John Hendrix - Details


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John Hendrix

November 9, 1865 – June 2, 1915

 

John Hendrix's great-grandfather was Garrett Hendrix.  He came from Wilkes County, North Carolina to Beaver Creek in Knox County before 1794.  David and Samuel Hall, who had been Revolutionary War soldiers also came from Wilkes County.  The Hall and the Hendrix families lived in the same neighborhoods and intermarried.  Samuel Hall's wife was Letitia Hendrix.  David Hall is buried in a cemetery near the Bull Run Steam Plant close to where John Hendrix lived at one time.

 

John Hendrix's grandfather was Morgan Hendrix, one of the first settlers in Morgan County.  He moved back to Knox County by 1830 and died there in 1843.  Morgan had seven children by his first wife, one being Luke S. Hendrix.  Morgan married a second time to Sally Bowman.  They had 10 children.  Dr. E. L. Hendrix of Oak Ridge is a great-grandson of Tarleton Hendrix, a half-uncle of John Hendrix.

 

John Hendrix's father was Luke S. Hendrix.

 

John Hendrix was born November 9, 1865 in Anderson County.  He was the eighth son of Luke S. and Jane (Wallace) Hendrix.  His family lived in Morgan County at the times of the 1850 and 1860 census.  Just prior to John's birth, his father sold the farm in Morgan County and moved to the Robertsville area (John Hendrix may have been born while his parents lived on a rented farm in Bear Creek Valley - the present location of Y-12!).  In 1888, John married his first wife, Julia Ann Griffith of Morgan County.  She was the daughter of Joel and Cloe J. (Hall) Griffith, and granddaughter of John and Sara Griffith.  They had four children: Jessee, Elzora Elizabeth, Lela and Ethel Perrgold Hendrix.  Donald L. Gray of Oak Ridge was the son of Elzora, who married Roy Lee Gray. 

John and his family lived on the west side of the hill above the present-day site of the Bull Run Steam Plant.  Their youngest daughter Ethel who was only two years old died of diphtheria. John's wife, Julia Ann, blamed John for her death.  It seems John had spanked Ethel sometime earlier and in her mind, Julia Ann somehow blamed John.  Ethel was buried in the Black Cemetery that was moved from the Bull Run Steam Plant site.  Her grave is in the relocated cemetery, marked by TVA with an "unknown" marker.  Around 1900, Julia Ann took her three children and went with her brother to Arkansas.  She later wrote John a letter telling him that she and the children were not returning.  She later married a Mr. Bradley near Camden, Arkansas.

John took the death of his young daughter and his family leaving him very hard.  It was about this time in his life that he began to think more seriously about religion and to see visions.  He prayed to God to tell him and a voice said if he would lay with his face on the ground for 40 nights and pray, it would be revealed to him. John stayed in the woods for 40 days and nights, praying and sleeping on the ground. A neighbor lady found him lying with his hair frozen to the ground and brought a quilt to cover him. She stated that hearing him pray would make your hair stand on end. The cold ground contributed to his tuberculosis. When John began to describe his visions, people thought him insane and he was imprisoned for a time at the county farm. John "dug out" and escaped but was spotted by authorities. John shouted to them from outside the fence that the farm was an evil place and that within a month God would strike the building and burn it down. When lighting did strike and burn the building, some people began to fear him as a witch. However, many of the things he said were not taken seriously by those who heard him talk about his special gift of visioning...at least not while he lived, but later they would remember and wonder at the accuracy of what he foretold.

 

An example of his eerie insight follows:

 

More than 40 years before Y-12 or Oak Ridge existed, told the future regarding Bear Creek valley that lay between two East Tennessee ridges and Black Oak Ridge just north of that valley.

 

He first predicted that soon a railroad would be built running from Knoxville through the central part of Anderson County.  This prediction proved accurate and caused Hendrix to consider himself capable of even more amazing prophecies.  He was told by a voice, he said, to sleep on the ground for 40 nights and he would learn about the future.  He did as he was told and on the 41st day he emerged from the woods and beginning at the local crossroads general store he told everyone who would listen about the amazing things he had seen in his visions while sleeping on the ground.

 

“Bear Creek Valley some day will be filled with great buildings and factories and they will help toward winning the greatest war that will ever be.” 

 

“There will be a city on Black Oak Ridge and the center of authority will be on a spot middle-way between Sevier Tadlock’s farm and Joe Pyatt’s Place.”

 

“A railroad spur will branch off the main L&N line, run down toward Robertsville and then branch off and turn toward Scarbrough.”

 

“Big engines will dig big ditches and thousands of people will be running to and fro.  They will be building things and there will be great noise and confusion and the earth will shake.”

“I’ve seen it.  It’s coming.” John also named the people around him that would be alive to see it happen and named the people who would not be alive, including him. He also notched the trees indicating where the main arteries of roads and railroads would be. He also marked the command center.

John Hendrix died in 1915 at age 49 and is buried on a hilltop in a subdivision of Oak Ridge named “Hendrix Creek.” 

His predictions were uncannily accurate.  Twenty-eight years after his death, Y-12 was built in Bear Creek valley.  It was constructed in 18 months with nine huge buildings and all the necessary support facilities.  The uranium U-235 needed for the first atomic bomb was produced there that led to the end of World War II.  The city of Oak Ridge was built on Black Oak Ridge.  The "Castle on the Hill" or center of authority was built where approximately between where Tadlock's and Pyatt's place were before they were removed to make way for the Manhattan Project.  The railroad spur was placed as Hendrix described it.

 

Paralee Raby and her husband Perry took Hendrix into their home and cared for him until his death in exchange for his 15-acre farm.  This was done at the request of John Hendrix's second wife, Martha Jane (Whitehead) Gregory. Martha Jane Whitehead was born in Happy Valley in Blount County on April 28, 1867 and had first married William A. Gregory of Blount County. They had seven children before they were divorced. Gregory was born in Cades Cove on July 4, 1864 and died March 1, 1910. He is buried in the cemetery at Primitive Baptist Church, Cades Cove, Blount County, Tennessee. Martha Jane and John married in 1908.  Martha Jane and John had a son (Curtis Allen Hendrix) born September 4, 1909.

When John came down with "consumption" or what was later known as tuberculosis, Martha Jane, desiring to protect her young son (Curtis Allen Hendrix) from John's sickness, "set him out" to a small building on his farm of 15 acres that joined the property where she and John lived. When he continued to grow more feeble and sick she farmed out the care of John to Paralee and Perry Raby, her daughter and son-in-law.  On April 22, 1915, John and Martha Jane deeded half of the 15-acre farm he had bought six years earlier to his step-daughter Paralee (Gregory) Raby and her husband Perry in return for their taking care of John.  The other half of the property was to go to them at John's death.  John Hendrix signed the deed by placing an "X" his mark.   It is thought that he must have been very sick as the census records of that time do not identify him as being illiterate. Wayne Gregory has provided documentation through a copy of the face of the deed that it was registered in Anderson County at 9 A.M., 17 May 1915. It was noted in book 8, page 137 and recorded in book of deeds "F", Volume 3, page 515. The deed is signed by Geo. T. Riggs, Register.   Don Raby provided a copy of the actual deed that shows it was signed on April 22, 1915 and recorded on May 17, 1915. Hendrix had acquired the 15 acres from a neighbor and paid for the land by working at farm labor for 50 cents a day.

Grace Raby Crawford the author of "Back of Oak Ridge" tells the story that John Hendrix said "'I'm going to be with the angels.' and after a few more breaths Hendrix was dead." Crawford also notes that it was during this time of illness that John Hendrix spent with Paralee where she came to know the deeper thoughts and character of her stepfather. Grace Raby Crawford is the adopted child of Paralee and Perry Raby and having come to live with them soon after the death of John Hendrix, she experienced John Hendrix through the rememberances of Paralee and John's widow, Martha Jane. (At this writing Grace Raby Crawford is 88 years of age and her mind is a clear as a bell. I am thoroughly enjoying her help with my research as I am also the help of Wayne Gregory, John Hendrix's step-grandson.)

When John died on June 2, 1915, Perry Raby paid $8 for the coffin and also chiseled a field stone to mark the grave.  It took Perry Raby three years (July 22, 1918) to pay the $8 for the coffin built by Jim Dunlap (I now have a copy of the handwritten receipt courtesy of Grace Raby Crawford.) In later years, Curtis Allen Hendrix planted a stand of boxwood trees around the grave.  The original field stone marker was likely removed when a second marker, the one photographed in 1944 was placed there. This second marker was removed at some time (If anyone knows the whereabouts of the first crude stone or the second stone photographed in 1944, it would surely be a great find and would be an excellent addition to John Hendrix's grave! Please contact SmithDRay if you have ANY information regarding these markers.).  The present marker was placed there as a result of a joint class project of the Robertsville and Jefferson Junior High School students in 1967.

When the Manhattan Project began to acquire land for the Kingston Demolition Range, later the Clinton Engineer Works and even later Oak Ridge, among the first to be given notices in November 1942, were Martha Jane Hendrix and her son Curtis.  They were told that they would have to move by December 1 in a curt letter from the government dated November 11, 1942.  The letter stated: "The War Department intends to take possession of your farm December 1, 1942.  It will be necessary for you to move not later than that date." Curtis was given $300 for his 60-acre farm, home and buildings.  Perry and Paralee Raby moved to the Hillvale community near Norris taking Martha Jane with them where she lived for approximately one year. Martha Jane then moved to a home on Brickyard Road in Powell owned by her son Andrew M. Gregory (Wayne Gregory's father) where she lived until her death on October 19, 1945. Her wake was held at Paralee and Perry Raby's house in Hillvale and she is buried in the Hillvale Cemetery beside Paralee Raby and her husband Perry Raby. Curtis moved his wife and seven children to Union County.  Curtis was killed by a quarrelsome neighbor on July 9, 1944 and is buried in the Galbreath Cemetery in Anderson County, TN.  His widow was Thelma Lee "Linda" or "Lindy" Haney Hendrix.

Curtis was bitter about having to leave his home.  He wrote the following free verse poem to express that bitterness:

 

The Planned and Organized Society (sponsored by Elinoir)

"Come listen to me, people,

And hear my tale of woe,

And if you feel it tiring,

I'll shut my mouth and go.

 

"I had a home in Robertsville.

They call it Oak Ridge now.

T'was home for all my younguns

and their chickens and the cow.

 

"One day a bunch of men rode in

With papers in their hands

And great big shining badges.

They came and took our land.

 

"They read a lot of great big words

I couldn't understand,

But when it was all over

I didn't own the land.

 

"I had seen the Revenoors (sic)

Come and search and take the stills,

But I didn't think the government

Would ever seize our hills.

 

"Of course, we had to get right out

And start to paying rent,

But now, what can poor folks do

Against the government?

 

"Just sixty acres t'was all I had.

Some rich land and some poor.

But the check they sent me

Wouldn't buy a pure bred bor (sic).

 

"Now see I ain't complaining.

It's just my blamed bad luck,

On any deal I ever made

I'm always getting stuck.

 

"Of course the government was right.

They always are, you see.

T'was just the land looked worse to them

Than it ever did to me.

 

"I moved to Union County,

Once famous for its Stills,

And bought another cabin

and a bunch of slatey hills.

 

"For I couldn't keep my younguns

And their chickens and the cow

Without a little pasture

And a piece of land to plow.

 

"But I've done seen me a vision

And it's one I understand.

In the none too distant future

Working folks will own no land.

 

"There will be a bunch of planners.

Everyone will live by plan.

Plan our work, plan our religion,

Plan our schooling and our play,

Won't even have to study,

'Now what must I do today.'

 

"The thing to do is win the war

And when we end that strife,

Stop electing Presidents

For longer terms than life.

 

“Well I guess I'd better hush.

I could have said some more,

But her just let me whisper!

I'M skeered (sic) of Elinor.

 

"Written by: Curtis Allen Hendrix"

 

By: David Ray Smith

June 8, 2003

The above was written based on information provided by Evorie Loe, a descendent of John Hendrix and from genealological information provided by Dennis Aslinger, John Hendrix's great grandson. Evorie Loe's uncle, Vernon Hendrix wrote an article for the "Old Time Chronicle" in Pike County, AR. She also provided two articles from old newspapers, one by Marjorie P. Parsley and another by Anne Powell. Finally, I drew on additional information provided by Donald Raby, an avid researcher of the history of the pre-Oak Ridge communities and families. He is providing CD's of early homesites vacated for the war effort. The early photographs of the John Hendrix gravesite are the property of Mae Gregory Weaver who is the grand-daughter of Martha Jane (Gregory) Hendrix, John Hendrix's 2nd wife. Recently Grace Raby Crawford, adopted daughter of Paralee and Perry Raby, and Wayne Gregory, step-grandson of John Hendrix and grandson of Martha Jane (Whitehead) Gregory Hendrix and William A. Gregory, have both provided additional information to clarify and confirm much of the above research. I am certainly in debt to both of them for all of their help!


Below are photos of the John Hendrix gravesite. First is the gravesite before the area surrounding the grave was developed into Hendrix Creek subdivision and after the Manhattan Project took over the land.


Second is a close up of the grave site. Note the fence and number of the gravesite (40).


Third is the original grave marker. This photograph was taken by Ed Westcott on October 6, 1944. Ed was the official photographer of the Manhattan Project for many years.


I took this photo in June 2003 and it shows how the gravesite looks today. The new grave marker was the result of an effort by Robertsville and Jefferson Junior High Schools in Oak Ridge. The earlier grave marker has disappeared, but was photographed in October 1944 by Ed Westcott, see photo above.


Here is a photo of the Martha Jane Hendrix home when it was being taken by the government for the Manhattan Project. The photo was taken by the Corps of Engineers to document all the buildings on the land being taken by the government. Donald Raby has located copies of all the Corps photos and provided this image. He is making CD's of the old home places of the families who had to leave their homes when the government took the land for the war effort.

For more information on the photos and the Kingston Demolition Range Project go to the Kingston Demolition Range Web Site




 

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