Henderson is a city in Rusk County, northeast Texas, United States. The population was 13,712 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Rusk County. Henderson is named for James Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of Texas.
The city has functioned as a major crossroads in Northeast Texas over the last two centuries. Several major highways pass through the business district of the town, including U.S. Route 259, Texas State Highway 64, U.S. Route 79, Texas State Highway 43, Texas State Highway 42 and Texas State Highway 64.
Annual events in the city of Henderson include the Heritage Syrup Festival in November, celebrating the east Texas tradition of syrup making, and the East Texas Sacred Harp Convention in August featuring shape note music.
The city has a vibrant downtown historic district, with many buildings dating to before the American Civil War. The city has 19 historical markers, including homes dating from the 1880s, churches, and colleges. Downtown Henderson is one of the most dramatic and charming downtowns in the East Texas area. Colorful, canvas awnings highlight the ornate buildings which house Henderson's downtown merchants and offer shade to downtown shoppers visiting the various antiques stores, clothing stores, and restaurants lining the Main Streets.
The city of Henderson was established by European Americans before the State of Texas was founded. It was developed on land donated by W.B. Ochiltree and James Smith; it became the county seat of Rusk County when an act of legislature created Rusk County on January 16, 1843. The First Methodist and First Baptist churches were established in 1842 and 1845, respectively. The first courthouse, made of wood, was completed in 1849. After the Civil War, the International and Great Northern Railroad crossed through Rusk County but bypassed Henderson. In 1874, the Henderson and Overton Branch Railroad Company built a stretch of railroad connecting Henderson to the tracks running through Overton. This stretch of railroad was later sold to the Missouri Pacific Railroad (now Union Pacific) and remains in use to this day.
In 1878, a small fire destroyed the courthouse, and a brick courthouse was built in its place. This encouraged the construction of several other brick buildings, including the Howard Dickinson House, now a historical site.
In 1930, C. M. "Dad" Joiner brought in the Daisy Bradford #3 Discovery Well six miles northwest of Henderson. The discovery of oil in October 1930 created a booming economy in the area, with the population of Henderson increasing from 2,000 to over 10,000 in a few months. The oil fields in and surrounding Henderson, part of the hugely producing five-county East Texas Oil Field, continue to provide a large part of the wealth of the town, county and region.
On August 5, 1860, a fire broke out and burned most of the booming town of Henderson. Forty-three buildings, including two hotels, were destroyed in the fire, for a loss of $220,000.
According to the Depot Museum, a man named John Crow recalled the fire as follows:
"I was about eight years old when Henderson burned. I went to town with my father the day after the fire. It burned every house as well as I recollect, except the Flanagan Brick Building. I remember I was barefooted and careful not to burn my feet. My father said at the time they thought a fellow named Green Herndon, a union man, had hired a negro woman to burn Henderson. Herndon was a northerner and was a pronounced opponent of secession. On the negro woman's testimony, a mob gathered, threw a loop around his neck, tied it to a saddle horse which went around the public square dragging Herndon to death. Then they hung the body to a tree and shot it full of holes…War was in preparation and people were in fits of anger. When the war broke out, the men got all the files they could find and went to the blacksmith shops and made knives and swords. There was much laughter and I remember they said, "We'll whip those damn Yankees with axes and butcher knives. Everyone was anxious to go."
Henderson is located at 32°9′14″N 94°48′10″W (32.153938, −94.802732).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.0 square miles (31 km2), of which, 11.9 square miles (31 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.92%) is water. State Highway 64
State Highway 42
State Highway 43
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,273 people, 4,350 households, and 2,971 families residing in the city. The population density was 947.6 people per square mile (365.8/km²). There were 4,831 housing units at an average density of 406.1 per square mile (156.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.98% White, 22.34% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 6.80% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.80% of the population.
There were 4,350 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the city, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,766, and the median income for a family was $38,095. Males had a median income of $31,285 versus $19,473 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,491.
The structure of the management and coordination of city services is:
Henderson is represented in the Texas Senate by Republican Kevin Eltife, District 1, and in the Texas House of Representatives by Republican Travis Clardy, District 11.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice contracts for the operation of East Texas Multi-Use Facility in Henderson, housing over 2000 male and female state inmates in treatment programs.
At the Federal level, the two U.S. Senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Henderson is part of Texas' US Congressional 1st District, which is currently represented by Republican Louie Gohmert.
The Henderson Independent School District includes five campuses, Wylie Primary School, Wylie Elementary School, Northside Intermediate School, Henderson Middle School, and Henderson High School. The school mascot of Henderson is a lion, and the school colors are red and blue. School sports are an important part of Henderson, TX culture. A 3-A school, the Henderson Lions football team beat Chapel Hill, Texas to become state champions in 2010. Many students are a member of one or more athletic organizations, including Cheering Squad, Soccer, Basketball, Golf, Softball, Volleyball, Powerlifting, Baseball, Wrestling, Tennis, Track, and Majorette Squad.
A very small portion of the City of Henderson falls within the West Rusk ISD.
The City of Henderson is also served by Full Armor Christian Academy, a non-denominational private school.
Henderson is the home of the Texas Baptist Institute and Seminary, a Missionary Baptist institution.
There are currently 7 media outlets and one newspaper located in Henderson, as well as many more in the surrounding areas.Henderson Daily News
Archie Bell – lead singer for Archie Bell & the Drells
Drew Coleman – former cornerback for New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions.
John Cunyus - editor and publisher at Searchlight Press, and director of The Latin Testament Project.
Joe Delaney – late running back for the Kansas City Chiefs
Rickey Dudley – former TE Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sandy Duncan – singer, actress, comedian
Ricky Lynn Gregg – singer
Captain Bill McDonald – legendary Texas Ranger was reared in Henderson.
Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt – Swedish painter spent much of life in Santa Fe, NM and Lambertville, NJ. Died in Henderson in 1955 at age 77.
A. T. Powers – Clergyman who lived in Henderson from 1952–1956, was pastor of the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, and was a faculty member at Texas Baptist Institute and Seminary
Paul Sadler – Henderson attorney, former state representative
Mark Wells White – former governor of Texas
Wallace C. "Wally" Read - Three term former mayor of Henderson, professional trumpet player and former Band Director at Kilgore College
The 1970 science-fiction film, Colossus: The Forbin Project, mentions Henderson as the site of the fictitious Henderson Air Force Base, the target of a retaliatory ICBM fired by Colossus' Soviet counterpart, the defense supercomputer "Guardian".
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Henderson has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.