Hendry County, Florida

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Hendry County
Hendry County
The Hendry County Courthouse at LaBelle in 2010.
The Hendry County Courthouse at LaBelle in 2010.
Official seal of Hendry County
Map of Florida highlighting Hendry County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 26°33′N 81°10′W / 26.55°N 81.17°W / 26.55; -81.17
Country United States
State Florida
FoundedMay 11, 1923
Named forFrancis A. Hendry
Largest cityClewiston
 • Total1,190 sq mi (3,100 km2)
 • Land1,153 sq mi (2,990 km2)
 • Water37 sq mi (100 km2)  3.1%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density34/sq mi (13/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district25th

Hendry County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,022.[1] Its county seat is LaBelle.[2]

Hendry County comprises the Clewiston, Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Indigenous peoples migrated into Florida around 10000 B.C.E., while the Glades culture existed in southern Florida from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 1500 C.E.[3] Archaeological sites attesting to the presence of the Glades culture in modern-day Hendry County include Clewiston Mounds, Maple Mound, South Lake Mounds, and Tony's Mound.[4] When Europeans arrived in Florida in the 16th century, the Calusa and Mayaimi tribes resided in Southwest Florida and around Lake Okeechobee.[3]

In the early 1800s, French trader Pierre Denaud established a trading post in the modern-day LaBelle area.[5]: 8  During the Seminole Wars, United States troops built a fort along the Caloosahatchee River in 1838, named Fort Denaud in his honor. About three years later, Fort Thompson was established. These military posts became the first permanent settlements in modern-day Hendry County. Originally, the area now comprising Hendry County remained relatively inaccessible, as the Florida Everglades covered more than half of the county's present-day boundaries. Further, nearly the entire area became submerged with water seasonally; thus, only cattle-grazing was a suitable industry. However, by 1881, the Atlantic and Gulf Coast and Okeechobee Land Company began draining the land after entering into a contract with the trustees of the internal improvement fund. The county's first post office was established at Fort Thomson in 1884.[6]: 3  The state of Florida established Lee County in 1887, which included land now part of Hendry County. Settlement in LaBelle began around 1889 or 1890, after the town was platted by Francis A. Hendry, a cattle rancher, politician, and officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.[5]: 8 

Around the beginning of the 20th century, commercial fishermen began building fishing camps along Lake Okeechobee at Sand Point, later renamed Clewiston, though the city was not permanently settled until about 1920.[7] In 1911, LaBelle became the oldest municipality in modern-day Hendry County after officially incorporating.[8] That same year, the United States government established the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in present-day Hendry County via executive order by president William Howard Taft.[9] By the early 1920s, residents in the eastern Lee County communities of Clewiston, Felda, Fort Denaud, and LaBelle began campaigning for the creation of a new county. Among their reasons for supporting the establishment of a new county was dissatisfaction with the distance between eastern Lee County settlements and the county seat, Fort Myers. Around that time, the Caloosahatchee Current was established to prove that the area could sustain a newspaper publication.[8]

On May 11, 1923, just three days after neighboring Collier County was also created and partitioned from Lee County, the Florida Legislature voted to establish Hendry County, named after Francis A. Hendry.[6]: 3  The first county commissioners were M.F. Boisclaire, M.E. Forrey, Thomas O'Brien, R.H. Magill, and L.N. Thomas. The town of LaBelle (chartered as a city in 1925) was designated as the county seat. A temporary jail was erected at a city park in LaBelle, while E.E. Goodno, who owned the Everett Hotel, allowed rooms and office space in the building to be used as a temporary courthouse.[10]: 8 

Residents voted by a wide margin in favor of a $530,000 bond issue in November 1924, with $430,000 to be allotted towards improvement of roads and $100,000 for construction of a courthouse.[11] The courthouse was finished in 1927,[10]: 7  and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.[12] In 1925, the only other incorporated municipality in Hendry County, Clewiston, became a city.[7] In mid-1926, a cross-state highway (initially designated as State Road 25, but later renumbered 80) linking Fort Myers to Palm Beach was completed and passed through Hendry County. Around this time, the Gulf Atlantic Transportation, based in LaBelle, began providing transportation from Fort Myers to West Palm Beach. Another improvement to transportation occurred when the Seaboard–All Florida Railway started its rail service from LaBelle to Fort Myers in mid-1927.[10]: 9  The 1926 Miami hurricane and 1928 Okeechobee hurricane both impacted Hendry County, though damage and loss of life was significantly less than in other areas around Lake Okeechobee.[13][14]

The Number 5 British Flying Training School was operated at Riddle Field in Clewiston during World War II, with more than 1,800 Royal Air Force pilots trained there. Upon completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike in 1961, a dedication ceremony was held in Clewiston, which included a speech by former president Herbert Hoover.[7]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,190 square miles (3,100 km2), of which 1,153 square miles (2,990 km2) is land and 37 square miles (96 km2) (3.1%) is water.[15] The county borders Lake Okeechobee; the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail runs through Hendry County.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
1790-1960[17] 1900-1990[18]
1990-2000[19] 2010-2019[1]

As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 36,210 people, 10,850 households, and 8,137 families residing in the county. The population density was 31 people per square mile (12/km2). There were 12,294 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 66.08% White, 14.75% Black or African American, 0.80% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 14.67% from other races, and 3.22% from two or more races. 39.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In 2000 there were 10,850 households, out of which 40.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.0% were non-families. 18.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.44.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 30.0% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 125.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 131.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,592, and the median income for a family was $34,902. Males had a median income of $25,896 versus $20,070 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,663. About 16.9% of families and 24.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.9% of those under age 18 and 15.0% of those age 65 or over.

2010 Census[edit]

In 2010 the population of Hendry Country was 39,140. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 34.9% non-Hispanic white, 13.4% black or African American, 1.7% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% non-Hispanic reporting some other race, 2.7% reporting two or more races and 49.2% Hispanic or Latino.[21]


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[22]
Year Republican Democratic Other
2020 61.0% 7,906 38.0% 4,929 0.9% 121
2016 55.4% 6,195 41.3% 4,615 3.3% 372
2012 52.4% 5,355 46.5% 4,751 1.1% 109
2008 52.9% 5,780 45.8% 4,998 1.3% 139
2004 58.9% 5,757 40.5% 3,960 0.6% 58
2000 58.3% 4,747 39.8% 3,240 1.9% 152
1996 43.3% 3,855 43.7% 3,885 13.0% 1,159
1992 40.9% 3,279 33.6% 2,691 25.5% 2,046
1988 65.7% 3,965 33.7% 2,036 0.6% 34
1984 69.2% 4,524 30.9% 2,018
1980 49.9% 2,703 47.0% 2,543 3.1% 168
1976 43.3% 1,843 54.9% 2,337 1.7% 74
1972 78.9% 2,763 21.1% 739 0.1% 2
1968 27.0% 900 23.8% 791 49.2% 1,638
1964 55.0% 1,650 45.0% 1,352
1960 44.4% 1,043 55.6% 1,307
1956 51.6% 1,071 48.4% 1,003
1952 46.6% 918 53.4% 1,052
1948 26.2% 340 53.9% 699 19.9% 258
1944 27.1% 347 72.9% 933
1940 23.4% 317 76.6% 1,040
1936 24.0% 234 76.0% 741
1932 19.3% 163 80.7% 683
1928 54.2% 337 42.8% 266 3.1% 19
1924 12.2% 21 76.7% 132 11.1% 19


The School Board of Hendry County (SBHC) oversees public primary and secondary education for students in Hendry County. The SBHC maintains six elementary schools, with three each in Clewiston and LaBelle, and two middle schools, with one in Clewiston and the other in LaBelle. The county has two high schools – Clewiston High School and LaBelle High School. Additionally, the SBHC operates the Montura Early Learning Center, a Pre-K learning institute.[23] There is also a tribal school affiliated with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Ahfachkee School at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation.[24]

The Clewiston Public Library in Clewiston, the Harlem Library, also in Clewiston and the Barron Library in Labelle, all make up the Hendry County Library Cooperative.[25] The Clewiston Public Library, now known as the Harry T. Vaughn Library, came about in 1941 when the mayor at the time, asked the Garden Club to organize a library. They enlisted the help of a librarian from the Moore Haven High School to cataloged all the books and then prepared to open the library to the public. In 1967, the library moved to its permanent location, and in 1992, it was added to through funding from state and federal grants, the City of Clewiston, Hendry County, $100,000 from U.S. Sugar, and $57,510 from private donations.[26] The mission of the cooperative, as taken from their website, is this: "The mission of the Hendry County Library Cooperative is to provide its citizens with access to materials and information for work, school, and personal life that are both educational and entertaining".[25]

Few post-secondary institutions exist in Hendry County. Florida SouthWestern State College has an outreach program campus in LaBelle.[27] Neighboring Collier and Lee counties have several colleges and universities, including Ave Maria University in Ave Maria and campuses of Barry University, Florida SouthWestern State College, Keiser University, and Rasmussen University in Fort Myers.[28] In western Palm Beach County, a campus of Palm Beach State College is located in Belle Glade.[29]




Census-designated places[edit]

Other unincorporated communities[edit]




In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 14, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Native Americans – Introduction". Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  4. ^ "Settlement Patterns: Earthworks and Canals". Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  5. ^ a b National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Captain Francis A. Hendry House) (PDF) (Report). National Park Service. 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Historical Sketch of Hendry County. Works Progress Administration (Report). Florida Memory. June 1939. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "History Happened Here: Clewiston". vivafl500.org. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "The History of LaBelle". City of LaBelle, Florida. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Tina L. Morin (June 1992). "Indians, Non-Indians, and the Endangered Panther; Will the Indian/Non-Indian Conflict Be Resolved before the Panther Disappears?". Public Land and Resources Law Review. 13 (11). Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Historic and Architectural Resources of LaBelle) (PDF) (Report). National Park Service. January 2003. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "$530,000 Bond Issue for Hendry County Given Big Majority". The Fort Myers Press. November 22, 1924. p. 1. Retrieved September 13, 2021. icon of an open green padlock
  12. ^ "Florida's History Through Its Places – Hendry County". Florida Department of State. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  13. ^ "Storm Causes Little Damage At Clewiston". St. Petersburg Times. September 27, 1926. p. 5. Retrieved September 13, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. icon of an open green padlock
  14. ^ "Okeechobee Deaths Laid to Big Wave". The Tampa Tribune. September 19, 1928. p. 2. Retrieved September 13, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. icon of an open green padlock
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  17. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  18. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  19. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  20. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  21. ^ 2010 general demographic report for Hendry County
  22. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  23. ^ "Our Schools". School Board of Hendry County. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  24. ^ "History". Ahfachkee School. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "About the Library System". Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  26. ^ "Library". City of Clewiston, Florida. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  27. ^ "FSW Hendry/Glades Curtis Center". Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  28. ^ "Colleges & Universities in Southwest FL". Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  29. ^ "Belle Glade Campus". Palm Beach State College. Retrieved September 14, 2021.

External links[edit]

Government links/constitutional offices[edit]

Special districts[edit]

Judicial branch[edit]

Tourism links[edit]

Museum and Library Resources[edit]

Coordinates: 26°33′N 81°10′W / 26.55°N 81.17°W / 26.55; -81.17