Francis Asbury Hendry Home, LaBelle, Florida
Hendry is more than a name of a Florida county. Or a street in Fort Myers. Or the name of a Fort Myers lawyer or Fort Myers Beach newspaper editor or Collier County deputy.
Since before there were places called Lee or Collier or, yes, Hendry County, the Hendry family has been here.
They’ve made history since before Fort Myers incorporated in 1885 or Lee County was carved out of Monroe County in 1887.
Whenever something needed to be done in the past 150 years or so, a Hendry has been involved, it seems—from serving as Fort Myers mayor to running a hotel to planting the city’s famed palm trees to working as a cop or city clerk. That remains true today. You’ll find Hendrys practicing everything from law to dentistry to photography and local journalism to law enforcement.
Here a Hendry, there a Hendry, everywhere, it seems, a Hendry.
Keri Hendry Weeg, associate editor of the Island Sand Paper on Fort Myers Beach, knows about growing up a Hendry.
“It’s almost like you should be in a museum,” Weeg says.
Only with a family as vibrant as hers, no one can ever accuse them of being relics.
The family saga starts with the nearly mythic figure of Captain Francis Asbury Hendry, dubbed “The Father of Fort Myers.”
A widely published photo of Capt. Hendry, as he’s still known to descendants and history buffs, shows a man late in life who could have ridden a horse straight out of Ken Burns’ Civil War series.
His steely, no-nonsense, I’m-tougher-than-any-son-of-gun features were adorned with a white goatee. He sat astride his horse with the ease and comfort one would expect of a 19th-century cattleman and cavalry officer.
The captain came to Florida in 1851 at age 17 when he helped drive a herd of cattle from Georgia to central Florida. The state, incorporated just six years before, was wild and untamed, dotted with tiny towns and the occasional outpost along a river or bay.
Something must have resonated with the young adventurer. Two years later, he traveled to what was then known as Fort Harvie, an Army base on the Caloosahatchee.
During the Civil War, Hendry served in what was known as the Cow Cavalry, a Confederate force that attacked Fort Myers (when it was a fort and not yet a city) and tried wresting it from Union forces.
The Battle of Fort Myers was a Union victory. But Capt. Hendry and his progeny were not done with Fort Myers. Not by a long shot.
In 1870, Hendry moved full-time to Fort Myers—again, by way of a cattle drive, steering 12,000 head of cattle from Fort Meade through palmetto brush and slash pines and swarms of mosquitos. In his new community, he became a cattle baron, civic booster, businessman and father—of 11. He helped incorporate the town of Fort Myers, served on the first city council, and was among the founders of Lee County.
In 1895, he set his sights east and is credited with establishing the town of LaBelle, which he named for his daughters, Laura and Belle. The county in which LaBelle sits came to bear his name, and the clan’s transformative hands began to shape the region’s development.
Despite all the family has achieved, some feel their name and legacy are unknown to most newcomers and tourists.
“It means very little to the public,” says Kevin Hendry, a Collier County sheriff’s deputy. But it still means everything to the family. Kevin Hendry followed the captain’s military example, serving in both the Army and Marines before becoming a law enforcement officer. And in his possession he keeps a family treasure—a book detailing the clan’s history and members. It’s 847 pages long.
Everywhere A Hendry
By the late 1800s, the family were so well-known that their deaths made front-page news.
Cattle at the Hendry ranch.
“Aunt Sue is no more, and the town of Fort Myers is in mourning,” The Fort Myers Press lamented in 1899 at the passing of Mrs. W. M. Hendry, from an unspecified medical condition. “… She took it with calm resignation of one who was prepared to meet the Heavenly Father.”
“Mrs. Hendry, wife of Mayor Louis A. Hendry, breathed her last at noon on Monday,” the paper reported in 1904.
“Fred E. Hendry, 59, Drops Dead Here,” screamed a headline on a Tuesday in August 1944. “Fred Earl Hendry, 59-year-old gunnery school employee, died of a heart attack yesterday morning while eating his breakfast in the Blue Goose restaurant on First Street,” the paper reported.
Capt. Hendry’s grandson, the horticulturist James E. Hendry, got this recognition in The News-Press after his fatal 1955 car crash on First Street in downtown Fort Myers: “His monument is the stately beauty of the royal palms and the gracious greenery or the hundreds of other trees which he planted and nurtured along the streets of the community and which have made it known throughout the land as the City of Palms.” He died when his Everglades Nursery truck collided with a police car.
More troubling were the 1982 headlines reporting the death of former Collier County Sheriff E. A. “Doug” Hendry, who shot himself in the head with a .32-caliber handgun. He was 58.
Alcoholism drove him to it, according to a News-Press account. But he wasn’t a bad person or bad cop, according to the paper. He was described as “almost larger than life” and “probably the best sheriff you could find anywhere in Florida.”
The News-Press added, “Hendry was also a rarity among Florida sheriffs at the time—he was honest.”
The Legend Dies; The Family Endures
In 1908, Capt. Hendry wrote a history of Fort Myers and near the end of it he looked back and remarked on how much had changed since his first visit in 1853.
“Had we old-timers in that day been told that the year 1908 would be ushered in and find Lee County and Fort Myers what they are today, with a railroad terminal within the corporate limits of Fort Myers and the hundred and one up-to-date utilities, and our Lee County with a population of five or six thousand inhabitants, it too, the most prosperous county in the state, we would have shrugged our shoulders with skeptical significance,” Capt. Hendry wrote.
Capt. Hendry and his wife, Ardeline Ross.
The community understood his significance, however. When the captain died in 1917, it was front-page news in The Fort Myers Press.
“After months of ill health, the end came to him peacefully at 9:20 o’clock last night at the home of his daughter,” the paper reported.
The Press detailed his services as a state senator, mayor, county commissioner and his faith as a member of the Methodist church. He was regarded as an “exponent of fair play for the red man.”
“Capt. Hendry was a man of genial temperament, naturally cultured, gifted with the power of making friends and keeping them, few men in the state were as widely known, liked and trusted,” the obituary noted.
Meanwhile, Capt. Hendry’s descendants believe they owe him something.
“You have a lot of responsibility with that name,” Weeg says.
Fort Myers attorney Hank Hendry feels the same way.
“We just can’t rest on our laurels,” he says from his office on West First Street in downtown Fort Myers. “Because we just had the good luck to be born into an old family that was prominent in its day, so I think we have to keep moving forward.”
He adds, “I would hope he’d be very pleased with what we’ve done with it.”
What might Capt. Hendry think if he were to see the towns and counties he helped create? Hank Hendry pauses to consider that question.
“I would hope he’d think we’ve done well,” he says. “That he’s not ashamed of us.”
And he’s not forgotten. Kevin Hendry says he has a bust of the captain in his home, a lasting reminder of the nearly mythic man whose legacy endures.
FRANCIS ASBURY HENDRY
Albert James Hendry was born September 24, 1836, Thomas County, Georgia. He was a son of James Edward Hendry and Lydia (Carlton) Hendry and a grandson of William Hendry and Nancy (McFail) Hendry and John Carltonand Nancy Ann (Alderman) Carlton.
In Hillsborough County, Florida on October 5, 1854, he married Sarah Jane Moody, born March 14, 1840, Columbia County, Florida, daughter of Benjamin Moody and Nancy (Hooker) Moody. Rev. Levi Pearce officiated.
During the Third Seminole War, Albert served in Capt. William B. Hooker's Company. He was mustered into state service January 3, 1856 as a private and into federal service February 18, 1856. He probably served until August 1856. He is also believed to have served in Capt. Leroy G. Lesley's Company.
A. J. and Sarah Hendry, Martha [?], age 7, Charles, were recorded in household # 222/175 in Fort Meade in the 1860 census of Hillsborough County, dated June 19. With the creation of Polk County from Hillsborough and Brevard counties in 1861, Albert became a citizen of it and was listed as a taxpayer in 1861 Polk County. A cattleman, Albert had registered in Hillsborough County on 5 June 1854 his mark and brand, crop & half crop in one ear, crop in the other 68. The 1862 Polk County Tax Roll listed George W. & Albert J. Hendry with 590 head of cattle.
During the Civil War, he enlisted as a private on April 10, 1862 in Company E, Seventh Florida Infantry, CSA. He also served in Capt. Francis A. Hendry's Company A, First Florida Cow Cavalry.
Albert J. Hendry in 1867 reported owning over 1,0000 head of cattle in Polk County. A. J. Hendry [transcription has J. J., but most likely A. J. was listed as a registered voter of 1871 Polk County. By 1872 he had moved to Fort Green, Manatee County where he was listed in 1872 as being taxed on 80 acres and 25 hogs; in 1873, 1 horse and 25 hogs. In the 1870s he was a member of the board of school trustees at Fort Green. In January 1877, he was appointed a justice of the peace by Governor Drew.
Sarah Jane Moody Hendry died April 8, 1891. Albert James Hendry died on August 8, 1901 at Fort Green. They are buried in Fort Green Methodist Cemetery.
George W. Hendry recounted of his brother and sister-in-law in 1900:
"A. J. Hendry has lived at Fort Green, in DeSoto County [now Hardee County] for over thirty years. He owns a nice home, with valuable land and grove property; has cared for his large family of children, bringing them up to become respectable men and women, and kept them above want.
"In most of his early life he was a stock man, but like most of us old pioneers, had serious reverses, and now in our old days we drink the cup of poverty. The freezes did the work for us all, sweeping away a lifetime's labor and savings, leaving us poor, which seems to be the inevitable doom of all pioneers in all countries.
"Mr. Hendry has always been a hardworking man, honest and hospitable to the last degree. He is now in his 64th year. He is not very well preserved, but getting along fairly well under the circumstances.
"Mrs. Hendry was a long and patient sufferer from consumption and died at the age of about fifty years. She was a faithful wife, a loving mother and a good neighbor; a devoted Christian, she died as she had lived, in the full assurance of faith in a future glorious reward. She did her part in bringing up her large family of children, both boys and girls, to respectable manhood and womanhood, and lived to see most of them grown and married. She left an example worthy of imitation. Her daughters have all made nice women; most of them are married and doing well, exemplifying those excellent traits of character taught them by their mother a heritage more valuable than gold or silver, and more lasting than the perishable things of the world."
Issue of Albert James Hendry and Sarah Jane (Moody) Hendry:
1. William W. Hendry, born June 15, 1856; died before June 1860.
2. Charles Edward Hendry, born Nov. 17, 1858; died Oct. 4, 1905; married on Feb. 8, 1888 Feriba Idella Altman.
3. Mary Helen Hendry, born Feb. 4, 1860; died March 30, 1955; married in Manatee County, Fla. on Jan. 29, 1879 Henry Bascom Carlton, son of James C. Carlton and Martha Piety (Grantham) Carlton.
4. Florence V. Hendry, born 1862.
5. Albretta J. "Allie" Hendry, born Feb. 13, 1866; died 1892; married in Manatee County on Sept. 5, 1886 Willie J. Bryant.
6. Robert Wesley Hendry, born April 1, 1868; died March 18, 1946, Parrish, Fla.; married on Dec. 22, 1892 Martha "Mattie" Caroline Holloway.
7. Jessie Hendry, born Dec. 27, 1870; died Dec. 22, 1904; married on April 27, 1896 Archibald Thomas Carlton.
8. Lula Estelle Hendry, born March 4, 1872; married on Nov. 23, 1893 James A. Ryan.
9. Samuel Marion Hendry, born June 22, 1875; died July 22, 1957; married in 1901 Meddie Mae Albritton.
10. Cora E. Hendry, born June 12, 1877.
11. Francis Asbury Hendry, born July 10, 1883; died April 6, 1932; married on Sept. 2, 1902 Nellie Green.
12. Fred Moody Hendry, born Dec. 1888; died 1925; married on Feb. 3, 1907 Viola Altman.
L-R: George Washington Hendry, brother to Captain Hendry and County Judge; Mary Jane Hendry Blount, sister of Captain Hendry; William Marion Hendry, brother to Captain Hendry and first postmaster of "Myers" as well as a state representative from Polk County and a clerk of the circuit court of Lee County; James Edward Hendry, Jr.; James Edward Hendry, Sr., son of Captain Hendry and first Lee County treasurer; Captain Francis Asbury Hendry, "Cattle King of South Florida" - He was a state senator, served as one of the first Lee County commissioners and was a state representative for Lee County from 1893 to 1904. In the background is a 1909 Cadillac. Photo courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.
Captain Francis Asbury Hendry. Photo courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.
Francis Asbury Hendry married on March 25, 1852 Ardeline Ross Lanier, born May 10, 1835, Bulloch County, Georgia, daughter of Louis Lanier and Mary Lucretia (Ross) Lanier. Rev. J. M. Hayman officiated at Alafia in Hillsborough County.
Francis Asbury Hendry, for whom Hendry County, Florida was named, was a Confederate soldier, cattle king, and civic leader.
Francis Asbury Hendry was born November 19, 1833, about eighteen miles from Thomasville, Georgia. He was nicknamed "Berry" and appeared as such in several contemporary records. He was a son of James Edward Hendry and Lydia (Carlton) Hendry.
In 1851 James Edward Hendry, in search of new cattle range, moved his family to Hillsborough County, Florida and settled on the Alafia River, twenty-two miles east of Tampa. While on a return visit to Georgia to settle his business affairs, he died January 3, 1852 at the home of his brother, Robert McFail Hendry, in Thomas County. On November 5, 1854, Lydia Carlton Hendry married Benjamin Moody.
Francis Asbury Hendry married on March 25, 1852 Ardeline Ross Lanier, born May 10, 1835, Bulloch County, Georgia, daughter of Louis Lanier and Mary Lucretia (Ross) Lanier. Rev. J. M. Hayman officiated at Alafia in Hillsborough County.
In 1852 Francis moved from Alafia to Fort Meade and put his small herd of cattle east of the Peace River, and, in so doing, became among the first to move cattle east of the river. On April 19, 1852 he registered his mark and brand: crop and split in one ear, upper square in the other, brand A. Francis and Ardeline first lived in the garrison at Fort Meade, which was occupied by three companies of regular soldiers, some of whom had their wives and children with them.
After leaving the garrison at Fort Meade, he made his home about two miles north of Fort Meade on what became know as the "Berry Hendry Branch" of the Peace River, as opposed to the "Wash Hendry Branch," so named for his younger brother, George W. "Wash" Hendry.
About 1853, he made his first move to Fort Myers, which three years before in February 1850 had been established on the old breastworks of Fort Harvie, which was originally built November 4, 1841, but later abandoned on March 21, 1842. In 1854 as a guide to Lt. Henry Benson, he again visited Fort Myers to ascertain if it was practicable to open an overland through route to Fort Myers.
During the Third Seminole War, he enlisted as a private on February 18, 1856 in Capt. William B. Hooker's Indpt. Co., Fla. Mtd. Vols. and was mustered in February 21 at Fort Meade. "During the month of June, the company was employed on scout duty and a small detachment took an active part in the action of 14 & 16 on Pease Creek & in pursuit of the Indians," so recorded the War Department. He was mustered out with his company as a private on August 20, 1856 at Fort Meade. At the time of enlistment he was later described as being 23 years old, 6 feet 1 inch, with gray eyes, dark hair, dark complexion, and by occupation a farmer and stockraiser.
He enlisted as a private on August 22, 1856 in Capt. Leroy G. Lesley's Indpt. Co., Fla. Mtd. Vols. and was mustered in at Fort Meade. War Department rolls recorded as follows: "Sept. 1856, Alafia, Fla., employed in scouting. Jan. 1857, this command has been scouting on the western border of the Gulf Coast." He was mustered out with his company as a private on February 19, 1857. In an affidavit filed March 5, 1903 Francis gave as his tour of service February 18, 1856 to May 1858, having served in Hooker's Co. and two terms in Capt. Lesley's Co. National Archives records received by this writer had no record of his second enlistment. W. M. Hendry and Jehu J. Blount on January 17, 1903 both gave affidavits that Francis served from 1856-1858 in the Seminole Indian War.
On February 5, 1856 at Fort Meade, Capt. L. G. Lesley wrote to Governor James E. Broome, "Your Excellency-I have the honor to report...that the officers of my company are Streety Parker, First Lieutenant, and Francis A. Hendry, Second Lieutenant." Soldiers of Florida listed him as 2nd Lieutenant in Capt. Lesley's Co.
The family was enumerated at Fort Meade in the 1860 census of Hillsborough County. The 1860 Slave Schedule showed Francis had eight slaves while Louis Lanier owned seven slaves.
Francis was active in politics throughout his adult life. On October 27, 1857, he was selected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for a two-year term. He was one of the prime movers in the organization of Polk County, established February 8, 1861 by the division of Hillsborough and Brevard counties. In November 1861, he was elected a Polk County Commissioner.
Francis opposed secession, but cast his lot with the Confederacy. The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union of April 14, 1893 related (1864-65 records show him as a captain, not a major):
"When the war between the states was threatening, he cast his vote against secession but when it became inevitable, he at once enlisted in the cause of the Confederacy, was actively engaged for three years in the commissary department of Florida, furnishing large herds of cattle to the armies in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. In 1863 he organized a cavalry company, and was assigned to Col. J. C. Munnerlyn's battalion, Confederate states army. Did much hard and perilous duty, but was never engaged in any of the hard fought battles. He served much of the time with the rank of major and was in the army until the end of the war."
During the Civil War he did service in the commissary department. From Tampa on September 27, 1863, James McKay, Commissary Agent for the 5th Department of Florida, wrote Major Pleasant W. White:
"...I made out in sending 344 Head fair Beef Cattle off Mr Hendry on the 24th he tried hard to get Rid of driving, he said he would loose money, and after he had seen my averaging & purchaseing, he asked me if I would allow him to drive and deliver to Summers - - I thought this strange as all the people I purchased from present seemed highly satisfied, and said they were satisfied now, as no speculators had the matter in hand and that the prices were uniform and all got alike. This is what I always desired, as I know how jealous & suspicious they are, I had my own thoughts regarding Hendrys Remark or his desires and Replyed by asking how he would like to deliver 800 or 100 (?) Head of Cattle he spoke off to Stubbs at Madison C.H. and at what price. He after some time agreed to deliver them to Stubbs at 12 1/2 c/ gross delivered & averaged at Madison. This I thought Reasonable and asked that I would meet & contract with him on 3d or 4th Prox at Fort Mead when he stated he would have another drover Ready."
He raised a cow cavalry company, commanded by himself, Capt. F. A. Hendry's Company A, Florida Special Cavalry, C. S. A., which was attached to Col. Charles J. Munnerlyn's Independent Battalion. Fort Myers, which had been abandoned at the end of hostilities in 1858, was reoccupied by Union forces in January 1864 and used as a base to make raids into the interior to gather cattle and recruit men. Capt. Hendry later estimated that 4,500 head of cattle was taken. Hendry's Co., headquartered at Fort Meade, was credited with helping to turn the tide in Southwest Florida with Union troops and sympathizers no longer able to operate at will or with impunity. In December 1864, his company numbered 131 men. In February 1865, Capt. Hendry, attached to Major William Footman Cow Cavalry, participated in the unsuccessful attack on Fort Myers. He served until his surrender at Tampa at war's end.
Major C. J. Munneryln, from Brooksville on December 10, 1864, wrote to Brig. Gen. Miller, Commander of the Dept. of Florida:
"Capt. F. A. Hendrys Co is at Fort Meade. This Co is the most efficient of all. It has done active scouting & has so punished the enemy on several occasions that Cattle stealing from Fort Myers has been stopped. Capt Hendry is a most valuable Officer. I have detailed him from his Co & placed him in command at Brooksville. All the companies except the first two being subject to his authority." (See "Old Papers Belonging to Capt. F. A. Hendry," file in Lee County, Fla. Circuit Court files, 1917, copied by Kyle VanLandingham, February 2001, and on Bamberg web site.)
Francis, a member of the Democratic Party, exercised a powerful influence in post war politics. He represented Polk County in the Second Constitutional Convention, convened at Tallahassee on October 25, 1865. The Jacksonville, Florida Union of December 16, 1865 in reporting his election to the 28th Senatorial District (Polk and Brevard counties) referred to him as "Berry" Hendry. He served 1865, 1866. On May 26, 1869, he was appointed to a board of public instruction for Polk County.
Francis rapidly expanded his cattle interests. The Tampa, Florida Peninsular of November 3, 1869 noted his $50,000-cattle purchase from Julius C. Rockner of Fort Meade. After purchasing additional cattle from Capt. D. Hughes of Bartow, he joined the cattle with those he already owned and drove 12,000 head across the Caloosahatchee River and pastured them on the prairies of Fort Thompson. In 1870, after disposing of his property at Fort Meade, he moved his family to Fort Myers where he chose as his home one of the abandoned officers' quarters, which he refurbished. The 1870 census of Monroe County, dated June 11, listed the Hendrys in the area northward & eastward of Camp Romano. Francis' occupation was given as a herdsman, with $2,000 in real estate, and $75,000 in personal property. He established contact with the Cuban market and was one of the first to ship cattle from Punta Rassa to Cuba, which necessitated the construction of wharves and pens. As early as 1876 he fenced in a tract of 25,000 acres to improve the grassland for fattening stock for market. The Eastern Herald of Palatka of September 25, 1875, p. 2, noted, “Capt. F. A. Hendry, our present State Senator, is the owner of the largest stock in South Florida, which numbers about 25,000 head. Jacob Summerlin, Esq., comes next with about 20,000 head.” Sunland Tribune of Tampa, October 5, 1878, p. 3, col. 1, reported: ‘Mr. Jacob Summerlin has bought Capt. F. A. Hendry’s cattle wharf and pasture at and near Punta Rassa for $10,000. Uncle Jake is determined to control the entire shipping business of the Caloosahatchie region.” Reputedly at one time, Francis had 50,000 head of cattle and was known as the "Cattle King of South Florida."
The New York Times of September 14, 1883, page 3, reported:
"TO EXPLORE THE EVERGLADES.
"NEW ORLEANS, Sept 13 - The Times-Democrat's expedition to the Everglades will assemble at Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 15, and proceed by rail to Cedar Keys, thence by steamer to Fort Myers and up the Caloosehatchee River, through the canals to Lake Okeechobee. A camp will be established for one week on Observation Island until preliminary surveys shall have been made and everything is in readiness for the trip. A direct course will be taken for Whitewater Bay to the Gulf coast. When the centre of the Everglades is reached a camp will be established for two weeks,and surveying parties will be sent out in easternly and westernly directions. The Everglades in their entire extent will be penetrated. The personnel of the expedition is Major A. P. Williams, of Florida; Col. F. G. Hopkins and Dr. James Kellum, graduates of the United States Naval Academy, and Col. F. A. Hendry, the cattle King of Florida. The expedition will take with them six Racine canoes, manned by eight colored men. "
In 1891, having previously moved to Fort Thompson about 1888, he began to dispose of his stock of cattle running on the range and bought and enclosed a large area of low marshlands on the borders of the Caloosahatchee River. There he placed Jersey and other improved breeds, which he crossed with scrubs, thereby developing a hardy, valuable strain. With one day's ride he could see and personally superintendent his stock. He turned the active administration of his stock interests to his sons and interested himself mainly in the experimental breeding of cattle and his citrus groves.
He continued to be active in civic activities. In 1895, he platted LaBelle, which he named for his daughters, Laura and Belle. He was chairman of the meeting, held in the school house at Second and Lee Streets, which resulted in the incorporation of Fort Myers on August 12, 1885. Elected to the first Town Council, he, as one of the first ten town officials, was thus one of the ten founding fathers of Fort Myers. In 1887 another meeting led in a petition campaign for the formation of a new county. Francis reminisced in 1908: "Well do I remember when the time came to organize a new county by the people of the mainland of Monroe County and the mass meeting held under the shade of the trees on the present school lot in Fort Myers. Proud indeed am I that when a name was discussed that I- even I-made a motion to name it in honor of the beloved Robert E. Lee. Well do I remember the enthusiasm in adopting that motion." He was selected to the first Lee County Board of County Commissioners. He served as state senator from the 24th district (Monroe and Manatee counties), 1875, 1877, and represented Lee County in the House 1893, 1895, 1897, 1901, 1903. He served on important committees and proved to be an active and influential member.
Francis on January 16, 1903 applied for a pension based on his service in Capt. Hooker's and Capt. Lesley's companies. He gave his address as LaBelle, Lee County, Florida. His claim was granted under certificate # 4150, and when he died he was receiving $20 per month. On October 1, 1907 he applied for a pension based on his service as Capt., Capt. Hendry's Company. W. M. Hendry of Capt. Parson's Co. and J. J. Blount of Capt. Hendry's Co. gave a joint affidavit of support. His claim was approved as pensioner # 6059 for $120 per year.
Francis in the final year of his life, probably for easy access to medical care, moved back to Fort Myers. There Francis Asbury Hendry died of chronic interstical nephritis on February 12, 1917 and was buried in the Frierson-Hendry Cemetery. He had been a member of the Methodist Church and a Mason. The Tampa Tribune eulogized: "Captain Hendry was a man of genial temperament, naturally cultivated, gifted with the power of making friends and keeping them, few men in the state were so widely known liked and trusted."
Ardeline R. Hendry on March 29, 1917 applied for a pension as the widow of Francis A. Hendry, who served in Capt. Hooker's Co., Indian War. She gave her address as Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida. Jehu J. Blount and William H. Towles, both of Fort Myers, gave supporting affidavits that they knew F. A. Hendry and Ardeline R. Hendry, respectively, for 64 years and 33 years. On August 27, 1917 Herbert J. Drane, Congressman of the 1st District, wrote a letter to expedite her claim. In part he stated: "I knew Captain Francis A. Hendry for twenty-seven years before his death. He was probably the best known individual in private life in the State of Florida and was a man highly respected and beloved by all classes. I have never had the pleasure of to know Mrs. Hendry, the claimant, but I know that the deceased soldier was a man of great hospitality, that he lived in happiness with his wife during all my lifetime in Florida (about 34 years), they kept open house and Mrs. Hendry has been known for a great many years by thousands of people in Southern Florida. Captain Hendry was a man of unimpeachable character, his descendants being numerous and his wife who is now an aged woman has the respect and affection of all who knew her." Under certificate # 8354 her claim was approved at the rate of $12 per month.
Ardeline Hendry died September 6, 1917 in Fort Myers. George W. Hendry had said of his sister-in-law: "She has ever been a woman of firmness and decision, yet gentle and affable. She has made Captain Hendry a life partner of the highest praise." Burial was in the Frierson-Hendry Cemetery.
The obituary of Mrs. Hendry, of which some words are blurred in the microfilm printout, was published in the Fort Myers News-Press of September 7, 1917:
"The Death Of Mrs. F. A. Hendry
"Occurred Last Night At Residence Of Her Daughter Mrs. J. F. Menge
"Today a spirit of profound sadness prevails among the residents of Fort Myers, due to the death of Mrs. Adeline [sic] Laner [sic] Hendry, the beloved relict of Capt. F. A. Hendry, which occurred last night at 7:15 o’clock at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. J. F. Menge, 153 Fowler street, of valvular heart trouble.
"Mrs. Hendry was in the 83rd year of her life, and had been a resident of Fort Myers for about 50[?] years. She was one of the most highly respected and universally beloved of the city’s older inhabitants, and was known to practically every one who had lived here for any length of time.
"She was the mother of 11 children, five of whom are dead. She had no brothers, and but one sister, Mrs. Cuthbert Rockner, who is also dead.
"Three sons, Louis Asbury, George Milton, and Francis Marvin, and three daughters, Virginia Lee Menge, Carrie Belle Evans and Lucretia Pearl Carlton, are among the immediate relatives who are left to mourn her loss, her husband having preceded her to the grave some months since. She lived to see five of her children, Laura Jane Thompson, James Edward Hendry, Julia Ellen Hendry and two unnamed infants, pass away. Numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren still live to mourn her loss, to all of whom she was very dear, and who will grieve for her with a great grief that will not soon be comforted.
"The funeral service was held today at 11:30 o’clock, at the residence of Captain and Mrs. J. F. Menge, and was one of the most largely attended that ever occurred in Fort Myers, showing the high esteem in which she was held by the large circle of friends who had know and loved her during her lifetime. Dr. J. P. Hilburn of the local[?] Methodist church presided[?] over the impressive funeral rites of that church.
"The pallbearers were : W. J. Odom, J. E. Foxworthy, C. J. Stubbs, H. B. Meyer, M. Johnson and Frank Carson, and the burial and funeral arrangements were the charge of the [last line illegible]."
Posthumously, Capt. Hendry was honored when a new county, the sixty-third, containing 764,911 acres, which was taken from Lee County, was named Hendry County with LaBelle as the county seat. Hendry County was established May 11, 1923.
Issue of Francis A. and Ardeline (Lanier) Hendry:
1. James Edward Hendry, born January 12, 1854; died July 10, 1915; married on June 17, 1875 Julia Isabel Frierson, daughter of Aaron Taylor Frierson and Mary Matilda (Wall) Frierson.
2. Louis Asbury Hendry, born April 19, 1856; died December 31, 1928; married (1) November 1879, Ella Hester Frierson, daughter of Aaron Taylor Frierson and Mary Matilda (Wall) Frierson; (2) Mary W. Apthorp.
3. Laura Jane Hendry, born March 2, 1858; died May 10, 1895; married on June 22, 1873 Charles Waddy Thompson.
4. George Milton Hendry, born June 30, 1860; died March 22, 1948; married on June 5, 1881 Willie Barineau.
5. Francis Marvin Hendry, born June 11, 1863; died June 6, 1941; married on March 24, 1889 Eleanor Murdock.
6. Virginia Lee Hendry, born August 20, 1866; died in October 1966; married on October 30, 1884 John Frederick Menge.
7. Carrie Belle Hendry, born March 8, 1869; died June 20, 1966; married on December 30, 1887 Edward Lewis Evans.
8. Lucretia Pearl Hendry, born July 19, 1871; died 1938; married (1) September 5, 1888, Harry Higginbotham; (2) December 20, 1900, Edgar Carlton, son of Jeremiah Carlton and Eliza Jane (Langford) Carlton.
9. Julia Ellen Hendry, born November 22, 1874; died June 6, 1875.
10. Mary Josephine Hendry, born September 23, 1876; died April 12, 1877.
11. Unnamed infant.
William Marion Hendry and Susan Wall Hendry Family:
1st Row seated L-R: William Marion Hendry, Julia Hendry (Mrs R.I.O Travers), Sue Wall Hendry, Nell Hendry (Mrs J Frazier)Faithful Lovable Mammy Jane.
2nd Row standing L-R: H.A.Hendry, Susie Mary (Mrs Linebaugh) Wall Hendry. (Fort Myers Florida) Courtesy of Hank Hendry.
William M. Hendry, former Clerk of the Circuit Court and one of the best-known men in South Florida, died at his residence on First street in this City last night at 12 o'clock. Mr. Hendry was born Dec. 12, 1842 in Thomas county, Georgia and came to Florida in January 1851, where he resided up to the time of his death. He had been in failing health for some time and his condition recently became serious.
"Uncle Marion," as he was familiarly known, has always been prominent in public affairs and was a member of the State Legislature from Polk county in 1871 and shortly after moving to this county was appointed by Governor Mitchell as clerk of the Circuit Court to fill the un-expired term caused by the death of the incumbent at that time. After filling his vacancy for two years he was elected Clerk for the fall term and succeeded himself three times, making a total of 13 years as Clerk for Lee county. At the expiration of his last term a year ago last Januiary he declined to run and was succeeded by his son, H. A. Hendry, the present Clerk.
Mr. Hendry was one of eight children of James E. Hendry and Lydia Carlton Hendry, and was married twice, his first wife being Susan C. Wall, who died May 16, 1899, and his second wife was Mrs. Laura Craig.
The children of the first marriage are E. M. Hendry, Mrs. J. W. Frazier, Mrs. H. T. Linebough, W. W. Hendry, H. A. Hendry and Mrs. R. I. G. Travers. There were no children by the second marriage.
Deceased was a veteran of the Civil War and served from its beginning to the end and during the latter part of it was a lieutenant. He was a Mason and has always been active in the Methodist church. In fact, it can almost be said that he wasa the founder of the Methodist church in Lee county.
The funeral will take place at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning from the residence on First street. (Fort Myers Press, 12/24/14)
Susan C. Wall Hendry (1843 - 1899)
Laura Virginia Mask Craig (1845 - 1933)
Edward Marion Hendry (1868 - 1919)*
Susie M Hendry Linebaugh (1874 - 1933)*
William Wall Hendry (1878 - 1909)*
Julia A Travers (1880 - 1949)*
George W. "Wash" Hendry, a pioneer settler of Fort Meade, was a veteran of the Third Seminole War, Confederate soldier, cattleman, real estate agent, citrus grower, and author.
George Washington Hendry was born December 3, 1838 in Thomas County, Georgia. With his parents, James Edward Hendry and Lydia (Carlton) Hendry, "Wash," as he was nicknamed, moved in 1851 to a site on the Alafia River, twenty-two miles east of Tampa in Hillsborough County, Florida. His father died on January 3, 1852 and his mother remarried on November 5, 1854 Benjamin Moody of Riverview.
In August 1853, George moved to Fort Meade, which was then occupied by a company of regular soldiers. He settled on what became known as the Wash Hendry Branch of the Peace River. There he farmed and raised stock. On June 15, 1854 in Hillsborough County, he registered the following mark and brand: swallowfork, upper & underbit in one, uppersquare on the other, brand 89. The 1862 Polk County Tax Roll listed George W. with 190 head of cattle and his brother Albert J. with 400.
On January 3, 1856, George enrolled in Capt. William B. Hooker's Independent Company, Florida Mounted Volunteers and was mustered out of state service and into federal service of Hooker's Company (2nd service, Seminole War) on February 18, 1856 and was mustered out August 20, 1856. He held the rank of sergeant in the volunteer service. On August 20, 1856, he enlisted as a private in Capt. Leroy G. Lesley's Independent Company, Florida Mounted Volunteers and was mustered out February 22, 1857. He also served in Lesley's Company as a private from August 24, 1857 to February 23, 1858 and March 11, 1858 to May 17, 1858. At the time of his first enlistment he later described himself as being 5 feet 10 inches, with hazel eyes, black hair, light complexion, and by occupation a farmer.
In Hillsborough County on November 17, 1859, George W. married Frances S. Varn, born March 24, 1841, daughter of Frederick and Sarah (Heirs) Varn.
George was elected as a lieutenant of the local militia on May 7, 1860. G. W. and Frances Hendry, along with Thomas Hatfield and R. A. Carlton, were enumerated in the Fort Meade area in house hold # 232/183 in the 1860 census of Hillsborough County, dated June, 21 1860. On April 13, 1861 he was elected clerk of the circuit court of Polk County, established from Hillsborough and Brevard in February 1861 but was succeeded by Jehu J. Blount, elected October 7, 1861.
During the Civil War, George enlisted on or about March 15, 1862 in Company E, 7th Florida, CSA. He also served as a lieutenant in Capt. Francis A. Hendry's Company, and served until the end of the war. Capt. Hendry reported of his brother's part in the attack on Fort Myers, which was held by the U. S. Army, in February 1865:
"The night preceding the attack on Fort Myers the battalion was marching leisurely along the trail between Fort Thompson and Fort Myers and came to a halt about twelve miles from Fort Myers. It was dark and raining, and Major Footman called for me. He said, 'Captain, I want ten men who can step on eggs and not break them. Make a detail from your company, dismount them, and place them in command of one of your best lieutenants and have them report to me at once.' This order was quickly compiled with when Lt. George W. Hendry, in command of ten men of his choosing, reported to Major Footman.
"The Major said to him in substance that there was a picket post one mile from Fort Myers on a little creek (Billy's Creek) and to capture the pickets without firing a gun, if possible. The Lieutenant had a hard, difficult, and perilous job before him, and he came as near to accomplish as was possible for him to do. The country was so covered with water, the night so dark, and the pickets without campfires, that it was impossible to locate them. He passed within yards of the guard and did not know it. The picket guard heard the wading in the water but thought it was a herd of cattle passing by. When the day dawned, Lt. Hendry returned to the battalion, meeting a few miles from Fort Myers."
After the war, George continued for a time in raising stock, but soon turned to other ventures. In January 1878, he was an incorporator of the Tampa, Peace Creek and St. John's Railroad which proposed a railroad from Tampa to the interior, which ultimately was completed by Henry B. Plant. In 1883 George advertised as a real estate agent and authored Polk County, Florida. Its Lands & Products. He also had citrus groves and a citrus nursery, which the devastating freezes of the winter of 1894-95 cleaned out.
Frances Varn Hendry died October 6, 1889 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Fort Meade. George eulogized, "She looked on the bright side of life, was a member of the Methodist Church, and lived a Christian."
After the death of Frances, George lived three or four years in Fort Myers, Lee County. There on April 30, 1891, he married (2) Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth (Kantz) Knight Titus, born in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. Rev. W. J. J. Whidden officiated. (By Sarah's marriage to James William Knight of Freeburg, Pennsylvania, she had a son, Peter Oliphant Knight, 1865-1946, a prominent attorney, businessman and political power broker in Tampa. Sarah and her brother Dan C. Kantz in 1883 had built the Keystone Hotel in Ft. Myers. The name was changed several times and was eventually sold to Dr. W. S. Turner who enlarged it and renamed it the Riverview Hotel.) Sarah Kantz Hendry's date of death is not known, but The Tampa Tribune of June 18, 1903 had the obituary of Mrs. G. W. Hendry, 61.
While in Lee County, George served from 1893-1894 as Judge of Probate of Lee County. After returning to Fort Meade, he, a Democrat, was elected as a Representative from Polk County to the Florida House of Representatives and served in the 1899 session. He had been defeated in an earlier bid in 1876.
George in 1900 published a family history, Family Record of Lydia Moody Nee Hendry Nee Carlton in which he chronicled descendants of his mother and sketched his early ancestry. He also wrote articles on the early history of the region.
On July 28, 1902, George W. Hendry applied for a pension based on his service during the Third Seminole War. He gave Fort Meade as his address. William L. Stephens of Ft. Meade and William W. Clark of Bartow declared they had known him for 30 and 14 years respectively. On November 29, 1902, John W. Whidden of Arcadia stated that he had known George for 46 years and had served with him in Capt. Hooker's Company. Under certificate no. 4879 his claim was approved at the rate of $8 per month commencing June 27, 1902, which was increased to $20 per month from February 19, 1913.
On July 20, 1904 at Fort Meade, he was married by Rev. Hardee to Mrs. Annie Hughes, born ca. 1842, widow of David Hughes. (A merchant, Capt. Hughes, who died January 18, 1889, was chairman of the meeting held May 3, 1882 which decided to incorporate Bartow.)
Incomplete records from the Florida Archives show that on January 22, 1908 a state pension certificate # 6100 was issued to George W. Hendry for his Confederate service.
George Washington Hendry died March 2, 1914, Fort Meade, and was buried in Evergreenn Cemetery.
On April 6, 1914, Annie E. Hendry applied for a widow's pension based upon George's service in Hooker's and Lesley's companies. She gave her age as 72 and Fort Meade as her address. Fred W. Varn and L. Singleton, both of Fort Meade, stated they had known her 39 and 18 years respectively. In June 1914, B. F. Blount gave an affidavit concerning the death of David Hughes. Her claim under certificate no. 8171 was approved, and she was last paid at $12 per month to December 4, 1917.
On August 1, 1914, she applied for a pension based on George's service in the Confederate Army. Francis A. Hendry, late Captain of Company A, Munnerlyn's Battalion, gave an affidavit that George had served in Co. A. Ann E. Hendry (she did not give her given name as Annie in the application) listed her property to consist of: real estate located four miles south of Bartow, 10 acres $100; dividends only on 10 shares of Bank of Fort Meade est. 10%, $100. Her claim was approved as pensioner no. 1644 on August 28, 1914, with pay from August 6, 1914 at the rate of $100 per annum.
According to pension records, Annie Hendry died December 15, 1917 and was buried in Evergreen Cemeterry.
Issue of George W. and Frances (Varn) Hendry:
1. Frederic F. "Tobe" Hendry, born July 14, 1861; died December 12, 1900; married Tacie M. Cook.
2. John Morton Hendry, born June 10, 1864; died in childhood.
3. Adelaide Victoria Hendry, born April 13, 1866; died February 21, 1894; married on December 17, 1884, Francis Marion Wilson.
4. Lavinia H. Hendry, born April 30, 1869; died July 23, 1953; married on July 24, 1888, Frank B. Harless.
References: George W. Hendry, Family Record of Lydia Moody Nee Hendry Nee Carlton, 1900; Milton D. Wilson, Pioneer Families of Polk County and South Florida, Polk County Historical Commission; George W. Hendry "Fort Meade The Ancient," Fort Meade Leader, May 1, 1913; Ernest B. Simmons, "First Families of Polk County," Fort Meade Leader, March 16, 1916; military and pension records of George W. Hendry, pension applications of Annie Hendry, Florida Archives & National Archives; "Early Hillsborough County Marks & Brands," South Florida Pioneers 9; 1862 Polk County Tax Roll; 1860 Hillsborough County census; George H. Dacy, Four Centuries of Florida Ranching (St. Louis, 1940), p. 178; Francis A. Hendry, "History of the Early Days of Fort Myers"; Karl Grismer, History of Fort Myers, 1949; M. F. Hetherington, History of Polk County, 1928.