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Henderson, Samuel

The first postmaster, was a Kentuckian.  He came to this place in the fall of 1821.  Like one or two other of the early settlers, his services were considered more valuable in any other way than at home-raisings or log-rollings.  He was a large, fleshy man, and could not have been very serviceable in that way had he been so disposed.

    He held the office of postmaster until the summer of 1829, when he was removed by General Jackson, and Captain John Cain appointed as his successor.

    Mr. Henderson, in connection with Mr. James Blake, built Washington Hall tavern, in 1824, and they kept it for some time as partners, Mr. Blake selling out to Mr. Henderson, who kept it as sole proprietor for many years.  He, in 1835, sold it to the Washington Hall Company, who built additions to it, and it was kept many years by Mr. Edmund Browning, and was the principal hotel in the place.  It then changed hands and name, and was kept by General Elliott as the Wright House.  It was also kept by the late Henry Achy, and others, and was always a first-class hotel for Indianapolis.  It has been removed, and is now known as "Glenn's Block," or "The New York Store."

    He was the first Mayor of Indianapolis, and discharged the duties quite as well as any have since at much larger salaries than he received, and with quite as much dignity and satisfaction to the public.

    Mr. Henderson owned and, for a time, lived on the quarter section of land a portion of which is now "Camp Morton," or the State Fair grounds.  He also owned the residence of the late Judge McDonald. 

    About the time the various railroads that center to this city were being built, Mr. Henderson became alarmed as to the future of Indianapolis, and sold the two pieces of property last named for less than one-tenth their present value.

    I saw him in Washington City, en route for his present home, California.  He expressed the opinion that the general railroad system being inaugurated would ruin this city; that the thousands of persons who passed through it would not stop long enough to get a drink of water, and that Indianapolis would retrograde, and become nothing but a way station.

    Could the worth old gentleman see it to-day, with its sixty thousand inhabitants, its two magnificent rolling mills, its eight or ten foundrys of different kinds, its various steam establishments, how quick he would see his error.

    No man that ever lived in Indianapolis was more respected by the old citizens than Samuel Henderson, no man ever left it more regretted by his many friends, and no person would meet with a more joyous welcome than he should he visit us again.

    He was a man of warm feelings for his friends, and strong prejudices against those he did not like.  He was a most inveterate opponent of General Jackson, and the party that sprung up and supported the measures advocated by him.  He was a time-honored patron of the two leading Whig newspapers of their day--the "National Intelligencer," of Washington City, and the "Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette"--and would generally sacrifice any other pleasure for that of perusing these papers.


Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 101-102.
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