Biography and History

Henry Wikoff was an American author and adventurer related to the Conover, Hartshorne, Hendrickson, Schureman, and Wikoff families of Monmouth and New Brunswick, New Jersey. He attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) for some time but did not earn a degree. Wikoff was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in June 1834, after which time he departed on an extended tour of Europe. He was a man of wit, intelligence, and captivating charm and manners, and soon was able to penetrate the most exclusive circles of European society. He was also a devoted friend of Napoleon I of France, and he received a decoration from the queen of Spain, hence the ns2:title "Chevalier." When one of his theatrical friends who had contracted to bring the famous dancer Fanny Elssler to America died, Wikoff took responsibility of bringing her over from Europe, and contributed to the success of her American tour in 1840. In 1836 he was made an attaché of the United States in London, and, while in England in 1850, he accepted work as an agent of the British Foreign Office.

Wikoff also worked as an "undercover" journalist for the New York Herald. He was able to befriend and attain the confidence of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and became part of her inner circle of friends. His most important literary work is The Reminiscences of an Idler (1880). Wikoff died of paralysis in England in 1884.

Charles I. Hendrickson, a relative of Henry Wikoff, was a merchant. Between 1830 and 1831, he had a family home built in Middletown Village in New Jersey, which was called "Locustwood." From 1837 to 1857, he was a rug merchant for A. McCallum & Company in Philadelphia.

Source: From the finding aid for C1270