked on his father’s farm as a young man and received his schooling “near Baltimore”.  Later he went to work on a plantation for a Mr. Thomas Arnold who had a large amount of slave labor.  Mr. Arnold needed someone to help in the supervision of the slaves and their work.  In 1803 Mr. Arnold passed away and Henson was made overseer of the slaves at a very young age.  There remained in the Arnold family Mary, the mother, and two small daughters, Matilda, four years of age, and Cassandra, only two years old at the time of her father’s death.

Young Henson continued to work of the plantation with the widow and her two small daughters.  As he became better acquainted with the family, his friendship ripened into love and Henson and Mary Frasier Arnold were married in the First Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, the license being issued on 9 Sep. 1809.  Two babies came to bless their home, Perry Gilpin, born Jan. 15, 1810, and Mary Ann, born Aug. 20, 1811.  In 1812 the mother sickened and died, leaving the two babies and the two half grown stepdaughters in the care of the bereaved husband.

We are apt to think of Henson being quite alone as far as family connections are concerned but this is not true.  He was one of a family of five children in his father’s family and in his grandfather’s family there were the seven children.  These families grew and spread out but many did not travel very far.  The mode of travel was mainly by team and wagon though many did use the waterways.

According to tradition among the descendants of Henson, Sr. now living in Michigan, the family in Maryland disagreed on some property matters and as the migrating spirit was taking hold of many people and they were looking for greener pastures, Henson made some definite decisions.  He married Matilda, the older of the stepdaughters, on Feb 17, 1815, disposed of his holdings and started north with his little family.  They continued the journey until they reached New York State.  There must have been other families who traveled with them as history keeps their family names together.

They settled first near Clifton Springs in Ontario County, New York.  This place had some mineral spring that were later made into a health resort and people came from far and near to bathe in the mineral water and to enjoy its health benefits.  Henson and Matilda’s first child, John E., was born there Apr. 8/18, 1816 and George W. was born there May 15, 1817.  Whether or not the land was unsuited for farming because of the mineral condition we do not know but after about three years time they moved to Manchester, three miles west from the springs.  There they took up land and made a home. (The farm he was on was leased.)  They remained in Manchester until 1835.  By that time there were eleven children in the family.  The children were: Perry Gilpin, Mary Ann, John E. George W., Henson, Jr., Sally Ann, Richard, Emeline, Thomas A., Robert W. and Lewis—nine children of Matilda.

The country, which was quite wooded, had to be cleared before it could be planted.  The family being mostly boys, needed to work on the land as thee was little else to be done.  The older boys did lots of fishing and hunting.

It seems that the urge was to go west and in 1835 the family gathered together the things they could take and started toward the west.  Some of the other New York families moved with them.  Their oldest son, Perry, however remained on the farm to care for things, thinking later to follow, but he never did.  Perry spent his entire life there and never married.  He died Mar. 22, 1874 at the are of sixty-four.  Emeline died at the age of three years and was buried in the same area in New York State. (Perry stayed behind and worked and eventually bought his own farm.)  Henson, Sr. and his family finally settled in Oceola Township, (section 29) Livingston County, Michigan.  They built a log room 15 by 15 feet of rough logs with a dirt roof and floor, oiled paper for windows and a stick chimney.  That house served them for the first year but the next year they built a larger house of peeled logs.  This was a much better house and formed part of the building that was to become this first real home in Michigan.  This home was improved and added to for sometime but finally was replaced with a frame house in which the family lived until after the father’s death in 1853.

Cassis Ann, their last child, was born June 3, 1836/7 in Oceola

They were a happy family, thrifty and industrious.  They were spiritual minded and were always anxious to make improvements where possible.  Henson, Sr. was a progressive man.  Under his guidance in those early days, a schoolhouse and a church were built.  His education, as far as school was concerned, was limited and confined to the little schooling he received in his early Maryland home.  Throughout his life his experiences were many and varied which broadened his intellect and understanding until he was equal of any man of his time.  He was an organizer and a financier and he was a hard worker.

Henson, with the help of his good wife, Matilda, raised a fine family.  His sons as they matured took up large tracts of land, improved them and built upon them; they became influential worthy citizens in the communities where they lived.  Other families had come with the Walker family to Michigan and others joined them later and from these pioneer families, the sons and daughters took their life companions.  They were successful farmers and raised fine horses and cattle, sheep, and other livestock and were financially successful.  Today the home they built is in the hands of the third, fourth and fifth generations who are stamped with character traits that have been handed down from their noble parents.  Today the old home still stands in Oceola Township.  It is on a little hill, which overlooks the surrounding land.  At the bottom of the hill is a small spring from which in the early days the family carried the water for the house.  Only a few miles away are the homes of the children who came to Michigan with their parents a hundred twenty-five years ago.

In politics Henson, Sr. and his family were Republicans and in religion they were mostly Methodists.

Henson lived a busy useful life, honest and honorable in every detail, a worthy example for his numerous posterity.  His strenuous pioneer life with all its hardships shortened his life.  He passes away Nov. 20, 1853 at the age of sixty-six.

Matilda lived a wonderful life.  In her later years she raised several of her grandchildren who were left motherless. Matilda survived Henson by about thirty-seven years.

They were buried at the old Riddle Cemetery, which Henson helped to start.  A granite slab about two and a half feet tall with a cylindrical shaft atop marks their resting place.


A slightly different version:

Henson Walker, Sr.

from Henson Walker Family Record

italics added by Mom and Susan

Henson Walker, Sr. Was born Nov 7, 1787, probably in Prince Georges County (Parish), Maryland.  He was the son of Richard Walker, Jr. And Mary Gilpin.  Henson Sr. Was the fourth child in a family of five children.  The names of the children were: Benjamin, Sally, Jane, Henson and Mary.  Richard Jr. Was born about 1755 in either New York or Maryland and Mary Gilpin about 1758 in Maryland.  Richard and May obtained their marriage license August 23, 1778 in Prince Georges Parish (this parish consists of five counties in Maryland: Charles, Anne Arundel, Prince George, Frederick, St. Marys, and Baltimore) and were married Aug. 25, 1778 by the Rev. Henry Fendall of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Charles County, Maryland.

Henson Walker Sr. worked on his father’s farm as a young man and received his schooling “near Baltimore, Maryland.”  Later he went to work on a plantation for a Mr. Thomas Arnold who had a large amount of slave labor.  Mr. Arnold needed someone to help in the supervision of the slaves and their work.  In 1803 Mr. Arnold passed away and Henson was made overseer of the slaves at a very young age.  There remained in the Arnold family Mary, the mother, and two small daughters, Matilda four years old, and Cassandra two years old, at the time of their father’s death.

Young Henson continued to work on the plantation with the widow and her two small daughters.  As he became better acquainted with the family, his friendship ripened into love and Henson and Mary Frasier Arnold were married 9th Sep. 1809 in the Episcopal Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.  Two babies came to bless their home, Perry Gilpin born January 15, 1810 and Mary Ann born August 20, 1811.  In 1812 the mother sickened and died, leaving the two babies and the two half grown step-daughters in the care of the bereaved husband.

A Richard Walker, Sr. had settled in New York in the Finger Lakes region in the early 1820’s or late 1810’s.  He was in the Canadice, Ontario area.

Henson Walker decided to settle in the western New York, choosing Ontario Co., with his young family. ( According to Jennie V Johnson he left Maryland with a group that left Maryland because of slavery.)  Whether he went up the Susquehanna River, which was navigable from Maryland to New York or by wagon we don’t know.  He was one of the early settlers in Clifton Springs where he built upon land owned by Nathan Warfield.  He tilled this farm until Mr. Warfield arrived and them he moved to Michigan.

According to the family in Michigan, the family in Maryland disagreed on some property matters and as the migrating spirit was taking hold of many people and they were looking for greener pastures, Henson made some definite decisions.  He married Matilda, the older of the foster daughters on Feb 17, 1815 and started north with his family.

Henson and Matilda’s first child, John E., was born in Clifton Springs in April 1816.  Then came George W. born May 1817, Henson Walker, Jr. born Mar. 1820, Sally Ann (Sarah) born Dec. 182, Richard born Sep. 1824, Emaline born Jan. 1826 (died 12 Oct. 1829), Thomas A. born Jan. 1830, Robert W. born Feb. 1832 and Lewis born Apr. 1834.  As Clifton Springs was named for a mineral springs the family often went swimming for recreation.  The boys also did lots of fishing and hunting.

It seems the urge was to go west and in 1835 the family gathered together the things that they could take with them and started toward the west.  The oldest son, Perry, remained in New York.  It is not known whether they used the Erie Canal which was right there close to them or used wagons.  The Erie Canal went into Lake Erie which connected to Lake Huron which is near Detroit, just a few miles south-east of Oceola.

“In the fall of 1835 four men from Ontario Co., New York came into the township and entered land on section 28 and 29.  These were Henson Walker, Philester Jessup, Joseph Pinckney, and Ellis Luther.  They all built shanties and Henson Walker settled with his family immediately, the others locating during the winter.  In the spring of 1837 Mr. Walker’s daughter Cassa Ann was born in the township.

“When the Walker family first came to Michigan it stopped a few months at Salem, Washtenaw Co.  The elder Walker located his land in Oceola and his son, John Walker, located the place where another son, Richard Walker now lives.  John did not settle but went back to Washtenaw County of which he is still a resident. . . . . Of the nine children—seven sons and two daughters—who came to Oceola with their parents, three sons, Richard, Thomas and Robert yet live in the township.  The elder Walker died many years since.  His widow is living with one of her daughters in Ypsilanti.”  History of Livingston County Michigan,  1880

The log house they built that first winter was 15 X 15 feet of rough logs with a dirt roof and floor, oiled paper for windows and a stick chimney.  That house served them for the first year but the next year they built a larger house of peeled logs.  This was a much better house and formed part of the building that was to become their first real home.  This home was improved and added to for sometime.

They were a happy family, thrifty and industrious.  They were spiritual minded and were always anxious to make improvements where possible.  Henson Sr. Was a progressive man.  Under his guidance in those early days, a school-house and a church were built.

Henson with the help of his good wife, Matilda, raised a fine family.  His sons as they matured took up large tracts of land, improved them and built upon them; they became influential worthy citizens in the communities where they lived.

In politics Henson Sr. and his family were Republicans and in religion they were mostly Methodists.

Henson lived a busy useful life, honest and honorable in every detail, a worthy example for his posterity.  His strenuous pioneer life with all its hardships shortened his life.  He passed away Nov. 20, 1853 at the age of sixty-six.

Matilda lived a wonderful life.  in her later years she raised several of her grandchildren who were left motherless.  Matilda survived Henson by about thirty-seven years.

They were buried at the old Riddle Cemetery which Henson helped to start.  A granite slab about two and a half feet tall with a cylindrical shaft atop marks their resting place.

Perry, the son that remained in New York, kept in touch with his family as they visited back and forth with each other.  His land made him a wealthy man for that period of time.  He owned some swamp land from which he harvested hard wood trees used by nearly everyone in the area for fence posts because of the lack of knots.  Perry died in 1874 at the age of 65.  He never married and left most of he had to his family; with his full sister getting most of his wealth.

Henson’s son Robert lived at home until the death of his father and them married.  He purchased forty acres of wild land and built upon it; his farm was one of 140 acres in 1880.  He and his wife became the parents of four children.

Richard purchased land for himself when the family first moved to Oceola and remained with his father until twenty years of age, when he went to Washtenaw County and worked with his brother three years on shares.  He then returned to Livingston County and for five years was employed by Mr. Buckland.  He married Elizabeth Goeway and they had five children.  She died after they had been married fourteen years and he married Mrs. Caroling Cash who had one son.  Together they had four children.  He had an excellent farm of 220 acres.

When researching Henson remember he did not write and others wrote his name for him.  Even with his son Henson, the name was spelled as people heard it when they said the name.  Consequently, I have found the following spellings for both men: Henson, Hynson, Hensone, Hanson, Hencer, Handsen, Henderson (this one in the LDS church records for our Henson in Pleasant Grove.)   

(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)

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Author: Heather Hoyt

I'm a stay-at-home mom living in Wyoming and I like to write, take photographs, and play with my kids.

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