Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    John Hancock HENDERSON

    Spouses: Nannie J. SPRAY (m. Oct 8, 1868); (Hattie E. SPRAY June 20, 1905)
    Children: Edgar Brenton, Frank P., Inez S. (HENDERSON) PROUDFOOT, and Dwight F.,


    J.H. Henderson"John Hancock HENDERSON, whose life record constitutes an important chapter in the history of the bench and bar of Warren county, is now practicing at Indianola with an extensive and distinctively representative clientage. He was born September 16, 1848, at Ackworth, this county, the place being then known as the South River Monthly Meeting... Warren county was largely a pioneer district during the early boyhood days of John Hancock HENDERSON, who in his youth attended the public schools but later enjoyed the advantage that came through instruction in the old seminary and in Simpson College of Indianola. After putting aside his text-books, he entered the real-estate business when nineteen years of age and his leisure hours during that period were given to the study of law. He was admitted to the bar January 12, 1870, and located for practice in Indianola, where he has since remained. In November, 1885 he was elected circuit judge to fill a vacancy and served until the first of January, 1887, when the circuit courts were abolished. In the previous year, 1886, he was elected judge of the fifth judicial district for a term of four years and was elected in January, 1890, and again in 1894. During his third term he resigned and retired from the bench on the first of January, 1897. Few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the state both for legal ability of a high order and for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community. Of a family conspicuous for strong intellects, indomitable courage and energy, he entered upon his professional career, and such as has been the force of his character and his natural qualifications that he has overcome all obstacles and written his name upon the keystone of the legal arch of Iowa. Voluntarily relinquishing his place upon the bench to enter upon the more remunerative field of private practice, he is now numbered among the distinguished layers of the Indianola bar. He formed a partnership with Ex-Senatory W.H. BARRY early in his professional career, the relation continuing from the first of September, 1873, until Judge HENDERSON'S elevation to the bench. On the resumption of private practice, he again became a partner of Mr. BARRY and the association was maintained until the first of August, 1901. Judge HENDERSON then admitted his son, Frank P. HENDERSON, to a partnership, and the firm of HENDERSON & HENDERSON ranks today as one of the most distinguished in this section of the state.

     On the 8th of October, 1868, occurred the marriage of Judge HENDERSON and Miss Nannie J. SPRAY, of Indianola, a daughter of John and Margaret SPRAY, who lived a Spray's Mills. The became the parents of five children, but one is now deceased. The others are: Edgar Brenton, a practicing physician at Marengo, Iowa; Frank P., associated in practice with his father; Inez S., the wfe of Clyde D. PROUDFOOT, assistant cashier of the Worth Savings Bank; and Dwight F., an electrical engineer at Spokane, Washington. The wife and mother died February 10, 1902, at the age of fifty-one years, and on the 20th of June, 1905, Judge HENDERSON wedded Hattie E. SPRAY, a sister of his first wife. He now has three grandchildren: Brenton B., Harriett and John H.

    Judge HENDERSON belongs to the Masonic fraternity, having taken the degrees of the chapter, the commandery and the Mystic Shrine. He is likewise a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and is a prominent Odd Fellow. He entered the grand lodge of Iowa in 1896 and was a grand master of the Odd Fellows in 1907. He has at different times been representative to a number of the grand lodges. His interest in community affairs has been manifest in many tangible ways, resulting beneficially to his city and county. In 1869, before he was twenty-one years of age, he was appointed secretary of the board of trustees of Simpson College and has so continued to the present time, while since 1870 he has been a member of the executive committee of the board. He is a lifelong republican and has frequently been a delegate to party conventions and in 1904 was a delegate to the national convention. He belongs to the Old Settlers' Association of the county and to the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he is a trustee. In professional lines he is connected with the Iowa State Bar Association and that he is recognized throughout the state as one of its most prominent members, is indicated by the fact that he was chosen its vice president in 1896, its president in 1897 and its delegate to the American Bar Association in 1898. In 1902 he was appointed by the supreme court of Iowa a member of the board of state law examiners and served for four years. He is now the oldest inhabitant of Indianola and was the first male child born in the county as originally organized. His life has been one of untiring activity and of worth. Devotedly attached to his profession, systematic and methodical in habit, sober and discrete in judgment, diligent in research, conscientious in the discharge of every duty, courteous and kind in demeanor and inflexibility, just on all all occasions, these qualities enabled him to take his rant among the representatives of judicial office in the state and made him the conservator of that justice wherein is the safeguard of individual liberty and happiness and the defense of our national institutions. His reported opinions are evidence of the profound legal learning and superior ability, while in the practice of law he has maintained equally high rank as counselor and advocate." (Source - History of Warren County, 1879)