Hendricks, Thomas G

From Lane Co Oregon

[edit] History

Thomas G Hendricks (1838-1919) had Oregon connections before he ever set foot in the territory. His grandfather was Elijah Bristow, who settled in Pleasant Hill and built the first house in Lane County. Hendricks came over the Oregon Trail with his family in 1848, when he was ten years old. He began his business career as a clerk in his uncle’s store, and eventually became the sole owner. “There is an account that the Molalla Indian chief, Moses, traded his furs at the Hendricks’ store, then spent the night in the Hendricks’ home, rolled in a blanket with his feet to the open fire,” recalled his granddaughter, Martha Goodrich.

In 1883, Hendricks opened a bank with Stewart Eakin. Three years later, the Hendricks and Eakin Bank became the First National Bank of Eugene, with Hendricks as president — a position he retained for over thirty years. His civic services included, among many other things, terms as council member, mayor, and state senator. Nearly all Eugene business leaders in the 1870s were involved in establishing the University of Oregon in the town, and Hendricks was a key player. During a particular funding crisis when members of the Union University Association visited area farmers and collected cows, pigs and apples as donations, Hendricks found ways to convert these goods into cash.

Hendricks was also heavily committed to his home life. He had lost his first wife and an infant son — leaving him with a daughter, Ida, who would later marry businessman Frank Chambers. Hendricks remarried to Martha Stewart, whose family had come west in 1852. She bore him two more daughters: Ada and Ruby. They spent much time together as a family, taking picnics and long camping trips in the summer, said Martha Goodrich. "Grandpa gave us all the legacy of his passionate love of the out-of-doors.” He also left an outdoor legacy to the city. Hendricks Park in east Eugene was a combination gift and sale by Hendricks in 1906. “The original purpose envisioned a park kept as nearly in its natural state as commensurate with its best recreational use,” wrote Goodrich. The park today is renowned for its rhododendron gardens, which explode into shades of pink, purple and red each spring.

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Eugene's The Guard (1867), July 13

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