Thursday, June 18, 2009


I took my mom to see her remaining brother (Tom with white beard) and sister (Nell is not shown) in Alabama this past week. She and we had a wonderful time talking about the old days and driving around the country side.

One stop was at Tom Hendrix’s (t-shirt with American flag) place and the rock wall he’s been building for over 20 years. It’s a fascinating story!

You should look so good when you’re 75 years old, however, you’ll have to work very hard and take the “medicines” (we would call them herbs) Tom Hendrix’s great-grandmother taught him about years ago. It’s to her, Te-lah-nay, that the rock wall Tom has built over the past 20 years is dedicated.

Hendrix’s wall is a memorial to his great-great-grandmother; a Yuchi Indian named Te-lah-nay, who was moved along the “Trail of Tears” with the rest of her tribe to the Indian Territories of Oklahoma in the 1830s. The wall represents her gripping journey there and her struggle back to her homeland in North Alabama. Hendrix has recorded her story in his book, “If the Legends Fade.”

She is the only one to come back on record,” Hendrix says.

The wall is unique in many ways — its lack of cement, its various colors, the way it twists and turns about a quarter of a mile in mimicry of Te-lah-nay’s journey, and the way it seems to rise from the ground like a thick road or the remains of excavated ruins.

A late Lakota medicine man, whose name Hendrix said it is forbidden to mention in accordance with strict Lakota tradition, once walked the length of the wall and afterwards gave it the name it bears today — Wichahpi or “like the stars.”

Lifting about 2,700 pounds a day for 20 years, he placed each stone, taking them first from the ground to one of his 3 old pickup truck beds, to one of the 27 wheelbarrows he wore out, using one of the 1800 pairs of gloves he wore out to place the on the wall, one at a time just like the footsteps of her journey.

To date, he has placed nearly 7.5 million pounds of rocks in the wall. People bring him rocks too, some from every state, 127 countries, one from space, and even one from Mr. Everest. You can make an instant friend if you bring him a rock.

Tom is located on County Road 8 near the Natchez Trace in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Tom loves to talk to anyone that stops by, and his dogs will also greet you. The white one he calls Pavarotti, because he likes to sing, and the black one is Molly. They guard the wall by day, alerting Tom to your arrival, and the “rock faces” guard the wall after dark.

Oh yes, don’t stop by after 5PM…that’s family time he says, “We eat at 5:30!

Visit Tom’s website by CLICKING HERE!

See my photos of the wall by CLICKING HERE! Read the info then click on Slideshow!


FHB said...

That's a beautiful tribute. I'd love to bring him a few cool rocks.

Glad to see your mom is doing well. Judy looks good too, but she always does.

Shrinky said...

What a fascinating story, and a remarkable man - his great grandmother must be smiling. Mushy, just one glimpse of your mother and her brother proves you hail from a remarkably wonderful gene pool, as I have said before - you are a lucky man indeed!

Mushy said...

Ah yes, the Williams/Johnston gene pool with a full blooded Indian named Morrison thrown in there to boot!

Then we have the Mashburn/Hammonds and their Cherokee pool. I'm very proud.

Joan said...

Very cool. I love hearing and reading stories about the "olden days".

BRUNO said...

That is indeed a fine family "tree" you have there!

I quit shakin' my family "tree", after one too-many nuts fell out...!

Michele said...

Wow, the 'faces' in the wall are startling! Beautiful, tho! What a great story and wonderful way to remember.

Scott from Oregon said...

But does it kep the rabbits out of the garden?

That's pretty cool, even if its meandering...