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Theodore Henderson (1838-1904)

Quilt square featuring black, tan, and maroon fabrics, representing and anvil.
Thomas Henderson, "The Anvil"

Theodore, purchased by Joseph H. Polley from his son-in-law, Connally Findlay Henderson on 5 January 1860, for $2000, was described as a 22 year-old male with mulatto color. He was a blacksmith by trade.


Connally Findlay Henderson had come from Tennessee to Texas with his younger brother, Bennett Granville Henderson. They both married girls in Guadalupe County. Bennett married Mary Ann Morrison, and Connally married Susan Rebecca Polley. In 1860 both brothers were living in LaVernia. Bennett Henderson had 4 slaves, and Connally Henderson had 4 slaves, aged 58, 22 (a mulatto), 27, and 32. The 22-year-old was Theodore. Both brothers were killed in the Civil War — Connally at the Battle of Gaines Mill, 27 June 1862, and Bennett in the Battle of Sharpsburg, 17 September 1862.


In July 1865 Joseph H. Polley made an agreement with Theodore Henderson, a freedman of Guadalupe County, to employ him as a servant until 25 December 1865.


I was unable to find out what happened to Theodore definitively after that.


There is a Theodore Henderson, born in Tennessee, living in San Antonio in 1867. He owns some kind of shop, perhaps a blacksmith shop, and lives on Centre Street. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of San Antonio at the time locates a blacksmith shop a couple of blocks from Centre Street. Theodore is described as a man of good reputation in one newspaper article.


He married at least two times, possibly three — Hopi Richardson on 31 May 1876, and Ella Swisher on 7 April 1884. His marriages were difficult. Hopi died 3 April 1882, perhaps in childbirth. In 1883, he gave the care of his one-year-old baby to his neighbor Mr. Jim Crow who also lived on Center Street. He was a hack driver in the city. His second wife attempted suicide in 1884. Later, after he remarried, he tried to legally reclaim his six-year-old child. He appears in the San Antonio tax records in 1874, 1888, 1889, 1893, and 1894. Theodore Henderson, a 65-year-old black male, died in San Antonio, on June 17, 1904.


His quilt square is “The Anvil.”


 

This biographical selection is from The Enslaved People of J. H. Polley Plantation, Whitehall, Sutherland Springs, Texas 1836-1865. The collection is the work of independent scholar, Dr. Melinda Creech. Dr. Creech compiled and presents a biographical sketch of each of the enslaved along with a unique historic Texas quilt for each individual since photos of the 28 enslaved are not available. The collection is available to view in person at the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum.

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