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Richard T. Hennington

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05/30/14 was the last day I modified this page.

From the book "The History of Hennington and Related Families"  by Roy B, Lily May and Ollie Ray Hennington, 1973.  It was excerpted from "GRANDFATHER'S WORLD, The Story of RICHARD THOMAS HENINGTON, MINISTER METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH, 1830 - 1894"  By Bertie Burt Altman 1961.


Policy for Young ladies:

It would be advisable for every young man to seek his companion for life from the class who is willing to be found in the kitchen without making apologies for it. Nothing becomes a lady more than industry. To understand labor, and to perform it well, is one of the finest qualifications.

(Signed) R.T. Henington, Poplar Springs Ecadamy(sic), April 16, 1846.

Young Richard Henington wrote the essay at the age of almost sixteen and thereby illustrated the seriousness of character that was to be his way of life.

He was the son of Rev. Mr. Henry Henington, pastor at Crystal Springs Methodist Episcopal Church in Copiah County, Mississippi.  And he found his companion for life at the "ecadamy".  She was the daughter of a local Methodist family named Black.

The Blacks and the Henningtons had migrated to Mississippi from the Orangeburg district of South Carolina, where the families had been established since the English colonial migrations. The Anglican character and the search for the better 'ole were deeply intrenched in both families by the beginning of the War Between the States.

Richard (my grandfather) signed his essay as R.T.Henington, and he continued through his life to spell his name without the double n, reasoning that the second n had no meaning and was a waste of time.

The records show that he was a prospering merchant at Crystal Springs in 1851 when he and Mary Elizabeth Black were married, but the call of the church was strong.  He was licensed to exhort in the Methodist Episcopal Church on Oct. 12, 1855, and licensed to preach in the following year.

His two sons, Thomas and Edwin, had arrived before his assignment at China Grove in 1860....  Eliza was born to them at China Grove on Oct. 4, 1860 after but a few months residence there....

Those were the recorded facts to 1860 except for the social pressures which now are documented in the history of our country. The disagreements in the Church which caused the separation in 1844, the customs which allowed for graceful living and neighborly confidence-- peace and harmony generally--the casual trusts which are the keys to the economy of an agricultural area became conflicts in the souls of the men who were caught up in the rift of 1861.

When the call for Mississippi Volunteers went out, Grandfather, at age 31, went as Chaplain with the fighting force. His war period diaries have been lost, but the family recalls mention of Shiloh, Champions Hill, Vicksburg, and bivouacs through Tennessee and Alabama.

He returned to Crystal Springs after the fighting stopped and attempted to reestablish himself in the church at China Grove. But the promises of Mr. Lincoln and General Grant were not being kept. The South was under military rule, the economy and the legislature were in control of the carpetbaggers. The Confederate dollar was worthless and no one had a Yankee dime. Certain trade goods were obtainable by the flirtatious maiden who could roll her eyes in proper orbit and thus the synonym for kiss became "Yankee dime" ......

Escape was uppermost in the minds of those who had kept the faith.  Grandfather made an exploratory visit to Brazil investigating the offers of free land and religious liberty proffered by Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil.  He reported his findings to The Copiahan, a Copiah County newspaper, and was published March 14, 1867. "I have just returned from Brazil, and as I have been requested to publish the results of my investigations there, I send you the following for publication.  As I am a little enthusiastic on the subject of emigration, it may be well to make due allowance for anything I may say on the subject....

Grandfather went first to Rio de Janeiro to determine the particulars by which imigrating groups could claim lands and develop a free society under the law.  The terms being acceptable, he then went by boat to Iguape, Sao Paulo.... From there he went overland to the Piracicabo River where a large American colony eventually settled; but seeing no prospects of access to markets, he passed through the village of Sao Paulo on his way to Angra dos Reis.... But settlers' land was not available and prices placed its purchase out of reach for the people of Grandfather's group... He was to make the trip from Belem to Santarem many times in later years but right now he was short of cash and had a decision to make.

What should he recommend? Should it be Iguape with its insects and wilderness country? Sao Paulo of the good soil but no outlets to market? Angra dos Reis with its high priced lands?

Should it be Santarem? Let us look. The lands were high above the river almost flat, rich soil, heavily timbered, low mountains nearby to break the flatness and a gentle breeze to leaven the humidity when the temperature was high.

This was the place for enterprising people. The farms would produce the sustenance. The village would be the marketplace and the river would be the avenue for commerce with the world. Santarem it would be! ......

The farm was about three hours by wagon from the village of Santarem. It was bare of any improvement but phenomenal progress was made that first year. A letter to his brother dated August 23, 1869, describes the status:

"I have now 125 coffee trees, nearly 100 orange trees, 400 pineapples, 150 bananas, 100 casus, 50 jacas, 20 mangoes, 20 copoassue, mamma apples and other seed planted All -but 10 acres was woods one year ago."  Tranquility reigned. Portuguese lessons were taken earnestly, and the children took to the language with the ease that all things come to children. Grandfather and Grandmother, however, were not so talented. Conjugation of the verbs were problems but the Portuguese vowels-were impossibilities. The nasal sound implied by the til was just not compatible with their established speech habits.

Syllabication presented its problems also; to such an extent that Grandfather was never able to effectively carry the Evangelistic Message to the Brazilian people. Nevertheless he served as pastor to the North American and English settlers for the remainder of his life.

An English family (or were they Scots) arrived in Santarem in the summer of 1870 and settled on a farm near the Henington and Vaughan places. Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey, Rebecca (aged about 12 years), Amy (aged about 6 years) and Esther Ruth (age 1 year) had moved from London, but Mrs. Grey was to die from the fever later in the year. Grandmother Henington took in Esther Ruth because the older girls were too young to care for her. When fever killed Mr. Grey in 1871, Rebecca and Amy went to live with the Vaughan family. The Henington children now numbered four: Thomas, Edwin, Eliza and Esther (my mother).

Mamma told us many stories of her childhood in the tropics, but we children listened with only half an ear. The story most often repeated was how the children would pester Grandfather Henington until he would teach the Bible lesson in Portuguese. Fifty years after coming to the States, Mamma could mimic him and giggle like a schoolgirl ......

The older generation mixed quite freely with the Brazilian people and appeared to be "at home" from the very beginning. Over the years the sum of the Brazilians mentioned as friends and associates far outnumbered the Americans.... Grandfather held religious service at his farm for a few years) but eventually organized a Protestant Church in Santarem. Meetings were held in Mr. Rhome's store, but as the settlers dispersed themselves along the Amazon regular attendance diminished to the vanishing point. Although he does not mention when the organized church collapsed, there is frequent mention of Christian services at his home...... Uncle Tom had gone to the States two years before to study dentistry and did not return until the following year, so Grandfather and Eddie started the "shop" .... Although wheelbarrows, carts and wagons seemed to be their principal production Grandfather records many other things that they manufactured. He invented a coffee huller and a "mandioca machine" that were quite popular items and one entry indicated that he had installed galvanizing equipment to treat wire screening .......

Grandfather had his curious days, too. Note these entries made in 1892: "Tues, April 5--Experimenting with perpetual motion." "Wed. Apr.6 - Perpetual motion won't work." Delightfull ......

Grandmother received very little mention in the diaries and there are no letters of her writing in the records. According to Mamma, however, she was ever present... His almost complete failure to mention her in his daily notes is not an indication that he loved her less than perfectly. His Policy for Young ladies written at the "ecadany" illustrates the serious and practical manner in which he resolved all matters. There just was no room in his compilation for sentimental-silly things.

Consider the time, for instance, when a young wild pig, startled in the garden, ran between Grandmother's feet and tripped her backward. It did not evoke a chuckle from Grandfather. As mamma related the incident, he threw his hoe at the pig, hit it and ran to pick it up, and then-returned to Grandmother and thanked her for slowing it down. I think his action could be called a hunter's instinct.....

There was never an expression of homesickness for the United States but Grandfather saw to it that Tom, then Eddie, then Eliza had an opportunity to go there and have a look for themselves. That all returned to Santarem to settle down must have been rewarding. Mamma was just entering her twenties when Grandfather became a naturalized Brazilian.

By the summer of 1893 Grandfather's state of health was such that he became concerned about Grandmother and the children. Mamma and Tom's two daughters were the children left, and their educations were important, so he began making plans to take the family to the states.

Tom and Maggie were dead from "lung congestion".  Eddie was established in business and Fannie was happy with her growing family. He had long ago baptized Fannie and the children, so there was no impelling reason why he, Grandmother and "the girls" should put off the trip.....

Grandmother, mamma, Alice and Lydia left Santarem for Belem on June 3, 1894.... Grandfather stayed behind to finish selling miscellaneous things and wrote in his diary that he had stomach pains and fever. He left Santarem about the 23rd of June and reached Belem about three days before he died. His death occurred on June 29, 1894 at Para (Belem) and he was buried there..... Grandmother was distraught of course, but thought it best to continue the trip to the States.... Grandmother, Mamma, Alice, Lydia and Eddie and family therefore made the trip to Crystal Springs together, arriving on Aug. 4, 1894. Grandmother was ill when they  arrived, suffering no doubt from grief and the cumulative effect of many tropical illnesses.... Eddie and family stayed in Mississippi until after Grandmother died, Feb. 26, 1895, after which he, Fannie, Edinhog, Carmen and the nurse returned to South America......

 (The remainder of the book describes the lives of those who returned to South America).

05/30/14 was the last day I modified this page.

Content Copyright Rob Crawford,, County Coordinator    All rights reserved.

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