Joseph Franklin Henderson, a son of Richard and Eliza Ruby Henderson, was born in 1852 in Hollansburg, Ohio, where his father(1) kept the hotel. In 1856 the family removed to Chester, Indiana, and in 1860 to Richmond, in the same state. Here Joseph attended the public schools. He wrote his first novel in 1870, when he was 17 years of age, and it was published in Gleason's Monthly Companion. The success of this and other stories, some of which were written under a pen name, induced him to go to Boston in 1877, where he became editor of Gleason's Home Circle and Literary Companion. He remained with Gleason three years, then, in 1880, returned to Richmond as journalist on Mr. Maag's(2) Independent. The next year he was married to Edith Griswold,(3) a niece of Mrs. Dulcena Jordan, the editor of the Independent.
Henderson came to Chicago in 1881 and worked as a reporter on the Daily News but soon changed to the Chicago Times, where he remained for seven years until 1890. He was considered one of the best writers on that paper. The next two years he was railroad editor for the Associated Press, then went to New York City where he did special and literary work from 1893 to 1896. Early in the latter year he became editor of the Woman's Home Companion at Springfield, Ohio, but in 1913 he had a stroke and, being unable to work, returned to Chicago, where he became librarian of the Chicago Press Club. He died in the hospital at Kankakee, Illinois, October 6, 1916, and was buried in the Press Club lot in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Chicago. Opie Read, W. L. Visscher, and others spoke at his funeral.
If Henderson used any pen names, none is now known. He did, however, according to John O. Brown, ghost-write some of Allan Pinkerton's later detective stories.
Owing to the similarity of Edward Willett's pen name ("J. Stanley Henderson") and the name Joseph F. Henderson, some confusion was caused by careless editing in the Beadle office, and one of Henderson's novels was listed in the backs of other novels as by Willett. "The White Warrior; or, The Track of the Avenger" appeared under the name Joseph F. Henderson in Starr's American Novels, no. 43, July 12, 1870. It was reprinted in Dime Novels, no. 359 and Dime Novels, no. 594 with the title "The White Chief; or, The Track of the Avenger." Incorrectly "The Renegade Chief; or, The Trapper's Last Trail" appeared under the name Joseph L. Henderson in Starr's American Novels, no. 35, March 22, 1870. This was reprinted with the same middle initial in the author's name in Dime Novels, no. 365 and Dime Novels, no. 605, as "Kirke, the Renegade; or, The Trapper's Last Trail," and under the author's name in Dime Novels, no. 605 appeared the words, "By the author of 'The White Chief." Since "The White Chief" was definitely by Joseph F. Henderson, the middle initial "L" in Starr's American Novels, no. 35 and its reprints is clearly an error. Both novels, consequently, belong to Joseph F., and are here so listed.
†J. F. Henderson, according to William H. Manning, also used the pen name 'Edwin Emerson,' and under this name he wrote the Beadle novels listed on page 100 above.
REFERENCES: Data from Henderson's niece, Mrs. J. W. Bayer, and her daughter, Mrs. C. A. Kleinknecht. Also letters from Mr. L. M. Feeger, May 18, 25, and 29, and August 6, 1945. Chicago and Richmond, Indiana, City Directories; Wm. H. Freeman, The Press Club of Chicago, a History, Chicago, 1894, 160, with portrait; The Journalist, XXIV, No. 23, March 25, 1899, 1, with a large woodcut of Henderson; Chicago Herald, October 7, 1916, 20; Chicago Daily Tribune, October 7, 1916, and October 9, 1916, 21; Fourth Estate, October 14, 1916; Editor and Publisher, XLIX, No. 18, October 14, 1916, 34; Chicago Daily Tribune, February 10, 1948, an item by John 0. Brown in "A Line o' Type or Two."
Starr's American Novels. Nos. 35, 43
Dime Novels. Nos. 359, 365, 594, 605
Pocket Library. No. 373
† Correction made as per Volume 3.
|1||"Richard Henderson enlisted in Co. E, 5th Reg., Ohio Vol. Cav., Oct. 1, 1861, for three years. Was in the battles of Pittsburg Landing, siege of Corinth, and Lookout Mountain, and was discharged at expiration of term." Directory and Soldiers' Register of Wayne County, Indiana, for 1865.|
|2||Mr. Maag was the publisher of the Volkszeitung and the Humming Bird (later the Independent).|
|3||She died about 1900. They had no children.|