Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail
John S. Henderson, the son of a Scottish immigrant, came to the local area from Tennessee with his brother William and an African slave woman named Millie. He bought land that included the old farm of Jesse Lane, where the stage stopped, another property property that was called the Hawkins place, the Dr. A. Q. Simmons place, and 180 acres of woodlands that made a total of 720 acres. His house was situated on the east side of the LaFayette Road with cedar trees in the yard. He also brought boxwood from his home in Tennessee.
At the time of the 1860 census, John S. Henderson was 52 years old, and had 12,800.00 in real estate and $12, 385.00 in personal assets. Along with his 42 year-old wife, John Henderson's household consisted of five sons and a daughter. Two of the older sons were eager to join the Confederate Army at the start of the war. "Uncle Jerome was at Penfield College (now Mercer University)," J. Frank Henderson, the grandson of John Henderson, wrote. "He came home in June [of 1861] ... and ... organized a company at Crawfish Spring, and since they could not get in a Georgia regiment at that time, they joined the 26th Tennessee Infantry where they served until Uncle Jerome was captured at Fort Donaldson [Donelson], Tennessee. Uncle Jerome died in prison soon after capture at Camp Douglas, Illinois. Uncle John joined Joe Wheeler's Cavalry, Colonel Avery's Regiment Fourth Cavalry. Uncle John served throughout the war in Wheeler's Cavalry. One of his comrades told me that Uncle John made a fine soldier and he stuck with them until the end."
In the spring of 1863, when the opposing armies drew closer, Henderson felt that it was time to hide his gold. He trusted his slave woman Millie more than anyone else in his household. "He took Aunt Millie and went over in the woods east of the house," his grandson J. Frank Henderson later wrote, "and buried a lot of gold."
On September 18, 1863, Confederate General Thomas Hindman's Division moved up the LaFayette Road to the Henderson plantation. General Leonidas Polk, the corps commander, was also present, and established his headquarters in the Henderson house. To enable General Polk to communicate with the rest of the army, a courier station was also established. After a brief artillery duel with the Federals at Lee and Gordon's Mills they camped on the grounds. The next day they crossed the creek to take part in the main battle. Following the Battle of Chickamauga, a Confederate hospital was established at the Henderson house.
"Aunt Gussie said that the Yankee officers would stand out in the front yard," Frank Henderson later stated, "and admire the view of Lookout Mountain. They thought the scene was beautiful. The Yankees never mistreated Grandma in anyway or any of her children or Aunt Millie." After the war, John Henderson returned and used the money that his slave woman Millie had kept safe for him to rebuild the plantation.
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