‘Oak Ridge Prophet Revealed’ by great-grandson

Emily Hunnicutt joins Dennis Aslinger at a book signing for Aslinger’s book “The Oak Ridge Prophet Revealed.” (photo:Ben Pounds )
John Hendrix may have predicted Oak Ridge and the Y-12 National Security Complex, but he also killed a man and likely beat his wife and daughter.

That is the opinion of Hendrix’s great-grandson, Dennis Aslinger, who talks about these details in his book “The Prophet of Oak Ridge Revealed.”

“I discovered what some would consider some less-than-complimentary details about John Hendrix that had never been written about,” he said at a recent talk at the Oak Ridge History Museum. The event brought in a crowd that overwhelmed the small parking lot.

Hendrix, as reported by the website of the Y-12 National Security Complex plant people say Hendrix predicted, lived from 1865 until 1915.

Aslinger said he used stories passed down by his relatives, but also consulted court and newspaper records to reconstruct his ancestor’s life.

Hendrix was buried in what’s now the Hendrix Creek subdivision.

One underreported detail involved a fight between Hendrix and a Confederate Civil War veteran. The veteran wielded a stick about four feet long and one inch thick, but Hendrix shot him with a pistol. The court found Hendrix not guilty due to it being self-defense, which Hendrix had bruises on his arms to prove.

His first wife was Julia Griffith, his second cousin once removed.

The two had several children, but divorced after Julia blamed him for their daughter Ethel’s death. Aslinger said Hendrix likely did beat that daughter to discipline her, although Aslinger said there were reports she was already sick with diphtheria.

“Back in the day, there weren’t many grounds for divorce; it was mostly infidelity or abandonment,” Aslinger said. “Julia had to be terrified of John because she moved all the way away to Arkansas.”

Aslinger said these events “apparently made him a little crazy,” and he was confined to the Anderson County Poor Farm in Claxton, where poor people with disabilities such as blindness, deafness and mental health issues lived as “inmates.” One building on the site with iron cages was known as the insane asylum, and Hendrix stayed there.

He reported a family story that Hendrix escaped by digging out, and predicted God would punish the structure. Lightning later struck it in 1901.

“He was confined and he obviously had a lot of anguish and guilt, and I think he had a religious conversion while he was confined in there,” Aslinger said. “Nobody ever mentioned that he was very religious before that, but when he came out, he was.”

He later moved to what’s now Hendrix Creek and married his second wife, Martha Jane Gregory.

Some observers, including Oak Ridge’s own official tourism website, Explore Oak Ridge, remember Hendrix for legends about him making prophesies, including the prediction of World War II, the Y-12 Security Complex, a city in the Black Oak Ridge area and a railway tunnel.

Aslinger said people are skeptical of these prophesies because no one recorded them until after Hendrix’s death and after they came true. However, Aslinger said Hendrix may have been illiterate and unable to write them.

Aslinger also said that unlike Biblical prophesies, Hendrix’s prophesy about the founding of Oak Ridge lacked any kind of moral lesson.