Today I have good news and some not so good news about Uncle John Hendricks (Hendrix). The good news is that there was indeed an Uncle John Hendricks, and the not so good news is that he is not among my Hendrix ancestors.
After checking a “Historic Markers of Grayson County” booklet that I finally located among my records, I found a listing for a historical marker northeast of Sherman marking the Hendrix Cemetery. I’m not wrong in spelling the cemetery Hendrix, because John Hendrix changed his name that way to return to his Dutch ancestry.
John was born in Rockingham County, N.C., on Feb. 7, 1798, a son of Albert and Margaret Barnett Hendricks. His father, Albert, was born in Middletown, Monmouth County, N.J. in 1759, a descendant of Dutch settlers who came to this country in 1660.
After serving five terms of enlistment in the Continental Army, Albert settled in Rockingham County. In 1845 John Hendrix, who had changed the spelling of the family name to Hendrix, the original Dutch form, headed for Texas partly due to the influence of his wife, Ruth’s cousins, James B. and Thomas Jefferson Shannon. John had married Ruth Strader and with their children and the seven other families, they arrived in Texas.
The wagon train with the Hendrix, Jennings and Collingsworth families were two days from Colbert’s Ferry when they heard the cannonading from Old Fort Washita celebrating Texas joining the United States.
On Jan. 3 the wagon train camped on a site four miles northeast of the present site of Sherman. Next morning, John discovered that one of his horses had thrown a shoe. The others moved on out and he stayed to shoe the horse. The Hendrix family never left the site. A large boulder in the family cemetery marks the site of that overnight camp.
According to the Hendrix Cemetery Historical Marker, Hendrix ran successful farming and nursery operations and became a prominent and influential citizen of Grayson County.
Shortly after his arrival, Hendrix established the cemetery on land he acquired after his settlement here. It is a one-acre burial ground that was eventually deeded to Grayson County. The first known burial, that of the infant son of M. and D. Perdue, took place in 1848, according to the marker. John and Ruth Hendrix also are buried there, as is their son, Josiah Tompkins, and daughter, Nancy Hendrix Jennings.
The marker says that there are approximately 45 marked graves in the cemetery that is well hidden from the naked eye by honeysuckle and other vines and tall grass. Many of the graves date from the last half of the 19th century and some display illegible inscriptions, as noted by someone when the historical marker was being sought. An unmarked section in the northwest corner of the graveyard was reserved for slave burials.
As is mentioned on the marker, the Hendrix family relatives and descendants, close friends and associates, the cemetery is a significant reminder of early Grayson County history. However, the condition of the graveyard is well hidden from view by undergrowth.
Not only did the Hendrix family establish one of the first if not “the first” cemetery in this area, they also built a house in about 1863 on land was given by John’s father, Jesse. He built it near the Shannon Church, northeast of Sherman. Originally it was a one-room cabin with a loft, but Hendrix and his wife added several rooms, making it two stories in about 1870.
The original cabin was moved to Grayson County Frontier Village in 1978 and restored, however, only the downstairs room could be salvaged. This was the first cabin on John’s first piece of property. Through the years, however, both the cabin and his family grew and in 1846 he started a nursery. In 1979, his great-granddaughter, Elsie Mae Stephens Turner donated the Jessie Elvis Hendricks cabin and house to Frontier Village.
John and Ruth had 16 children, 11 of whom survived infancy. Ruth died in 1882 and John died the following year. I found a lot of information about the entire Hendrix family in a very large, heavy “Ancestors and Descendants, Grayson County, Texas” that was published in 1980 by the Grayson County, Texas, Genealogical Society. The articles in the book were written by Elsie Turner and by John D. Hendrix, a great-grandson of Iriah, Hendrix, the last of John and Ruth’s 16 children.
I remember Elsie Mae from a number of years ago and it seems to me that she lived in California. Uriah Hendrix was the only child born in Grayson County to survive infancy on the family site near Sherman in 1847. Elsie Mae’s father, Harry Stephens also was a great-grandson of John and a son of Uriah. He resided at 1815 West Bond Street.
I’m always glad to run down a spot of history about Sherman and this one was a great find at the encouragement of Sarah Beaver, regent of the Martha Jefferson Randolph Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
She told me the location of the cemetery and I talked my husband, David into accompanying me on a search. We went straight to the site and found the historical marker barely visible sitting far back from the road. Only a couple of tombstones are partially visible just waiting for the cemetery to be cleaned up.
The thing that I will always remember about John Hendrix is that it was said that he was a big, strong man, whose voice could be heard for four miles.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.