Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge - Henderson Gibson (Melungeon)

My choice for todays' contribution to The Family History Writing Challenge is my Great-Great Grandfather Henderson Gibson.  He is my mother's mom's grandfather.  

Henderson was born in Eastern Tennessee or Virginia.  In the mountains it didn't make a difference which state you were in, at the time the boundaries probably weren't very clear.   He was born in March of 1840 to Alexander and Mary Gibson or Gipson, I'm not sure which is the correct spelling but in later years they used Gibson. He had a twin sister, Emily, and several other siblings.  Sometime after his birth he left Tennessee.  By 1850 his family  had settled in  Breathitt County, Kentucky.  His father was a farmer.  In 1860 he had moved with his family to Morgan County Kentucky.

Henderson was a tall, (around 5'10") dark complected man , with brown hair and brown eyes.

On  August 29, 1862 he married Millie Mathews.  They left Kentucky soon after.  They first son, James was born in Ohio in September, 1863.

In January, 1865, he mustered into the 147th Indiana Regiment during the Civil War.  He went into the war late so his company went to Harper's Ferry for guard duty until he mustered out in August 1865.  He had come to Indiana to enlist but didn't stay here for long.

His second child was born in Ohio again in 1866.  It is obvious that they continued moving to and from Ohio and Indiana for a few years.  In 1870 the family was recorded in two separate U. S. Census reports.  In June of that year they were in Highland County, Ohio.  In August, they were in Henry County, Indiana, living with family members.  By 1880 they stayed and lived in Indiana.

His residence in Highland County, Ohio is recorded in the book North from the Mountains, a Folk History of the Carmel Melungeon Settlement, Highland County, Ohio.  They book is sold on

Henderson and Millie had eight children, 6 sons, and 2 daughters, one of which was my great-grandmother Cora.  Henderson spent several years living in Wabash County, Indiana.  In September 1911 he was admitted to the Veterans Home in Marion, Indiana.  He was suffering with chronic bronchitis, which they noted was probably tuberculosis.  He also had problems with an old injury to his left leg and was suffering with an irritable heart.  On his records he was listed as receiving a pension of $15.00.  He left the hospital in January 1912.

Henderson died in Richmond, on February 1, 1916, a few years after his wife Millie.  He was taken back to Wabash for his funeral and burial.  He was buried next to his wife Millie in Falls Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana.

Henderson was listed a mulatto on the censuses during his younger years.  He was later recorded as white.  He had a history as being considered a melungeon.  According to my mother the Gibsons were of Indian heritage.    Cousins of Henderson filled out applications for Eastern Cherokee.  I don't know if we will ever determine his true heritage.

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