Recently a man and his son visited from Wake County looking for information on their enslaved and later freed ancestor, Henderson Bagley. I was not there when they visited unfortunately, but I have kept in touch with them over the phone and through email trying to decipher the enigmatic past of Henderson Bagley.
The marriage of Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams. Taken from Family Search.
On 22 August 1866 Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams registered their cohabitation in Wilson. According to the 1870 census, Henderson Bagley was listed as living in Chesterfield, Nash County with his five children and no wife. In 1880, Henderson and four of his children were living in Old Fields Township in Wilson County.
The Bagley family in the 1870 Census. Taken from Ancestry.com
I thought that the name Henderson was so unique that if I found it in a record as an enslaved person’s name, it would be a good chance that it would be Henderson Bagley. But the name was more ubiquitous than I realized. The name Henderson appears several times in Nash County, NC, Division of Estate Slaves 1829-1861, abstracted by Timothy W. Rackley, as the name of a slave owned by the Boddie family.
In Johnston County deed books I found eight different entries of a slave (or several) named Henderson. According to the 1870 census, Henderson was born in about 1830, therefore the most promising deed listed here is from 14 March 1837, where they list a seven year old boy named Henderson.
In a Wilson County will I found a record that lists an enslaved person named Henderson. The will is from 1862 and I would have hoped that it listed Hana or one of their older children from the census, but no such luck.
This image is from “Abstracts of Wills, Wilson County, NC 1855-1899” by Robert Boykin
Although I found not a few entries that listed a man named Henderson in deeds, wills and estate records, it is difficult to determine if any of them are the Henderson Bagley that I was searching for. Not often is the research as cut and dry as it was with Mariah and Bryant Pender from my earlier post. But the fact that I found an enslaved man (or men) named in the records 14 times is a great indicator of how useful deeds, wills and estate records can be used to good effect.
Lisa Henderson (no relation) has also posted some info about Henderson Bagley on her blog.