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George Washington Henderson

Updated on March 29, 2014

George Washington Henderson was born in the spring of 1846 in the not so quiet farming community of Sevierville, Tennessee. His parents George Mcklin Henderson and Sarah Yett raised a large family of nine children who contributed to a small portion of the town's population.

The earlier members of the Henderson family were among the first settlers of Sevierville some of whom owned and operated the Henderson Springs Resort, which was the focal point of a short lived conflict that arose between two groups known as the White Caps and the Blue Bills.

The Civil War

On 1 October 1863 Henderson decided to join the fighting and sided with the Union. So he enlisted in Company H, of the 9th Cavalry Regiment for the State of Tennessee.

This regiment took part in the fighting in East Tennessee where they met up against General John Hunt Morgan who was killed at Greenville by Union Cavalrymen. On the way to Greenville, they were lead by Major General George Stoneman into western Virginia, which resulted in the capture and destruction of the Confederate salt works at Saltville.

George claimed that during his enlistment he contracted a lung disease for which he received a 26 year partial disability.

Tennessee Cavalry

Dovey Martin
Dovey Martin

Mary Ann Rogers

In the year 1865 after his enlistment was expired George Henderson married his first wife Mary Ann Rogers who bore him three children. However in the 1870's following the birth of their third child Mary left George and took the children walking nearly 200 miles to Gastonia North Carolina. There she lived with her mother Dovie Pace.

Dovie was a woman of Cherokee descent and In her youth she was often used as a translator and negotiator for trades made between her people and the White Man. It was said that her tribesmen would under bid the goods they were selling and while translating the offer, Dovie would interpret a more reasonable price.

Mary never remarried after her breakup and kept the Henderson name throughout her life. Her time was spent living with other family members and raising her children who supported her in old age.There is a Grave in Marble, North Carolina marked "Mary R Henderson" who passed away in 1920.

Elizabeth Adeline Catlett

The relationship that George Henderson had with Elizabeth is not quite clear as no record of marriage has been discovered. However it is clear that some of the four children he had with Elizabeth are younger than some of the children he had with Mary.

Elizabeth was only 25 years old when she passed away. It was at that time that all of the Henderson children born to Elizabeth were sent to live with their widowed Grandmother Sarah Yett Henderson while George worked as a farmer and lived with a Smith Family.

Nancy Susannah Runyan

In 1881 George was married to his third wife Nancy who gave him three more children. However tragedy struck the Henderson family again and George's wife passed away at the young age of twenty eight.

White Caps and Blue Bills

In the 1890's in Sevierville a group known as the White Caps formed. They were an organization of men who wished to rid the area of undesirables. They wore white hoods over their faces much like the ones worn by the KKK, however they were not necessarily racist in nature. As time went on the White Caps would meet out corporal justice towards rabble rousers, and unfaithful women. But soon their vigilante justice came out of hand and the deaths of a man William Whaley and his wife Laura who were beaten to death in front of their young daughter resulted in communal outrage.

After treating an old woman for injuries she received from the White Caps, a man by the name of Dr. James Arron Henderson decided to form a group who called themselves the Blue Bills, they wore blue hats that did not cover their faces, and fought rigorously against the White Caps until they were completely gone. In the picture above is a funeral in front of Henderson Springs Resort.

Throughout this last period in his life Dr. Henderson was a terror to the White Caps as he thwarted nearly every midnight raid that they had planned. Although Henderson's fight against the White Caps was successful he was eventually assassinated in his own home.

Dora Belle Justin

It was during this time of turmoil that George Henderson married his fourth and final wife Dora who had seven children with George. All together George Henderson fathered 16 children, His youngest child Kenneth Henderson was born in February of 1908 the same year that he passed away. Dora was left alone to raise seven children who in turn took care of her until she passed away in 1955.

Last will and testament

I G.W. Henderson of the county of Sevier in the State of Tennessee do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and annulling any and all other wills or testimentary dispositions by me at any time made.

I I direct that my debts and personal expenses be paid out of my personnel estate.

II I devise to my beloved wife Belle all my lands in the 14 civil district of Sevier County Tennessee, all lying and adjoining and in one body, though conveyed to me by several deeds, being lands whereon we now reside for and during her natural life or widowhood, and at her decease or remarriage. In case she should die or re marry leaving any children under full age the same lands shall be kept and held without division until the youngest child shall come of age (or die should death first happen) the proceed of the same to go and be used for the support, education and maintenance of the family left there
I also give her my household and kitchen furniture and the property which she would take under the exemption laws, and $300.00 for years support for herself and family. I also give her absolutely one thousand dollars par value of the capitol stock of the bank of Sevierville.

III I divise my lands in the old 12 civil district of the county of Jefferson Tennessee whereon Charlie Ellis now resides to my three children to wit, Laura, Ollie, and James.

IV. I bequeath and trust unto my son W.C. Henderson, one thousand dollars to be used managed and controlled by him for the use and benifite of my two grandchildren the children of my deceased daughter Ella Wallace until they arrive respectively at their majority; and in case either of them shall die before coming of full age, his share shall go to the survivor (or the issue of the deceased if any) And in case both shall die before either attains full age, and without issue, then said bequest shall fall back to and be divided among my children, the above named ammount is given to them in addition to what I advanced to their mother.
V. I bequeath to my son W.C. Henderson one thousand dollars in addition to what I have here to fore advanced to him.
VI. I bequeath to my daughter Victoria Davis twentyfive hundred dollars.
VII. should there remain any estate after payments of debts and expenses and after satisfaction of legacies it shall be divided equally among all of my children.
IX. Should any one or more of my children or legatees contest this my will, I desire and direct that such one loose and forefit what he or she would otherwise take under this will the share or shares so forefitted to go and be divided equally among my other children

X. I hereby nominate and appoint my son W.C. Henderson and my son in law JR Davis executors of this my will.
The undersigned testator and the attesting witnesses have signed and executed this insturment at Sevierville Tenn. On this third day of January 1907. The testator signs infront of these witnesses and the witnesses in his presence and the presence of eachother
G.W. Henderson


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