Eighty-one years ago, the Daughters of the Confederacy contacted all of the Boone County soldiers who fought in gray and asked for their war memories. They were old, ailing men in 1920, and I knew one old soldier when I was young. I didn’t hear his war stories because I was busy playing hopscotch in front of his home on Centralia’s Lease Street - now the south part of Allen Street. My brother and I ran back and forth in the long, shady tunnel, which was a grape arbor that extended from his back yard to the stable where a moldy harness hung near a carriage whose wheels sunk down into the earthen floor. There were no horses; the Henrys, my mother’s parents, were too old.
I remember Grandpa Henry as a sweet-smelling, heavyset old man who wore a white shirt with no tie, a dark suit and a black derby hat, indoors and out, saying, it was "to keep my bald head warm." Huldah Logan Pratt Henry was several years younger than her husband. She was a tiny, soft-spoken, neat-as-a-pin lady with beautiful snow-white hair. And she always called Grandpa "Mr. Henry."
At age 17, Jim Henry left a life of luxury in Easton, N.Y., to "seek his fortune." Actually, he ran away from home. After working a year in Iowa in the machine shops, he moved to Edina, in northeastern Missouri, where he worked in the milling business under the names Hill and Henry.
He sold his interest in the mill and moved to Macon, where he was superintendent of a livery stable owned by Harry Worth. In 1859, he came to Boone County and drove the Columbia-to-Sturgeon stagecoach for Leonard and Burks. In the spring of 1860 he bought a mill near Centralia and soon moved it to Hinkson Creek, 10 miles northeast of Columbia.
The next years were traumatic ones. In 1861, he married his first wife, Frances Lampton, daughter of James and Louisa Ridgeway Lampton. Their first child was born after Grandpa was away in the Civil War. After 13 major battles, being captured twice and being hospitalized twice with injuries, Sgt. James Lawrence Henry surrendered under Gen. Dick Taylor on May 12, 1865. Walking home from the Deep South, he arrived in Boone County 43 days later. Jim and Frances had seven children, but only three lived to adulthood. Frances died, leaving Jim with three growing children: Barnie, John and Susan.
"Mr. Henry" and my grandmother, young Huldah Pratt, met while singing hymns at church. She once wrote, "Our marriage may have seemed to our friends a leap-in-the-dark, but as far as I am concerned I could not have asked for it to have been better."
Their children were my mother, Nancy Henry Meyers; Emeline Oliva Henry Howell; and Lawrence Henry, a soldier in the trenches of France during World War I.
Grandpa and J.C. Dysart operated a combined saw mill and grist mill near Brown’s Station in Boone County in the early 1880s. He owned and operated a farm north of Thompson in 1887.
About 1910, he operated a general store and saddlery at Moscow Mills, and he was later in a partnership called "Henry and Green Hardware" in downtown Centralia. In 1920, Grandpa proudly told the Daughters of Confederacy, "We were not defeated at Vicksburg! We marched out and stacked our weapons; they starved us out!"
James Lawrence and Huldah Logan Pratt Henry are buried near the old entrance to the Centralia cemetery.