Henson Family papers
About the Project
Tobias Henson, a slave born around 1770, purchased his freedom in 1818 from his owner Philip Evans, Jr. Through the 1820s and 1830s, Henson bought twenty-four acres of land and purchased his elder daughter Matilda and granddaughter Mary Jane from Henry Evans, the younger brother of Philip Evans Jr. His younger daughter Mary Ann was purchased from James Middleton in part with a loan of $155 obtained from Henry Evans, for whom she was required to work until the loan was repaid. Over the years, Henson added to his landholdings and by the 1870s his family were the principal landholders in one of the local black neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. The descendants of Tobias Henson remained on the land and retained ownership until 1980.