Biography of James W. Henderson, M. D.

James W. Henderson, M. D. One of the old and honored physicians and business men of Southeastern Kansas is Dr. James W. Henderson, who first became identified in a professional way with Labette and the surrounding country thirty-two years ago. Labette County was at that time new and all its towns, farms, roads, and other facilities were in a primitive condition. Doctor Henderson had his share of the hardships of pioneer practice. To almost a generation he was known as the kindly, courteous and helpful physician and friend, and the esteem in which his name is held is as satisfactory as the material rewards that have been given him.

He is a native of that picturesque and famous district of southwestern Indiana, Posey County. He was born there near New Harmony September 13, 1846, a son of William and Mouring (Ballard) Henderson. The Hendersons were a Scotch-Irish folk that went out from England to Virginia in colonial times. Doctor Henderson’s grandfather John Henderson was a native of Virginia, and settled in the early days in Posey County, Indiana, where he followed farming until his death. Doctor Henderson’s maternal grandfather John Ballard was a native of North Carolina and died in Clinton County, Ohio, in 1816, before Doctor Henderson’s mother was born.

William Henderson, father of the doctor, was born in Virginia in 1804, was reared in that state, and went with other members of the family to Posey County, Indiana. His active years were spent there as a farmer and he died in March, 1850. Politically he was a whig. His wife was born in Clinton County, Ohio, June 26, 1816, and died in Hendricks County, Indiana, in August, 1892. Her children were: Dr. James W.; Sarah Frances, who married William Phillips, a farmer, and both died at Amo, Indiana.

When Doctor Henderson was nine years of age his mother moved to Hendricks County, Indiana, and in that county he completed his education in the public schools. He attended high school at Amo, and took a business course in Bryant and Stratton’s Business College at Indianapolis. His early life was not one of wealth and the surroundings and advantages given by wealth, and he really earned his own way and paid his expenses by various lines of employment until he could become situated in his chosen profession. For twelve years he was a teacher in Hendricks County, and his first experience in Kansas was as superintendent of the Osage Indian School. He gave up that position in 1884. In the meantime he had studied medicine as opportunity offered and paid his own expenses through the Indiana Medical College of Indianapolis from which he was graduated M. D. in 1876. In 1879 the college gave him the ad valorem degree of medicine.

After his experience as a teacher in Indian schools he returned to Indiana, but on December 10, 1884, located permanently in Labette. Thereafter until he practically retired in 1913 he enjoyed a splendid practice both in medicine and general surgery. He is still a member of the Labette County and State Medical Societies and the Southeastern Medical Society.

Doctor Henderson became an Odd Fellow in Indiana on June 26, 1876, and is a charter member of Labette Lodge No. 488, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is past noble grand, and represented his lodges both in Indiana and Labette in the Grand Lodge, and in 1915 was representative at Wichita. He also for a number of years was a member of the Encampment degree of the order. He is past consul and for the past twelve years had been clerk of Labette Camp No. 4967, Modern Woodmen of America, and had also served as county representative.

Doctor Henderson had been prosperous in a business way, and had been president of the Labette State Bank since it was organized in 1913. He owned his home in Labette, the building in which his office is situated, and also farming land in that county.

Doctor Henderson in 1916 was called upon to mourn the loss of his beloved wife and companion, who for forty-four years had traveled life’s highway with him. In 1872 he was married at Tuscola, Illinois, to Miss Sarah P. Van Dyke, daughter of Quinton and Lucinda (Brinton) Van Dyke. Her father was a farmer and both her parents are now deceased. Doctor and Mrs. Henderson’s first child, Maude, died at the age of two years three months. He had one daughter, Mabel R. She is the wife of Charles M. Piper, who is a member of the firm of Piper Brothers, buyers and shippers of livestock at Fort Scott, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Piper have two children, Wallace Henderson born in 1909; and Margaret Louise, born in 1914. Mrs. Mabel Piper, the doctor’s daughter, is a prominent member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Kansas. She gets her membership in that order through her mother, one of the maternal ancestors having been a Mr. Tharpe, who aided the colonists in their struggle for independence. Mrs. Piper was a charter member of the Chapter of the D. A. R. at Parsons, and now belongs to the Fort Scott chapter. She served on a committee of the Daughters to interest the legislatures of several states to provide for the making of the Santa Fe trail.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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