Amherstburg Freedom Museum

Family Histories


Henderson Family

                                            The Henderson Family History Part 1 – The Suffragette

This month’s family history which celebrates the Henderson family would not be possible without the contributions of Elise Harding Davis, Curator Emeritus of the North American Black Historical Museum, now the Amherstburg Freedom Museum. Elise shared photographs and memories which have enriched this family history. The Henderson family begins with George Henderson who was married to Catherine Owens. Elise mentioned that George was previously married before Catherine, but Elise and I are unaware of George’s first wife’s name. Catherine and George were Freedom Seekers who escaped enslavement in Virginia. According to the article “Jesse’s Story” which appeared in The Windsor Star on August 4, 1987, the Wigle family in Kingsville helped George’s son Thomas Jessie get an education at the McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton, Ontario, and gave George a 20-hectaire farm.

George and Catherine’s son Thomas Jesse will be the focus of this family history, but the 1901 Census also records Thomas’ sister Viola who is listed as 15 years old. I could not find Viola on the next Census for 1911, but it is possible that she married considering she would have been 25 years old by 1911. Because I do not know the name of her husband (if she did marry), I have not been able to find any other information for her.

According to The Evening Record (November 19, 1898), George and Catherine’s son The Reverend Thomas Jesse Henderson “of North Buxton will be here to take the pastoral charge of the First Baptist church, McDougall st., on Sunday Nov. 20th, 1898. All are invited and made welcome.” The following year, on December 1, 1899, The Evening Record printed “IN AID OF THE POOR – Successful Concert in the McDougall st. Baptist Church – One of the most successful and enjoyable concerts of the season was that given last evening in the First Baptist church, McDougall st. The concert was given under the auspices of the Helping Hand society and the proceeds will be expended in helping the poor. The programme consisted of vocal and instrumental music, recitations and readings. Two very spirited and eloquent addresses were delivered by Ald. McConnell and the pastor, Rev. T. Jesse Henderson.”

The Rev. T. Jesse Henderson married Bertha Ann Talbot, the daughter of Benjamin Talbot and Maria Washington. They married on July 11, 1900 in Windsor. The Evening Record printed a brief announcement of their marriage which says, “Rev. T. Jesse Henderson, pastor of the First Baptist church, and Miss Bertha Talbert were united in marriage at the residence of Ada Cook, Goyeau st., Wednesday night.” According to Elise, Thomas and Bertha lived in Amherstburg just after they married. They worshiped at The Queen Street Baptist Church but did not remain there long. Elise adds that Bertha was a prolific reader and had every National Geographic from the time it started until the 1966 edition. Bertha was also a piano teacher and a phenomenal seamstress who could look at an article of clothing and then go home and make it without a pattern. Bertha’s daughters Rena and granddaughter Ruth were always impeccably dressed. Elise also mentioned that Bertha was a member of the Suffragettes for Windsor and Detroit and, as a young woman, had flaming red hair.

Elise shared that Bertha and Thomas Jesse had at least ten children including Roland, Oscar, Earl, William, Edward, Jesse, and Rena. Neither Elise, nor I, could identify the remaining three children. I will begin with their first child Roland. He was born on April 15, 1901 in Gosfield South (Kingsville). Roland Henderson married Euphemia Moxley, the daughter of George Moxley and Euphemia Jackson, on June 16, 1920 in Sandwich. Their marriage record lists Roland as a Labourer and Euphemia was a Seamstress. According to Elise, Roland was a tenor and Euphemia was a trained concert pianist, and the two met at a performance. Euphemia was the accompanist while Roland was a member of the choir.

Elise also shared that Roland was the first Black person hired at Seagram’s (Crown Royal) in Amherstburg, in addition to being the first Black inside worker hired by Canada Post in Windsor (Sandwich) in 1921. Roland was an ‘inside postal worker’ at the front desk. Elise added that Roland was very ‘proper’ and taught his grandkids about the constellations and nature. He also loved listening to opera music. In an interview with Elise, she also shared details about Euphemia. She said that Euphemia was the recording secretary for the Hour-A-Day-Study Club which was formed in 1934 by fifteen Black women from Windsor-Essex and is the longest running, non-profit, Black female driven organization in Canada. Additionally, Euphemia’s family assisted in the building of the Sandwich First Baptist Church in Windsor. The Moxley/Thorntons lived on Lot St. which is now Watkins. Elise also mentioned that Euphemia played the piano for all the Black Churches in Windsor and Amherstburg. In fact, at one point, Bertha, Euphemia, Euphemia’s daughter Ruth, and Elise (Ruth’s daughter) all played the piano in the Nazrey AME Church (located on the Amherstburg Freedom Museum’s property).

Elise added that Euphemia’s mother Euphemia Jackson was Indigenous (Potawatomi) and was born in Kettle Point. I was able to find an obituary for Euphemia’s mother Euphemia Jackson Moxley in The Border Cities’ Star on January 7, 1935. It says “Mrs. Euphemia Moxley – Funeral services for Mrs. Euphemia Moxley, one of the oldest members of the Border colored community, who died Saturday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Roland Henderson, 549 Bloomfield road, Sandwich, will be at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in the First Baptist Church Sandwich. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery. Mrs. Moxley, who was 76 years of age, was a native of Sarnia but came to Sandwich 50 years ago and lived there ever since. She was one of the oldest members of the First Baptist Church, president of the Women’s Missionary Society of that church, and a member of Victoria W.C.T.U. Surviving besides her daughter, Mrs. Henderson, are 11 grandchildren. She was the widow of the late George Moxley.” Elise adds “Son Harry (Henry Moxley and wife Clara and three grandchildren Elnore, Bradly and Waunita (later Howe).”

Euphemia Moxley Henderson’s obituary appeared in The Windsor Daily Star on December 11, 1958 and says “Mrs. Roland Henderson – A resident of Windsor and district all her life, Mrs. Euphemia Henderson, 61, of 319 Assumption St., died Wednesday at Hotel Dieu after a lengthy illness. She was a member of the Hour-A-Day Study Club and attended British Methodist Episcopal Church. She is survived by her husband Roland; five sons, Robert and George of Windsor; Roland of Toronto; Warren and Wallace at home; four daughters, Mrs. Morris Harding (Ruth), of Sandwich West; Mrs. James Williams (Ruby) of Detroit, and Joyce and Gloria at home.”

Something not mentioned in Euphemia’s obituary is that she was the President of the Peter Street Baptist Church Mission Circle as was reported in The Windsor Daily Star on March 17, 1951 when they hosted their annual pew rally on Palm Sunday.

Euphemia’s husband Roland Percy Henderson’s obituary appeared in The Windsor Star on April 30, 1963 and says “HENDERSON, Roland Percy, 63, of 747 Windsor Ave., died at his home. Born in Kingsville, he lived in Windsor 43 years. He was employed as a postal clerk and was a member and trustee of Sandwich Baptist Church. Surviving are his widow, Catherine, his mother, Mrs. Bertha Henderson, Amherstburg; sons, Robert E. and Warren P. Henderson, Windsor; Roland E., Toronto; Wallace Q. and George M., both of Windsor; daughters, Mrs. Morris Harding (Ruth), of Sandwich West, Mrs. James Williams (Ruby), Detroit and Miss Gloria Jean Henderson, of New Jersey; brothers, Oscar, Mount Clemens, Mich; William, New York, and Jesse, Amherstburg; half-brothers, Isaac and Howard Henderson, New Jersey; a sister, Mrs. Luther Evans (Rena), of Detroit, and a half sisters, Mrs. Thelma White, of New Jersey; 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.” Rolands’s obituary mentions that his wife Catherine survives, meaning that he married a second time. I could not find documentation to confirm this.

Roland and Euphemia had ten children named Ruth, Robert, Edward Guyon, Warren, Roland, Wallace Q., George, Ruby, Gloria Jean, and Euphemia Joyce. I will start by sharing information about Ruth. She married Morris Harding who was the son of Rachel Madison and William Harding. According to Elise, her parents Ruth and Morris were married by Aretha Franklin’s father The Rev. C.L. Franklin in Detroit. Shortly after their marriage, Morris was shipped out to fight in WWII and served as a Private in the Royal Canadian Regiment at Camp Borden near London, Ontario. Morris was a sharpshooter.

According to Elise, “After shipping out from Pier 21, NS., Private Harding fought on the European frontier in England, France, Belgium, Germany and Holland. Harding worked in Stores while serving. During his tour of duty Harding was wounded; had a short stay in hospital then returned to the front. He took part in liberating Jewish prisoners at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. During a raid in the Black Forest Pvt. Harding confiscated a Persian rug from a castle. Many years later, a wild coincidence took place. A former German resident recognized the rug on display in the family room of Harding’s home; it belonged to his family, left behind when they fled from the Allies.”

Before serving in the military, Morris worked at Ford Motor Company. Ruth worked in Detroit as a Lens Grinder in the Penobscot Building. After the war, Morris applied to become an electrician at the St. Luke Road Barracks and within 1 ½ years he was a master electrician. Elise shared that “In March 1947 possessing only a silver dollar, a horse and buggy Harding and his wife Ruth (Henderson) opened Harding Electric. The company operated for over forty one years. In 1957, under the VA Bill, the Harding’s built a home in Sandwich West. They raised six children who learned the business. Harding trained fourteen apprentices including his daughter Shelley who became Canada’s first Black female Electrician and first Black female Master Electrician. Hundreds of the homes and businesses in Windsor and Essex/Kent Counties were upgraded to 100- and 200-amp services by Harding Electric including the homes of many brother Veterans. Morris was president of the Ontario Electrical Association in 1955 and president of the Remington Park Legion in the early 1970s. Harding worked on the electrical banks of ocean-going ship while they were docked for repairs on the Detroit River traveling the St. Lawrence Seaway. Harding Electric had a contract with the City of Windsor and provided electrical services for Windsor’s famous Emancipation Celebrations for many years. And, in 1961, he repaired lighting in the Parliament Building in Ottawa, ON.” It is also important to note that Ruth did all the books and ordered materials for Harding Electric.

Elise also shared that her “father, Morris, Uncle Warren and Ron Smith, owner of The Walker House and the Frontier Club, sponsored a group of young Black men in the 1950s. They had a basketball team which played in Windsor and Detroit (uncle George was a team member). These men created a fund to bail Black youthful offenders out of jail, purchase proper clothing for court appearances and assist them in retaining and paying a lawyer. They once paid for the Harlem Globetrotters to put on an exhibition game.”

On June 25, 1988 The Windsor Star printed a lengthy article titled “He attributes his success to their electric marriage” about Morris and Ruth which says “Electrician Morris Harding kids around so much with good-natured grumbling and growling that he’s called Archie Bunker in the family circle. But he leaves no doubt he’s proud of the fact his daughter, Shelley Smith, became the first black female electrician in Canada, 13 years ago. He is also quick to give most of the credit to his wife, Ruth, for the success of Harding Electric he operated for 37 years in home-town-boy-makes-good fashion. ‘My wife is a gentle person. The way she talked on the phone to people made it easy for me. A lot called up just to chat with Ruth,’ he said. Then the 75-year-old Second World War veteran will josh about the battle-axe he married. ‘That old biddy is hard to deal with,’ he said of his wife. ‘I never knew what a mop and pail and broom were until that old biddy got sick.’ Ruth interjected ‘I call him Hazel.’ It was a daughter, Jaynelle Harding-Thomas, who nicknamed them Edith and Archie Bunker and Flo and Andy Capp. Sitting at the kitchen table in his Mark Avenue home, smoking seven cigarettes an hour, Morris volunteers non-stop thoughts. Some samples.

‘I’ve run into the nicest people in the world. Others I can forget with ease. They’re the people who say I am the best and I can do as I want and they don’t care who they hurt.’

‘I wouldn’t want to raise a family today. It’s all a gimme and a take. I’d be going at the world backwards. The young kids can’t even speak to you. I think these kids know too much.’

‘MOTHERS USED to stay home with their children. The government wasn’t satisfied so it had women go out to work so they could be taxed. Kids are put in a day care centre. It’s no life without mother in the house.’

‘I was a good Christian boy. My life has been good to me, I always figured.’

‘You can’t live without respect. You’ve got to give it to get it.’

‘I wouldn’t want pure children. I’d have to watch them all the time.’

‘In Windsor, we have the smartest black kids in Canada, and they can’t get work. But they’re fighting. The other generations used to hang back.’

The article continues with “Name it and Morris will talk about it. Morris, son of William Harding and Rachel Madison, was born in a home at Mercer and Erie Streets, and attended Mercer Street Public School and Patterson Collegiate with his brothers, George and William, both deceased. His birthplace and both schools have been demolished. His early jobs after becoming a high school dropout were shining shoes and running errands for the Wickens Cigar Store and shoe shine parlor, in the stock department of Kresge’s, and driving a truck for Auto Specialties Ltd. He described the Auto Specialties president, Henry Cantelon, as ‘one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He treated every man in that plant like a gentleman. You could talk to him. The union ruined that plant.

In 1943, the Royal Regiment of Canada in Toronto accepted the volunteer for army service and in three months he was overseas, serving in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. When I came back after the war I took an electrical course at the St. Luke Road barracks, worked for Ace Brown and then decided to work for myself. I did industrial and residential work and did work for some of my old school teachers.”

The article ends with “Harding Electric was in operation from 1947 until 1989. His daughter Shelley and his son, Morris Jr., who died five years ago of [sickle cell] anemia at age 39, worked with him. ‘Word of mouth kept me busy. I never looked for a job. I’ve trained about 15 men in this town. He continues to help his old customers. Morris encouraged Shelley to become an electrician, she was apprentice to her father and now works in electronics at Wickes Manufacturing. ‘My mother made me go to Sunday school at the BME Church. I didn’t go to church much. And I belong to the Masonic Lodge.’ When Harding pursued Ruth, daughter of Roland Henderson and the former Euphemia Moxley, his would-be mother-in-law was opposed to him but Morris persisted and won. ‘She gave him a good benediction. She said ‘Ruth was in good hands with Morris,’ recalled Ruth. The Hardings’ five daughters, Maureen Mulder, Elise Davis, Shelley Smith, Jaynelle Harding-Thomas and Velma Harding, all reside in the Windsor area. There are 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Of his wife, he declared: ‘She and I have had a good life. I wouldn’t have had as happy a life and wouldn’t have had the business I have today without her. And Ruth declared: I’m getting my flowers before I’m gone.”

Sadly, Private Morris Harding’s passing was reported in The Windsor Star on September 11, 1989 and says “HARDING – Morris Howard, 76 years, on September 11, 1989 at Grace Hospital. Beloved husband of Ruth. Dearest father to Mrs. Maureen Mulder and her husband Wilbert, Mrs. Elise Davis and her husband Garland all of Harrow, Mrs. Shelley Smith and her husband Steven, Mrs. Jaynelle Harding and Miss Velma Harding, all of Windsor. Dear father-in-law to Mrs. Toni Harding. Predeceased by 2 sons, Morris (1983) and Robert (1950). Dear grandfather to 13 and great-grandfather to 2. Predeceased by 2 brothers and 1 sister Cathleen. Mr. Harding was the owner and operator of Harding Electric and a Veteran of WWII.”

A writeup which appeared in The Windsor Star on November 11, 2010, years after Private Harding’s passing, includes a tribute to his life. It says “Private Morris Harding was born in Windsor, Ontario. During World War II he served in England, France, Belgium, Germany and Holland. He was a brave soldier who served his country loyally. Morris was a liberator of Holocaust victims. Post-War he took training under the VA bill and became a master electrical contractor. He and his wife Ruth owned and operated Harding Electric here in Windsor for over forty years. He had many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren plus other family members and friends who will always miss his wit and wisdom.”

Just a few years after Morris’ passing (1989), on December 10, 1991, Ruth passed away as was shared in The Windsor Star. Her obituary says “HARDING – Ruth (nee Henderson), 70 years, December 12, 1991. Beloved wife of the late Morris (1989). Dear mother of Mrs. Garland Davis (Elise), Harrow, Mrs. Steve Smith (Shelley), Windsor, Jaynelle Harding, Courtice, Ont. And the late Velma (1990), Morris (1983) and Robert (1950). Dear mother-in-law of Mrs. Toni Harding, Windsor. Also survived by her stepmother Mrs. Catherine Henderson, Union, New Jersey, 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Dear sister of Robert Henderson and wife Anne, Warren and wife Judy, Wallace, George and wife Barbara, all of Windsor, Roland and wife Dolores, Brampton, Ruby Buckner and husband James, Belleville, Michigan and Gloria Jean Brantly and husband James, Newark, New Jersey. Predeceased by Guyon Edward and Joyce Travers. Dear sister-in-law of Mrs. William Harding, Owen Sound, Mrs. George Harding, Windsor, also survived by several nieces and nephews and many dear friends.”

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 2.

                             The Henderson Family History Part 2 – An Act of Service and Sacrifice

Ruth and Morris’ children include Morris Kenneth, Elise Lenore, Robert, Shelley Lynn, Jaynelle, Velma, and Maureen who was the oldest daughter from Morris’ first marriage. I will share details about each child in this history, but more information will be shared about each of Morris and Ruth’s children in the next family history series installment which will feature the Harding family. I’ll begin with Morris Kenneth. He worked as an electrician with his father and was married to Marie Antoinette (Toni) Shaheen. His children include Lisa Marie, Morris, Christian, and Keith Allen.

Morris Kenneth’s sister Elise, who has generously shared memories and photographs to enrich this family history, is Curator Emeritus of the North American Black Historical Museum (now The Amherstburg Freedom Museum) in addition to being an author, educator, historian, and African Canadian Heritage Consultant. She married Garland Davis and is mother to Sybil, Daphne, and Angelique. Elise was also recently named to the Order of Ontario.

Sadly, the next child of Ruth and Morris, named Robert, was stillborn in 1950 and is buried at Windsor Grove Cemetery. Robert’s sister Shelley married Herman Steve Smith and worked as Canada’s first African Canadian Female Master Electrician.  She was among fourteen apprentices trained by her father Morris. She is also the mother of Richard, Stephanie, and Olivia.

Shelley’s sister Jaynelle was Vice Principal at a public school near Oshawa and married Melvin Thomas. Elise also recalled Jaynelle’s marriage to a man named Greg but could not confirm his last name. She thinks it is Williams. Elise also mentioned that Jaynelle was brilliant and on the dean’s list. Jaynelle’s obituary mentions her partner Gaitan. Jaynelle also has two daughters Euphemia and Tia Thomas.

Jaynelle’s sister Velma worked as a cosmetologist and also as a carpenter. She sadly passed at the young age of 29 years old. Velma’s sister Maureen is the oldest child of Morris from his first marriage. Elise shared that Maureen was a Supervisor at a Plastic Plant in Windsor. She married Wilbert Mulder and their children include Alrita, Wendy, and Wilbert Jr.

Now that I have discussed Roland and Euphemia (Moxley) Henderson’s daughter Ruth, I will continue with their remaining children including Robert, Edward Guyon, Warren, Roland, Wallace Q., George, Ruby, Gloria Jean, and Euphemia Joyce. Robert married Anne Lucille Levi. An article from The Windsor Star titled “Our Brave Heroes” which was printed on November 11, 2010 states Robert was a “member of the 7th 11th Hussars, battled tyranny in Italy in the Second World War. Bob was a supervisor at Windsor’s Canada Post until his retirement.” Robert’s wife Anne, according to Elise, worked for Sears in the cosmetic department, but first worked at the Norton Palmer Hotel in Windsor, cleaning rooms. Find a Grave includes an obituary for Robert which states that he “Passed away on January 24, 2014 peacefully at W.RH. Met Campus at the age of 91 years. Survived by his wife of 62 years Anne. Step-father of Wilma Davis, Grandfather of Mark (Julie), Tim, Lisa and Jon (Chandelle). Great grandfather of six, great great grandfather of five. Also survived by his sisters Ruby and Jeane, brothers George (Barbara), Roland (late Dottie), Warren (Judy). Several nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews also survive. Robert was retired from Canada Post and a Veteran of W. W. II. Cremation services were held. Arrangements entrusted to Families First 3260 Dougall Ave. South Windsor.”

I was also able to locate Robert’s wife Anne Lucille Levi Henderson’s obituary. It says “Passed peacefully at the age of 101 years at Schlegel Villages of St. Clair. Reunited with her loving parents Vida Wright (1921) and John W. Levi (1958), and husband Robert E. Henderson (2014). Loving mother of Wilma Davis. Affectionately known as Gram to grandchildren Mark (Julie), Tim (2017), Lisa, Jon (Chandelle). Great-Grandmother of Tameka, Shane (Stephanie), Nicole, Kendra, Brianna-Lee, Chaylee, Cayman. Great-Great-Grandmother of Illyana, Julius, Jayden (2008), Carter, Brooklyn, Brayden, and Bray-Lynn. Anne was a long-time employee of the Norton Palmer Hotel, and Sears Canada until her retirement where she made many friends. Anne was also a faithful member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness for most of her life in which she took great comfort. Gram, we love you and you will truly be missed by all of us. A special thanks to the caring staff of Schlegel Villages of St. Clair, Oldcastle neighbourhood.”      

Robert’s brother Edward Guyon is the next child of Euphemia Moxley and Roland Henderson. According to Elise, Edward Guyon was a mathematical genius and liked listening to classical music. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII and tragically died during a training exercise after his aircraft collided with Tiger Moth 5944. In 1942, following his tragic death, an article titled “Refused Café Service – Airman Dies in R.C.A.F.” was printed in The Windsor Star on November 22, 1942. It says “L.A.C. Edward Henderson, Colored Youth, Killed While Serving in Country’s Uniform (By Weston Gual) – LAC Edward Guyon Henderson, 19, R.C.A.F., who months ago was turned away from a downtown Windsor restaurant because it wasn’t the policy of the place to serve colored people, died in an aircraft accident yesterday at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, his parents were informed by wire today. Mr. and Mrs. Roland P. Henderson of 319 Assumption street took the news of their son’s death in a quiet way but none but the father, a Windsor postal clerk, his pleasant wife, and the eight of their other children who are at home, could feel in full the tragedy which robbed them, of their symphonic music-loving ‘Eddie,’ a former welder at Gotfredson’s Limited.” Elise adds that Euphemia was a Silver Cross mother which is a medal awarded to mothers who have lost children in the service of their country.

The article continues with “BROTHER IN ARMY – Another son of the family of four girls and six boys is a trooper with the Canadian Armored Corps overseas, Trooper Robert Henderson, 21, who went overseas in April this year. LAC Henderson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at Windsor in March this year and was sent to the Manning Depot at Toronto to undergo basic training leading to a navigator’s course in the service. He hoped to get his first furlough this Christmas, but had written often to his mother and dad.”

“PATTERSON STUDENT – A student at Patterson Collegiate he held his senior matriculation and his love of symphonic music is attested to by the many records lying on the top of the family’s piano in his crowded little home. No particulars were forthcoming as to how the colored lad who months ago when in civilian clothes was refused permission to eat in a local downtown restaurant met his death, and it was only last week that his mother received a letter informing them of his transfer to Prince Albert. His cheery last letter ended thusly, ‘Please send me those pictures of Gloria (his 10-month-old sister) and the biggest chocolate cake you can lay your hands on. (Don’t send me any little two-bit something either, mom!). Besides his parents and Gloria he is survived by three other sisters, Ruth, 22; Joyce, 13; and Ruby, 19; and four other brothers, Warren, 17; Roland, 15; Wallace, 11, and George, 6.”

“PROUD OF HIM – ‘He wanted to join the R.C.A.F.,’ said his father today, ‘and I was proud that he did.’ He joined voluntarily. ‘I don’t see why colored folks so long as they are respectable can’t eat in a white man’s restaurant,’ said his mother. ‘Eddie was always a good boy.’ Funeral arrangements are pending further details from Saskatchewan. Two other airmen, a pilot-instructor and another student pilot, were killed in the same accident that took the life of the Windsor flier, it was announced today at Winnipeg.”

Edward Guyon’s brother Warren, according to Elise, worked at the Norton Palmer Hotel, but also at the Red Door which was part of the Howard Johnson hotel chain on Ouellette Avenue in Windsor. Elise also shared that Warren was a very quiet person and was called the ‘elusive uncle Warren.’ He also lived in Windsor, was married to Judy Wilson and had two children named Janice and John, but was also stepfather to David. He was born in 1926 and passed away in 2021.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 3.

                           The Henderson Family History Part 3- Appointed to Queen’s Counsel

The next child of Roland and Euphemia Henderson is Roland. He was born on February 25, 1928. On August 8, 1950, The Windsor Daily Star printed a detailed writeup for his wedding to Delores Browning, daughter of Joseph and Gladys Browning. The article reported “On Wedding Trip East by Motor – Henderson-Browning Nuptials Followed by Motor Trip East – Tall candelabra holding burning tapers and palms and gladioli formed the background in the British Methodist Church Sunday afternoon for the 4 o’clock ceremony which united in marriage Miss Delores Browning, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Browning of Assumption street, and Mr. Roland Henderson, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Henderson of Assumption street. The Rev. Iliad H. Edwards officiated at the ceremony, and Mr. Oscar Simmons of Detroit sang ‘Because’ before the ceremony, Miss Janette Woodcock of Detroit sang ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and Mr. Melvin Simpson sang ‘I Love Thee’ at the signing of the register. Mrs. Wahnita Moxley Howe played the organ, and Mrs. Louis Rock, the piano. The bride, given in marriage by her oldest brother, Mr. Ernest Browning, was beautifully gowned in white satin, the bodice fitted, with long sleeves, and a draped neckline embroidered in seed pearls, and the full hooped skirt edged in rose pointe lace. Her veil of net and lace was held in a crown, and she carried roses, gladioli, stephanotis and orchids.

TEN ATTENDANTS – Mrs. Velma Vincent, as her sister’s matron of honor, wore pink organdie over dusty rose taffeta, with bands of pink lace through it, and her bonnet matched, and she carried a shower of gladioli. Miss Lorraine Browning, another sister, as maid of honor, wore blue organdie over blue taffeta, with a matching bonnet, and carried gladioli, and the bridesmaids were in white organdie over pastel shades, Miss Freida Parker and Miss Betty Lou Small of Detroit, in white over pink; Miss Betty Ann DeShields and Miss Jean McCurdy of Amherstburg, in white over green; Miss Barbara Wilson and Miss Harriett Chatters, in white over yellow; and Miss Margaret Whited and Miss Dorothy Richards, in white over lavender. They all wore flowers in their hair to match their bouquets. Little Elise Harding, the bridegroom’s niece, wore white, organdie over blue taffeta, with a matching bonnet, and Mitchell Elliotte carried the ring on a lace-edged satin pillow. Mr. Warren Henderson was his brother’s best man, and Mr. Roland McLaughlin, Mr. Tom Shadd of North Buxton, Mr. Louis Milben [later Dr. -1st physician for NASA], Mr. Wilbur Dungy, Mr. Waynord Shreve, Mr. Alger Coates [later Pastor A.M.E. Church], Mr. Howard Watkins and Mr. Robert East were the ushers.

RECEPTION FOLLOWS – A reception followed in the school room of the church. Mrs. Browning wore for her daughter’s wedding a dark gray crepe and lace dress, with navy accessories, and a corsage of Talisman roses, and Mrs. Henderson was in dark green, and also wore roses. Assisting at the reception were Miss Illa Harrison, Miss Vivian Nall, Miss Lorraine Phillips, Miss Jackie Milben, Miss Delores Milburn, Miss Glendora Watkins, Miss Barbara DeShields, Miss Cecile Wright, the Rev. W. Harrison, who was toast master, Mr. Nelson Harrison, Mr. Archie Ball, Mr. Herman Jacobs, Mr. Layton Thompson, Mr. Charles Golsby, Mr. Oscar Simmons, Mr. Fred Kirby and Mr. Carl Langhorne. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson left later for a motor trip east, going as far as Buffalo by boat, and planning to go on to New York and Washington. On their return, they will reside on Curry avenue.”

The Windsor Daily Star also shared one of Roland’s accomplishments on October 9, 1957. The article reads “CALLED TO BAR – Roland Thomas Henderson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Henderson, 1255 Assumption St., has been called to the bar at Osgoode Hall. Mr. Henderson is a graduate of Patterson Collegiate and Assumption University. He is married with one child. At present he is practicing in Toronto.”

On October 29, 2020, The Toronto Star printed Roland’s obituary which says “HENDERSON, Roland Errol Thomas In Loving Memory of a True Gentleman and Scholar February 25, 1928 – October, 24, 2020. Born in Sandwich, Ontario to Roland Percy Henderson and Euphemia Moxley Henderson, Roland was the middle child in a family of 10. After an active and rewarding life, he died peacefully on October 24, 2020 at age 92. Predeceased by wife Dolores Browning Henderson, survived by children Holly Henderson (Colin Sahadath), Heather Henderson (Dario Gritti), grandchildren Chelsey and Clayton Sahadath, siblings Warren Henderson and Gloria Jean Brantley, and many nieces, nephews and friends. Roland married his childhood sweetheart in Windsor, Ontario in 1950 and moved to Toronto. In 1957 Roland was the 2nd Black Canadian to graduate with an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School [along with Lincoln Alexander], practiced law for over 45 years and became a QC. He became a Deacon of the BME Church in Toronto. He was a founding member and President of the Toronto Black Business and Professional Men’s Association. One of the most articulate people you’ll ever meet, he encouraged all to achieve their very best through example. The ultimate gentleman, with a kind and polite manner, he was also absolutely the best husband (over 60 years), dad/granddad who loved his family intensely. His many friends, acquaintances and his family will miss him, among them George Clarke fiancé of Chelsey and Clay’s dear friend Samantha Stanway. A brief, Covid-19 style private gravesite viewing and ceremony will take place at Westminster Cemetery in North York on Thursday, October 29th.”

Elise adds that Roland spoke Spanish and did really well as a lawyer. Delores, according to Elise, was the first Black woman hired as a secretary for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Delores also worked as a secretary at Sterling Automotive Productions in Windsor and the Unemployment Insurance Commission.

Next came Euphemia ‘Joyce’. According to Elise, Joyce worked at Bartlet McDonald and Gow Department Store on Ouellette Avenue as the elevator operated. She married twice. The first was to Lavell and then to Walderman Travers. Euphemia Joyce’s obituary appeared in The Windsor Star on March 6, 1963 and said “TRAVERS, Mrs. Walderman Euphemia, 32, of 1328 Goyeau St., Windsor, died Saturday at Hotel Dieu Hospital after a brief illness. Mrs. Travers was born in Windsor and lived here all her life. She was a member of Sandwich Baptist Church. Surviving are her husband, Walderman, parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roland P. Henderson, two sons, Lawrence and Steven, five brothers, Roland Henderson of Toronto, and Robert, Warren, Wallace and George Henderson, all of Windsor. Also surviving are three sisters; Mrs. Morris (Ruth) Harding of Windsor, Mrs. James (Ruby) Williams of Detroit, and Gloria Jean Henderson of New Jersey.”

I was only able to find a few pieces of information about Joyce’s brother Wallace. His obituary from The Windsor Star from June 23, 1997 states “HENDERSON, Wallace Quentin (Mike) – 64 years, on June 20, 1997 at the Windsor Regional Hospital Met Campus. Predeceased by father Roland (1963) and mother Euphemia (1958), sisters Ruth (1991), and Joyce (1963) and brother Edward (1943). He is survived by his sisters Ruby and her husband James Buckner, Belleville, Mich., Gloria Jean and her husband James Brantley, Newark, N.J., brothers Robert and his wife Anne, Warren, George and his wife Barbara, all of Windsor and Roland and his wife Dolores of Toronto. Also survived by many nieces and nephews, great and great great [sic]. Mr. Henderson worked at Steve Paris, Charles Shoe Clinic and the Norton Palmer Hotel during the course of his life. He was a member of the First Baptist Church and sang in the Men’s Choir for many years.” Elise also states that Wallace worked for a shoeshine company, but could not recall which one.

Wallace’s sister Ruby is the next child of Roland and Euphemia Henderson. According to Elise, Ruby was an executive secretary at J.L. Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to James Williams and second to James Buckner. Ruby married James Williams, son of David Williams and Rochell Mobley, on August 31, 1956 in Lucas, Ohio. They had two children, daughter Janice and son Craig.

As mentioned, Ruby married a second time to James Buckner. Elise shared that Ruby and James ran Hitsville at Motown in Detroit. When they retired, Ruby and James moved to Belleville, Michigan where they owned a horse farm.

Ruby’s brother George was married to Barbara Jean Freeman, the daughter of Odessa Robbins Freeman and Lloyd Freeman. He worked as a draftsman in Windsor and worked as a City Planner for the City of Windsor. Elise also shared that George was an ambassador for the Casino and did extremely well in business. George passed away on November 29, 2014 and his obituary says “HENDERSON, George M. – Passed away peacefully into the loving arms of his Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, on November 29, 2014 at the age of 77. Beloved and cherished husband of 57 years to Barbara Jean. Devoted and loving father of George Guyan “Guy” and Valerie Lynn Henderson Davis and her husband Richard. Treasured Poppa “Pop” of C’Aira Rae Nicole and Richard Alan Davis. Predeceased by parents Roland (1963) and Euphemia (1958) Henderson. Predeceased by siblings Edward Henderson (1943), Joyce Traverse (1963), Wallace “Mike” Henderson (1996), Ruth Harding (1991) and Robert Henderson (2014). Survived by siblings Warren Henderson (Judy), Roland Henderson (the late Dorothy), Ruby Buckner (the late James), Jeannie Brantley (James). George leaves to mourn a host of nieces and nephews. George was a retiree of City Hall. Special thanks to the wonderful nursing staff at Huron Lodge-Poplar Unit for their care and compassion during George’s short stay.”

George’s wife Barbara Jean passed away several years later on November 22, 2023. Her obituary says “Passed away peacefully into the loving arms of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on November 22, 2023 at the age of 86. Beloved and cherished wife of George M. Henderson until his death on November 29, 2014. Devoted and loving mother of George Guyan “Guy” and Valerie Lynn Henderson Davis (Richard). Precious and loving nana of C’Aira Rae Nicole Richards (Jared) and Richard Alan Davis as well as her great-granddaughter Alaia. Nana to her canine companions Lilly and Cana. Predeceased by her parents Odessa Robbins Freeman and Lloyd Freeman, and stepmother Grace “Mama Grace” Freeman. Survived by siblings Gary Lee Freeman (Tracey), Douglas Freeman, and Francine Freeman. Godmother to Keith Harding, and Daphne Davis. Dearest cousin of Judy Mulder, and close friends Joan and Cecil Smith “Smitty”, Judy Gilbert, Nancy Gibbons and lifelong friend Toni Harding. Barbara leaves to mourn a host of cousins, nieces and nephews. She was a retired medical secretary of ENT Doctors – the late Dr. Oleksiuk, Dr. Sherun, Dr. Lan and Dr. Berecz as well as at Metropolitan Hospital, and Dr. Hershey. Barbara was a member of Parkwood Gospel Temple for many years. Special thanks to the wonderful nursing staff at AgeCare Royal Oak (Formerly Chartwell)-Mulberry Unit for their care and compassion during Barbara’s three and a half year stay.”

The last child of Roland and Euphemia (Moxley) Henderson is Ruby’s sister Gloria Jean. She married James Brantley and had four daughters. According to Elise, James operated a janitorial business, and he and Gloria Jean were landlords of a few apartment buildings in Newark, New Jersey. Gloria Jean and James had four daughters.

So far, I have discussed Thomas Jesse and Bertha Ann (Talbot) Henderson’s son Roland. I will now move on to share information about their remaining children Oscar, Earl, William, Edward, Jesse, and Rena. Oscar lived in Monroe, Michigan and had no children. Elise described Oscar as a ‘free spirit.’

Oscar’s brother Earl passed away at the young age of 11 years old on August 16, 1918. According to his obituary, which appeared in The Amherstburg Echo on August 16, 1918, “Earl, the eleven old son [sic] of Rev. Thomas Henderson, passed away on Wednesday evening, following a lingering illness with dropsy. Mr. Henderson is a former pastor of the First Baptist church. He returned to Amherstburg from Kingsville, in April.”

The only information that I could find for Earl’s brother William is that he married Charlotte Miller, the daughter of William Miller and Plummer Howell, on July 8, 1926 in Manhattan, New York. William’s brother Edward was born on September 2, 1910 in Amherstburg and sadly passed away the following month on October 23, 1910, also in Amherstburg.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 4.

                                      The Henderson Family History Part 4 – Miliary Hero

I will now continue by discussing Jesse Henderson, the next child of Thomas Jesse and Bertha Henderson. Jesse was born on April 17, 1909 in Amherstburg. On July 21, 1951, it was reported “Henderson – Davis married at the B.M.E. Church in Windsor by Rev. I.H. Edwards, Jesse Henderson, son of Rev. J.A. and Bertha Anne (Talbot) Henderson, of Amherstburg, to Enith Davis, daughter of William and Isabella C. (Tucker) Davis, of Somerset, Bermuda.”

Elise shared that Jesse was a reporter for the Michigan Chronicle and later worked at Ford Motor Company. Jesse also bravely served during WWII, after enlisting on August 28, 1942. He served in locations such as Belgium, France, Sicily, and Germany. While serving, he saved the life of Lieutenant Mike Young after he was buried by an artillery shell. Jesse was discharged on November 15, 1945, and was awarded several medals including the 1939-1945 Star, The Italy Star, The France & Germany Star, and The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. These medals are on display in the Amherstburg Freedom Museum’s permanent gallery.

An article from The Amherstburg Echo titled “Writes From Italy” includes letters from Jesse to his mother. The article says “Mrs. Bertha Henderson, George Street, has had several short letters from her son Gunner Jesse Henderson who is attached to the Royal Canadian Artillery in Italy. In one letter Gunner Henderson told his mother that he was the only colored boy in the company and that the officers were very nice to him. A more recent letter mailed September 16 and received October 15 says: ‘I was glad to hear from you. Tell all the folks and Mrs. McGregor hello. It is nice to hear that everything is alright. I was glad to know that a few folks back home asked about me. I am now somewhere in Italy and the weather has been fine. Am well and doing fine.’ Some time before she received the letters mentioned above Mrs. Henderson got a very small (3”x4”) form card from her son date July 21 with such terse sentences as, ‘I am quite well,’ ‘I have been admitted to hospital,’ ‘Received your letter, telegram, and parcel dated – etc.’ The sender marked out the sentence not required and signed his name only. Gunner Henderson is a graduate of the General Amherst High School and before enlistment was employed at the Auto Specialties Mfg. Co., Windsor.” On October 4, 1945, The Amherstburg Echo reported Gunner Jesse A.L. Henderson among the Servicemen who arrived home.

Decades later, The Windsor Star printed an extensive writeup about Jesse titled ‘Jesse’s Story.’ This article from August 4, 1987 says “White-haired Jesse Henderson, at 78 still strong and with perfect eyesight, attributes a long, full life to his belief in God. ‘I figured I would place myself in God’s hands,’ Jesse says, as he recalls moments of his youth with an anti-aircraft unit of the Royal Canadian Artillery. The time was the Second World War. ‘I was in Belgium, France, Sicily, Germany – all over northwest Europe – and was very lucky.’ He got through without a scratch. ‘I got Lt. Mike Young out from under a pile of dirt when he was buried by a shell. He was white as a ghost by he made it.’ Jess, or Uncle Jess, as he is known by just about everyone in town, is proud of his heritage. His grandparents, Catherine and George Henderson, were runaway slaves from Virginia. ‘The Wigle family in Kingsville helped him (grandfather Henderson) get an education,’ Jesse says. They also gave his grandfather a 20-hectare farm. Jesse was still a youngster when his grandmother died, so, he has few memories about her. ‘I only want to tell what’s true,’ he says, adding that some of what he recalls are ‘only tales. But I do know that her word was bond. When she said something, she was as good as her word.’ Jesse’s father, Thomas Jesse Henderson, was a circuit preacher who packed in a crowd whenever he sermonized at the 150-year-old First Baptist Church, 232 George St., where Jesse himself has been a deacon for 50 years. In those days, you had to get there early to find a seat. Today only about 25 families are church members. His preacher-father travelled and delivered sermons through Dresden, Chatham and even Michigan. While Jesse was still a youngster, his father took the family – one sister and six brothers – to Washington, D.C. Mother and children ended up back in Amherstburg and Thomas Jesse died in 1949 away from the family. Today, only Jesse and sister Rena Evans survive, but Jesse’s late brother, Roland had 10 children. Jesse married Enith Davis 36 years ago [Elise was the flower girl] and they live on George Street, in the house where Jesse was born in 1909. One of Jesse’s first jobs was as a correspondent for the Detroit Independent, a newspaper then widely read by blacks. He wrote stories from Windsor, Amherstburg and Sandwich, and delivered papers to 250 local customers. ‘I gave that job up in the ‘30s.’ Until his retirement, Jesse worked as an oilman at Ford Motor Co. He has watched the town grown and change. But Jesse says there still remains ‘our togetherness. I have friends from way back when I was a kid. ‘Sure, we had our fights, me and some of the Catholic boys in town. Today, we see each other and we laugh at how we were.’”

Jesse Henderson was not only known for his military service as he was also a deacon at the Amherstburg First Baptist Church. On March 5, 1986, The Amherstburg Echo reported that he was honoured for his service to the church. The article titled ‘Deacons honored for century of service’ says “Two deacons of the First Baptist Church on George Street in Amherstburg were honoured recently for a combined century of service to the local place of worship. Jesse Henderson and William Brown have been serving as deacons with the church for 48 years apiece, and were presented with plaques in recognition of their dedication to their fellow parishioners.

Jesse passed away on August 27, 1992 and his obituary from The Windsor Star says “HENDERSON – Jesse Arlington Louis, 82 years, August 27th, 1992 at Richmond Terrace Nursing Home, late of Amherstburg after a lengthy illness. Mr. Henderson was the beloved husband of Enith A. (Davis); Dear brother of Rena. Dear brother-in-law of Luther Evans of Detroit; Katherine Henderson of New Jersey; Iona Richardson; Hilda & Iris Davis of Bermuda. Dear friend of Dr. Olivia Tucker, Bermuda; Rosalind Trotman and Densmore Davis of Bermuda. Also survived by many nieces and nephews and many many friends. Mr. Henderson was a Deacon at the First Baptist Church Amherstburg for 56 years, he enlisted in the Canadian Army August 28, 1939 and served until November 1945, served in the United Kingdom and Central Mediterranean Theatres as a gunner. He was the recipient of 5 medals of honor, very active in the Black Museum and Golden Age Club in Amherstburg … Mr. Henderson will lie in state at the church from 11 a.m. till time of service at 1p.m.”

Jesse’s wife Enith was the daughter of William Alexander and Isabella Churchill (Tucker) Davis of Bermuda.  According to Elise, Enith was a beloved figure in Amherstburg. She worked for Mr. Marsh from The Amherstburg Echo and was regularly spotted on her walks throughout Amherstburg. Elise also shared that Enith assisted in putting together the very first exhibit in the North American Black Historical Museum (now the Amherstburg Freedom Museum) the night before it opened. Enith also won the Ontario volunteer award for 25 years of service to her community. She was also the President of the Golden Age Club and a member of the Amherstburg Travel Club. Interestingly, Enith liked to travel home to Bermuda and would bring treats to and from each location. On October 4, 1972, The Amherstburg Echo wrote “As a treat from the Sun-parlor of Canada, when Mrs. Jesse Henderson flew to her parental home in Bermuda a few weeks ago she took along an 11 quart basket of peaches and tomatoes. Mrs. Henderson said laughingly that she had offers of purchase on the plane, and also when she arrived ‘at home.’ We here take such delicious fruits and vegetables as a matter of course, but elsewhere they are almost gourmet items.” A few years later on December 3, 1975 The Amherstburg Echo reported a different trip where “Bermuda brought home by Mrs. Jesse Henderson has been a treat. This honey has an unusual but delectable taste. Delicious on hot tea biscuits or toast.”

Enith passed away on March 15, 2005 which was reported in The Windsor Star. Her obituary says “HENDERSON, Enith (nee Davis) May 24, 1910 – March 15, 2005 Passed gently into Gods arms at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital at the age of 94. Beloved wife of the late Jesse Arlington Henderson (1992). Cherished daughter of the late William Alexander and Isabella Churchill (Tucker) Davis of ‘Daviston Heights’ Bermuda. She is survived by her sister Iris Davis of Bermuda, and predeceased by four siblings.”

The last member of the Henderson family to be discussed in Rena, the last child of Thomas Jesse Henderson and Bertha Ann Talbot. Rena also worked as a nurse after training in Michigan. It’s important to note that Black women could not train to be nurses in Canada until 1948. Her first marriage was to Albert Barrett and their marriage announcement from July 1, 1938 in The Amherstburg Echo said “Barrett – Henderson Wedding – A pretty summer wedding was solemnized at the home of Mrs. T.J. Henderson, George Street, Amherstburg, Saturday evening at 8 o’clock when her only daughter Rena Marie was united in marriage to Albert Barrett, son of Alvin Barrett of Detroit. Rev. I.H. Edwards, of the First Baptist Church, Amherstburg, performed the ceremony. The bride was prettily attired in a wedding dress of white lace over satin fashioned on long lines. Her veil was of tulle and was caught to the head with a wreath of orange blossoms. Her bouquet was of blue delphinium and white carnations. Mrs. Idella Small of Sandwich was matron of honor and wore blue organdie; Miss Gloria Alexander of North Buxton, maid of honor, wore blue crepe de chene; and Miss Ruth Henderson of Windsor, bridesmaid, wore pink volle. During the ceremony Mrs. William Burnie of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church choir, Windsor, and her daughter Annie rendered a vocal duet, and Miss Janetta Woodcock of Windsor sang a solo. Mrs. Florence Monteer of Sandwich played the Wedding March and accompanied the vocalists. Following the ceremony a buffet lunch was served and later in the evening the couple left for Detroit where they took the boat to Cleveland. On their return they will reside in Detroit.” Elise adds that they had one son who died in infancy.

Rena was married to her second husband Luther Evans, the son of David Evans and Lurenda Tramble, on October 11, 1947 in Ohio. Luther Evans was a Tuskegee Airman. Luther was a mechanic and he and Rena were stationed in Arizona.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.4.