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Amelia Gibson Hendrick


Posted By: Helen Bortz (email)
Date: 3/10/2007 at 01:35:38

Mrs. Amelia Hendrick will celebrate her ninetieth birthday July 3 and she had reached that milestone busy and content. Having always led a busy, active life it is natural that she should find contentment sitting by the door in her home working on her hooked rugs.

As Amelia, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Gibson, she was born July 3, 1846 in Lyons, MI. Her mother's ancestory traced back to the original Willett family who came to America on the Mayflower. When only five years of age, the little girl was bereft of her parents thereafter being cared for by friends in a home with Quaker training. She received her education in the schools at Lyons and became a successful teacher. Her entertainment as a young woman consisted of spelling bees, picnics and other simple pleasures.

She was married when only 17 years of age to M.B. Hendrick who, with his four brothers, had come to Palo, MI from Livingston Co., NY. After arriving in Postville they first made their home with Mrs. Joel Post and besides building the new depot, built an elevator for Hall Roberts and a home for themselves.

All of this did not come at once. The young mother with her little children eyed this new prairie town with so few trees and was lonely for the forests of Michigan. She used to take her little family to a large grove of oaks then located north of Waukon to spend a few hours and perhaps have a picnic. Then longing became too great and she told her husband that she could not be happy in this new country unless she could live in a place with trees. Her husband replied that he would buy that oak grove, build his home there and plant so many trees about it that she would be sick of them. So that track of land which has been developed so beautifully was purchased 67 years ago, also the stock of a nursery across the street west.

The new home was built all on one floor, quite an innovation then, and with 12 foot ceilings gave spacious effect in keeping with the colorful gatherings later to be held there. Mrs. Hendrick named the new home Idle Oaks and busied herself drawing plans and supervising the planting of many types of spruce and arbor vitae about the house and yard while others were planted to form a lane up which Mr. Hendrick would drive his horse and buggy when returning home. The arbor vitae was planted in a double row 82 rods long lining the long grassy walk to the street. Through the years this hedge has attained a growth and beauty which has made it famous as the finest and largest arbor vitae hedge known. This opinion given by Mr. Hill of a large evergreen nursery at Dundee, IL. The hedge 82 rods long as before mentioned reached a height of 20 feet and an average width of 16 feet.

Pictures taken in 1877 from the top of the court hourse shows the Baptist Church property surrounded by a white picket fence, the trees on Allamakee street are very young but show promise of their later beauty while the Hendrick home looms up with a background of oak trees as the only house northwest of Waukon. All west of it appears to be prairie. Today all of the oaks are gone but the towering pines and spruce take their place. They are grown up, too, like the little boys who used to play "ante over" over their tops.

Mrs. Hendrick made her home the center of her interests. She was hospitality personified. All were welcome under the Hendrick roof, all ages, all creeds, all parties. She preferred to entertain at home rather than have the family circle and spirit broken if they were elsewhere. The table top must have been elastic for it has been said that she never knew just how many she would have for a meal. Big Sunday dinners were the usual thing with whole families invited and their home many times must have seemed like a continual house party with different parties of friends visiting from June till September.

Mrs. Hendrick used to picnic at Newman Springs with her children just as Waukon mothers do today. Young people were always a hobby with her and her husband. They loved them and nothing was too much work to make them happy. Many simple parties were planned for them. It took lots less fuss to give a party then. Make a big jar of lemonade, provide ice cream and cake and everybody was happy. Once a picnic had been planned for from 30 to 40 young folks. It rained so a livery team called at each home and took them to the Hendrick home for a hilarious afternoon. The swan fountain in the Hendrick yard was part of the decoration at the World's fair in Chicago in 1893.

Mrs. Hendrick was active many, many years in the affairs of the Grange and the county fair and though her interest was mostly in her home, family and flowers, still her family recalls with pride the fact that she was a member of the committee who secured Susan B. Anthony to give an address here in the Barnard Hall many years ago. Other members of the committee were Mrs. Alonzo May and Mrs. H.H. Stilwell.

Some of the beautiful handmade walnut furniture she aquired as a young woman will be heirlooms for generations. The chairs are perfect in their simplicity with hand carved decorations and were made by the William Nopper firm, cabinet makers at Lansing.

Mrs. Hendrick reads many magazines and always her two daily papers. Politics come in for her share of comment. She writes beautiful letters and although confined to her home most of the time the past twenty years, her letters do not show it. She speaks of the beauty of nature to her children, mentions the snow on the trees, the cardinals and blue jays, or perhaps the beautiful green of the lawn and trees with the sun shinning on them. Wonder if she is unconsiously striving to bind her children closer to her and home just as she did when they were little.

Although it has been many, many years since Mrs. Hendrick could be an active participate at the county fair, her interest in it is still sustained. Each year she urges entries to be taken from their home and inquiries are always made about the attendance.

Mrs. Hendrick is the mother of five children: Mrs. J. N. Volding of Minniapolis, MN, Max Hendrick of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Burt of Waukon, Theo, Mrs. Tom W. Burgess, who passed away in 1934 and a son Thod who passed away in 1884 at the age of 16. Judge Hendrick passed on in 1914 since when her son, Burt, and his wife have made their home with her.

Early in life Mrs. Hendrick set her standards and high ideals and she has lived a fine life with every shade of meaning that the word implies. On a table in her room along with photographs of her loved ones is a copy of the following creed which for twenty five years has been an expression of her faith: GOD'S GARDEN The years are flowers and bloom within Eternity's wide garden; The rose for joy, the thorn for sin, The gardner God, to pardon All wilding growths, to prune, reclaim, And make the rose-like in His name. - Richard Burton

-source: Waukon newspaper clipping, 1936
-transcribed by Helen Bortz

Amelia Hendrick died on her birthday, July 3, 1937. She is buried in Oakland Main cemetery


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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