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William Marion Hendry

By Spessard Stone



W. Marion Hendry, a pioneer settler of Fort Myers, was a Confederate soldier, cattleman, merchant, and clerk of the circuit court of Lee County.

William Marion Hendry was born December 12, 1842, 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 and Nancy Ann (Alderman) Carlton. With his parents in 1851, he moved to Hillsborough County, Florida where they settled twenty-two miles east of Tampa.

During the Civil War, he enlisted in 1863 in Capt. Francis A. Hendry's Company A, Col. Munnerlyn's Battalion, in which he served until transferred to Capt. John Parson's Company, in which he was commissioned a first lieutenant. He also served in Capt. W. W. Wall's Company. In February 1865 he participated in the unsuccessful attempt to capture Fort Myers, which was held by the Union Army. Lt. Hendry was discharged on May 20, 1865.

In Polk County on December 2, 1865, he married Susan C. Wall, born May 16, 1843, daughter of Judge Perry Green and Nancy (Hunter) Wall of Tampa. They first made their home in Fort Meade where Marion was a cattleman. In 1871-72, Marion represented Polk County in the Florida House of Representatives.

In the summer of 1873, they moved to Fort Myers, Florida where the lived at present-day First and Hendry streets. With his brother-in-law, Major Aaron T. Frierson, as his partner, Marion in 1875 opened a general store on the northeast corner of First and Hendry streets. He also continued as a stockman. He aided much in shaping the political complexion of Fort Myers and Lee County. On August 22, 1876, he was appointed the first postmaster of Myers. (Washington postal officials refused to accept the town as Fort Myers as there was already a Fort Myer, Va. On November 9, 1901, Washington finally accepted Fort Myers as the town's official postal name.) He served until August 2, 1879 and kept the postoffice in his store. Elected as a councilman on August 12, 1885 when Fort Myers was incorporated, he was one of the ten founding fathers of Fort Myers. In 1887 he was again elected to the Town Council. In 1894 he was appointed by Governor Mitchell as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Lee County to fill the unexpired term of the incumbent who had died. He was elected in 1896 as Clerk and was re-elected subsequently for three four-year terms. Upon the expiration of his last term in January 1913, he retired and was succeeded in office by his son, Henry A. Hendry.

W. Marion Hendry was a Mason and member of the Methodist Church, in which he served many years as a steward and member of the Board of Trustees. In 1882, he and his brother and sister-in-law, Francis A. and Ardeline Hendry, gave the property on First Street and Royal Palm Avenue upon which the sanctuary of the First Methodist Church of Fort Myers was built. When a new church was proposed, Marion, acting for the church, purchased a 132-foot lot, which adjoined the church. Construction was begun that winter, and on November 22, 1903 services were performed by Rev. S. W. Lawler.

Susan Wall Hendry died May 16, 1899 and was buried in the Frierson-Hendry Cemetery, Fort Myers. Her brother-in-law, George W. Hendry, had said of her: "She was of a jovial disposition, always viewing life from the bright side, a splendid companion, a true helpmate, a member of the church; she filled her station in life faithfully."

On May 22, 1905 in DeSoto County, Florida, W. Marion Hendry married (2) Mrs. Laura V. Craig, born 1845.

On July 22, 1907, Wm. M. Hendry applied for a Confederate pension. Supporting his claim were Francis A. Hendry and Frank C. Alderman. His pension was approved with pay from August 8, 1907 at the rate of $100 per annum.

William Marion Hendry died December 23, 1914 at his home on First Street in Fort Myers and was buried in the Frierson- Hendry Cemetery. He was recognized as one of Lee County's most worthy citizens, esteemed for his temperate, moral and religious walk in life, and square dealings with his fellow man.

On December 4, 1916, Mrs. Laura V. Hendry applied for a Confederate pension as the widow of W. M. Hendry. James E. Foxworthy and Jehu J. Blount attested to her application. Her claim was approved as pensioner no. 1935 on March 6, 1917 for $150 per annum, with pay from December 5, 1916. Laura V. Hendry's date of death hasn't been learned.

Issue of W. Marion and Susan C. (Wall) Hendry:

1. Samuel Hendry, born September 1866; died in childhood.
2. Edward Marion Hendry, born January 23, 1868; never married.
3. Mary Susan Hendry, born August 2, 1874; died June 6, 1933, Tampa, Fla.; married on May 31, 1894 Henry T. Linebaugh.
4. Henry Asbury Hendry, born August 9, 1876; died on July 28, 1941; married on August 6, 1899 Mrs. Edna Langford Henderson.
5. William Wall Hendry, born August 10, 1878; married Bessie Knight.
6. Julia A. Hendry, born May 17, 1880; married on April 28, 1897 R. Ingram O. Travers.
7. Lydia Cornelia Hendry, born July 10, 1881; married Joseph W. Frazier.

This is adapapted from my John and William Sons of Robert Hendry.

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, 1944; CSA pension applications of W. M. Hendry and Laura V. Hendry, Florida Archives, Tallahassee; Karl Grismer, The Story of Fort Myers, 1949; 1981 Captain Francis Asbury Hendry reunion program. This profile was published in South Florida Pioneers 49/50 (July/Oct. 1986).