By the year 1700, the colonial immigrants of the last century had swept inland to the “fall line”, the westward boundary of established settlements in the English colonies.
In truth, the actual frontier was more advanced, pushed westward to within fifty miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains by the aggressive Scots-Irish who grew up farming and fighting in Northern Ireland. These fierce, hard working Scots-Irish included some of our own Henderson ancestors. (See Hendersons as Scots-Irish)
In the years prior to 1776, the tide of immigration marched steadily into the valleys of the Shenandoah, the Yadkin, and the Catawba. The immensity of this mobile, drifting mass is attested by the fact that from 1732 to 1754, the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia grew enormously and the population of North Carolina more than doubled.
After a time, a second advance of settlers began in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, this time into the piedmont zone of Virginia and the Carolinas, running in a southwesterly direction along the broad terraces east of the Appalachian Range. This second migration saw a class of people different in spirit from their more aristocratic neighbors in the tidewater. These new pioneers were people of the yeoman class, English, Scots and Scots-Irish, Welsh, and a few French. They were the first pioneers of the Old Southeast, and it would be these people who later would flower the third and greatest movement of westward expansion into Tennessee and Kentucky and Arkansas.
During these years and just prior to the American revolution, the politics of the American colonies began to change. There arose a division between the gentlemen farmers and merchants of the coastal areas and the rough hewn, hard fighting settlers on the western frontier. It seems that the coastal areas were growing richer while the western frontiermen were barely able to feed their families, not to mention constant skirmishes with the native Indians without any assistance from the colonial government. Truth is, the western settlers knew they were being used as a shield, a frontier barrier to protect the eastern society from Indians. As a group, these common folk did not resent their sacrificial role, nor the poverty in which they lived. In fact, they were accustomed to being exploited by the aristocracy and the English government. Moreover, they were comfortable in their role as farmer solders, willing to put down their plows and pick up arms to fight the hostiles at a moments notice. By their nature, they seemed almost eager to fight as a means of breaking the boredom of their isolated frontier existence.
When the American Revolution began to pick up steam, it would be these farmer soldiers who would answer the call of the new Continental Congress to fight against the English and their harsh exploitation of the colonies. And it was during these years that our Henderson ancestors found themselves divided. Most of our Hendersons could be found in the ranks of the American militia yet some of our Hendersons felt their loyalty to the Tory position and auld Scotland which sent Royal Highland troops to fight against their brothers in the Continental Army. It was a trying time yet a proud time especially for those Scotish Henderson who served as revolutionaries in the American government and great captains in Washington’s army, risking death and ruin if the American cause had been lost.
Listed below are the names of some of our 18th Century First Hendersons in America. We invite you to review our information in detail by entering the table full screen.
There are a number of ways Henderson genealogists can use this unique genealogy tool offered by Clan Henderson Society. You can look in the table for someone you know. You can compare the family tree of the First Henderson in our table with your own family tree. If you do not find your First Henderson, you can add his name and family tree to our database. Contact the project administrator for instructions on how to join our project at