John Ripley Henry was born in Cooperstown, New York in 1801. John migrated to Tennessee and lived in Knox County, where he married Caroline Cloyd. They had three children named John R., Selina F. and Ellen M.
In 1863, he served as a Treasury Agent. After the Civil War, Treasurer Henry became a commissioner with the Freedmen’s Bureau. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created in 1865 to help with the transition after the war for the many former slaves that were emancipated. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, housing and medical assistance to the former slaves and poor whites. It also established schools and offered clothing to those in need.
In 1866, there was an unexpected vacancy of the State Treasurer position as a result of actions by the current state Treasurer. During his time in office, Treasurer Stanford deposited school funds that were in the form of Federal bonds in a Memphis bank. However, the bank became insolvent and the school funds that were deposited in the bank were unable to be obtained. As a result of losing the school fund money, Treasurer Stanford resigned from his position. After his resignation Governor William Brownlow appointed Treasurer John R. Henry from Knox County to fill the vacancy.
In 1866, Treasurer Henry became the 8th State Treasurer of Tennessee. He served as State Treasurer from 1866 to 1868. Only one year after his service as State Treasurer, he passed away in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 25, 1869, and was buried in the Old Gray Cemetery in Knox County.
Reference: Ancestry.com 1860 United States Federal Census; “John Ripley Henry,” Find a Grave http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi; Knoxville Whig, 26 May 1869; “The Freedmen’s Bureau, 1865-1872” http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/freedmens-bureau; “Resignation of R.L. Stanford as State Treasurer,” December 24, 1866, William Brownlow Governor Papers, Box 2, Folder 6, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN; E. Murton Coulter, William G. Brownlow: Fighting Parson of the Southern Highlands (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999).