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Blog post by Randi Richardson

A number of Revolutionary War veterans are buried in Monroe County including Joseph Henderson and his wife, Elizabeth, in the White Oak Cemetery.   On May 11, 2019, the Daniel Guthrie SAR Chapter of Bedford and the Bloomington DAR Chapter co-hosted a grave marking and re-dedication ceremony at Henderson’s gravesite.  April Legler, DAR Chapter regent, read a prepared sketch of Henderson compiled by Sheryl Vanderstel as noted below:


Joseph Henderson’s tombstone at White Oak Cemetery is well worn but still legible as shown here.  Photo courtesy of April Legler.

“In April 1840, [a] Van Buren County, Missouri , farmer, Joseph Henderson,  applied for a Revolutionary War pension.  At that time he stated his age was 79, born and reared in Augusta County, Virginia.  In the fall of 1780, at age 19 he enlisted in a militia company for 1-month service going to Richmond as a guard for the meeting of the Virginia General Assembly.  At the end of his brief enlistment he returned to Augusta County.  A year later, in September 1781, he was drafted for 3-months’ service as part of Major Lockhart’s company.  The company left Augusta County and marched directly to Williamsburg to join General Washington’s army preparing for the Yorktown Campaign. Pvt. Henderson participated in both the siege and final battle of 19 October 1781.  After Cornwallis’s surrender, Henderson was part of the guard that escorted the British prisoners to Frederick, Maryland. [T]here, he finished his 3-months’ service guarding the British and [then] returned to Augusta County.

“Joseph married Elizabeth Frazier in 1787. In his pension application he states they moved to Tennessee where he farmed.   Although he does not mention it in the application, at some point in the 1790s he moved to Kentucky where all of his children were born.  He does state that, in 1826 he moved to Illinois and went on to Missouri by 1838.  By this time Joseph was about 67.  He is listed in the 1840 U.S. census in Van Buren County, [Mo.,] as is his son Joseph, Jr.  It was [t]here in April 1840 that Joseph applied for his pension.

“Sometime between his pension application and the death of wife, Elizabeth, in November 1841, the couple moved to Monroe County, [Indiana].  Three of their daughters were residing [in Monroe County]: Harriet, wife of Charles Swearingen; Nancy, wife of Davis Meek; and Eliza who was unmarried and helping her sisters with their large families.  After Elizabeth’s death indications are that Eliza moved in with her father to keep house for him.  Joseph Henderson died on the 21st of March 1849 and was buried next to his wife in the United Presbyterian Cemetery, now known as White Oak.”

Henderson’s pension application may be viewed online at, a subscription website.  Among the digital documents in his file is a typed form that briefly outlines Henderson’s four months of service.   Unfortunately for Henderson, however, the act that provided for the pension he desired required six months of service.  By his own admission, Henderson fell short of that goal by two months and, consequently, his application was rejected.  His participation in the war, however short, is not disputed, so he is rightfully honored as a veteran.