Holding Firm for the Union
This was the home of George Washington Henderson, a prominent Wood County resident, slaveholder, and participant in the West Virginia statehood movement during the Civil War. Henderson served as a member of the county's contingent to the convention that met in Wheeling on May 13-15, 1861, a month after Virginia seceded from the Union, to begin the process that eventually separated northwestern Virginia from the rest of the state. Later, Henderson was elected to the legislature of the Restored Government of Virginia, serving from 1861 until the new state was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863.
Part of a February 1861 letter from Arthur I. Boreman, later the first governor of West Virginia, likely expressed Henderson's own feelings about the imminent division of the nation: "Why should we risk a new government in the south when we are already governed by the best constitution ever and God given freedoms which might disappear under a new government after secession?"
Located on the main road between Marietta, Ohio, and Parkersburg, West Virginia, Henderson Hall lay in the path of Union troops moving overland when the Ohio River was unsuitable for transportation. After arriving in Marietta by train, the men marching down the road to Parkersburg frequently camped hereto rest, drill, and conduct artillery practice. Henderson's well-known support of the Union probably saved his house and farm from plundering by passing soldiers.
George Washington Henderson built Henderson Hall in two construction campaigns after his marriage in 1826 to Elizabeth Ann Tomlinson. The first section of the house, built about 1836, now appears as a rear addition to the grand Italianate-style mansion before you. Henderson hired architect and master builder John M. Slocomb of Marietta, Ohio, to design and construct this part of the dwelling between 1856 and 1859. An important and rare example of the style (the Greek Revival was more popular at the time), the house is as notable for its interior finishes as for its exterior. In addition, not only the Henderson furnishings but also the family papers have survived, including those of the statehood period. The mansion and its outbuildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Henderson Hall is open to the public.
(lower left) Henderson Hall ca. 1880 — Courtesy Henderson Hall Plantation
(upper right) George Washington Henderson — Courtesy Henderson Hall Plantation
Certification of Henderson's election to Restored Government of Virginia General Assembly, October 29, 1861 — Courtesy Henderson Hall Plantation