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Henderson, William D.

Born: 1812-01-21 South Carolina

Died: 1891-02-28 Derby, Kansas

Flourished: Oquawka, Illinois

Born to Thomas and Ann Dickey Henderson, William D. Henderson moved to Ohio in 1831 and married Martha Watt on January 5, 1832. The following year, the couple moved to Illinois, settling in a part of Warren County that would later become Henderson County. Soon after the creation of Henderson County in April 1841, William was elected sheriff—a post he held for six years—as well as collector of taxes by the county commissioners. In 1844, Henderson and Warren county voters elected William to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served from December 1844 to March 1845. Oquawka, the county seat of Henderson, was incorporated permanently in 1851, and William held the post of town trustee in 1851 before becoming president in 1852. William served twelve years as a magistrate in Henderson, Mercer, and Warren counties, four years in each county. He was also postmaster in Oquawka for four years. William joined the Republican Party, and on February 14, 1860, several of his friends wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln encouraging him to nominate William D. Henderson as his secretary of state should Lincoln win the presidential election of 1860. Although the position eventually went to William H. Seward, President Lincoln did appoint him assessor of internal revenue for the Fourth District of Illinois. Later in life, William became a grain dealer.

William and his wife Martha had six children before she died in 1850. By then he had amassed $2,500 in real estate in Oquawka. He remarried in 1851 to Ellen McNiel of New York. They had at least three children together.

Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 623; Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1921-1922 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1921), 357; The South Haven New Era (KS), 14 March 1891, 3:2; The Mulvane Record(KS), 6 March 1891, 8:2; Portrait and Biographical Album of Sedgwick County, Kan. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888), 262-63; History of Mercer and Henderson Counties (Chicago: H. H. Hill, 1882), 877-78, 881, 906-7, 940; Daniel W. Crofts, "Seward, William Henry," American National Biography , ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 19:676-81; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Henderson County, IL, 52; Gravestone (Martha), South Henderson Cemetery, Henderson County, IL; John S. Thompson and Others to Abraham Lincoln.