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Robert Calvin Hendry

By Spessard Stone


Robert C. Hendry, a pioneer settler of Joshua Creek and Arcadia, was a Union soldier, farmer, stock raiser, and civic leader.

Robert Calvin Hendry, commonly known as "Cab," was born February 23, 1849, near Jasper in Hamilton County, Florida. With his parents, Robert Hendry and Zilla Ann (Moody) Hendry, probably, in December 1861, he moved to Fort Green, Manatee County (now Hardee County), Florida, where his parents died in early 1863.

During the Civil War, Cab, though not yet sixteen years old, enlisted as a private at Fort Myers, Florida on January 14, 1865 in Company B, Second Florida Cavalry, United States Army. He was honorably discharged on November 29, 1865 at Tallahassee. Company muster rolls described him thusly: "Born Hamilton Co., Fla.; age 18 yrs.; occupation, farmer; eyes, black; hair, dark; complexion, fair, height 5 feet 10 1/2 inches."

On January 19, 1868, near present-day Wauchula, he was married by the Rev. Cross to Nancy Virginia McEwen, born December 1848, Washington County, Georgia, daughter of Rev. William Penn McEwen and Rutha (Sheppard) McEwen.

In the early 1870s, Cab and Nancy moved from Fort Green to the Joshua Creek community, also known as Davidson, in Manatee County (now DeSoto County). A farmer and stock raiser, R. C. Hendry on October 14, 1871 in Manatee County registered two cattle brands (1) crop slope in one ear, under bit in the other, brand "R"; (2) upper square under bit in one ear, swallowfork upper & u. bit in other, brand "SO." In 1873 Robert C. Hendry had, according to Manatee County records, 1 horse and 120 cattle. In his latter years he was a breeder of fine cattle and reputedly owned about 2,000 acres.

Register of Postmasters listed Robert C. Hendry in 1880 as postmaster of Davidson. According to the late Col. Read Harding, R. C. Hendry, the postmaster of Davidson, sponsored the establishment of a post office at Arcadia in September 1883. David S. Williams was, subsequently appointed Arcadia's first postmaster on November 19, 1883. Cab's brother, Rev. James M. "Boss" Hendry, had named Arcadia for Arcadia Albritton Coker while their brother-in-law, Capt. John W. Whidden, was one of the managers held at the Whidden store, which resulted in the incorporation of the Town of Arcadia on December 6, 1886.

The Hendrys were members of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. According to Parker and Blount in Florida, on October 11, 1880, Lewis H. Parker, Robert C. Hendry, and John W. Whidden, as trustees of Mt. Moriah Church, purchased land for Joshua Creek Cemetery (first known as Mt. Moriah Cemetery) from the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of Florida. Both Cab and Nancy were known for their many charitable deeds.

On August 5, 1890, Robert C. Hendry applied for a pension under the Act of June 27, 1890 from his service in Co. B, 2 Reg't Fla. Cav. In "Declaration for Invalid Pension" he stated he was partially unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of rheumatism. He gave his address as Arcadia, DeSoto County, Florida. Witnesses were John Hollingsworth and S. E. Whidden. Records are unclear when his pension was approved, but under certificate no. 933734, he was awarded $8 per month. He was last paid at $8 to February 4, 1904.

Robert C. and Nancy Hendry and family were listed in the Arcadia precinct in the 1900 census of DeSoto County. In May 1900, he described himself as a farmer, stock raiser and county commissioner.

Robert Calvin Hendry died April 3, 1904 and was buried in the Joshua Creek Cemetery. His tombstone inscription has his death as April 3, 1904, and "Certificate of Death" from Georgia has that R. C. Hendry, 55, of Arcadia, died at Atlanta of malignant dis. of intestines April 3, 1904, but his widow cited April 4, 1904.

The Tampa Morning Tribune of Thursday, April 7, 1904 noted:
"Arcadia, April 6--
"Captain R. C. Hendry, who went to Atlanta about ten days ago to have an operation for appendicitis performed, died five days after the operation and his body was brought in Monday. While Mr. Hendry has been in bad health for months still his death was a shock to his family and friends. The interment took place Tuesday at Joshua Creek cemetery. Captain Hendry was one of the most solid stock men of the county. He leaves a large family and many friends."

On January 14, 1911, Nancy V. Hendry, aged 62 years, applied for a pension as the widow of Robert C. Hendry. In "Declaration for Widow's Pension" under the Act of April 19, 1908, she averred that Robert C. Hendry died April 4, 1904. An "X" was marked for Nancy's signature. On April 15 & 25, 1911, Albert Carlton of Wauchula and S. E. Whidden of Arcadia, gave supporting affidavits about her marriage. On May 8, 1911, Dr. D. L. McSwain stated in "Physician's Affidavit" that he treated R. C. Hendry 6 years prior to his death from result of chronic appendicitis and peritonitis April 4, 1904. Her pension at the rate of $12 per month was approved.

Nancy McEwen Hendry died, probably, on March 10, 1914. She is buried in Joshua Creek Cemetery, but there are no vital statistics on her tombstone. Her pension records, of which part of the writing is difficult to read, appears to have: "Sept. 19, 1914 Pensioner Nancy V. Hendry dropped due to death Mch. 10, 1914, was rec. $12, to May 4."

Issue of Robert C. & Nancy (McEwen) Hendry:

1. William Judson Hendry, born November 1868; married on Sept. 25, 1898 Edna Robertson.
2. Unnamed son, died in infancy.
3. Zilla Ann Hendry, born February 1872; died in 1956 at Fort Myers, Fla.; married April 30 1894 Joseph J. "Seph" Granger.
4. James Alexander Hendry, born 1874; died December 26, 1937; married (1) December 21, 1898 Fannie Stallings; (2) Mrs. Pearl Reece Beverly.
5. Francis A. Hendry, born October 6, 1875; died May 11, 1892.
6. Robert Milton Hendry, born December 22, 1877; died October 19, 1956, Arcadia, Fla.; married (1) October 14, 1899 Lula Waldron; (2) June Yingst; (3) Clara Terrell.
7. John Parker Milton Hendry, twin of Robert Milton Hendry; born December 22, 1877; died July 19, 1938; married on May 5, 1905 Ethel Adelaide Durrance.
8. Unnamed infant son, died November 27, 1879, age one day.
9. Augustus Mallory Hendry, born April 1881; died September 1, 1949, Arcadia, Fla.; married Mrs. Ruby Hendry Gore.
10. Rhoda Ellen Hendry, born December 16, 1882; died February 15, 1963, Bartow, Fla.; married May 24, 1904 Terrell Elmer Fielder.
11. Charles Edward Hendry, born December 1884; married Leacy Hilliard. They lived at Fort Myers, Fla.
12. Harry Harrison Hendry, born February 16, 1887; died October 4, 1984, Arcadia, Fla.; married on March 16, 1910 Bernice Worley.
13. Newton Calvin "Cad" Hendry, born March 28, 1889; died July 2, 1954, Arcadia, Fla.; married Mary Johnson.


See also Robert Calvin "Cab" Hendry Family.

References: Pension applications of Robert C. and Nancy V. Hendry, National Archives; Virginia Westergard and Kyle S. VanLandingham, Parker and Blount in Florida; Spessard Stone, John and William Sons of Robert Hendry, 1989; Joshua Creek Cemetery; The Tampa Morning Tribune, April 7, 1904.

This is adapted from the author’s article in The Herald-Advocate of August 18, 1988.

January 21, 2001 & obituary February 19, 2002