Monday, August 19, 2013

Valerie's father

Valerie Henson was born on 20 November 1918, probably in Grayson County, TX.  Her biggest mystery is her father.  Was it John Henson (the man who raised her) or Vernon Waits (the man married to her mother when she was born)?

Unusually, the Texas birth certificate data base does not have a record for Valerie, even though they do have one for her sister (or half-sister) Willie Waits and her half-sister (or step-sister) Lollie Henson, both born in Grayson County the year before.   The first public record for her is in the 1920 census, in the household of her grandfather Robert Murphy in Grayson County, Tx.  Her mother Carrie (listed as widowed) and sister Willie also appear in that census, all of them with the surname Waits.  Carrie may have actually been divorced rather than widowed, since there is evidence that Vernon Waits was still alive in 1930, although he is not confirmed as the same man. 

John Henson appears in that same census, also in Grayson County,  and he is legitimately widowed, with his wife Eva Manley Henson having died of pneumonia in October 1918.  He had 5 children at home, ages 12 to 2 1/2.  He also had a housekeeper living with him.

John and Carrie married about 1921, meaning that he became the father-figure in Valerie's life from the time that she was 2 or 3 years old.  However, I have not been able to find Valerie or Willie in the 1930 census.   John and Carrie are living in Bryan County, OK.  Four  of John's children from his first marriage, as well as two children they had had together, are living with them, but not the two Waits girls.  Neither have I managed to find them elsewhere in the census, either as Waits or Henson.

Valerie married Alfred Carender and they had a son Walter Edgar born about 1937.  They are living with John and Carrie Henson in 1940.  Valerie is listed as married, but she was apparently in the process of getting divorced, since she remarried later that year.   Her sister Willie married Alfred's brother Leslie.

Valerie's tombstone gives her name as Valerie Henson Rust and her obituary lists her parents as John Henson and Carrie Murphy Henson.  It is fairly apparent that she considered John Henson her father.  Since her children were born in Oklahoma, it is not possible to see what name was used on their birth certificates.  Her sister Willie lived in Texas and has her maiden name as Henson on one child's birth record, but as Waits on the other two. 

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