Henry was the son of Ake and Elizabeth Henry, a farmer and slaveholder who came to Blount County from East Tennessee in the late 1830s. He enlisted into the Confederate Army when he turned 16 in 1865. He served in Major John R. Stuart's Battalion of Alabama Cavalry, engaged in attempting to delay Wilson's Raiders along their path toward Selma. He was captured near Plantersville, Dallas County, and imprisoned at Selma and Montgomery. After returning home he completed his education at Danville in Morgan County, and graduated from the Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1871.
Henry was a long-time educator. He and J. L. Brittain founded a boarding school in Summit, and he taught there for five years before moving to Jefferson County in 1878 to teach at Oak Grove School in Huffman. In 1883 he and Brittain co-founded the Bellevue Academy and taught there for 20 years, earning the title of "Professor" which clung to him throughout his life.
He was elected to the Alabama State House of Representatives in 1889 and served one two-year term. He was remembered for sponsoring the first state law to protect the health of coal miners and for sponsoring a bill the provided for local taxes to support public schools.
Henry was a member of the first board of trustees for the East Lake Atheneum in 1890, and served as president of the Seventh District Agricultural School (now Albertville High School) in Albertville, Marshall County for three years. He spent another year teaching mathematics at Hargrove College in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He also pursued real estate investments in Birmingham. He was elected County Treasurer in 1916. He was re-elected in 1920, 1924, and 1928. He also served as a steward of Wesley Chapel Methodist Church.
Henry had five children by his first wife, the former Mary Helen Baker of Danville, and four more with his second wife, the former Fannie Tedbetter Cochran of Albertville. He resided at 1228 Bush Circle. His daughter Virginia Mayfield was the first female Circuit Court judge in Alabama.
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "M. V. Henry, Long Leader in County Life, Dies at Home." (December 31, 1935) The Birmingham News