Un Dunning Hendrickson (“U.D.”), third of the seven children of Stephen and Maryann (Dunning) Hendrickson, was born 3 September 1846 at Mentor, Ohio, near Cleveland.
It is not known when U.D. left Ohio but his name appears in early writings about the first settlers in Florida. A history of the Episcopal Church in Melbourne mentions a U.D. Henderson of Eau Gallie, who built a store in Melbourne in 1878. Despite the spelling of the surname, it must have referred to Un. How many men would have the initials “U.D.?”
He was definitely in the Lake Worth area by 1879 when he had a 40’ sharpie built, the “Illinois,” as a cargo carrier. It was damaged slightly in the hurricane of October 1879 but, when U.D. got word of a shipwreck near Daytona, he repaired the damage, sailed north and salvaged a quantity of lard in ten pound pails. After the hurricane season was over, the “Illinois” was the settlers’ only means of transportation to Titusville, the nearest store. The following year, U.D. and another pioneer, Hiriam F. Hammon, began making regular trips to Titusville with the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants grown on the lake.
About 1882, U.D. went into partnership with the Breisford brothers in opening a general store and small hotel on the east shore of the lake. They acquired a 30 ton schooner, “Bessie B,” to bring merchandise from Jacksonville, and to offer public transportation and freight service. Sometime later, the partnership was dissolved and U.D. opened his own store at the north end of the lake, near the inlet. He bought a schooner, the “Mary B,” to get his own merchandise and went into competition with the Breisfords. He was awarded the contract to carry the mail from Jupiter to Hypoluxo, which he did, three times a week, serving all the other postoffices on the lake as well.
By 1886, U.D. was also operating the hack line between Jupiter and the lake. Seeing the need for quicker and more reliable transportation between Titusville and Jupiter, he had a small steamer built in Jacksonville. Christened the “Lake Worth,” it was the first steamer on the lake and carried twenty-five passengers. U.D. gave everyone a free ride on the Fourth of July 1889, taking the lake residents to Jupiter for a picnic. They left Palm Beach at 8:30 in the morning, picked up passengers around the lake, and arrived in Jupiter at 11.
Then, at age forty-four, Un Dunning Hendrickson married Etta Almira Moore. Twenty years his junior, she was the daughter of pioneer Robert Bingham Moore, and had just finished college in Iowa. The wedding was in Palm Beach and they made their home on North Lake Trail in the big 23-room house they had built. They loved company and, at Christmas time each year, gave a party for all the children who lived around the lake. They had three daughters and one son of their own. The son, Walter, fell off the dock and drowned at age three. Their daughters were: Mary (1892-1973), married first Clive Merchant and had three children, Howard, Russell and Katherine, married second Paul Pelky; Dorothy (1894-ca.1944), married first W.A. Whitcomb, married second _____MacDonald; Frances (1900-1988), married Thornton Bridgeman and had three children, Etta Bechtel, Bette Frances Lehman and Jean Ann Thurber.
U.D. opened a second store on the west side of the lake and his businesses flourished. With the coming of the railroad in 1894, he put his 90’ schooner, “Emily B,” which he’d had since 1887, up for sale. Etta helped organize the Woman’s Guild of Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and was an active member. She was the originator of the annual spring festival, held at the Charles I. Cragins’“Garden of Eden,” to raise money for the Guild.
About 1921, U.D. and Etta joined other settlers who had moved to Umatilla, Florida. There, U.D. died on 8 December 1925. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. Etta died 12 June 1945 at Umatilla and is buried beside U.D.