Richard Henderson

Richard Henderson

Birth
Maryland, USA
Death 3 Mar 1880 (aged 77–78)
Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot 7; Lot 106
Memorial ID 69162260 · View Source
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According to local tradition, Richard Henderson was the first permanent black resident of Meadville. He had escaped from slavery at the age of 15 with his two brothers and a sister. The brothers survived, but the sister died after catching pneumonia during the journey. One of the Henderson brothers continued north to Canada. The other two, Richard and Robert, established a barbershop in town.

While his brother Robert eventually left to establish his own barbershop in nearby Brookville, Richard remained in Meadville. There, he was a leader in the local Underground Railroad network from the 1830s to the 1860s. A prominent member of the black community, Richard Henderson also helped to form Meadville's Bethel A.M.E. Church in 1849 and served as an early trustee. Richard Henderson married twice. His second wife, Mary, was born in Erie in 1821. Together they raised two sons, Edward and Lincoln. Edward Henderson recalled that he saw as many as twenty fugitives at a time hiding in his parents' home. Richard Henderson died in 1880 at the age of 79 and is buried in Meadville.

When an historical marker was placed in Meadville on 01 Jun 1980 to honor him, it represented only the third time a black Pennsylvanian had been honored by a state historical marker.

The marker reads as follows: Born a slave in Maryland in 1801, he escaped as a boy and about 1824 came to Meadville. A barber, he was long active in the Underground Railroad. His Arch Street house, since torn down, is estimated to have harbored some 500 runaway slaves prior to the Civil War.

Beyond the Marker, Ken P. Williams, City Was Active in Underground RR, Meadville Tribune (May 12, 1998.)

According to the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule for 1880, he was born in Maryland in 1802; however, the birth date listed on the various census returns show other birth years, so this may be incorrect.


Family Members


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  • Created by: Kathleen B
  • Added: 30 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 69162260
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Henderson (1802–3 Mar 1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 69162260, citing Greendale Cemetery, Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Kathleen B (contributor 46911503) .