Allen Counter is Matt's best friend!
Home | Table of Contents | Arlington National Cemetery | Photos | Shopping | News | Email

Allen Counter, Audrey Mebane
Polar Legacy: Black White & Eskimo  1991, by S. Allen Counter, Ph.D.

Henson & Peary both had Eskimo sons. Counter informed the world in the 1980s that there were descendants of Matt and Peary among the Northern Greenland Eskimos. Dr. Counter brought them to the United States to visit their American relatives.
Allen Counter, Ph.D

Dr. Counter

An amazing discovery, and a wonderful story. Counter has a big heart for Matt Henson. An overview of the book is available at his personal website at Harvard. In addition, our site has a special page devoted to Allen Counter
Dr. Counter accomplished these Henson tributes:

• NGS Magazine article, 1988, on the Henson Inuits

North Pole Legacy: Black, White and Eskimo

Henson Monument, Arlington National Cemetery


Posthumous Hubbard Medal award

Matt's 1912 autobiography

Allen Counter
revealed to the world that both Peary and Henson had Eskimo descendents. Counter traveled to Northern Greenland in 1986 and located the relatives of the two famous explorers; Matt had fathered one son and Peary had two sons. Counter wrote about this in the centennial issue of National Geographic; Vol. 174, No. 3 (September, 1988).

Additionally, Dr. Counter achieved the reinterrment of Matt and his wife Lucy at Arlington National Cemetery, buried next to Robert E. Peary. The Henson family and the Henson-Inuit families were present at this ceremony.

Dr. Counter published a book; North Pole Legacy: Black, White & Eskimo. His book is factual, historical and contains ample photo documentation. It is an essential update on the Henson story.  His writing is filled with warmth for the Inuit relatives he reunited with Henson's American family relations. His reinterment efforts completed a spiritual path for the two great explorers; after Peary died Matt traveled from New York City every year to lay a wreath on his friend Peary's Arlington grave. Now they are buried next to each other at Arlington, and all their their descendents united.

Dr. Counter requested that the US Navy name a ship in honor of Henson, which they did in 1996 by christening the USNS Henson, an oceanographic survey vessel. Want to see it? More recently Dr. Counter petitioned the NGS to award the Hubbard Medal, posthumously, to Matt.

About "Henson relatives"
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

Notice: this email was sent via the Harvard Foundation email account. All responses should be sent to: