Ohio Biographies

Peter Lee Henry

This honored citizen and representative business man of the City of Ironton, where he is district manager for the Commonwealth Accident Insurance Company, of Philadelphia, is a scion of a family that was founded in Lawrence County nearly a century ago and the name of which has been most worthily linked with the civic and industrial history of this section of the Buckeye state. Mr. Henry is a man whose life has been guided and governed by the loftiest principles of integrity and honor and his abiding Christian faith has been shown both in words and deeds, with the result that he commands impregnable vantage-place in the confidence and high regard of all who know him. Virtually his entire life thus far has been passed within the borders of Lawrence County and here he has been called upon to serve in various offices of public trust, the while he has ever been kindly, generous and tolerant, and ready to aid those in affliction and distress, as well as zeal ous in the furtherance of those things which represent the higher ideals of life.

Peter Lee Henry was born in Hamilton Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, on the 31st of December, 1856, and thus became a right welcome Christmas guest in the home of his parents, Isaiah and Ada (Langdon) Henry, both likewise natives of Lawrence County, where the respective families settled prior to the admission of the state to the Union. Isaiah Henry was born on a farm in Upper Township, this county, on the 7th of April, 1817. and here he devoted the major part of his active life to agricultural pursuits, though he was also a skilled artisan as a stone mason. He served during the Civil war as a member of the Home Guards of Lawrence County and he was one of the honored pioneer citizens of the county at the time of liis death, in 1893. His widow, who was born in the village of Getaway, Lawrence County, on the 28th of May, 1816, survived him by more than a decade and was summoned to the life eternal in 1906, at the extremely venerable age of ninety years. Both were devout members of the Baptist Church and they lived godly, righteous and useful lives. The names of their nine children are here entered in respective order of birth: Samuel C, Elizabeth J., Mahala, Cassa A., James J., Isaac N. and William J. (twins), John W. and Peter L. Mahala, who is deceased, was the wife of Rev. Patrick Henry, a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Ironton; James J., who became a minister of the Methodist Church, died at the age of thirty years.

Peter L. Henry passed the days of his boyhood and youth on the home farm, in Hamilton Township, and in the district schools he acquired his rudimentary education. Thereafter he attended the public schools in the Village of Hanging Rock until he had completed one year's study in the high school, and in pursuance of higher academic discipline he entered the National Normal University, at Lebanon, where he was a student for two terms and where he fortified himself for the work of the pedagogic profession. From 1886 to 1893 he was a successful and popular teacher in the public schools of his native county, and he then brought into requisition his excellent technical ability as a carpenter and brick and stone mason, being' employed at these trades until 1896, when he engaged in independent operations as a contractor and builder. Maintaining his residence in his native township, he continued to be actively and successfully identified with this line of enterprise for more than ten years, and within this decade he erected many buildings and did other important contract work in Lawrence County. He became an expert in the construction of cisterns, and at the present time his advice is frequently sought in connection with the repairing and building of such repositories for water.

In 1907 Mr. Henry opened an office in Ironton and became district manager, for four counties, for the Commonwealth Accident Insurance Company, of Philadelphia, and for this substantial and representative insurance corporation he has been successful in developing a large and prosperous business in his jurisdiction.

In politics Mr. Henry is aligned as a stalwart advocate of the principles of the democratic party and he is well fortified in his opinions concerning matters of governmental and economic import. In Hamilton Township he served eighteen years as president of the school board and four years as justice of the peace, besides which he represented the township for one year as a member of the board of county commissioners. He is implacable in his opposition to the liquor traffic, and has served since 1909 as president of the Local Option League of Lawrence County, besides which his zealous activities in behalf of morality and social well-being are shown in his influential service in connection with religious affairs. He is president of the Ministerial Evangelical Association of Ironton and both he and his wife are most devout members of the Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Henry became a member of the church when he was a lad of eleven years, and much of zeal and consecration has marked his service in the vineyard of the Divine Master. He held for a number of years the position of Sunday School superintendent and is at the present time a valued teacher in the Sunday School of the church with which he is identified. He has held virtually all offices to which a layman is eligible in the Methodist Church, and he gives earnest support to all extraneous measures and enterprises advanced for the moral betterment of the community. Mr. Henry is the owner of an attractive residence property in Ironton and still retains his old homestead place, comprising eight acres, in Hamilton Township. There he gave special attention to the raising of strawberries for a number of years, becoming an expert in this branch of horticulture, in which his daughters were his able assistants.

On the 19th of September, 1878, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Henry to Miss Ruhama Berkley, who was born and reared in Lawrence County and who is a daughter of James H. and Elizabeth A. (Davidson) Berkley, well known residents of this county, where they continued to reside until their death. The marriage ceremony of Mr. and Mrs. Henry was performed at Ironton, by Rev. James M. Kelly, a pioneer clergyman of the Baptist Church in this section of the state. Of this union have been born nine children, of whom seven are living, the following complete list designating the respective order of births: William L., Maude M., Isaac N., Bertha, Wilmot W., Grover C, Ethel M., Olie A. and Amy. William L. died in infancy, and Grover C. passed away when fourteen years of age.


From "A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor.  Published by Lewis Publishing Company, 1916