Enoch Pinkney Henderson

1818 - 1893

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister



Rev. Enoch P. Henderson

The reverend gentleman was born in Calloway, Missouri, on July 24, 1818. When about 15 years of age his parents moved to Jackson county in that state and 15 years later he went to visit relatives in Western Pennsylvania where he made the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Schroyer whom he married in Fayette county on March 26, 1850. Up to this time he had occupied himself, since attaining his majority, in teaching county schools and at times filling pastoral appointments, but feeling the need of a higher education he entered the Cumberland Presbyterian college, at Waynesburg, Pa., from which he graduated September 26, 1855.

In the following year he took his family and started for Oregon, from whence he had received a call to assume the duties of president of Columbia college, a Cumberland Presbyterian institution in Eugene. They boarded a steamer at New York, crossed the isthmus at Panama and after a short visit with relatives in California arrived in Eugene in August of the same year. He occupied his position at the head of Columbia college until after it was burned for the second time. His incumbency covered a period of three years and much of the success of this leading pioneer college is due to the efficient and faithful services rendered by him. At times even in that early day there were as many as 125 and 150 students in attendance striving to acquire the benefits of a higher education. Many of those students were afterward called to positions of higher trust in the various branches of the government of his state and some of them have gained national and even world-wide fame in the literary world. He then returned to California, settled at Healdsburg, but came back to Oregon in 1862, going to Harrisburg, where he was principal of the academy at that place. At the close of the academical year he went to Belle Passi, where he continued the duties of pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church with that of teaching a graded school for a period of two years. Returning to Eugene, he taught an independent graded school for three years, then went to Philomath, where he was acting president and teacher in the college at that place, again coming to Eugene after one year. In 1864, he was elected chief clerk of the Oregon state senate. In 1870 he took the census of Lane county, and afterwards wrote a series of articles on its resources for the Oregonian.

For several years past he has not been active in public life with the exception of filling the office of justice of the peace and occasionally supplying a vacant pulpit. Several years since his denomination conferred upon him the degree of D.D. He was universally esteemed and always a faithful friend and advisor.

[Source: Eugene City Guard, Oct. 21, 1893]



The subject of this notice was born in Missouri, July 24, 1818. He died at his home in Eugene, Ore., October 13, 1893.

He married Miss Elizabeth Schroyer March 26, 1850. Seven children blessed this union. Five are still living, and with the wife mourn the death of their father and husband. Two died early in life.

Brother Henderson professed religion in Hopewell camp ground, 11 a.m., fourth Sunday in September, 1838. He joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church the next Sabbath. Soon after this he felt called to preach the gospel of Christ, and began to study with the ministry in view. This he did, and supported himself by performing the most menial labor at very low wages, chopping wood, splitting rails, and teaching school. He was received under care of the Lexington Presbytery October 7, 1840, as a candidate for the holy ministry. For lack of means he could not be in school continuously, but applied himself to labor at such spare times as he could have. On April 6, 1843, he was licensed to preach, and began from this to preach as he found opportunity through a long life. On September 26, 1847, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry. Rev. R. D. Morrow preached the sermon, and Rev. R. Renick presided and gave the charge. He entered Waynesburg College May 14, 1852, with but about fifty dollars, but faith and grit and a wife, and graduated September 26, 1855, receiving the degree of A.B. In a short time he started with his family to Oregon, where he had been elected president of Columbia College, which was located at Eugene, and under auspices of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The school prospered, though the buildings were twice destroyed by fire. He lived and labored in this weedy field with little or no pay until his death.

Father Henderson lived in an important epoch in the history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church--its formative period. He added his quota to its usefulness and standing. He emphasized by example, pen, and word the doctrines of his Church. He had a religious experience, and contended earnestly that the "new birth" was an essential to admittance into the heavenly kingdom. He delighted to proclaim a gospel which is for the race, "whosoever will." He was a critical student, an able writer, and an earnest preacher. He was associated in early life with the fathers of the Church, and caught the fire that burned in their hearts, and all who knew him reverenced and honored him for his consistent life, faithful endeavors, and constancy to the "faith once delivered" to him. His alma mater conferred the degree of D.D. upon him, which honor he wore with becoming dignity and worthiness. The writer was intimately associated with our beloved brother for about four years, during which time the most pleasant and tender relations always existed between us. He was ever sympathetic, prayerful, and helpful, none more so than he. No one a more helpful listener in the pew nor wiser counselor in the relations of life. He was a good presbyter, a true citizen, a faithful and tried preacher and friend.

His funeral services were conducted by the writer Sunday, October 15, 2:30 p.m., from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Eugene, in the presence of a large audience, mourning over their loss, and we laid his body in the cemetery near by with the firm faith that his spirit was in heaven. We commend his bereaved wife and family to the God in whom he trusted, and in whom he found so much consolation. Emulate his example.

Eugene, Ore.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, January 4, 1894, page 399]



Among the educators of the pioneer days of Oregon, Professor E. P. Henderson came to Oregon while it was still a territory, and was engaged in his vocation as an instructor of Oregon youths for many years.

His first engagement, in the line of his profession in Oregon, was as principal of Columbia college, an institution which flourished at Eugene in the late fifties and early sixties of the last century.

It was my privilege to matriculate in that institution in the autumn of 1858, about a month after arriving at Eugene from California, and Professor E. P. Henderson was its headmaster at that time.

The building that was occupied that term by said college was built for a hotel, or tavern, as it was termed in those days, and was not as conveniently arranged for school purposes as was desirable, but as a makeshift it did passably well. This building was occupied that college year for the reason that the college edifice which had been erected on ground owned by the institution, on a hill about a mile southwest of the town,. had been recently destroyed by fire. However, in spite of this incommodious housing, the school was efficiently organized, and the various branches of studies were prosecuted with a zeal and morale that were commendable. This result was largely due to the ability of Professor Henderson as an organizer, instructor and inspirer of his pupils.

Professor Henderson was instructor in physics, mathematics and the languages. There were two other tutors connected with the school, one of whom, Professor Geiger, taught the classes in philosophy, physical geography and cognate branches.

Professor Henderson remained only a year with the college after I entered it as a student. The cause of his severance with the school was not for the reason of dissatisfaction of the patrons with his teaching, nor of the Board of Trustees with his method of conducting the school, but because of his political views. A majority of the Board of Trustees was strongly pro-slavery, while Professor Henderson was a free-soiler, although he sedulously avoided any reference to the disturbing subject on the school premises, and discussion of it was forbidden by any of the societies connected with the school; still in the mind of the Board he was an incipient abolitionist and therefore unfit to be a tutor of the youths of the land. So after the end of the school year 1858-59 he was supplanted by a 'fire eater" from Maryland. This generation cannot com-prehend the bigoted intolerance of the pro-slavery men of that period.

This, however, did not end Professor Hendersons career as a teacher. Afterwards he taught in several places in Oregon and Washington, notably in Lebanon, Oregon, and Dayton, Washington. He gave satisfaction wherever he taught, and always and everywhere was held in affectionate esteem by his pupils

Professor Henderson was an ordained minister of the gospel in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, though he never was the pastor of a congregation, that I am aware of. He lucidly and vigorously set forth in his sermons the tenets of the gospel as he understood them, and his life was the daily expression of his Christian experience.

Professor Henderson took the census of Lane County for the United States in 1870. The country was then thinly settled and largely undeveloped. While engaged in this work he made a careful investigation of the possibilities of the country and made same the subject of a series of newspaper articles, which were helpful factors in directing attention to the latent resources of the country and quickening their development

He was also a practical land surveyor, and at one time filled a contract for the official survey of some townships for the Government

He was a native of Kentucky, but his boyhood and young manhood were spent in central Missouri. I do not recall, if I ever knew, at what institution or college he obtained his education.

He died, at a ripe old age, In the early nineties. His impress for good still abides and will until the generation that knew him, shall have passed away.

[Source: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, volume XIX, page 164]

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