|Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 /
From: Harvard Foundation
Subject: response from Dr. Allen Counter
Thank you for your email letter of inquiry regarding the living relatives of Matthew Henson. Through my years of research on Matthew Henson, I learned that he (Matthew Alexander Henson) identified one family in Washington DC as his legitimate family members. This family was that of Mrs. Virginia Carter Brannum, daughter of Henson's sister Eliza Carter of Washington DC. This family and that of Mrs. Olive Henson Fulton of Boston (the daughter of Henson's brother) had letters of authentication and photographs certifying their kinship to Matthew Henson. They were also the only family members to attend his funeral in 1955 with Henson's wife Lucy Ross Henson.
Henson himself noted cynically in 1947 that as he gained celebrity he seemed to gain more previously unknown family members. I have had numerous people contact me over the years asking me to confirm their consanguinity with Henson. In many instances, I have felt that this request was simply an effort to gain notoriety from Henson's celebrity, at the expense of the legitimate family members whom Matthew Henson himself identified and wanted to share his legacy. So, my response to your inquiry is that the only Henson family members authenticated by Matthew Henson himself are the family of Mrs. Audrey Mebane, a retired school teacher in Washington DC and Mrs. Olive Henson Fulton, a retired Veteran's Administration employee in Boston. Matthew Henson, who had no American children with his wife Lucy (or any other American children that he identified) fathered a son in Greenland (with an Inuit woman named Akatingwah) named Anauakaq, who died in 1987. Anauakaq Henson is survived by five sons and over twenty grandchildren.
I have recommended Mrs. Audrey Mebane and Mrs. Olive Henson Fulton to the United States Navy and the National Geographic Society to represent the legitimate Henson family at all previous ceremonies that honored Matthew Henson. Unfortunately, I do not have Mrs. Olive Henson Fulton's new address, but Mrs. Mebane's address is listed below:
Mrs. Audrey Mebane
1911 S Street SE
Washington DC 20020
tel 1 202 678 6931
I hope that I have been of some assistance. Thank you and best wishes,
S. Allen Counter, Ph.D., D.M.Sc.
Director of the Harvard Foundation
Professor of Neurology/Neurophysiology
Harvard Medical School
TEL 617-495-1527 FAX 617-496-1443
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