Squire Miller Henry

by Leah Wilson

Since before its founding, many hundreds of people have fulfilled the daily, ordinary work that keeps Emory & Henry going. In the earliest years, working at the college involved farming, washing laundry, cleaning, cooking, serving meals, carpentry, masonry, stoking furnaces, and cleaning sooty chimneys. Over the centuries we have sometimes forgotten that these people have lives and families and communities beyond the responsibilities they take up on the Emory & Henry campus. One such person is Squire Miller Henry.

Born in 1845 or 1847 into slavery in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Mr. Henry’s parents were Woodroe and Francis Henry. He came to Washington County about 1868 finding work as a farm laborer for John Buchannon, who was teaching at Emory & Henry College. Mr. Henry soon came to work at the college as a porter and laborer. On April 29, 1871, he married Mary Ann Brown. E.E. Wiley, then president of Emory & Henry, performed the marriage ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. Henry settled in the Blacksburg community which had been established a few years before by persons recently emancipated. They had fourteen children.

Mr. Henry’s descendants and others who are rooted in the Blacksburg community share stories of his integrity, his commitment to church, his hard work for his family. Mr. Henry was instrumental in establishing the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is still meeting in Blacksburg.

Squire Miller Henry Squire Miller Henry

In his later life, Mr. Henry was honored with citations and recognitions from Emory & Henry students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Few of what remains of these honors and remembrances touch on Mr. Henry’s remarkable and gracious legacy in the Blacksburg community. Mr. Squire Miller Henry died in his home at Blacksburg, on Monday, December 10, 1923, surrounded by his family and neighbors.

Rebecca Grantham, Technical Services Librarian at Emory & Henry, provided background materials for this piece.

The family of Marie Lampkins, Mary Lampkins, and Debbie Foster, direct descendants of Squire Miller Henry, provided these photographs from their family collection.

Click here to learn more about the Watershed Project

Mr. Henry’s descendants and others who are rooted in the Blacksburg community share stories of his integrity, his commitment to church, his hard work for his family. Mr. Henry was instrumental in establishing the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is still meeting in Blacksburg.

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