Charles F. Hendry
Charles F. Hendry

By Spessard Stone

Charles F. Hendry, a pioneer settler of Joshua Creek, Florida, was a Union soldier and cattleman.

Charles F. Hendry was born January 12, 1846 in Thomas County, Georgia. In 1848, with his parents, Robert Hendry and Zilla Ann (Moody) Hendry, Charles moved within a few miles of Jasper, Hamilton County, Florida. He was enumerated with his parents in the censuses of 1850 and 1860 Hamilton County. In December 1861, the family moved to Fort Green, Manatee (now Hardee) County, Florida.

On June 15, 1864 at Fort Myers, Florida, Charles enlisted as a private in Company B, Second Florida Cavalry, United States Army. Co. B records described him thusly: born Thomas County, Georgia; 6'2" in height; with light eyes, hair and skin; a refugee from the Confederacy. He was furloughed September 28, 1865 and mustered out November 29, 1865 at Tallahassee.

In Manatee County on January 9, 1868, Charles married Sophia M. Whidden, born October 15, 1843, Florida (probably Columbia County), daughter of Willoughby and Eliza (Pennington) Whidden. Rev. William Penn McEwen officiated at now Wauchula, Florida. Charles and Sophia Hendry were recorded in household 5/5, township 34, in the 1870 census of Manatee County, dated July 18. Included with them were Sarah Virginia, age nine, whose identity is undetermined, and their nine-month-old son Charles. Neighbors included: # 1/1 James and Eliza Green, 2/2 John W. and Ellen Whidden, 3/3 Louis and Abigail Henry (18 and 16 year-old siblings, former slaves of Robert Hendry, their surname appeared later as Hicks), 4/4 Eliza Whidden (60-year-old mother of Sophia, Eliza Green and John W. Whidden).

Charles was a farmer and cattleman. Charles Hendry Jr. (to distinguish him from his uncle Charles Wesley Hendry) was in 1871 taxed on 75 hogs and 300 cattle. In 1873, he was taxed on 4 horses, 30 hogs, and 400 cattle. In the early 1870s, Charles moved from Fort Green to Joshua Creek in Manatee (now DeSoto) County. There he grazed his cattle, farmed, and planted an orange grove.

The 1880 Manatee County census, dated June 2, 1880, listed the Charles F. Hendry family in supervisor's district # 10, Whidden. Neighbors included the families of: Daniel W. Carlton, James E. Whidden, James Carlton, Robert C. Hendry, John W. Whidden.

"Who Are Shown by the Tax books to be the Largest Cattle Owners" in The Florida Daily Times of April 29, 1882, p. 3, column 1, noted in part:. "We have looked through the tax-books of 1881… Monroe – F. A. Hendry returns 15,000...Manatee…Charles and R. C. Hendry, 1,100…"

Charles F. Hendry died December 11, 1886 and was buried in Joshua Creek Cemetery.

Sophia Hendry on December 23, 1892 applied for a pension as the widow of Charles Hendry of Company B, Second Florida Cavalry. Affidavits in support of her claim were given by: Dr. A. Smoot Johnston, James E. Whidden, James Carlton, S. E. Whidden, R. C. Hendry.

Dr. Johnston gave the following affidavit:

"I was acquainted with the soldier Charles Hendry, deceased, from about the close of the late international war on, regularly for the space of about 18 years on til his death. That on several occasions I was called to attend him professionally for trouble which I diagnosed to be valvular disease of the heart which often totally prostrated him rendering him helpless and perfectly unconscious of any surroundings whatever. This condition or disease in my opinion was due principally from his many exposures in service culminating in nervous rheumatism contracted according to valid testimony while in the service (military) of his country. That he came to his death by sudden transfer of rheumatism to his heart at which time I was called to attend him but too late to render him any aid whatever."

On December 7, 1896 at Arcadia, Sophia gave the following affidavit:

"Her husband never served the Confederate Government but was a soldier in the Union service in the war of the Rebellion, he never served prior to June 15th A.D. 1864 nor after the 29th day of November A.D. 1865 in any organizations whatever; that her income is not over $100.00 from all sources, in exact figures she received last year $100 from cattle and $15.00 from the sale of her oranges, and the cost of repairing the grove was fifteen dollars, that the estate of my late husband owned about 1200 head of cattle which were divided between me and the children, there were four children which left me then about 240 head, since them the stock has run down until at this date I have not more than 150 head of cattle worth $600.00 yielding income of $150 annually, these cattle and the land is all the property I own, land consists of 240 acres that belonged to the estate of the soldier which is worth about $1200 and is subject to be divided between me and my four children, this has not produced any income exceeding the cost of cultivation, and the values here given are of course estimated made upon my best judgement and it costs me at least $50 per year to attend to and look after my cattle."

Records of the National Archives show that Sophia continued her application to October 20, 1900, but whether her claim was approved is not indicated.

On September 11, 1897, Nathaniel M. Sauls, DeSoto County Tax Collector, certified the property of Mrs. Sophia Hendry to consist of: the west one-half of the southwest one-fourth of section 10, township 38 south, range 25 east, valued at $80.00; the west one-half of the southwest one-fourth of section 11, township 38 south, range 25 east, valued at $380.00; personal property of $1,780; for a total assessed value of $2,240.00.

The 1900 DeSoto County Census recorded Sophia Hendry in dwelling house # 760, Arcadia. Her occupation was given as farmer. Living with her were: her son and daughter-in-law, Charles M. and Donnie Hendry, their children, Bonnie, Hallie, Lola, Zina, Charles, Alexander. Samuel Wright, a 15-year-old black servant, was also enumerated within Sophia's household. Neighbors included: John and Cora Hendry, Robert C. and Nancy Hendry, Joseph and Zilla Granger, Thomas and Elizabeth Mobley.

Sophia Hendry died August 15, 1912, Arcadia, Florida. Burial was in Joshua Creek Cemetery, DeSoto County, Florida.

An unidentified newspaper, probably of Arcadia, of Thursday, August 29, 1912 carried her obituary:
“News was received in our city last week after our paper was made up of the death of Mrs. Sophia Hendry at her home in Venus.
“Mrs. Hendry had been a sufferer of heart trouble for several months and her death was not unexpected. She was sixty-nine years of age. Mrs. Hendry was born in Hillsboro County, but had resided in this section for the greatest part of her life. She was a sister of Mr. S. E. Whidden, and the late Capt. J. W.
“Deceased was the widow of Charles Hendry, who preceded her to the land beyond twenty-six years ago. She was a faithful and consistent member of the Baptist church for more than fifty years and died in the Christian faith.
“Her children are C. M. Hendry, of Osprey, W. E. Hendry, of Arcadia, J. W. and J. J. Hendry, of Venus.
“The remains were laid to rest in the Joshua Creek cemetery Friday evening, Rev. J. E. Trice conducting a short service at the grave.”

Charles and Sophia (Whidden) Hendry had five children:

1. Robert Hendry, born Dec. 15, 1868; died Nov. 4, 1869; buried Fort Green Baptist Cemetery.
2. Charles M. Hendry, born Dec. 28, 1869; died March 7, 1958; married (1) Feb. 14, 1889, Donnie McEwen; (2) June 14, 1904, Isabella Waldron.
3. Willoughby Eugene Hendry, born July 24, 1871; died January 9, 1931; married on January 12, 1891 Ara Belle Altman.
4. John Wright "Tobe" Hendry, Aug. 12, 1873; died May 26, 1944; married on April 7, 1895 Cora Howard.
5. James Jackson Hendry, born Oct. 15, 1879; died Sept. 16, 1959; married on Dec. 24, 1896 Carolyn Amelia Williams.

References: Pension application of Sophia Hendry; miscel. Manatee and DeSoto counties’ records; "Mrs. Hendry Passed Away...," Aug. 29, 1912, courtesy of Judge William L. Hendry, July 16, 2003.

This profile is adapted from the author's John and William Sons of Robert Hendry, 1989.

January 23, 2001, July 20, 2003, April 20, 2009.