Atlanta, GA (June 15, 2010) -- On Tuesday, June 29th at 11:30 a.m., history will be made as the first African American in the state of Georgia will be inducted into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). In a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol, Lieutenant Commander Michael Nolden Henderson, a retired U.S. Naval Officer and graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, will be acknowledged by induction into the Button Gwinnett Chapter, the Georgia Society SAR for his efforts in tracing his Louisiana Creole ancestry to an American Revolutionary War patriot.
Michael N. Henderson, USN Retired
Henderson, a native of New Orleans, La. who currently lives in metro-Atlanta, discovered his unique lineage while researching his French ancestry. His fourth generation great-grandfather, Mathieu Devaux, a French National, served as a militiaman under the command of the Spanish Governor General Bernardo de Galvez, who led troops in several major battles in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. Devaux had a relationship with his former slave, Agnes Mathieu, in Spanish Colonial Louisiana. Henderson is descendent from one of their seven children, all of whom were born free prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Henderson first learned of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution in 2006 when Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, discovered his own ancestral link to the Revolutionary War and one year later was himself inducted into the national lineage organization.
"I'm the first in my family to pursue membership in the NSSAR, so the process was especially detailed for me," says Henderson, who had to compile birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as other documents from the 1700s and 1800s to prove his connection to Devaux. "It was truly a labor of love and it's an honor to have my family tied to an American Revolutionary War patriot. I'm proud to be an example to others that they too can be a part of the narrative of America's history."
The story of Henderson's fourth generation great-grandparents and their connection to General Galvez is the subject of an upcoming segment on the PBS series "The History Detectives."