Thursday, April 20, 2017


HON. HENRY D. McHENRY, banker and lawyer, was born February 7, 1826, at
Hartford, Ohio Co., Ky. His father, the Hon. John Hardin McHenry, was born October 13, 1797, in Washington County, Ky., and died at his residence in Owensboro, November 1, 1871. His father was the Rev. Barnabus McHenry, who emigrated from Virginia, and was one of the pioneer preachers of the Methodist denomination in the West; and his mother was the daughter of Col. John Hardin, who was killed while on a mission to the Indians in the Northwest Territory. He received a good education, chiefly under the instruction of his father; studied law under his uncle, the distinguished Martin D. Hardin, at Frankfort; obtained license in 1819, and began his profession at Lietchfield in Grayson County. In 1821, Gov. Adair appointed him commonwealth attorney, and Col. Alnay McLean judge of the new Judicial District, consisting of the counties of Daviess, Henderson, Breckinridge, Ohio, and Muhlenburgh. He at once removed to Hartford, and entered upon the duties of his office, resigning in 1839; in the following year was elected to the legislature; in 1845 was elected to congress from the Second Congressional District of Kentucky, as a Whig; in 1849 was elected delegate from Ohio and Hancock Counties to the convention which framed the present constitution of Kentucky, and, in 1853, after a residence of thirty-two years in Hartford, removed to Owensboro, where he continued to reside until his death. He had the unbounded confidence of his fellow citizens, and was regarded as one of the most able and successful lawyers, and best men of the day in the State; and probably traveled over a larger circuit, and did a more laborious practice than any of his contemporaries. He was universally beloved. Mr. McHenry was married to Hannah Davis, and left seven children: Hon. Henry D.; Col. John H. (of Owensboro); William H. and W. E. of St. Louis; L. S. McHenry of Louisville; and Mrs. Dr. Hale and Mrs. Robert Craig, of Daviess County. The eldest son, Hon. Henry D. McHenry, the subject of this sketch, received every advantage in his early education, one of his teachers being the late Frank Griffin, a distinguished scholar in his time, and finished his literary training at Transylvania University, at Lexington. He chose the law for his profession; studied with his father; graduated in the law department of Transylvania University; in 1845, and was admitted to the practice in his native town. He soon took a prominent position in his profession, and in 1851 was elected to the lower house of the legislature; in 1861 he was elected to the State senate, serving until 1865, when he was again sent to the lower house, and was chairman of the judiciary committee in both branches of the legislature. In 1867 he was Democratic candidate in the legislature for United States senator, but was defeated, by two votes, by Hon. Garrett Davis, of Bourbon County. In 1870 he was elected to represent his district in the Forty Second Congress, served on the Pacific Railroad committee, and took a strong part in the discussion before the house; in 1872 strongly advocated the establishment of a natiotial educational fund, favoring the application of the proceeds of sales of public lands to the education of the people, and distinguished himself in his address on the famous civil rights question, taking the position that the bill was bad in its policy, untenable in its constitutional construction, and a clear infringement on the rights of States to local self government. In 1872 he was delegate from the State at large to the Baltimore Democratic Convention, and was elected member of the Democrat National Committee, and conducted the presidential confabs with such ability in Kentucky, as to bring about his reappointment on the national committee for the next four years at the convention in St. Louis in 1876, and was re-elected to the same position by the national conventions of 1880 and 1884, which position he still holds, and is now perhaps the oldest member of that committee. After the presidential election, of 1876, he was one of the Democrats appointed to proceed to New Orleans for the purpose of investigating the election returns in that State. He was also appointed to superintend the counting of the votes of Kentucky. He has gained wide-spread reputation as a land lawyer, and has taken a prominent position for his great ability in general practice and is one of the most able, active and influential lawyers of his State. He is a pungent and forcible speaker, has an easy, ready command of language, is a man of fine financial and executive ability, and has a great diversity of knowledge, which he brings to his service in every emergency. He is largely interested in the coal interests on the Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad, holding the position of president of the McHenry & Rockport Coal Companies, and is an active worker in every enterprise looking to the public welfare, contributing in every way to the best interests of the community, in which he is one of the most influential and widely known members. Among his many diversified business interests is that of banking — he holding the position of president of the bank of Hartford. In person he is of admirable appearance, being fully six feet in height and agreeable and attractive in manners. Mr. McHenry was married, January 27, 1856, to Miss Jennie (Martha Jane) Taylor, daughter of Rev. James Taylor, of Hardinsburg, Ky., a lady of marked talents and rare accomplishments. She has written some exquisite poetry, and a fine collection of her poems, published in book form, has been widely circulated over the country. They have five children living: Henry, now practicing law; Godfrey T., in the bank; John J., civil engineer, in employ of government; Isahelle; and Lemuel. Wife a member of Methodist Church.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Note: Henry Davis McHenry died 17 Dec 1890 in Hartford and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Hartford.

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