No better time than centennial time to remember precious pioneers such as Lucy Susan Hendricks and James William Hendricks. This worthy couple, along with their descendents, played key roles in Thatcher’s founding.
At the time of the Hendricks’ June 1885 Thatcher arrival the hamlet was still in its swaddling clothes stage with some eight or nine families busy grubbing mesquite and re-building rock-brush dams. Such work was completely foreign to the Hendricks family when it purchased the 160 acres Andy Carlson Sr. farm located on Thatcher’s western outskirts.
Being a knowledgeable farmer and indefatigable farmer when living in his former Butler County, Kentucky, residence, newcomer Hendricks quickly adapted to western style farming such as irrigating, cutting and baling alfalfa, etc. This was a far cry from Kentucky type agriculture where Jimmie grew grain aplenty, raised a bumper crops of sugar cane from which he prepared 40-gallon barrels of molasses; also grew such vegetables as turnips, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables which he covered with straw after placing them in straw lined trenches.
Being a border state, Kentucky was caught up in the throes of the Civil War. During the course of this bloody conflict, one which pitted brother against brother, James Hendricks wore the blue uniform as did his brothers Joseph and Wiley. In later years, a grandchild asked Jimmie if he shot anyone whole serving as a solder. His answer: “Not to my knowledge.”
Earlier on a happier note, James William Hendricks married Lucy Susan Stinson in a January 6, 1857 ceremony. Briefly the young couple lived for a short time in Todd and Logan Counties before establishing themselves on a 175 acre farm near Huntsville, Kentucky. To this union were born the following 14 children; Nancy Elizabeth, Arminda Alice, Amanda Catherine, Willa Belle, David ----, ---na, Martha Susan, James Balus, Dora Edith, Charles McHenry, George Washington, Archibald, Olie and Olien. Only eight of the above children grew to maturity.
Events of 1882 had a resounding impact upon the Hendricks family and their destiny. It was during this period that two Mormon missionaries, John W Taylor and Jacob G Bigler, preached the Gospel in the Huntsville area to many families including the Hendricks. Teaching Lucy and the girls was no difficult task but Father James was another matter. James didn’t have time to listen as he had work to do that couldn’t wait. But Mormon Missionaries can be ingenious for they devised a plan whereby they took turns plowing for James while the other taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ
As a result of the missionaries efforts James, Lucy and their daughters Arminda Alice, Armanda Catherine, Willie Belle were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on April 17, 1882. Due to several factors, including a persistent anti-Mormon bias that existed among many of their neighbors, the Hendricks family reached the decision to move to faraway Arizona where they could worship in freedom and among other Saints.
It was on June 14, 1885 that the Hendricks family entrained for their Arizona destination. On arriving at Bowie the family group was warmly greeted by Jacob Bigler who had played a leading role in the Hendricks’ conversion to the LDS faith. Since, at this period, there were no trains operating between Bowie and Globe, Mr Bigler conveyed the Kentucky family by wagon to his Central home where the Hendricks stayed until a farm was located and purchased. According to family history, Mr Hendricks then erected “the first shingled roof and lumber floor house in the (Thatcher) community, the rest having dirt floors and roofs.” Portions of this home have been re-modeled into the present Harold Reed home located on Palmer Lane.
During the Hendricks Thatcher years the various members of the transplanted family made many religious and cultural contributions to their adopted community. For instance, it was Nancy, the Hendricks oldest child, who taught Thatcher’s initial school in a chicken coop located on the Rass Carpenter farm. This non-certified school was also non-pretentious with its dirt floor and dirt roof and benches made of rough 1x6 lumber.
During the latter part of the 1890’s the Model project in the now Franklin areas enticed no few Safford Valley farmers, including James Hendricks, to cast their lots in this ambitious project. Before leaving Thatcher, Lucy and James Hendricks had given each of their married daughters 20 acres of land and other items; the balance of their land holdings were divided among other members of the Hendricks family.
Both James William and Lucy Hendricks lived out their lives in the Franklin area, James dying February 3, 1908 and Lucy passing away March 21, 1927. Both are buried in the Franklin cemetery. Their legacy to their fellow men – descendants of sterling character and talented skills – was rich indeed.
POSTSCRIPT: MANY THANKS TO Mrs Ray (Lucille) Morris for providing needed help in the preparation of the above article. And many thanks to Reva Tupen and Joanna Smith Reismann whose Hendricks writings were utilized in the above story.