McHENRY, William, legislator and soldier of the Black Hawk War, came from Kentucky to Illinois in 1809, locating
in White County, and afterwards became prominent as a legislator and soldier in the War of 1812, and in the Black
Hawk War of 1832, serving in the latter as Major of the "Spy Battalion" and participating in the battle
of Bad Axe. He also served as Representative in the First, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth General Assemblies, and as Senator
in the Sixth and Seventh. While serving his last term in the House (1835), he died and was buried at Vandalia,
then the State capital. McHenry County—organized by act of the Legislature, passed at a second session during the
winter of 1835-36—was named in his honor.
[Source: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1918]
William McHenry came from Kentucky to Illinois in 1809, locating in White County, and afterwards became prominent
as a legislator and captain in the War of 1812, and in the Black Hawk War of 1832, serving in the latter as major
of the "Spy Battalion" and participating in the Battle of Bad Axe. He also served as representative in
the First, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth General Assemblies and as senator in the Sixth and Seventh. While serving in
the House, he died in 1835, and was buried at Vandalia, then the State capital. McHenry County, in the northern
part of the State, was named in his honor.
[Source: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 1913]
William McHenry is believed to have been born in 1771. He married Hannah Ruth Blackford in the late 1790's in Logan
County, Kentucky. McHenry served as a Lieutenant in Price’s Battalion of Mounted Volunteers and participated at
the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, near modern Toledo, Ohio. McHenry moved from Henderson County, Kentucky in
1810. The family settled in what is now White County, Illinois, along the trail between the salt works near Old
Shawneetown, Illinois and Fort Vincennes.
In 1811, McHenry served in the Illinois Militia during Tecumseh's War, which culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe
in the Indiana territory. After the outbreak of the War of 1812, he participated in the attack on the Native American
village at Peoria, which was allied with the British.
McHenry was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1818, and elected to the first Illinois House
McHenry served as a Major, leading the Mounted Spies, in the Blackhawk War in 1832. He became ill during the campaign,
and was mustered out, at the age of 61. He was promptly elected to the State Senate.
William McHenry died in 1835 in a boarding house in Vandalia, Illinois, which was then the State capital.
The following information was submitted by researcher Donna Buechler:
William McHenry, of Scot-Irish descent, was born October 3, 1771. In the late 1790’s in
Logan County Kentucky he married Hannah Ruth Blackford, who was born in 1772. Hannah’s
place of birth and parents, like William’s, are still being researched. To this union nine children
were born, John, George, Henry H., William Jr., Martin G., Lucinda, Mary Jane, Elizabeth, and another son who may
have been killed by Indians.