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Rev. James Madison "Boss" Hendry

By Spessard Stone


James M. Hendry, a pioneer settler of the New Zion settlement, was a veteran of the Third Seminole and Civil wars, cowhunter, merchant, and Baptist preacher.

James Madison Hendry, son of Robert Hendry and Zilla Ann (Moody) Hendry, was born July 23, 1839, Snatchville, Lowndes County, Georgia. With his parents in 1848, he moved to Jasper in Hamilton County, Florida where he was recorded with them in the 1850 census.

During the Third Seminole War, James enlisted as a private at Fort Brooke (Tampa) on January 11, 1858 in Capt. William H. Kendrick's Independent Co., Florida Mtd. Volunteers. Private Hendry was mustered out May 10, 1858 at Fort Brooke.

He returned to Hamilton County where he married on December 22, 1858 Mary Jane Payne, born June 3, 1842, Laurens County, Georgia, daughter of Joseph Smith and Henrietta (Smith) Payne. Judge H. J. Stewart officiated.

James M. and Mary J. Hendry were recorded in household # 239 in June 1860 census of Hamilton County. Thereafter, they moved probably to Chicora (between present-day Bradley and Fort Green) in Hillsborough County, Florida. With the creation of Polk County from Hillsborough and Brevard counties on February 8, 1861, they became residents of Polk County. James M. Hendry was listed as a taxpayer of Polk County in 1861.

During the Civil War, James enlisted as a private at Fort Meade, Florida on May 4, 1862 for a period of 3 years or the war in Company E, Seventh Florida Infantry, Army of the Confederate States of America. The Seventh was attached to the Army of Tennessee. At Tallahassee on June 21, 1862 Private Hendry received $10.80 for commutation of rations for self and two others to join their regiment at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Company muster rolls noted that he was sick at Knoxville November 6 and furloughed from Knoxville Hospital November 11 for 30 days. A furlough descriptive roll showed that J. M. Hendry on November 12, 1862 at Atlanta received $40.70 for monthly pay from May 10, 1862 to September 1, 1862. Company muster rolls for February 7-28, 1863 noted "Absent" while the roll of February 28 to May 1, 1863 remarked: "Absent without leave since Apr. 3 63." At Knoxville on May 30, 1863 by order of General Mauray Private James M. Hendry was granted a medical discharge "because of either in the field or elsewhere organic disease of the heart from which he has suffered for the period of eight months." Army of the Confederate States Certificate of Disability For Discharge" described him as: "born in Snatchville in the State of Georgia, is twenty-four years of age, height 5 feet 10 inches, light complexion, blue eyes, light hair, and by occupation when enlisted a farmer." He appeared on a "Register of Payments to Discharged Soldiers," date of payment June 1, 1863.

He returned home only to experience a mini-civil war in South Florida. With the occupation of Fort Myers by Union forces on January 10, 1864, the forcible removal by Confederates of all inhabitants to the north side of the Peace River, and repeal of the draft exemption for cattlemen on February 17, 1864, Union activity in the region intensified.

James M. Hendry, according to "Volunteer Enlistment" was enlisted by Capt. J. D. Green on June 15, 1864 at Fort Myers, Florida as a private in Company B, Second Florida Cavalry, United States Army. Mustered into service for three years or during the war at Cedar Keys, Fla., he was promoted to corporal March 1, 1865. Corporal Hendry was furloughed September 28, 1865 and honorably discharged November 29, 1865 at Tallahassee, Florida.

James returned to Polk County. During Reconstruction, James, as most former Florida Union soldiers, joined the Republican Party and served in several offices. About July 1867 he was appointed as one of three voter registrars in Polk County. Historian Canter Brown, Jr. related that on August 17, 1867, "Voter registrations notices were ripped down at Bartow and registrar James M. Hendry was 'abused.' The four men responsible, Julius C. Rockner, William M. Bowen, John M. Pearce, and Nathan S. Blount, temporarily fled the county..." Blount was Hendry's former Company E captain. J. M. Hendry was on November 4, 1867 called for Polk County jury duty.

"Boss," as James was nicknamed for his aggressive nature, soon after moved to Manatee County, Florida, probably first living at Fort Green. He was listed on a "Roll of Persons 18-45 Liable to Military Duty, Manatee County," dated July 15, 1869. The James M. Henry [sic] family was listed in township 33 in the 1870 census of Manatee County. On May 5, 1871, he purchased the Fort Green homestead of his late father, but soon after moved to the New Zion settlement in Manatee County (now in the southwestern part of Hardee County near Ona).

A cowhunter (cattleman), James purchased 200 head of cattle from Seth Howard on December 27, 1869. On June 4, 1870, James M. Hendry gave an affidavit before John F. Bartholf, Clerk of Circuit Court Manatee Co. “a certain stock of cattle marked and branded as follows under slope and split in each ear Branded fifty two (52) Acted upon by Andrew W. Garner a Sheriff in and for said county by order of an execution in favor of’ John T. Lesley against Seth Howard belongs to him the said deponent.” The Manatee County Tax Book listed him with 650 cattle in 1871, 300 cattle and 4 hogs in 1872, and 2 horses, 50 hogs and 600 cattle in 1873. In May 1888, while living at Castalia, Fla., he stated he cowhunted part of fifteen years from 1869 to the spring of 1884.

J. M. Hendry was commissioned for a two-year term as a county commissioner of Manatee County on June 20, 1873.

Reared as a Methodist, James became a convert to the Baptist faith. He and Mary Jane were baptized by Rev. J. M. Hayman at Maple Branch (north of Fort Green) on February 17, 1867. Later he was ordained as a Baptist minister. J. M. Hendry, Licentiate, P. O. Alafia, was listed in the "Minutes of Fourth Annual Session of South Florida Baptist Association" held with Pine Pleasant Church in Hillsborough County November 12-14, 1870. He was a member of New Zion Baptist Church, which his brother, Rev. John W. Hendry, had reestablished in 1873 in the New Zion settlement after moving it from its former location north of Fort Green.

Rev. J. M. Hendry was a delegate from New Zion Church to the Ninth Annual Session of the South Florida Baptist Association in October 1875. He was listed that year as serving as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. He attended the First Annual Session of the Manatee Missionary Baptist Association, which he aided in founding in October 1876. That year he served on the Committee of Articles of Faith with his brother Rev. John W. Hendry and Ezekiel J. Hull. He also served on the Committee of Sabbath Schools and was correspondent to the South Florida Baptist Association. In December 1879, Brethren E. J. Hull, J. M. Hendry, and D. Spencer organized New Hope Church with ten members.

Known churches that the Rev. Hendry pastored included: New Hope (1875), Dry Prairie of Duette (founded 1888), Bethany of now Myakka City, Sandy, New Zion (as supply pastor), and Crewsville. Additionally, he preached at numerous other churches.

Leo A. Lastinger recalled for "Pioneer Florida," I knew the fine old gentleman when I was a boy. He was pastor of the church [Sandy] I attended with my people. When he preached, his voice was penetrating as the roar of an angry bull."

J. M. and Mary J. Hendry and children were enumerated in precinct # 2, Fort Green (there was no New Zion precinct) in the 1880 census of Manatee County, dated June 15, 1880. Neighbors included: William, Jr. & Susan McLeod, Henry H. Norris, J. P. & Frances Pope, Franklin & Sarah Shuman, J. D. & Susan Riggs.

Sunland Tribune, page 2, column 4, of February 26, 1880, noted: "Horse Creek, Fla., Feb. 16, '80 by 'W.D.P.,' James M. Hendry has ordered a steam mill which will be here in a short time. We're going to live in plank houses with glass windows, we are, but unfortunately for us, he is going to put her up in Josh's Creek, where he has secured a contract for sawing 125,000 feet of lumber." It is not known when the steam mill was delivered. The sawmill was located about one and one-half miles west of the church. Most area frame houses were built with lumber from his sawmill.

He also erected one of the first water gristmills on the east side of Horse Creek in full view of New Zion Baptist Church.

The post office of Hendry in the New Zion community was established on May 18, 1880 with James M. Hendry as postmaster; however, it was discontinued on September 12, 1883 with the mail going to Fort Green

In 1883, Boss moved to Tater Hill Bluff (also called Waldron's Landing), where he was one of the first private landowners and established the first sawmill.

Albert DeVane wrote in "Preacher Named Arcadia For Little Girl Who Baked A Birthday Cake For Him," The Tampa Tribune, May 24, 1959:

James, who was very aggressive, was nicknamed "Boss" by his brothers, a name he was known throughout his lifetime...
In the Summer of 1884he decided to move the [saw] mill to a new site in the southern part of Manatee County. Disassembling the mill and loading on wagons and carts drawn by many yoke of oxen, the slow move began.
The first night was spent at the Thomas H. Albritton place on Horse Creek, first called Castaglia [Castalia], later Lilly.
The oxen were unyoked, watered and fed. Then all hands went to Mr. Albritton's detached kitchen for supper. During the conversation at the supper table Rev. Hendry remarked, 'Tomorrow, July 23, 1884, [sic, 1883] will be my 45th [sic 44th] birthday, and I will celebrate it by moving a sawmill to the Marion and James Waldron homestead at the old ford crossing on Peace River, between Joshua Creek and Pine Level, county seat of Manatee County....
After the men had left the kitchen for the front porch, Mrs. Albritton's daughter, said, "Mama, let's bake the preacher a birthday cake for tomorrow." Her mother agreed and they baked it that night and gave it to him the next morning, wishing him many more happy birthdays.
He was very appreciative saying, "This is awful nice of you ladies to remember me with a birthday cake. I'll tell you what I'll do. When I get to sawing lumber at the new site, a new town is sure to start up. I'll just name it Arcadia in honor of Arcadia Albritton. I think it's a pretty name anyway."
She was the seventh child of Thomas H. Albritton and Fannie (Waldron) Albritton. She became the wife of William W. Coker, son of Wesley. (Boss) Hendry, who had previously set up his sawmill and began sawing lumber, building himself a home and a store, also mill quarters...

It should be noted the Albert DeVane article contains several errors. The move was in 1883, not 1884. Also, Arcadia Albritton (1861-1932) had married William Wesley Coker (1859-1904) on September 2, 1880. Arcadia's mother, Frances, died September 15, 1879 at Lily, and Thomas H. Albritton married (2) on October 9, 1881 Mrs. Syndarilla Byrd Hutchinson.

On November 19, 1883, Arcadia post office was established. On December 6, 1886, Rev. Hendry's prediction was realized when the small town, which had begun on the Waldron's homestead and his sawmill, and through which H. B. Plant's railroad had run, was incorporated as Arcadia.

The DeSoto County Times Centennial issue of May 14, 1987 stated: "The accepted origin of the name Arcadia is attributed to the Reverend James 'Boss' Hendry, a Baptist lay minister who built a store and began a sawmill near the Peace River ferry in 1883....In addition to his sawmill Hendry operated an open air store near the ferry crossing at Peace River. In late 1884, he sold the stock in his store to Captain John W. Whidden."

Boss returned to the New Zion settlement, post office address Castalia. On May 19, 1887, Manatee County was divided into two counties, with the eastern part becoming DeSoto County and Arcadia selected as its county seat in October 1888.

On October 4, 1887, James applied for an invalid pension from his service in Company B. He averred: "That while a member of the organization aforesaid, in the service and in the line of duty at Cedar Keys in the State of Florida on or about the month of July, 1864, he contracted Pneumonia which turned on the bowels causing chronic diarrhoea and resulting piles and in consequence of which he claims a pension." His post office address was Castalia, DeSoto Co., Fla. Witnesses were Chas. H. Whidden and Dennis Driggers.

Records are incomplete, but his application was approved per pension claim no. 428267. On December 28, 1892, he applied for an increase of his pension of $8.00 per month. He gave his post office address as Castalia. O. E. Roesch, examining surgeon, measured him at 5 feet 11 and 155 pounds and recommended a continuance of the pension due to disability caused by rheumatism. His pension was continued, and at his death he was receiving $50 per month.

The family later moved to Manatee County where they lived in the Myakka-Sandy area. There he pastored Bethany Church. Sandy Baptist Church was organized officially in March 1904. J. H. Hayman, J. M. Hendry, and J. R. Tatum, each serving a little more than a year, were the first pastors.

Mary Jane Payne Hendry died May 3, 1899 and was buried in New Zion Cemetery. Courier-Informant of Bartow of Wednesday, May 10, 1899, p. 8, noted, “The wife of Rev. J.. M. Hendry died suddenly at her home, near Wauchula, Wednesday. Rev. W. L. Mahon conducted the funeral services.”


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James M. Hendry married (2) on August 9, 1899 Martha Frances Wingate, born December 24, 1870, Manatee County, Florida, daughter of John Hiram Wingate and Rebecca Porter (Johnson) Wingate. Rev. John W. Hendry officiated at Castalia in DeSoto County.

About 1906, the family moved to the New Zion settlement where they were members of New Zion Baptist Church. Boss farmed and preached at churches in the area, including New Zion (supply pastor), Crewsville, and Fort Green. In May 1907, he gave his address as Tura, DeSoto County. (Tura was the New Zion settlement.) The 1910 census of DeSoto County, May 2, 1910, enumerated in household 193/198: James M. and Martha F. Hendry and five children, William F., James B., Andrew A., Mary E., Bidie E., in precinct 22, Castalia. Neighbors included: Zachary F. and Sarah J. Duncan # 192/197, Naamon S. and Hattie J. McLeod # 194/199, Daniel W. and Miriam D. Messer # 195/200, Robert, Jr. & Sarah J. Roberts # 196/201.

In April 1915, though not moving, Boss' post office address had changed to Ona, DeSoto County, Florida. The James M. Hendry family was enumerated in household 319/323 in Ona, Precinct 23, in the 1920 census of DeSoto County, dated February 27. Included were as follows: James M. Hendry, 80, farmer & clergyman; Francis [sic], 49; Frank, 19; James B., 17; Alexander, 15; Ellen, 13; Bidie, 11; Annie, 7; Calvin E. Hendry, 43, clergyman Baptist; Marion [sic], granddaughter, 7. Neighbors included: Naamon and Hattie McLeod,Theodore and Sarah J. Duncan, and James and Josephine Kersey. On April 23, 1921, DeSoto County was divided into five counties, of which one became Hardee County, Boss' new residence.

While visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Angelia and Burrell Roberts, and son, Rev. Eugene "Gene" Hendry, in Athens, near Fort Meade, Florida, James became ill. As Gene Hendry in his car was driving his father home, by a seedling grove at Bowling Green, Rev. James M. "Boss" Hendry died at 10:11 a.m. on Good Friday, April 14, 1922. Wilbur Hendry, son of Gene, was also in the car. His last words were, “I want to get home to ‘Big Boy’ [daughter Anne] and Yip Yap [his dog]." Burrell Roberts held him while Gene drove on back to his home in the New Zion settlement. His body was put on ice (there was no funeral home), and he was buried on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1922. Burial was in New Zion Cemetery. His epitaph engraved on his tombstone is partly a paraphrase of 2 Timothy 4:7: "His toils are past, his work is done, He fought the fight-the victory won." Also on the pedestal below is, "Friend to the Poor."

On April 18, 1922, Martha Frances Hendry notified the Commissioner of Pensions of the death of her husband, James Madison Hendry, and began her application for a pension. Supporting affidavits were subsequently given in her behalf by: C. H. Roberts and S. J. Duncan (October 9, 1922), J. W. Rainey and Albert Carlton (November 8, 1922). The claim of Martha F. Hendry of Ona, Hardee County, Florida was approved at $30 per month, commencing in May 1922. Additionally for her children, Mary E. (until November 13, 1922), Bidie E. (until October 23, 1924), and Annie R. (until August 17, 1928), she received $6 per month each until they were 16.

Frances Hendry continued living on the family farm which consisted of the family home, fifty acres deeded land and forty acres homesteaded range. As a member and devout Christian, she faithfully attended New Zion Baptist Church.

Martha Frances Wingate Hendry died Tuesday, November 20, 1934 at her home in the New Zion settlement. Burial was in New Zion Cemetery.

Florida Advocate of Wauchula of November 23, 1934 carried her obituary:

Mrs. Hendry's Funeral Was Held At New Zion
Mrs. Martha F. Hendry, aged 64 years, widow of the late J. M. Hendry, passed away at her home in the Ona section of the county on November 20th after a month's illness.
The funeral services were held at the New Zion Baptist church at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon and were conducted by the Rev. John Roberts. The body was interred in the New Zion cemetery.
The deceased has resided in the New Zion section a life time. She was a splendid Christian woman and was loved and liked by everyone who knew her. The funeral services were attended by a large concourse of sorrowing friends and relatives, attesting to the high esteem in which she was held in the community.
She is survived by six children, Mrs. Birdie [sic] Phillips, of Myakka, Miss Annie Hendry and Miss Ellen Hendry of Ona; three sons, Messrs. Frank and Alex Hendry, of Ona, James Hendry, of Lake Harbour; one sister, Mrs. Marian Gillie, of Myakka; four brothers, Messrs. E. J. Andrews [sic], J. B. and J. W. Wingate, of Myakka.
The active pallbearers were Sidney Roberts, C. M. Moye, W. T. Bryan, Arie Roberts, Harry Murphy and Rolan Roberts.
The honorary pallbearers were Messrs.T. N. Carlton, Chas. H. Roberts, M. G. Roberts and G. W. Stephens.

Issue of James M. and Mary Jane (Payne) Hendry, children 1-11 and James M. and Martha Frances (Wingate) Hendry, children 12-17:

1. Robert Hendry, born October 4, 1860; died July 13, 1862; buried Fort Green Baptist Cemetery.

2. Alice Lee Hendry, born January 10, 1863; died January 30, 1942, Pine Level, Fla.; married on June 13, 1878 Daniel Webster Hull.

3. Euliff Lardner Hendry, born October 2, 1866; died August 12, 1914, Ona, Fla.; married on April 2, 1888 Clara Abigail Miller.

4. Samuel Enoch Hendry, born June 10, 1869; died March 29, 1923, Ona, Fla.; married on November 10, 1898 Anna Walton.

5. Albert J. Hendry, born August 12, 1871; died November 12, 1873; buried Fort Green Baptist Cemetery.

6. Henrietta Angelia Hendry, born April 17, 1874; died July 10, 1954, Bowling Green, Fla.; married on July 4, 1889 Burrell Fiveash Roberts.

7. Calvin Eugene Hendry, born January 14, 1877; died May 6, 1946, Tampa, Fla.; married on December 30, 1909 Mary Ethel Hull.

8. Charles Boardman Hendry, born March 13, 1879; died October 14, 1914, Ona, Fla.; married on February 26, 1905 Delia Viola Boyd.

9. John Newell Hendry, born November 7, 1881; died December 19, 1968, Wauchula, Fla.; married (1) March 15, 1903, Emma Alice Shuman; (2) March 5, 1942, Essie Shuman.

10. Barnabas Binney Hendry, born February 17, 1885; died February 15, 1958, Florence, South Carolina; married Elizabeth Young, 1910.

11. Emery Diaz Hendry, born August 17, 1890; died August 14, 1891; buried New Zion Cemetery.

12. William Francis Hendry, born October 6, 1900; died July 28, 1966, Bradenton, Fla.; married on May 11, 1924 Bessie Phillips.

13. James Blaine Hendry, born November 24, 1902; died March 12, 1992, Sebring, Fla.; married (1) December 11, 1933 Mary Louise Cowan; (2) June 1969 Nealie (Geiger) Bennett, divorced 1969; (3) Feb. 6, 1970 Carolyn (Young) Hill, divorced Oct. 1974; (4) Sept. 29, 1975 Carolyn (Young) Hill, div. Feb. 1977.

14. Andrew Alexander "Alex" Hendry, born September 7, 1904; died June 2, 1968, Bradenton, Fla.; married (1) December 19, 1925, Altha Duncan; (2) May 9, 1947, Mattie Opal DuBose.

15. Mary Ellen Hendry, born November 14, 1906; died January 19, 2006, Palmetto, Fla.; married on December 31, 1936 Worley Luther Roman.

16. Bidie Elma Hendry, born October 24, 1908; died October 20, 1998, Columbus, Ga., married on March 28, 1928 Harry Huyler Phillips.

17. Anne Rae Hendry, born August 18, 1912; died April 27, 2010, Temple Terrace, Fla.; married on April 1, 1939 Tracy Hugh Stone.


References: Military and pension records of James M. Hendry, National Archives; Canter Brown, Jr., Florida's Peace River Frontier, 1991, p. 188; Albert DeVane, "Preacher Named Arcadia For Little Girl Who Baked A Birthday Cake For Him," The Tampa Tribune, May 24, 1959; "When He Preached His Voice Was Like Unto the Power of An Angry Bull," The Tampa Tribune, June 7, 1959.

This is adapted from my articles in South Florida Pioneers 21/22 (July/Oct. 1979) and The Herald-Advocate of March 3, 1983 & June 13, 2002.


See also “Some History About Naming Town Arcadia,” Arcadian, April 3, 1941

See also Leland Hawes, "How a birthday cake provided Arcadia a name," The Tampa Tribune, September 23, 1990

January 23, 200, January 23, 2006, April 15, 2009 (1880 steam mill & Hawes link), May 9, 2010

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