Miss Lizzie

Miss Lizzie's chimes were placed in the courthouse tower in the early 1930s. Photo courtesy of Donny Whitehead, aboutgreenwoodms.com.

“One familiar sight in those days was Mrs. Lizzie George Henderson coming down the street in her electric car. It did not have a horn but a bell that she rang to let you know she was coming. It was the only electric car in Greenwood. Miss Lizzie, as she was known, wore black dresses down to her ankles, even after others had shortened theirs. Her husband, Dr. T.R. Henderson, was President of the Bank of Commerce, and she was the daughter of Senator J.Z.George.

“She donated the land for the public library and the Confederate Memorial Building. She also donated the chimes in the clock tower at the Court House and carpets for all of the church aisles in town. The chimes rang out every fifteen minutes, and we were told to learn their message when I was in Junior High School. ‘Lord through this hour, be thou our guide, so by thou power, no foot shall slide.’

The Hendersons lived in a big impressive house on Washington Street where the Piggly Wiggly [Big Star] now stands. She was the great-aunt of my friend Joe George[Saunders].”

Bama, holding Tiny, with Rena and Buddy. Look past Rena's unfortunate hat to the left, where the Henderson House is clearly visible. Sara always said it was massive and it was a tragedy to lose it to a grocery store parking lot.

I don’t think they make people like T.R. and Lizzie George Henderson any more, or perhaps we just don’t recognize them during their lifetimes. “Miss Lizzie” as as much a part of our childhood stories as the Three Bears or Little Orphan Annie. Sara was fascinated with her and would describe in detail the famous electric car and the bell that alerted you to its arrival. That car is still out at Cotesworth and when I have more time to dig through Sara’s photographs, I’ll post a picture of it. Aren’t we lucky that Kat Williams and her family treasured that old car enough to save it?

Dr. and Mrs. Henderson dominated Greenwood’s social and cultural scene in the first decades of the twentieth century. As Sara mentions in her memoirs, they gave the land for the Baptist church, the Confederate Memorial building and added to the Carnegie funds which endowed Greenwood’s original public library. Dr. Henderson even went out to Cotesworth and stocked the new library with a thousand of J.Z.George’s books. The Westminster chimes in the courthouse tower, which at the moment are functional, were given by Miss Lizzie in memory of her husband after his death. His role in saving the Bank of Commerce when every other bank in Greenwood failed in 1932 will be recounted in a later blog. An amazing couple who left us with so many gifts.

Greenwood Leflore Library, 1914, Photo courtesy of Mary Rose Carter







And one more happy note: daughterofthedelta and the rest of the West/Evans gang happily welcomes our newest little fellow, William Bartling Liles, born June 6 2011.  Mamie’s great-grandson, Jessie’s great-great-grandson, Bama’s great-great-great-grandson, Bigma’s great-great-great-great-grandson, and Sara’s great-great-nephew. So there. You’re well-grounded, Cousin William. See you in Greenwood.


About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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1 Response to Miss Lizzie

  1. Jenny Adams says:

    I want the stories of Miss Minnie. I don’t remember Lizzie stories.
    Exciting news about our newest addition. 🙂 Miss you. Love you.

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