By John D. Henderson, Jr. and Jane Kelly Blincow
Every family has a story – this is the story of the Hendersons of Dillon County.
March 17th-18th was a historic weekend for the Henderson family of Little Rock, South Carolina. The ancestors of this family migrated from the Isle of Skye, Scotland in the middle of the 19th century. Grandparents of this reunion group were Hugh Arch and McIver Kelly Henderson. Their parents and grandparents preceded them to this location.
The event began with 100 relatives checking into a hotel in Florence. Then, a delicious wine dinner was served at Victor’s Restaurant. Rusty, (JR Henderson, Jr.) was the master of ceremonies for the evening. Presentations included a continual video featuring pictures of family from 1894 until the present. There were 11 states (CA, GA. FL. SC, NC, MD, OK, PA, TX, TN, UT, DC) represented with the youngest (Blakeley Aiken, daughter of Stephen and Jenifer Aiken, granddaughter of Jeff and Libby Monroe Aiken, formerly of Latta) at 18 months to the grand matriarch, Mrs. Margaret Baroody of Florence, the daughter of Mrs. Bessie Henderson McCall and Dewitt McCall (both deceased) of Florence, SC.
Stories and laughter erupted as Rusty Henderson of Darlington showed a slide show and video with pictures dating back to 1894. He contrasted pictures of his father, Capt. James R. Henderson’s 8-inch howitzer canon in World War II with that of his grandmother, McIver Kelly Henderson, sitting on the front porch of the homeplace with a shotgun, about 1948. The homeplace was located in the Carolina Community, of Little Rock, SC (Dillon County).
After dinner Julie Vande Weghe of Charlotte, NC presented guests with chocolate milk and honey buns as a tribute to her parents, John and Nan Henderson Jr., who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. She stated that her father had become a much better planner with this wonderful party and dinner at Victor’s than he was when he got married and had chocolate milk and a cinnamon buns for his new bride as their honeymoon dinner because he had not planned.
Entertainment was provided by the trio, “Borrowed Time,” featuring Stan Thompson on the banjo, Johnny Tanner on guitar, and Sharon Tanner on cello playing traditional Irish music. All the guests richly enjoyed this. Young and old danced a jig, a shag, or square dance in the round. Gift bags were distributed which included kelly green t-shirts with the Henderson Reunion design logo and scented soaps wrapped in paper with the Henderson crest. An updated directory and addendum to the book, “Our Family,” the late Anna Henderson Parham, Latta, SC, publisher, was distributed to family members. The night was festive in many ways as love was renewed with “old” cousins and relatives were greeting “new” cousins from afar. Nan and John Henderson own the Henderson family property in Little Rock now, and they recently harvested many trees to help pay expenses for this weekend gathering.
Sunday, March 18th, a highlight of the weekend was a worship service held in the Carolina Presbyterian Church, established in 1849.
This church was the home church of our ancestors, including six parents of attendees. A bagpiper, Christian Markel, Columbia, SC, greeted a crowd of 117 at the Carolina Presbyterian Church in Little Rock where a church service of Remembrance of Faith was celebrated. Dr. Jeff Aiken a retired Presbyterian minister, formerly of the First Presbyterian Church of Sumter, SC, and also the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA. acted as liturgist and worship leader. Prayers and liturgy were planned by Dr. Jefferson Kirk Aiken, Asheville, NC, and Dr. Walt Davis, San Rafael, CA.
Two-year-old Rylan Slyman, son of Mark and Tracy Slyman of Atlanta and the great nephew of Dr. Davis, was baptized by his Dr Davis, a retired Presbyterian missionary and director of Graduate Studies at the San Francisco Seminary. Children were invited to stand with Rylan and pour water into the baptism font as they welcomed their young cousin into the family of God. Mrs. Beth Thornton of Park City, Utah and Mr. Jim Slyman of Kingsport, Tenn., an aunt and great-uncle also participated.
Dr. Aiken introduced John Henderson of Charlotte, NC who spoke on the topic of “Faith From Generation To Generation” The worshippers were reminded, “That just maybe, perhaps remembering our ancestors walk of faith will strengthen and give us a desire to journey in faith.” He thanked the members of Carolina Presbyterian Church for their faithfulness in maintaining the church and cemetery. He also marveled at the fact that this church has sent five of their youth into the Christian ministry with encouragement and financial support for education.
Dr. Johnny Parham, a retired dentist from Dillon, spoke of his family. He remembered patients that had told him of this Henderson family and how they had contributed to this community He recalled how his grandfather, Hugh Archie Henderson, taught Sunday school here and how Arch would stop what he needed to do on his on farm to help another family. He mentioned the eight children who reached adulthood and the two who died at early ages. The adult children went off to school and reached back to help the others attend college.
A pick-up family choir of eight cousins performed special music accompanied by the piano played by Nan Henderson.
Rusty Henderson played guitar and sang the offertory using Willie Nelson’s first release, “Family Bible.”
After the service, the bagpiper led the worshippers to the church cemetery, where many in the family have been laid to rest. A prayer and moment of silence and appreciation of heritage followed. Highland Cathedral was played as the recessional from the cemetery. Mr. Mark Slyman led in prayer of thanks and forgiveness. He then asked all to join hands and led the worshippers in praying the Lord’s Prayer.
The family was invited to a site on Henderson Road approximately a mile behind the church where a historical marker has been erected on land that has been in the family for four generations. The marker tells the story of “The Henderson Place Legacy.”
The weekend concluded with a bountiful luncheon at the Dillon Country Club, compliments of Dr. Johnny and Stephanie Parham. Fabulous desserts from a well-known caterer were served. Rusty Henderson presented each family with pieces of heart of pine lumber his father had collected from the home place house and had used to make mementos. Libby Henderson Davis of San Raphael, CA. had final remarks and told how her father, Dr. John D. Henderson, Sr. and his siblings had given the family the land. She said the trees were being harvested and the money from the harvest was being used for this gathering and remembrance. So the Henderson Reunion represented a return to the Henderson Roots and land. This theme was echoed in stickers designed by Jane Kelly Aiken Blincow and on green t-shirts designed by Julie Henderson Vande Weghe and given to each family member. Attendees said the reunion was a life event to remember!
Acknowledgements: Other speakers and prayers during the special weekend were: Peggy Baroody, Philadelphia, PA, Libby Henderson Davis, San Rafael, CA, Mark Slyman, Marietta, GA, and Julie Henderson Vande Weghe, Charlotte, NC.
Accolades also go to those who assisted John Henderson but are not mentioned above and contributed to the success of the weekend. Pianist, floral arrangements, gift bags, directories, addendums, church bulletins, journal, and assistance to caterer, were provided by: Libby Aiken, Asheville, NC, Jane Aiken Blincow and Bruce Blincow, Oklahoma City, OK, Andrea Deeds, Oklahoma City, Ok., Nan Henderson , Charlotte, NC, Cathy Henderson Hiott, Columbia, SC, Elizabeth Henderson Meares, Southern Pines, NC, Ora Dell Henderson Murray, Edisto Island, SC, Adele Baroody Weatherford, Florence, SC, the family choir, and all other members who attended and participated in the gala weekend.
The family sends a huge thank you to John Henderson, who has a servant’s heart and much love for his family and heritage. Also, thanks to his wife, Nan Henderson, who graciously adopted the Henderson family. All of the group appreciates this weekend to forever hold in their hearts.
“Family is not just an important thing; it’s everything!,” Michael J. Fox. This statement describes the love of the Hendersons. The hope for the next generations is to keep the bond and traditions.
By John D. Henderson, Jr. and Jane Kelly Blincow