Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Strong Woman" - Margaret Ida Spain Briggs Henderson

My paternal second great-grandmother, Margaret Ida Spain Briggs, was born to William Thomas Whitaker Briggs, M.D., and Ida Margaret Susan Spain Briggs on 14 March 1863 at Cypress Plantation in Clarendon County, South Carolina.  The 21 July 1870 United States census records seven-year-old Ida living in St. Paul, Clarendon, South Carolina, with her parents and six older siblings - Thomas, Jr., William, Abram, Hartwell, Albertus, Ashley, and Edward.

How I descend from Ida.  My father and I follow afterElizabeth (Betty) Lee Henderson.
My extensive research of Ida paints the picture of a strong and independent woman, especially given the time during which she lived.  On 5 June 1880, 17-year-old Ida was single and “at school” in Charleston, and she was living as a boarder at the Confederate Widows and Orphans Home at 62 Broad Street, which also served as a women’s college.  It was unusual for women to go to college in the late 1800s, and I find it indicative of strong character that Ida chose to pursue her education in a bustling city away from her family.  By the time she married, she already had a career as a teacher (“School, District No. 10.” The Manning Times, 2 Feb. 1887, p. 2.) and had begun establishing her career as a journalist.  Page 3 of the 29 Sep 1886 edition of The Manning (SC) Times indicates that she had recently returned from accompanying the Press Association party to Washington, D.C.  There is also a 17 Jun 1884 account of Miss Ida Briggs of Manning visiting friends in Sumter the previous week.  Single women traveling alone was a fairly uncommon occurrence in the late 1800s, so I believe it shows her sense of adventure and independence.

According to page two of the 26 October 1886 edition of The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, South Carolina) newspaper, Mr. James Rutledge Henderson of Spartanburg, South Carolina, married Ida - “one of the most charming ladies of Clarendon” - at the Presbyterian church near “the Briggs mansion” in Clarendon County on 20 October 1886.

On 9 June 1900, the United States census records Ida living in Spartanburg Township, Ward 4, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, with her husband and five children - Louis, Russell, Margaret, James, and Thomas.  Being a mother seemed not to slow her down too much, as is shown on page three of the 04 June 1902 edition of The Manning Times which records “Mrs. J. R. Henderson, Mrs. W. T. Briggs and Miss Ida Briggs left for Hendersonville, N. C., where they will keep a boarding house.”

On 15 April 1910, the United States census for District 0105 of Ward 4, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, shows James and Ida living on West Trade Street in Charlotte with their children, Louis, Russell, Margaret, James, Jr., Thomas, and Louise.  A 1912 Charlotte city directory records James and Ida living at 1007 W 5th.

On  4 June 1916, The Charlotte Observer published two articles, taking up almost an entire page (p. 4) by Ida Briggs Henderson.  The first was entitled “Memories of the Old South;” and the title of the second one was “Plantation Tales.”  “Memories of the Old South” seems to have become a somewhat regular column.  Later that same year, on 22 November, the same newspaper published an article stating, “The drama now under way, to be presented at the Academy on the 14th of December is the work of two Charlotte playwrights, Ida Briggs Henderson and Edward Lansing Cowles, whose collaboration is particularly fortunate because of the extensive knowledge of southern lore and negro dialect possessed by Mrs. Henderson., and the comprehensive technical knowledge of the construction of the drama and stage-craft of Mr. Cowles, aided by the expressive pen of both playwrights.”  The name of the play was “Petwen The Lines.”  On 29 April 1917, The Charlotte Observer published (p. 23) another “Memories of the Old South” column by Mrs. Ida Briggs Henderson.

A 1920 Charlotte city directory shows Mr. and Mrs. Henderson living at 120 E. Morehead in Charlotte.  The United States census for that year, taken on January 15 for Charlotte Township, shows the couple living on West Trade Street in Charlotte with their children, James, Thomas, and Ida.  It seems they moved at some point between the times of the census and city directory or vice versa.

In 1927, the Charlotte city directory lists James and Ida Henderson living at 1007 West 5th Street.  The following year, Ida’s husband died in a hotel fire in Shelby, North Carolina, on the 23rd of February.  The 1930 and 1931 Charlotte city directories show her widowed and living at 2309 Charlotte Drive, the home of her youngest child, Ida Louise Henderson Ingram.

On the evening of 21 March 1938, Mrs. Margaret Ida Spain Briggs Henderson, age 75, passed away at her Louise’s home.  The 22 March 1938 editions of the Asheville Citizens-Times, The Daily Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), and The Greensboro Record, note her involvement in strong Daughters of the American Revolution (National # 13020, Chapter: SC, Patriots: John Chambers and William Henry) and American War Mothers, as well as highlight her career as a magazine and newspaper writer.

Following a 3:00 PM memorial service on 22 March 1938, Mrs. Henderson’s family laid her to rest in the historic Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte.

Twenty-nine of Ida Briggs Henderson’s publications can be found online at North Carolina Periodicals Index, and many more are available in online and microfiche newspapers.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2018 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint or repost this in full or in part or use excerpts from it without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put creating this.