Friday, December 13, 2013

The Prophesy of John Hendrix (1865 - 1915)

This post is part of the "Archaeology of the Cold War" series.

From time to time, we will review entertaining stories of anomalous events, events which are unlikely to have occurred but would be very interesting if they had as that would imply unknown physics or stand as examples of phenomena such as time travel, ghosts, predicting the future and so forth. This category is in opposition to another topic of discussion on this blog, which is the creation of entertainment fiction that purports to predict the future. That however is a different topic from the one in this post. This topic is more in the nature of oral history that, if true, would mean that someone long ago had predicted the future.

The story goes something like this...

Once upon a time, in a very rural area of Tennessee, there lived a man named John Hendrix. Mr. Hendrix, who was born in 1865 and died in 1915, became distraught after the death of his daughter and his separation from his wife and the rest of his family. He became very religious and started to report having visions. Supposedly he told everyone about his visions and nobody paid much attention.

As silent as the grave

Hendrix described the vision that was given him as follows:

In the woods, as I lay on the ground and looked up into the sky, there came to me a voice as loud and as sharp as thunder. The voice told me to sleep with my head on the ground for 40 nights and I would be shown visions of what the future holds for this land.... And I tell you, Bear Creek Valley someday will be filled with great buildings and factories, and they will help toward winning the greatest war that ever will be. And 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 Scarborough. 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.

Of course no one believed him, John was being just a little crazy, they thought. Well maybe more than a little crazy and it seemed that he was institutionalized for a time. But the years went by and there was no great city in Bear Creek Valley or up on Black Oak Ridge. There was a great war but the war got fought and won without any thousands of people running around in Eastern Tennessee or new railway lines or earthquakes either. John died before what we now call World War I ended and that was all there was to say about the matter until 1942 when the government came to kick the people of the four rural communities of that part of the world off their land.

Army Corps of Engineers picture of the old Hendrix home before they tore it down

About 60 years after Hendrix first started having his visions, the US Army Corps of Engineers began researching potential sites for several very large, experimental industrial plants that needed to be built on a rush basis for some project they would not talk about.   The plants needed to be far enough away from population centers and industrial areas so in the event that they exploded, the damage would be limited. They wanted to find a place that was sparsely settled so that they could quickly evict the people who were there and get started immediately.   They also hoped to find a place that had physical barriers in the case that one plant exploded it would not cause others nearby to also explode.  Access to a dam for water and a lot of electric power was critical.   The further out in the country it was the easier it would be to keep secret.   It needed to be near a rail line and existing road network because that would save time.

So one day the people of the four rural communities in this part of East Tennessee came home to find eviction notices nailed to their door. Some of them were out in the rain within two weeks, some in six weeks. They got a small amount of money for their land, but it was not enough to buy its equivalent somewhere else. And to their amazement, thousands of workers were bused in, a city with hundreds and hundreds of houses and dozens of stores and restaurants was built seemingly overnight, security fences were put up and, strangest of all, very large factories were built behind those fences that had armed guards who promised to shoot you if you did not go away.

These new people chose a name for what was now their community and they chose to modify the name of part of the countryside thereabouts.   They named their town for the same Black Oak Ridge that crazy old John Hendrix had talked about in his visions.  

Only they left out the "Black" and just called it Oak Ridge.

Scarboro?   Never heard of it. 

So as time went by, people remembered crazy old John Hendrix and his visions. You can read more about them in the links below. People marvelled at the amazing story of the man who saw the future and predicted the project that may have won the war.

So what are the possible explanations. On the one hand, Hendrix may have seen the future as described. Who knows, it wasn't particularly written down, it was just something people remembered. Hendrix certainly lived and he was on record for having been institutionalized and people can point to his grave. Maybe he did see the future, or maybe when the future imposed itself so violently on the peaceful citizens of that valley in Tennessee, the pissed-off locals chose to repurpose a member of their community, now deceased, who had truly lived when they said he did and died when they said he did and who had been a little crazy and got put away for a time because of that.  All true, all part of the public record.   Maybe, now that you mention it, this was one of his visions, I seem to recall.

Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't, ain't too many people around these days who were around then and would contradict us, so you are going to have to take our word for it, I reckon. And maybe we can make a few dollars selling trinkets and entertaining all those thousands of gullible people who are running to and fro on what used to be our land up there on Black Oak Ridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment