Great Grandpa hidden in cornfield

Share your story submitted by: M. Lamb | Champlin, MN

I am among the many relatives, perhaps already in the hundreds, who owe their very existence to the Dakota War. My Great Grandfather Willam Edward Hendley, b. 1/3/1861, was hidden along with his mother and baby sister in a cornfield by an Indian whom they had befriended. This was in the town known at that time as Hilo (renamed Courtland in 1865). His father John Lewis Hendley (b. 7/12/1827, Richmond VA) and grandfather Erbery Hendley (b. 12/25/1797, Kilworth, County Cork, Ireland) were away at the time. Hostile Indians burned the farm but the friendly Indian continued to distract them from finding the three hidden settlers. Afterward the Hendleys chose to rebuild in the Hebron area further east (near present day Hebron Cemetery) where William eventually met and married my Great Grandmother, Bertha Edith Kennedy. Thus, in this twist of fate, both the friendly and hostile Indians were key to all of the resulting descendants. Considering all of the people impacted, I find it fascinating to realize how recent that life-and-death cornfield event was in terms of generations -- and yet how times have changed: When my Great Grandfather Will died in 1955 at age 94 I was almost 11 years old. He stayed with us for the last several years, and I remember him well. We lived on one of the early family farms near Hebron at the time, with some neighbors still using  horse teams to farm. We moved to Minneapolis the next year and I went on to a career in satellite communications and computer networking, including the project that prepared Air Force One for Nixon’s trip to China. How I wish I knew the names and more about the Dakota, both friendly and hostile (whose perspective was thankfully gaining appreciation even when I was a boy), that impacted so many Hendley descendants and related lives, literally worldwide!
If of interest, I can add an oral history to this posting. The details of this story were related by Will to my cousin Rex Hendley, and I recorded Rex’s retelling in 2012. 

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