Thursday, February 5, 2015

#52 Ancestors - no. 22: Henry Church, Sr. (week 6 - So Far Away)

Henry Church, Sr. was born in Suffolk County, England in 1751. Henry’s birth year could be 1750. I’ve seen both years on various bios so I’m not sure which is correct. The stone in the cemetery is marked with the year 1751 so that’s what I’ve used. Henry married Hannah Keine, a Quaker woman from Pennsylvania. Together they had eight children—William Clark, Elizabeth, James, Henry Jr., Elsie, Sarah, Hannah, and Annie A. Church. My husband descends from Henry’s son William.

The life of Henry Church is well documented in print and on the Internet so I won’t attempt to re-write it here. Instead, I’ll list some of the highlights of his life:
  • A British soldier in the Revolutionary War, Henry served in the 63rd Light Infantry under Lord Cornwallis during the campaign of 1781
  • He was captured by American troops under General Lafayette near Petersburg, Virginia and held prisoner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he remained until the war ended
  • Henry elected to stay in America after the war ended
  • Fate brought Henry to Lancaster County as this is where he met his wife Hannah whom he was married to for 82 years
  • Henry and Hannah eventually moved to Wetzel County, West Virginia where they lived out their long lives
  • Henry’s nickname came to be after reaching the age of 100—people riding the trains past his house would point and say “there’s Old Hundred” when they saw Henry and Hannah sitting in rocking chairs on their front porch
  • Henry was loyal to his king for years until he realized he couldn’t sell any of his land unless he took the oath of allegiance to the United States
  • Henry and Hannah donated a piece of their land to the community for the Hundred Cemetery with the plan that they be buried there
  • He lived to the ripe old age of 109 years
  • The town of Hundred, Wetzel County, West Virginia is named for Henry

Henry died in Hundred, Wetzel County, West Virginia in 1860. His death was reported in The Daily Dispatch in Richmond, Virginia on October 1, 1860. “Death of a Patriarch.—Henry Church died in Wetzel county, Va., on the 13th ult., at the extraordinary age of one hundred and eleven years. He was a native of England, and came to America during the Revolutionary war as a soldier in the British army, and was taken prisoner at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, and from some cause unknown to the writer did not return with the British army to England. He was among the Virginia troops that were sent west of the mountains by the federal government to quell the Whiskey insurrection in 1794—and soon after settled with his family on Fish Creek and resided on the same farm (where he died) 51 years. In reference to his habits for the preservation of his health, he was not by any means careful. His bill of fare of course, was such as could be readily obtained by the early settlers, venison, hog, hominy, etc. He was by no means a drunkard, still as it was customary in his early days, he took his dram without reserve whenever it suited him. But tobacco he regarded a nuisance, and kept clear of it.”

I note the discrepancy in the news article which states that Henry was 111 at the time of his death. Again, most of the bios I see list his age as 109, as does the historical marker on the side of the road as you enter the town of Hundred. It reads: HUNDRED—Henry Church, who died in 1860 at the age of 109, was familiarly known as “Old Hundred” and the town was named for him. He was a soldier in the British Army under Cornwallis and was captured by American troops under Gen. Lafayette.

Henry is my husband’s fifth great-grandfather and can be claimed as the ancestor who is the “farthest from him” in generations.

Sketch of Henry Church from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, vol. 19, no. 109, p. 16, June 1859;;idno=harp0019-1



  1. I'm a descendant of harry church,through Elizabeth, who married a Bland.Good article,first time I heard he served in American unit during whiskey rebellion.

  2. I'm a descendant of harry church,through Elizabeth, who married a Bland.Good article,first time I heard he served in American unit during whiskey rebellion.

  3. I, too, am a distant relative of Henry Church on my grandfather's side. His name was Rutherford Ray Dawson. I only was told the story after my grandfather s death. Thanks for the Info! Beth Kunkel, baltimore

  4. Henry was also a 6x great grandfather of mine, through his daughter Elizabeth and David Bland.

  5. My children are the grandchildren of Fred Church and Mildred Cosgray. Fred's father was George Church. I believe Fred was born in 1904 and lived on his family farm of Long Drain, Wetzel County, WV, which is just outside of Hundred, WV.
    I enjoy reading the information about Henry Church.
    Karlotta (Church) Hawkins

  6. Henry is my great great great great grandfather my name is Danny Roy Church my father Gary David named after my grandfather Donald Roy Church I live in central iowa Boone county