Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Hendry

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Location:SR 80 near Collingswood Pkwy
County: Hendry
City: La Belle
Description: LaBelle's history begins here, along the Caloosahatchee River, on this old Fort Thompson site. Fort Thompson began c.1838 as a military post during the 2nd Seminole War, named for Lt. Colonel Alexander Thompson, who died in the battle of Okeechobee in 1837. The Confederates used the site during the Civil War to raise cattle for their troops. In 1879, former Confederate Captain Francis Asbury Hendry (1833-1917) acquired the property, making it his home in 1889. He established a cattle ranch and soon the town of LaBelle grew along its western boundary. In 1885, steamboat service carried passengers from Fort Myers to Fort Thompson, and in 1912, when LaBelle became a port on Florida's Intracoastal Waterway, it became a river paradise. In 1905, Edgar Everett Goodno (1858-1936) purchased Fort Thompson and built an ice plant and an electric plant to serve a growing population. By the end of the decade, the former fort had become the cattle and citrus town now known as LaBelle. Thomas Edison was known to have visited LaBelle, staying at the Fort Thompson Hotel. In 1924, Henry Ford purchased part of Goodno's property. It remained in Ford's name until 1942 when he sold it to one of Captain Hendry's cousins, Joseph B. Hendry.
Sponsors: the Labelle Heritage Museum, a chapter of the Calusa Valley Historical Society and the Florida Department of State
Location:Corner of Park Ave and Bridge St.
County: Hendry
City: La Belle
Description: In 1895, prominent landowner and cattleman Captain Francis A. Hendry (1833-1917) platted a townsite at LaBelle, which was first settled as a center for cattle and citrus industries. A post office, general store, school, and a church were eventually built, and LaBelle became the first town and commercial center in what became Hendry County. Although Hendry is credited with settling LaBelle, E.E. Goodno (1858-1936), who purchased Hendry’s former land holdings in 1903 and financed many of the town’s first improvements, is recognized as the “Father of LaBelle.” LaBelle’s historic business district extends along and near Bridge Street from the Caloosahatchee River south to Hickpockee Avenue. At one time, both sides of the street were lined with commercial establishments, some of which featured living accommodations on the second floor. Sadly, many early downtown buildings were destroyed in a 1928 fire, but some have survived, including the Poole Store (1911), First Bank of LaBelle (1925), the Royal Poinciana/Newcomb Bakery (1911-1912--one of the buildings constructed for both commercial and residential use). The Downtown LaBelle Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Location:S.R. 78-A at Caloosahatchee River bridge
County: Hendry
City: La Belle
Description: The combined pressure of growing white settlement in Florida and federal policy of relocating Indian tribes west of the Mississippi sparked the outbreak of the 2nd Seminole War in 1835. Controlling the coasts and campaigning in the heart of Seminole lands were the objectives of Major General Thomas Jesup in 1837. Captain B. L. E. Bonneville established Fort Denaud in 1838 as one of a series of posts linking American operations south of Tampa to the east coast. It was constructed on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee River 27 miles from Fort Myers on land owned by Pierre Danaud, a French Indian trader. The fort consisted of tents with a blockhouse in their midst. It served as a supply depot for troops in the Lake Okeechobee area and was utilized intermittently until the war ended in 1842. Fort Denaud was reopened in 1855, soon after the outbreak of the 3rd Seminole War. Additions included company quarters, hospital, guardhouse, sutler's store and stables. A few months after a fire ravaged the post in June 1856, another site on the north bank of the river tow miles west was chosen. The fort, which was abandoned in May 1858, gave its name to the nearby town of Denaud.
Sponsors: sponsored by calusa valley historical society in cooperation with department of state