Back in my early days of RPG gaming (late 90's) all of our PCs had henchmen, but we rarely if ever used them. I'm not sure we understood the concept 100%, as we saw henchmen as "the new PC to replace my old PC when he dies and gets to inherit all of his shit."
Heck, even the old TSR adventures that had pregens (because they were inevitably originally tournament modules) didn't include henchmen. The adventures were balanced (if we can dare say that word) apparently to not need henchmen.
In the late 80s to mid 90s - the college years - my players experimented with a henchmen or two, but they inevitably became "party henchmen" or even "party controlled (N)PC." More than an NPC, less than a PC, controlled by the players with final decision making by the DM.
Yeah, I don't know if we ever really grasped the concept ;)
So, did you use henchmen / hirelings back in the day? Do you use them now?