Herndon was the son of Dabney Herndon a cashier for the Farmers Bank of Virginia. Its building later became home of the National Bank of Fredericksburg. The Farmers building was known as “Herndon House” because of the presence of the Herndons. (Daughter Ann went on to marry Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury, ”Pathfinder of the Seas.” )
Brodie Herndon attended the University of Maryland and returned to Fredericksburg in 1843 to practice medicine.
Herndon served the Vestry between 1847-1865 and purchased pew 13 in the new church in 1849 for $290. He married Lucy Ellen Hansborough and had 9 children. They lived in the Chimneys building at 623 Caroline Street. Herndon contended that the building was haunted and recorded paranormal events, such as doorknobs being turned by invisible hands and doors opening by themselves.
The Herndon family was prominent in the Fredericksburg area. Brodie Herndon Sr.’s, niece Ellen (“Nell”) who married a lawyer Chester Arthur who later became president She resided for a time at the Chimneys.
Herndon worked as a physician in Fredericksburg, Virginia until the Civil War, when he was appointed as Chief Surgeon for hospitals in Richmond, Virginia. Herndon is reportedly the first American doctor to perform a cesarean section.
Two sons, Brodie S. Herndon, Jr. and Dabney Herndon, both of whom attended medical school in New York and received their medical degrees in 1856. Three doctors in a household! Brodie Herndon, Jr. also served the confederacy as a medical officer and served time in prison camps.
Herndon also wrote a diary Volume 1 spans 1847-1848; volume 3 1863-1872; volume 4 1873-1879; and volume 6 1880-1888. After the war, Brodie migrated to Savannah, Georgia where his mother in law and daughters had fled when the federals had threatened the Chimneys home during Civil War. When Herndon died in 1886, he was buried at Bonaventure cemetery in Savannah.