William B. Henderson is conducting a successful wholesale business in the manufacture of cigars at Paxton, enjoying a large local trade, the product of his factory being almost wholly utilized throughout the surrounding district. He was born in Logan county, Ohio, December 3, 1855, his parents being Charles E. and Anna (Boggs) Henderson, who were natives of Virginia and Ohio respectively.
The father removed westward to Ohio when a young man and engaged in business as a saddler and harness maker. In 1849 he was among the argonauts who went to California in search of the golden fleece, making the overland journey. On the way he kept a journal and remained in the mining region of the Pacific coast for two years. His journal contains much of interest. With friends he started from his Ohio home, and from Independence, Missouri, then a frontier town of about three thousand people, started in a wagon train across the plains. They were not long in getting out upon that great open stretch of the country where there was nothing to be seen for miles indicating the habitation or existence of white men. On their journey they met Indians and saw herds of deer and buffaloes. At times they traveled along streams which were bordered by timber, which furnished material for fire, while the stream gave them a good supply of water. As they proceeded westward prices became very high. They thought that four dollars a week for board charged in western Missouri was very high and a dollar for ferrying a wagon and twenty-five cents for a team was much in advance of prices that they had formerly known. On reaching Salt Lake, however, the Mormons charged them four dollars for ferrying the wagon across. They made their way through the Rockies in the midst of mountain scenery of picturesque grandeur, but required much hard climbing for the teams and men.
Mr. Henderson was quite successful in California and after two years spent there returned by way of the Isthmus of Panama in 1852. He went through all the experiences of frontier mining life and met many hardships and difficulties. On one occasion on the trip they had to hang a man for stealing food after the party had agreed to eat only a certain amount per day as the supply was becoming exhausted. In 1853, soon after his return, Mr. Henderson was married and unto him and his wife were born three children: William B., Harry B. and Jennie B., the last named the wife of C. H. Langford, of Paxton. Mr. Henderson died September 15, 1891, at the age of sixty-six years, while his widow is still living in Paxton. He took quite an active interest in politics and was serving as county supervisor at the time of the erection of the present jail and sheriff's residence about 1870. It was in 1864 that he became a resident of Illinois, taking up his abode in Paxton, where he remained until called to his final rest. He was one of the early settlers here and the place was known as Prospect City. As the years passed he met with creditable and satisfactory success in his business, being engaged in farming and stock-raising. All who knew him respected him for his many sterling traits of character and his genuine worth.
William B. Henderson was largely educated in the public schools of Paxton and in early life he was associated with his father in various business pursuits. In 1877 he went to the west, settling in Kansas City, Missouri, where he resided for seventeen years and during that time was connected with different business enterprises, in some of which he met with good success. In 1893, however, he returned to Paxton and established a wholesale cigar manufactory, manufacturing a high grade of cigars, which found a ready sale in Paxton and the surrounding towns, nearly the entire product being consumed by the home market. He is an energetic, enterprising business man, constantly watchful of opportunities pointing to success, while his methods are thoroughly reliable and trustworthy.
In 1895 Mr. Henderson was married to Miss Laura Oakey, a native of southwestern Missouri and a daughter of N. W. and Elizabeth Oakey, both of whom are now deceased. In his fraternal relations Mr. Henderson is connected with Paxton Lodge, No. 416, A. F. & A. M.; Ford Chapter, No. 113, R. A. M.; and Mount Olivet Commandery, No. 38, K. T. He also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and several other fraternal organizations. He is a charter member of the Knights of Pythias lodge at Paxton and is connected with the Woodmen and the Red Men. His wife is a member of the Congregational church. Mr. Henderson takes an active interest in politics, being a life-long republican and yet he has never been an office seeker but gives stalwart support to many measures for the benefit of his party and for the community at large. He is always found in the forefront among those who advocate progressive public measures and his labors in behalf of the community have been far-reaching and beneficial.

Extracted 19 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 1, pages 431-433.

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