Editor's Note - Sources: “Yesterday and Today: History of York County,” “Nebraska, Our Towns” and the Henderson Chamber website
Henderson was incorporated Oct. 14, 1887.
Henderson received its name after David Henderson who settled a few miles south of the town along the Blue River in 1861.
Prior to this, 35 Mennonite families migrated from Russia in 1874 to establish a freedom of religion and a new way of life. A delegation had been sent to scout out America as a possible new home and serious plans were made to leave Russia.
Leaving Russia was difficult. Chests and cases had to be made to pack their clothing and necessary supplies for their trip across the continent and over the Atlantic Ocean. Selling many of their belongings, leaving friends and relatives behind, they ventured forth on their long and arduous journey to America. By rail, they traveled to Hamburg, Germany, and finally in August of 1874, they set sail on the Tuetonia. Their voyage was plagued by fire, seasickness and death before they finally arrived in New York.
Another trip by rail brought them to Lincoln where they waited a month for the Burlington Missouri River Railroad to complete their new home – the Immigrant House.
The original Henderson Immigrant House was a long narrow building about 20x80 feet in size, constructed of rough boards, the walls being about eight or nine feet high. Upon the Mennonites’ arrival, the carpenters were putting the final rows of shingles on the roof. Inside, the floor was of wide boards and the walls were lined with tar paper to make them more air tight. The cracks between the outside boards were covered with batten. It had two rooms and many windows. A well had been dug nearby.
The 35 Mennonite families crowded into the long narrow building and anxiously awaited the completion of their own homes before winter set in. This roughly constructed building served as the Mennonites’ first home in America and symbolized their determination to seek out a better place where their way of life could be preserved. Life that first winter was not easy, but much better than it had been in Russia.
The year of 1887 was a milestone in the history of the town. First, the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad built a branch line from Fremont to Hastings, going through Henderson Precinct. Secondly, the Pioneer Town Site Company purchased land from the railroad, platted streets and established the town. Thirdly, the town was born, with the building of three hours, several businesses, a lumber yard and a depot, with incorporation coming on Oct. 14.
Henderson’s post office was established Feb. 21, 1888. It is interesting to note that the town was incorporated even before it had a post office.
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