(ca. 1800-1883). A native of Kentucky, Henderson was among the first settlers in the new capital and immediately became a leading citizen. Appointed by the Monroe administration as the first postmaster of Indianapolis in 1821, he held that post until removed by the Jackson administration in 1829—and then served again in 1844-1845. He was a founding officer in 1823 of Center Lodge, Masonic Order, and a Whig presidential elector in 1832. In September 1832, a citizens’ meeting incorporated Indianapolis and elected Henderson one of five town trustees. Chosen president of the board by his peers, he served from October 1832 to September 1833.

Henderson earned a living from real estate and innkeeping. In addition to a 160-acre farm, he owned land in the mile square, many odd lots, and property around the state. By 1835 he was one of the town’s wealthiest citizens. The first bank in Indianapolis, a branch of the State Bank, opened in 1834 with Henderson one of eight directors. The directors advanced large loans to themselves, leaving Henderson, the bank’s third-largest debtor, in straitened circumstances during the economic depression of the late 1830s and early 1840s.

With the railroad from Madison nearing completion in 1847, civic leaders determined to install a more vigorous government and sought a city charter from the legislature. The resulting Charter of 1847 provided for election of a mayor. Henderson defeated two other candidates for the post in April 1847, winning 249 of 500 ballots cast. The office carried the responsibilities, powers, and fees of a justice of the peace.

Ironically, by the end of his term in 1849 the first mayor of Indianapolis had lost confidence in the city’s future. Henderson believed that the growth of Railroads would relegate Indianapolis to a way station, a place where passengers would stop only long enough for a drink of water. Selling off his holdings at reduced prices, he joined the California gold rush and died in that state.

Revised March 2021

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