Agnes Mary McDougall was born April 30, 1883 to Charles Archibald and Viola Harwood McDougall near present-day Escondido, California. Her sister, Viola Glenwood, was born two years later. Their mother died in 1891 and her father remarried a woman named Francis N. (last name unknown). Sometime during this period, she moved to Ottawa City, Illinois to live with her Uncle Duncan McDougall and his sister, Mae. In 1900 she was a student, most likely attending Ottawa High School.
In 1902 she entered the University of Illinois at LaSalle, where she was captain of the basketball team 1903-04, pledged Chi Omega, and completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1905, the same year her father died. She served as principal of Rantoul, IL, High School 1905-07 then moved back to California.
Agnes earned the Master of Letters degree from UC-Berkeley in 1908 and taught English until 1910. In 1910 she was a high school teacher in Lodi, CA, sharing a house with 2 other teachers.
As students at the University of Illinois, Agnes met Smith Tompkins Henry Jr. When he graduated, he went to New York City as assistant on the editorial staff of the Engineering Record and sometime thereafter was the Western Manager. However S.T. and Agnes connected, stayed connected, or reconnected, they married in Ottawa, IL, on October 1, 1910.
S.T. had heard of the mountains of North Carolina from associates at the Record, MacArthur Brothers Construction Company, builders of the Clinchfield Railroad. He and Agnes spent their honeymoon at the Stokes Penland Boarding House in Linville Falls. They took a horseback trip to the town of Spruce Pine with its 3 stores, railway station, and post office. They loved what they saw and experienced and in 1912 purchased the land comprising the watershed of Beaver Creek.
While living in Cleveland, they had their first child Kimesia Mary Henry, born January 17, 1911 and named for S.T.’s mother who had died a year after he was born. Their son, Stokes Tibbles, named for Agnes’ mother, was born when they moved to Flushing, NY in 1914. Both attended Harris High School in Spruce Pine. Kimesia married Robert Fredric Bare and became the manager of the Spruce Pine Golf Course. Robert died in 1961 and Kimesia in 1970. Both are buried in the Greenlee Memorial Cemetery in Spruce Pine. Stokes married twice and died in Philadelphia in 1962.
In 1920, the Henrys purchased additional property in the Grassy Creek Area (to become a dairy and later the Spruce Pine Golf Course) and around Crystal Falls Creek. They moved to Grassy Creek in 1925; however, S.T. continued in the publishing business as well as many other activities nationally and internationally, commuting from Spruce Pine. His many contributions to Mitchell County and the Toe River Valley have been noted in a previous MNJ piece.
In 1935, the Henrys purchased the Spruce Pine News from Edward Bruce Gilbert, Sr., combined it with the Burnsville Eagle, and expanded the coverage to the entire Valley as the Tri-County News. That same year, Agnes’ Aunt Mae came to live with them until her death in 1942.
S.T. and Agnes served as co-editors of the newspaper until 1957 when S.T. died. Agnes remained with the paper as News Editor until she retired in 1968.
Agnes made many contributions to the area including in 1920 when she volunteered as an English Teacher at Harris High School, enabling it to achieve full accreditation. She was a charter member of the Harris Elementary and Harris High Parent Teacher Association; charter member of the Spruce Pine Woman’s Club which spearheaded the Crimson Laurel Way project; and held membership in the Spruce Pine Book Club, Eastern Star, Crossnore Chapter of the DAR, Grandfather Mountain Branch of the American Association of University Women, and Tri-County Saddle Club. She was a life member of the First Church of Christ Scientist of Boston and the first woman to serve on a jury in Mitchell County.
Agnes died of pneumonia on February 16, 1973 in the Marion Hospital. The Christian Science Church of Asheville conducted the ceremony and the Spruce Pine Chapter 27 of the Eastern Star held graveside rites; she rests beside S.T. in the Spruce Pine Memorial Cemetery.