Port H. Henderson
Biography: Port H. Henderson
from Scott's files...

(Henderson: Port4, Joseph3, Robert2, David1)

Port H. Henderson

from: A History of Van Buren County Michigan
By Captain O.W. Rowland (1912)

PORT H. HENDERSON. We have the sanction of Holy Writ for the faith that special rewards follow filial affection, obedience and reverence from children for their parents, and the general tenor of human experience and history fully justifies the assurance given by the sacred writer. Although the rewards do not always come literally in the form specified by him, they come, nevertheless, in some substantial and appreciable form. And the promise of length of days is not to be limited in its meaning to days on earth, for the memory of a good man lives after him with increasing fragrance, and its influence continues in widening circles of benefaction long subsequent to the time of his demise.

Port H. Henderson, in his early struggle for advancement and self-denying devotion to his parents during its continuance, his present condition of material comfort and independence in a worldly way, and his consequence of high standing among the people who live around him, furnishes a striking illustration of the truth and force of the Divine promise. In his young manhood he met Fate in the lists and wrested small favors from her reluctant hands, and these with his efforts, and the rewards of his filial affection began at once in his increased prosperity and broadening opportunities. Now he is well established in life, and all his early fidelity to duty is approvingly remembered to his high credit wherever he is known.

Mr. Henderson is a native of Wyandot county, Ohio, born on December 3, 1858, and the second of the seven children (five sons and two daughters) of Joseph R. and Sarah A. (Long) Henderson, three of whom are living, as far as he knows. These are himself, his older sister Jennie and his younger brother Charles O.. Jennie is the wife of Burr Benton, a prosperous farmer living in Keeler township, this county. Charles O. is married, and he also lives in Keeler township and tills the soil with enterprise and progressiveness as his regular occupation, with success following his efforts.

The father was born in the state of New York on November 5, 1832 and is still living, enjoying good health and vigor and a sprightliness and vivacity unusual to men of his advanced age. He obtained his education in the common schools of his native place, and when he determined to seek his chance of advancement in this state he made the journey overland by wagon and located in Berrien county on his arrival. There he purchased forty acres of land, but misfortunes came, and his progress was not what he expected or what his industry and persistency entitled him to. When the Civil war began he enlisted for the defense of the Union and served to the close of the disastrous conflict. He was the color-bearer of his company, and in one of the terrible battles of the war he was seriously shot in one of his hands. But, notwithstanding his wound he made an excellent record in the war. never shirking duty for a day or hesitating to go forward promptly in the face of danger, even in the fiercest shock of battle or intensest frenzy of the charge. Indeed, like many others, under circumstances of unusual peril his courage seemed to rise to almost supernatural heights and make him ready for any possible requirement.

After his discharge from military service he returned to his home, and he has ever since given his energies to farming. He has been a member of the Republican party from its organization and always fervidly loyal to its principles and its candidates. In social and fraternal relations he is connected with the Grand Army of the Republic and the Order of Odd Fellows, and he and his excellent wife went together to the Methodist Episcopal church to which they both belonged, during her life, and of which he is still a member and regular attendant. Mrs. Henderson was born in Ohio, on Christmas day, 1832 and died in Van Buren county, Michigan at the age of forty-five years. She was a noble Christian woman, earnestly devoted to the welfare of her family, and also a great financier whose business capacity and good management conducted the household through all its difficulties.

Port H. Henderson was reared as a farmer's son and he has devoted all the years of his life from boyhood to farming. He obtained a small start in mental and scholastic training in the district school near the home of his parents, but in all the essentials of his intellectual development and his acquisitions of information, he is what may properly be termed a self-educated man, and his self-instruction has been along the most practical and serviceable lines with a view to making all his attainments useful to him as capital in his life work.

During his youth and the early years of his manhood he worked industriously and gave his earnings to his mother for the benefit of the family. When he determined to set up a domestic shrine of his own he did not have fifty dollars in money. But he deemed it wise to establish a home for himself and trust to his own endeavors to make it stable amid in time valuable. On September 8, 1882, he united in marriage with Miss Jessie Benton, who was then living in Berrien county, where the marriage was solemnized. Mrs. Henderson was born in that county on October 2, 1861. and died in Van Buren county on May 28, 1907. She was an exemplary Christian woman and won the regard of everybody who knew her by her upright and useful life and the excellent example she gave of elevated American womanhood. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson became the parents of three sons and two daughters. all of whom are living. Lester T., who resides on and helps to cultivate his father's farm, was educated in the district school and pursued a special course of business training in the commercial school of Professor Ferris in Big Rapids. He married Miss Della Mann. and they have one child, their little daughter Helen. Ora M.. the second child, is now the wife of William J. Barnard, a lawyer of Paw Paw. and a successful man in his profession. She completed her education at the State Normal School in Kalamazoo, from which she received a certificate of qualification as a teacher, and while she taught she was very capable and popular in the work. Vera P.. third of the children in the order of birth, married George Dennafell, a prominent young farmer of Keeler township. They have one child, their son George III. Oven E., the next in order numerically, is a commercial salesman in the state of Washington: and Ray M., the youngest member of the family, is a promising student in the high school in Hartford. his record in which is winning him a high place on the roster of students and bringing his family gratifying credit.

Port H. Henderson, the father of these children, began farming as a tenant on his father's farm, and continued his work as such eight years. By the end of that time lie had saved one thousand two hundred dollars, through the valued aid of his wife, and began to arrange for a permanent home of his own. He bought. eighty acres of land, going in debt for the purchase price to the extent of two thousand two hundred and twenty dollars. In due time he fully discharged this obligation, and immediately created another by the purchase of another tract of fifty-five acres, for which he went in debt one thousand five hundred dollars. lie paid this debt, too, and he also unproved his land. But misfortune overtook him in the destruction of two barns in succession by fire, one thousand three hundred bushels of grain and seventy-five tons of hay being also consumed in the fires, as were nearly all his farming implements in addition.

These were severe blows to Mr. Henderson. but he did not lose any time in lamenting over them. He at once went to work in each case to recoup his losses, and he has now one of the finest and largest barns in Keeler township. The structure is forty by one hundred feet in size, conveniently arranged and complete in equipment for its purposes in every particular. Mr. Henderson has also remodeled his residence and made it one of the most comfortable and attractive rural dwellings in his locality. In addition to his farm in Keeler township he has bought thirty acres of land in Hartford township, on which he has a large peach orchard. In all he owns one hundred and sixty-five acres of first rate land, nearly all of which is under cultivation, and does not owe a dollar on any of it. He also has a paid up life insurance policy for one thousand dollars. Altogether, he is one of the most prosperous farmers and stock men in Keeler township, as well as one of its most highly esteemed citizens. His beautiful home is on the line between Keeler and Hartford townships, and is known throughout all this part of the state as "The Plum Grove Stock Farm". It is four miles and a half from Hartford, and is the seat of a large and flourishing live stock industry as well as a very active and profitable general farming enterprise.

Politically Mr. Henderson has always trained with the Republican party. He cast his first vote in the Presidential election for General Grant, and he has ever since stood by the principles which governed him at the start. Fraternally he is a member of the Order of Odd Fellows, belonging to the lodge in the order at Keeler, in which he has been through all the chairs. He and his wife. during her lifetime, belonged to the order of Daughters of Rebekah. and when she died her remains were interred according to the rites of that elevated, useful and popular auxiliary of the Odd Fellows Fraternity.

Mrs. Henderson stood firmly by her husband in all his struggles and difficulties, and gave him substantial aid, as well as excellent advice. The duties of her home were her first consideration and devoted and intelligent care for her children her highest aspiration. It was her aim to make them as good and useful citizens as she could, and she put all her energies in service for the accomplishment of this purpose. That she did not labor in this behalf in vain is shown by the uprightness of their lives, the lofty ideals by which they are impelled in all they do, and time high-minded and serviceable citizenship they so steadfastly exemplify. In these respects they but follow the example and teachings of their parents, and like their parents, they have the entire confidence and the high esteem of the whole people in every part of the county of Van Buren and wherever else they are known. Mr. Henderson and his children contribute in every way open to them to the advance improvement and general welfare of their several localities, morally, mentally, materially and socially, and are everywhere regarded as high types of American manhood and womanhood.

Notes: Mini-biographies of Port's paternal grandmother Martha (Montgomery) Henderson, his maternal grandfather Hugh Long, his brother-in-law Burr Benton and of his brother Charles Orr Henderson's son Charles LeRoy Henderson are also in these Biographies pages.

28 Mar 2001