Joseph M. Henshaw

                                           ┌── William Henshaw
                                           │    1742-1796 
                     ┌── William Henshaw ──┤
                     │    1767-1822        │
                     │                     └── Elizabeth Gilbert
                     │                          1746-1826 
Joseph M. Henshaw ───┤
B: 1794              │
D: 1869              │
                     └── Jerusha Brace
M: Polly Wheeler
   ├── Lucy C. Henshaw (1818-1819) 1,2
   ├── Jane Henshaw (1821-1893) 1,2
   ├── Mary Ann Henshaw (1824-1903) 1,3
   ├── Francis W. Henshaw (1826-1909) 1,2,4
   ├── Julia Ann Henshaw (1829-1918) 1,2,5
   ├── Jonathan Hoyt Henshaw (1831-1867) 1,2,4,6,7
   ├── Eunice L. Henshaw (1832-1908) 1,2,4,6
   ├── Albert T. Henshaw (1834-1913) 1,2,4
   ├── Myron C. Henshaw (1835-1890) 1,2,4,6
   ├── Horace Levi Henshaw (1839-1918) 1,2,4,6,7
   └── Hiram D. Henshaw (1843-1844) 1,2

Joseph M. Henshaw     [ID 04485] Click here to switch to Ahnentafel view: Ahnentafel View

Born Jul 15 1794, Geneva, Cayuga County, New York.2,4,6,7,8,9,10  

Joseph served in the War of 1812.2  He was a private in Captain James M. Stephen's Company, 48th Regiment, Warren's N.Y. militia.11  He served from Jul 29 1814 to Sep 25 1814.11  As was the case with nearly all state militias, volunteers were expected to provide their own arms and clothing.  Joseph M. Henshaw of Aurora, New York was recorded as having received $63.00 in reimbursement for the cost of these materials12 (another record shows he received $38.00, perhaps in addition).13  Joseph's uncle, James Steuben Henshaw, also served in the war.14  

He married Polly Wheeler, May 2 1816, Aurelia, New York.1,2,6  Polly, daughter of Levi Wheeler, was born 1800, Cayuga County, New York.1,4,7,15,16,17  

Joseph and family were shown in the 1850 census (Sep 30 1850), Aurora, Erie County, New York:4

Joseph Henshaw, age 56, born in New York; inn keeper; $710 real estate.
Polly Henshaw, age 50, born in New York.
Francis Henshaw, age 23, born in New York; blacksmith; $300 real estate.
Hoyt Henshaw, age 20, born in New York; farmer.
Eunice Henshaw, age 18, born in New York; attended school.
Albert Henshaw, age 16, born in New York; attended school.
Myron Henshaw, age 14, born in New York; attended school.
Horrace Henshaw, age 10, born in New York; attended school.
George Stevens, age 30, born in England.
Olive Perkins, age 21, born in New York.

Joseph and family were shown in the 1860 census (Jul 17 1860), Aurora, Erie County, New York:7

Joseph M. Henshaw, age 65, born in New York; inn keeper; $2000 real estate; $800 personal property.
Polly Henshaw, age 61, born in New York.
J H Henshaw, age 28, born in New York; postmaster.
Horace Henshaw, age 21, born in New York.

Joseph M. Henshaw died May 31 1869, West Falls, Erie County, New York; buried Section 1, Lot 253, Griffins Mills Cemetery, 53 West Falls Road, West Falls, Erie County, New York.1,2,6,9,11,18  

Widow Polly was shown in the 1870 census (Aug 31 1870), living in the household of son Horace in Aurora, Erie County, New York:15

Henshaw, Polly, age 70, born in New York; $2000 real estate.

Widow Polly was shown in the 1880 census, living in the household of son Horace in Aurora, Erie County, New York:16

Henshaw, Polly, mother, age 80, born in New York; parents born in New York; widow; boarder.

Polly died 1887, buried Section 1 Lot 253, Griffins Mills Cemetery, 53 West Falls Road, West Falls, Erie County, New York.1,17,18  

Joseph's great grandson, Trescott A. Henshaw, wrote the following biographical sketch on Joseph:8

"Joseph M. Henshaw, 1794-1868, a native of Aurelias, New York, settled in West Falls in 1811.  Polly Wheeler, another native of Cayuga County, also lived in West Falls at this time.  Thus a very important project of Joseph's was rudely interrupted by the War of 1812.  Joseph joined the Militia and served throughout the war and Polly returned to her parents, the Levi Wheelers, in Aurelias.  As soon as hostilities were over, however, Joseph hied himself back to Cayuga County, to Aurelias, near Auburn, New York and pursued this project which resulted in his marriage to Polly Wheeler on May 2, 1816.  It is plausible to assume Polly and Joseph returned to West Falls on their honeymoon - a document found among the "old papers" reads as follows.

We certify that lot No. I in the West Grave Yard in the town of Aurora, belongs to Joseph M. Henshaw, his heirs and assigns forever. Dated May 6,

signed John Wadsworth
James Enos
James W. Griffin

This could well be the burial place of their first child, Lucy C. Henshaw, who was born May 10, 1818 and lived but a little over a year and died on August 4, 1819.  In 1834 Joseph converted the Henshaw place into a tavern known as the Henshaw Inn.  It was described in a recent history of the area "150 Years in Aurora, 1818-1968" which reads as follows: Located at the Aurora-Colden town line near the Pipe Creek bridge, was the tavern of Joseph Henshaw, 1812-1842.  When the Cattaraugus Buffalo plank road was opened in 1849, this tavern was a coach stop and toll gate.  The photograph taken in 1912 looking north and that taken from the bed of the creek will give a good idea of what it may have looked like in those days.  It is deplorable that these photos were not taken before the road was paved, showing the blacksmith shop directly across the road and the wooden pump over the well on the lawn near the south end of the building.  The location is on Davis Road which today is New York State Highway #240.  It is less than half a mile north of the bridge over Pipe Creek.  Pipe Creek, the north bank of which is a vertical wall about 75 feet high, is a shallow stream, running westward over a slate colored bed.  One can walk up the picturesque length of it, keeping the feet dry, jumping narrow parts of the stream, to where it flows from fairly level fields.  It is an interesting trip.  At one point if the water is no more than 112 inches deep, gas bubbles up through it and a fire on the water can be had by lighting it with a match.  Pipe Creek empties into the east branch or Cazenovia Creek.  The first liquor license issued to our Great Grandfather, Joseph M. Henshaw reads as follows:
We the undersigned, being a Board of Commissioners of Excise for the town of Aurora, in the county of Erie, having been applied to by Joseph M. Henshaw of West Falls, in the said town, a resident thereof who proposes to keep a Tavern or Inn in said town, for license to sell strong and spirituous liquors and wines, to be drank in his house and being satisfied that he is a good moral character and of sufficient ability to keep a Tavern and that a Tavern is absolutely necessary for the accomodation of travelers at the place where he proposes to keep same, and for which he has paid a duty 20 of five dollars, determined by us, and he having executed the required bonds, we do therefore grant this license and authorize him to sell strong and spirituous liquors and wines, to be drank in the Inn or Tavern, to be kept at the place above mentioned.  This License is to be in force until the day after the first Monday in May next and no longer.  In witness whereof we hereunto subscribe our names the first day of May, A.D. 1834.  

George W. Bennet
James C. Paul Supervisor
Charles H. Ward justices
J.M. Hamlin

Thus we have an official testimonial as to the character of our Great Grandfather.  In the days of the Henshaw Inn, they had a unique method of liquor control.  Superintendents of the poor listed the names of those, who today would be known as alcoholics, and requested tavern keepers not to sell liquor to them.  Their names were posted for the public gaze and became known as "the Indian List", it being unlawful to sell liquor to Indians.  The following is an example.
County of Erie:
To Joseph M. Henshaw, the undersigned are overseers of the poor, of the town of Aurora of said Erie County.  Having Eli Woodruff to be an habitual drunkard, describe him as follows.  By trade a blacksmith.  Every merchant, distiller, grocer, shopkeeper, tavern keeper and other dealer in spirituous liquors, is requested not to sell or give, under any pretense, any spirituous liquors to said Eli Woodruff.  
signed Moses Haynes Superintendent of the poor.
H. Perry Smith's history has this to say about the Henshaw Inn.  "Joseph M. Henshaw carried on a hotel at the upper end of the village for over thirty years.  George H. Huntly began keeping the present West Falls Hotel in 1845."  Joseph M. retired in 1864 and his son, Horace L. Henshaw took over the Henshaw place which ceased to be operated as a tavern.  However, the Post Office was retained until it was relocated in our Uncle Wheeler Holmes general store in 1881.  Joseph's papers, found in the old canvass valise, include promisary notes promising payment "with use".  His leather wallet contained a number of these.  They were cancelled by neatly tearing off his signature.  There were other notes wherein Joseph was the payee.  One note instructing Joseph to "pay bearer on demand and charge to my account", indicates he, at times, acted as a banker.  There were contracts drawn up between members of the family as well as other agreements contracts and various papers issued by the courts in Buffalo.  

Joseph became Trustee of School District No. 2, of Aurora and Colden.  Here is the wording and acceptance of one of his collectors of school taxes.

Know all men by these presents, that we Azeriah Darbee and John Griffin (the collector and his security) are held and firmly bound to Joseph M. Henshaw, Benjamin Stockwell and Leander Roberts, trustees of School District No. 2, of the town of Aurora, in the sum of five hundred and fifty dollars, to be paid to said Joseph M. Henshaw, Benjamin Stockwell and Leander Roberts, trustees aforesaid, or to the survivors, to the which well and truly made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 20th day of February, 1847.  

Whereas the above bounded Azariah Darbee had been chosen Collector of the above mentioned School District No. 2, in the towns of Aurora and Colden, in conformity to the statutes relating to Common Schools: now therefore the condition of this obligation is such that if the said Azariah Darbee shall well and truly collect and pay over moneys assessed upon taxable inhabitants of the said district in a tax list dated the 20th day of February, 1847 and this day received by the said collector which assessment amounts to a total sum of two hundred and ninety dollars and six cents, and shall in all respects duly and faithfully execute the said warrant and all the duties of this office as collector of such district, then this obligation shall be void, otherwise to be in full force and virtue.  
Azariah Darbee
John Griffin

It is evident from this wording that the supercilious verbage of the legal profession prevailed even in those days.  

Joseph's wife, our great grandmother Polly, was a remarkable person, a very stern individual who would brook no nonsense and raised eleven children amidst the turmoil of the tavern and operation of the Post Office with the village blacksmith across the road.  

After her husband's death, Polly was awarded a pension by virtue of his service in the War of 1812.  Her ninth son, Myron, Justice of the Peace in Allegan, Michigan, wrote to Washington D.C. inquiring as to her eligibility for such a pension and was answered by return mail, written on the back of his letter.  The pension was awarded in 1878.  

Upon the death of Joseph, the Surrogate Court in Buffalo issued letters of administration to Polly and her son, Horace, and an inventory and appraiser of Joseph's estate was ordered.  Not a pants button or shoe lace was omitted.  

Taking part in the settlement caused Polly to write her last Will and Testament at this time.  She willed all her real estate and personal property to her son, Horace, and named him as executor.  Polly continued to live with Horace until her death in 1887".8


  1. Contribution from Tom Henshaw.
  2. Contribution from Kristen Wagner-Henshaw.
  3. Lineage Books of the Charter Members of the National Society of the
    Daughters of the American Revolution (
  4. 1850 census, Aurora, Erie County, New York; roll M432-498, page 87, line #32, dwelling #1336, family #1351.
  5. Julia Ann Henshaw death certificate.
  6. John Banes database:
  7. 1860 census, West Falls P.O., Aurora, Erie County, New York; roll M653-752, page 471, line #1, "hotel", family #684.
  8. Contribution from Tom Henshaw citing:
    A history of the Henshaw family by Trescott A. Henshaw.
  10. Henshaw genealogical chart, author unknown; Contributed by Donald Craig Henshaw.
  11. Erie County, New York cemeteries; New York GenWeb:
  12. "New York Adjutant General's Office Index of Awards on Claims of the
    Soldiers of the War of 1812. Albany: - , 1860"; Ancestry, Inc.;
    Claim No. 11,571, page 231.
  13. "New York Adjutant General's Office Index of Awards on Claims of the
    Soldiers of the War of 1812. Albany: - , 1860"; Ancestry, Inc.;
    Claim No. 14,069, page 231.
  14. "New York Adjutant General's Office Index of Awards on Claims of the
    Soldiers of the War of 1812. Albany: - , 1860"; Ancestry, Inc.;
    Claim No. 4,399, page 231.
  15. 1870 census, South Wales P.O., Aurora, Erie County, New York; roll M593-929, page 420, line #9, dwelling #392, family #376.
  16. 1880 census, Aurora, Erie County, New York; roll T9-0826, ED 79, page 79C, line #7, dwelling #130, family #131.
  18. Contribution from LeRoy Miller ().

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