FNU Henderson - Hannah MNU Family Group

Parents   Parents
Unknown Henderson Brick Wall Hannah Unknown
b. b. About 1752, assumed Tyrone County, Ireland
d. Probably Tyrone County. Ireland d. 17 Nov, 1824, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Relationship Events
Marriage About 1775 Hannah ? to ? Henderson
Marriage 4 Dec 1799 Hannah ? Henderson to John Cathers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Joseph Henderson b. May 1777 in Tyrone County, Ireland; m. 12 Jun 1798 Anna (Nancy) Hill (b. 25 Jan 1778 in Philadelphia, d. 28 Feb 1850 in Molongalia County, West Virginia), twelve children: Joseph, Margaret, Martha, George, Mary Ann, John Guy, Hannah, Samuel, Ann, Elizabeth Stewart, Guy, and James Monroe Henderson; d. 17 Jul 1855 in Monongalia County, West Virginia.
  Hannah Henderson b.  abt. 1778 probably in Tyrone County, Ireland; m. 12 Oct 1796 Sherman Ruggles of Massachusetts (d. 5 Apr 1816 in Philadelphia); four children: Alice, Hannah, Samuel G., and John D. Ruggles; d. May 1836 in Philadelphia.
  Guy Henderson b. Mar 1782 probably in Tyrone County, Ireland; m. 5 Jun 1811 Ann Barrett (b. 25 Jan 1792 d, 17 Jul 1855 in Philadelphia), three children: Henry H., George Reed, and Charles Guy Henderson; d. 22 Aug 1863 in Philadelphia.
  Elizabeth Henderson b. abt. 1786 probably in Tyrone County, Ireland; m. Moses Stewart (b. abt. 1779 in Ireland, d. 9 Jun 1823 in Philadelphia); four or five children; d. 4 Aug 1868 in Philadelphia.

What We Know About This Family

An Overview of Their Lives

The history of this family begins with the mystery of the patriarch of the family. So far, we cannot find information about him - his first name, approximate date of birth, or whether he died before his family emigrated from Ireland. If he arrived in America, he would have died before his wife remarried in 1799. We also do not know the maiden name of Hannah. The mention of many members of an Allen family in her will is a hint, but so far has not led to any definitive information. Hannah and the four children who were still living at the time of her death arrived in America at some time between 1786 when Elizabeth was born in Ireland and 1796 when the daughter Hannah was married. The first record of the family in America is the marriage of daughter Hannah Henderson to Sherman Ruggles in 1796 followed by the marriage of her brother, Joseph, to Nancy Hill in 1798, and then the marriage of her mother in 1799 to John Cahers, also of Ireland. (Of note is that three of the four children married persons of American birth, so immersion for them was quick). In ignorance, I had always assumed that Irish immigration to America was predominantly persons of the Catholic religion escaping the disaster of the so-called "potato famine." Our Hendersons didn't fit this picture (which turns out to be misinformed). Although from Northern Ireland (predominantly Catholic), they were Presbyterian; the potato famine didn't start until 1845; and it appears they had sufficient money to buy property that the first Hannah and her son Joseph used to collect rental income.

The history of immigration to the U.S. in the 18th century is excerpted from the Irish Genealogy Toolkit site:

The first significant wave of immigration from Ireland came in the 1720s. This period saw the arrival of the Scots-Irish, a term used in North America (but not elsewhere) to denote those who came from Ireland but had Scottish Presbyterian roots. Philadelphia was the most popular destination port for Scots-Irish immigrants to America The number of Irish immigrants rose and fell during these years (1720 - 1790). It was high in the late 1720s and low in the 1730s, before rising in the 1740s and continuing to grow until the 1760s when some 20,000 departed from Ulster ports alone. After Independence, the history of the Irish in the USA stepped up a pace with an estimated one million Irish immigrants arriving between 1783 and 1844. The majority, at least until the 1820s, were artisans or professionals so they quickly assimilated and prospered. From 1770 to 1774 the human traffic peaked with the arrival of some 30,000 mostly Scots-Irish immigrants in America. By 1790, America had a white population of 3,100,000. Nearly half a million (447,000) are estimated to have been either Irish-born or of Irish ancestry.

So as it happens, most of the earlier Irish immigrants were indeed Presbyterian and had professions and skills. We'll probably never know why our Hendersons decided to emigrate. When Hannah Cathers died in 1824, she had four surviving children, all with families of their own. Her grandson, Samuel G. Ruggles, was the first police chief of Philadelphia, and the family's pride in him is evidenced by the number of nephews (three) who were given "Samuel Ruggles" as their first and middle names. The Tree included in the Documents section for this Family Group shows the whole Henderson branch starting with Hannah Henderson and her four children to Joseph Harris Henderson.

Proof of Relationship

The best proof of relationship for the first generation comes from the will of Hannah Cathers. The 1899 article in the American Genealogist (this article appears in full in the Documents section) was a rich source for the family of the first Joseph's family as well as to confirm facts about Guy Henderson.. Until that article appeared, we could not confirm that the Joseph Henderson family we found in West Virginia was the son of Hannah Cathers, nor did we know the name of his wife.

About the Children

  • Joseph, our direct ancestor, was difficult to trace with certainty. The American Genealogist article referenced above provided the information for his family. From that article, we know he was a house carpenter by trade during his years in Philadelphia. His name also appeared often in various land records. He and his wife had nine children and buried two of them as youngsters in Philadelphia before purchasing a large tract of land in Monongalia County in what was then Virginia. Joseph and Ann had three more children in Monongalia County. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Their eldest (our direct ancestor) was about 20 when they moved, and he remained in Philadelphia until the end of his life. His nine surviving siblings made their homes as adults in West Virginia although the youngest, James, lived for a while in Philadelphia after his one surviving child married. James served as guardian to two of Joseph's teen-aged boys after they were orphaned. Our direct ancestor, Samuel Ruggles Henderson, lived with his Uncle James in Philadelphia for about five years. Ann and Joseph Henderson both died and were buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Morgantown (1850 and 1855).

  • Hannah Henderson married Sherman Ruggles, who identified himself on the 1810 census as a "carter."  Carter is of Irish, Scottish and English origin and is an occupational name given to one who transports goods by cart or wagon. They had four children, Alice, Hannah, John T. and Samuel G. before Sherman died in 1816. Hannah and her brother never married. Samuel gave up his business to become the first police chief in Philadelphia. John was the adventuresome child being the only one to leave the Philadelphia area settling for a long while in New York. He had a plumbing shop by trade and died a widower in New Jersey. Alice married Thomas Reed and had three children, Emma, Samuel Ruggles, and John D. Reed between 1824 and 1829. Her husband either died early or left as he cannot be traced. Alice and her son, Samuel, shared a household with her brother, Samuel, at the 1850 census. Daughter Emma died as a young woman. John Reed assumed custody of two of his cousin, Joseph's, sons after their parents died. Hannah and Sherman Ruggles along with some of their family are buried at Hood Cemetery.

  • Guy Henderson married Ann Barrett and was a bookbinder by trade. He and his wife had three sons and many grandchildren. The name "Guy" appears in many of the names of his family's children. Guy and Ann were buried along with several family members at Monument Cemetery. Burial records of their plot are included in the Documents section.

  • Elizabeth Henderson, the youngest, remains the most elusive to track. She married Moses Stewart, who died a fairly young man. On the last census of his life. he had a household with seven white people and 13 "colored," all free. He referred to "manufacturing on the census form, but in an 1816 real estate transaction with her brother, Joseph, he was referred to as a grocer. I'm guessing from the numbers posted on the census that they had at least four children, but I've been unable to trace a single one. She died in Philadelphia in 1868 and was also buried at Monument Cemetery.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is mostly complete. The brick wall is the patriarch of the family, and Hannah's maiden name, which we may never learn.

A Note about Monument Cemetery

Guy, Elizabeth, and their nephew, Joseph (our ancestor), bought "everlasting" plots at Monument and many in their families were buried there. The cemetery was second in size in Philadelphia only to the beautiful Laurel Hill.

The plan of the Monument Cemetery contemplates improvements of the most extensive kind, in which the skill of the architect and taste of the gardener are equally called into requisition. Trees wave their shady branches and flowers scatter their fragrance over the whole scene. The weeping willow and the dark cypress mourn in unison over the graves around; and the modest blossoms that expand and perish, forever remind man that, like them, he is passing away. The unostentatious and silent lessons of mortality, are taught by every thing that meets the eye. The winds sigh a requiem among the foliage of the trees, while the birds singing in their branches render adoration and praise to the Great Disposer of all events—the Supreme Arbiter of life and death.

-- John Elkington, original proprietor, in a commencement speech 1839.

In the 1920's, it was deemed full, and the owners were hard pressed to maintain it. In about 1955, the city condemned the property. 28,000 bodies were "re-interred" at Woodlawn Cemetery in Rockledge, Pennsylvania (20,000 unclaimed tossed into a mass grave). Only 300 of these were accompanied by their original headstones. The remainder of the headstones, which must have contained some beautiful tombstone art of the Victorian period but at the least had great genealogical value, were tossed into the Delaware River to strengthen the shoreline against erosion. The property our ancestors thought would be a peaceful, beautiful resting place is now a parking lot at Temple University. An excellent article about this sad event was written by the Cemetery Traveler, Ed Snyder.

Questions, Comments, or New Information -Email lee@leewiegand.com