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.”

SEE FOR YOURSELF
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.

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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 www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com 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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92 comments

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

  2. The wail and Tom were recently featured in this documentary

  3. Thanks for this info!

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

  5. I AM ALSO MOVED TO TEARS. MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER ALSO WALKED IN THE TRAIL OF TEARS IN EARLY 1830’S. SHE CARRIED MY GREAT GRANDFATHER WHO WAS JUST 6 MONTHS OLD IN A WOOL BASKET. sHE WAS CHICKASAW THAT LIVED NEAR MUSCLE SHOALS IN ALABAMA. HER RELATIVES WERE COLBERTS THAT WAS CHIEFS OF THE TRIBE. SHE AND OTHERS IN TRIBE LIVED IN MUSKOGEE, OKLA. AND ALSO TEXAS. IT WAS SUCH A SAD A TIME
    FOR THEM. MY HEART GOES OUT TO TOM HENDIX AND HIS INCREDABLE WORK ON THE WALL. IT IS SUCH A GREAT WAY TO REMEMBER OUR ANCESTORS.

  6. This place is great and Tom has some amazing stories.

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

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

  8. Fantastic…..thanks for sharing.

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

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

  11. I’ve read about this story before truly amazing.

  12. 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. This story is covered in the doccumentary Muscle Shoals.

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

  19. How do you download this to read or to watch?

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

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

  22. 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. I want to go there Britta.

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

  25. We enjoyed seeing Mr. Hendrix work.
    WOW!

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

  27. Precious to honor one’s past.

  28. 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. 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. honored to have known him.

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

  36. What a wonderful tribute! Awesome! Loved the story❤️

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

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

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

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

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

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

  44. Bought the book he had wrote interesting.

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

  46. 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. 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. Oops! That page can’t be found.

    1. Alabama Pioneers ,Works now.

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

  50. Love this place and loved Mr. Hendrix…..

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

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

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

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

  55. Recently visited here. An amazing wall and story!

  56. Wonderful and inspiring story ♥️

  57. Patricia Hood Moore

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

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

  60. I read a book about this very Inspiring

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

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

  61. 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.

  62. This is an amazing wall!

  63. I read this story. About the journey not the wall

    1. Harrison what’s the name of the book

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

  65. 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

  66. Great visit and educational

  67. I love visiting this place…

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

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

  70. I’ve been there .will go again this year

  71. So glad to have met him

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