Days Gone By - stories from the past

What a mother’s day gift built for his great-great-grandmother! [film and photograph]

Note: Tom Hendrix, the man who created this incredible wall died on Feb. 24, 2017, at age 83, but his spirit lives on in the wall he built.

Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall 
Florence, Alabama

Tom Hendrix has been building a stone wall for over 30 years in memory of his great-great-grandmother’s journey.

“Her journey began when she and her sister Whana-le were sent to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma as part of the removal (Trail of Tears) of native peoples from the southeast. But, that was only the beginning of her journey. Her tribe called the Tennessee River the Singing River because they believed a woman who lived in the river sang to them. When Te-lah-nay arrived in Oklahoma she said the streams and rivers did not sing to her and she longed for home. After spending one winter in Oklahoma she decides to head home. Even though she is alone the lessons that her grandmother taught her as a little girl help her overcome every peril and obstacle along the way. The trip took five years to return home in 1839. After enough adventure to literally fill a book she returns home and to the Singing River.”

Each stone placed by hand

Lifting about 2,700 pounds a day for over 30 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, 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.”

VISITORS ARE INVITED to stop by the wall Tom Hendrix built between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. seven days a week.

IF YOU’RE HEADING NORTH on the Natchez Trace, turn right just before mile marker 338. Hendrix’s mailbox is about 400 yards on the right.
Location of the Wall

FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 3)  Inspired by true events, Col. John Washington (ancestor of President George Washington), Randall Revell, Tom Cottingham, Edmund Beauchamp ward off Indian attacks and conquer the wilds of Maryland’s Eastern shore in 17th century colonial America in this historical novel.

See author’s novels and Alabama historic books


About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Ann Harrison

    This is incredible, I am so moved, moved to tears.

  2. Alabama Pioneers

    The wail and Tom were recently featured in this documentary

  3. Ann Harrison

    Thanks for this info!

  4. Alabama Pioneers

    FYI we just added another short video to the article and the location of the wall for anyone interested in visiting it.


  6. Adam Renfro

    This place is great and Tom has some amazing stories.

  7. Tracy Smith

    Adam is this where you went? And can we go??

    1. Adam Renfro

      Yes! I saw this earlier today. It is where I went. Lets go! It isnt that far from us.

  8. Kris Swanson

    Fantastic…..thanks for sharing.

  9. JoAnn Kyzer Doty

    That’s an awesome tribute to all the ancestors that walked that walk.

  10. JoAnn Kyzer Doty

    That’s an awesome tribute to all the ancestors that walked that walk.

  11. Linda Webb Cleveland

    I’ve read about this story before truly amazing.

  12. Kathy Rigbsy

    I love the stone wall for your gggrand mother

  13. […] built a fort in Fort Payne that was used to intern Cherokees until relocation to Oklahoma. Their forced exile became known as the Trail of […]

  14. […] and sang songs to them.” The legend seems to have inspired a man in North Alabama to build a rock wall in tribute to his Cherokee […]

  15. Thomas Capps

    This story is covered in the doccumentary Muscle Shoals.

  16. Shirley Postell Norris

    This is an amazing story. We visited the wall in May and was blessed to meet and talk with Mr. Hendrix. It’s definitely a place we have plans to visit again soon! Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Rejetta Balentine

    Tom’s grandmother and my mother were the best of friends. We didn’t have a car in the daytime so we would walk to Ms. Pamelia’s to visit her (about a mile). We loved it!!!

  18. Donna Smalley

    If you have never been to this place make plans to go! It is amazing!

  19. Jo Rodriguez

    How do you download this to read or to watch?

  20. Jo Rodriguez

    This keeps saying it can’t be loaded. How do you read the story or watch the film?

  21. Rhonda Bass

    Such an Awesome place! Sacred and very powerful.. Can’t wait to return!:-)

  22. Jayne Mauldin Arnold

    I have the book that was written by Tom Hendrix! Very interstering! I have also met Tom and heard him talk about the journey!!

  23. Carl Ernest Green

    I want to go there Britta.

  24. Thomas Capps

    This site can keep you entertained for a while! I really enjoyed!

  25. Randall Sharp

    We enjoyed seeing Mr. Hendrix work.

  26. Jeff Pollard

    Go! and see and listen to the Stone Talker. God Bless Mr. Tom.

  27. Jude Townson Cranford

    Precious to honor one’s past.

  28. Linda Webb Cleveland

    I remember reading the story about this truly amazing

  29. What a wonderful share. I could listen to Mr. Hendrix for hours. What a tribute and honor for his great grandmother and family heritage. Just got spent two weeks traveling out West and so glad to be back home. Tired from the trip, cannot imagine the 5 year journey of his great grandmother. Would love to meet Mr. Hendrix and see his labor of honor and love.

  30. Anne Terry

    There should be an official monument marking The Trail of Tears.

  31. I have visited this site with my wife and sisters. They are decended from the Cherokee. We heard the story of the return to tn. It is a moving experience .

  32. We visited this site last year. It was amazing.Would go again,hard to see all in a short while.

  33. My husband and I went to Florence in 2002 and 2003 to see his cousin Johnny….Johnny took us to see this wall and meet Tom…I was so thankful for this, as in 2002 we traveled from Whittier,Ca.(home) to Cherokee , N.C. in our 5 th wheel trailer and stayed on the reservation in a campground for a week, and I went through the files at the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Council House, and saw the AMAZING play UNTO THESE HILLS…I will never forget that week…and everything that I learned there….Johnny bought us one of Tom’s books and Tom autographed it for me.. I treasure it , and the meeting at Tom’s home…He was such a warm, gracious man…..we had also went to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Memphis that trip.. it was raining that day, and the guide told us that the slave quarters were at the far end of his plantation…I was the only one that trudged through the mud all the way back to see this site… and when I got there, was SO happy that I did, because there I experienced a real sense of sorrow, and could feel the pain and hurt that was suffered there…..

  34. Linda Hill

    honored to have known him.

  35. Donna Ghostbear

    Honored to know him for about 10 years. Sad that an incredible Elder walked on.

  36. Ann Q. Vise

    What a wonderful tribute! Awesome! Loved the story❤️

  37. Jeanette Green

    We were there a few years ago and tried to find this place. We asked several locals where it was and how to get there and none of them had ever heard of it. Just goes to show many times we don’t know what is in our area.

  38. Jeff Pollard

    Mr. Tom was a remarkable man. I miss him, I look forward to seeing him again.

  39. Don Rainwater

    We visited this spring he wasn’t there but we talked to his son ,very interesting place .

  40. Myra Carroll Forester

    Wonderful tribute, absolutely beautiful place. I have one of his signed books. An honor to meet this caring and dedicated gentleman.

  41. Sara Edwards Mclain

    I heard his son was taking over for his father – hope so

  42. Diane F Shelton

    Absolutely love this place!!! Mr. Tom could sure make his stories come sad he’s gone now but what a legacy to leave!!!!!

  43. Jo Ann Braden Murphree

    Visited it on one of out trips. It is amazing.

  44. Jo Ann Braden Murphree

    Bought the book he had wrote interesting.

  45. Nell Harris Head

    So glad we got to talk with him and see his beautiful tribute to his grandmother.

  46. Beth Ching

    So sorry to hear of Mr. Tom’s passing. We visited last year and were enthralled by his story and amazed by this tribute he built. It is, indeed, a sacred place.

  47. Kevin Kyle

    Tom was was a friend of my cousins in Alabama,for decades. One of my family members even had a miracle spiritual healing at this site.

  48. Warren Jordan

    Oops! That page can’t be found.

    1. Warren Jordan

      Alabama Pioneers ,Works now.

  49. Lynne Preuitt Stanford

    This is such an amazing work of art and so tranquil. Worth the drive to see and experience it!

  50. Diane F Shelton

    Love this place and loved Mr. Hendrix…..

  51. B.j. Scharath

    This is a place I would like to visit Becky Langner. What an amazing tribute.

  52. Linda Felts

    Visited this in April. Very interesting. Melissa Townsend, Wesley Felts

  53. Jeff Pollard

    Mr. Tom was a most remarkable man, given a remarkable mission, with remarkable results. If you are not familiar with his Singing River story, please read this piece or his book. I am blessed for knowing him.

  54. Perry Edwards

    I was privileged to meet him before he passed. Is the wall still open to visit?

    1. Jeff Pollard

      Perry Edwards Yes. His son takes care of it, and shares the story

  55. Jeanette Green

    Recently visited here. An amazing wall and story!

  56. Alice Tidmore

    Wonderful and inspiring story ♥️

  57. Kathy Baldwin

    So glad my husband and I visited and talked to Tom in his last year.

  58. Terry Wilks Adams

    We visited him and the wall , he explained every inch to us .

  59. Kim Price Seago

    I read a book about this very Inspiring

    1. Gerri Mooney Ballard

      Kim Price Seago Do you remember the name of the book?

    2. Kim Price Seago

      Gerri Mooney Ballard No Sorry I will look I probably kept it

  60. Sue S Bell

    He was an inspiration and loved his history….. His wall was/is a loving tribute to his ancient grandmother. The hand carved bird bath I purchased from him is a treasure.

  61. Donna Harrison

    I read this story. About the journey not the wall

    1. Kim Price Seago

      Harrison what’s the name of the book

  62. Jeanette Green

    We were there last year. An amazing and emotional sight to see. Dedication! We met his wife.

  63. Adam Wirth

    Its a great place, wonderful story and his son takes care of it now. We were there a couple weeks ago. By the book about his grandmother’s life too. Amazing

  64. Ted Johnson

    Great visit and educational

  65. Diane F Shelton

    I love visiting this place…

  66. Brenda Myrick

    It definitely has a spiritual feel to the area. I want to go back.

  67. Jeff Pollard

    Mr. Hendrix was an Alabama treasure. Most remarkable person I ever met.

  68. Carolyn Schatz

    I’ve been there .will go again this year

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