The Death of Curt Hendrix (July 9, 1944)

 My name is Bruce HENDRIX. I am the son of the murder victim, Curtis A. HENDRIX, who was killed in Union County, Tennessee on July 9, 1944.

Because of a war emergency, the Federal Government (War Department) took our property in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1942. We purchased a small farm in Union County. Curtis, my father, was working as a construction foreman. He provided transportation to work from time to time for several men. I was twelve years old at the time of my father’s death and I remember many details, including the various motives for murder. The first man with a motive; this man [Edgar LOY] had a fight with his brother-in-law [Emert DAVIS, son of Fate DAVIS]. His wife had left him earlier, her brother [Emert DAVIS] was driving her to the local store, and her husband blocked the road and demanded that his wife get in his car. [DAVIS] said, “Only if she chooses”. A fight ensued and [DAVIS] beat up [LOY], left him lying in the road, and went to the store. Shortly after, [LOY] reappeared, having borrowed a hawk-bill knife, sharp as a razor, and started chopping on [DAVIS]. He sliced [DAVIS’s] chest, his face, his head and his throat, over and over. The store clerk hit the husband over the head with a Coke bottle, but he shook his head and continued cutting. Then the clerk put a 38 Special to his head and said “One more slice and I’ll blow your head off” and then he stopped.

[DAVIS] was one of the riders who rode to work with my dad, Curtis, Months. Later, [DAVIS] got out of the hospital and told my dad that he would like to keep riding with him but he was afraid his brother-in-law would pull a knife on him again and my dad told him “You’re under my protection while you are in my car”. Curt told [LOY] “If you pull a knife in my car, I will take it away from you and stick down your throat”.

At a later time, during a ride to work, the man [Edgar LOY] pulled a knife as promised and my dad kept his word. After knocking [LOY] unconscious, my dad placed the knife in his mouth and used his foot to push it inside and left him there on the side of the road.

The second motive: My dad and I put up a fence around 35 acres of our land across the road from our house. My dad then bought a horse and cows for the fenced area. [Claude DAMEWOOD] had plot of land at the back of our thirty-five fenced acres with a one-room shack with windows broken out. A cow got out of the pasture and died on [DAMEWOOD’s] property. My dad was asked to get rid of the cow because it was close to the one-room shack. My dad poured a gallon of gas on a brush pile on top of the cow but there still remained most of the carcass. [Another account says the cow was dragged away some distance before being burned.] Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the neighbor. DAMEWOOD was a tall and skinny man with dark eyes and dark hair, he reminded me of a character portrayed by Lon CHANEY. DAMEWOOD told the owner of the country store, “If the cow isn’t gone by the time the sun goes down I’m going kill the son-of-a-bitch”.

I witnessed the third motive with my own eyes. My dad was sitting in a straight back chair on the veranda porch. The man [again Edgar LOY] was drinking and walked up and had some small talk, then as he whittled, he said, "Curt, for fifty cents I would take this knife and cut your guts out". My dad put his hand in his pocket, as he sat in a straight back chair, and flipped him a fifty-cent piece. He then swung at my dad with the knife. My dad never got out of the chair but hit the man hard with an upper cut under the chin [another account says Curt had his chair leaned back on two legs but did lower it to all four legs before throwing the punch]. I saw [LOY’s] feet leave the ground and he landed flat on his back. He lay on the ground for what seemed to be about twenty minutes until my dad got up, got a bucket of ice water from the ice box on the porch and poured it on him. [LOY] came to, got up and staggered off in the direction of the road. Later that day, he came back (wearing dry clothes) and apologized, saying “Curt, I would never have done that if I hadn’t been drinking.” Then he said “Curt could you drive me home?” That was the last time I ever saw my dad alive. [LOY] returned at three in the morning and said, “Curt is dead.” The county held a hearing and the group agreed that DAMEWOOD asked him to leave and shot him because he refused.

A neighbor came to my mother and told her that the night before, while passing by, he saw what looked like some people carrying a body into the house, meaning the shack. He said he went back that day and peeped in the window and saw a claw hammer, a straight-backed chair and a sycamore club on a bed. Later, the undertaker also stated that Curt’s chest was black and blue, as if he had been severely beaten. My mother did not report this at that time and no one was ever charged in Curtis’ death.


Other accounts say that although Curt drank a lot at times, he had settled down for a couple of years before his death and did not frequent the bars anymore. The day he died Edgar LOY came to his house and stood in the road cursing loudly (on a Sunday) and as LOY probably expected, Curt's wife urged him to get LOY and his foul mouth away from their children. When Curt escorted LOY home he was ambushed. A woman from their neighborhood in Union Co., TN moved to Anderson Co., TN and rented a place from Lee GREGORY, Curt's half-brother. Somehow the topic of the murder came up and the woman said she knew all the facts in the case. But when Lee's wife, Adelaide, blurted out that Lee and Curt were brothers, the woman would not say anymore on the subject.

Additional information shared by Bruce Hendrix in e-mail to D. Ray Smith on December 29, 2005:

"My mother was told by the Undertaker that his chest was beat black and blue the only defect they brought up was the spot in his forehead, where he was hit with a claw hammer, that is likely what killed him.  They claimed he was shot, the bullet went in under the arm and came out on the opposite side near the hip, the man would need to be in the attic..."
"He was murdered by three men with separate motives.  There was no law.  My dad was a strong man and a boss, two of the men worked for him and they probably told him about the farm for sale, they also rode to work with him.  In those days a boss had to be able to whip all the men in his crew, one at a time or all at the same time.  Two of the men were brother-in-laws, one had his wife leave him and her husband blocked the road and told his brother-in-law, "I'm taking my wife home" her brother said, only if she wants to go.  They fought and her brother  left him laying in the road and went on to the store, her husband came too, went to the store and borrowed a hawk bill knife almost killed her brother. 

After he got out of the hospital, he told my dad, "I would like to ride with you but I am afraid he will pull a knife on me".  My dad told the man, I am responsible for him while he is in my car, if you pull a knife on him, I will take it from you and cram it down your throat and he did and my dad did, he pressed it in with his foot after he knocked the man unconscious.  The other man, I saw what happened, he was at our house, he was drinking, my dad was not drinking, he was setting in a straight back chair, the man said, Curt, for fifty cents, I would take this knife and cut your guts out, my dad flipped him fifty cents, he took a swing with the knife and my dad caught him with a right hook and I saw the mans feet came up about eight inches off the ground and my dad never got up from the chair.  The man lay there for about ten minutes and my dad got a bucket of ice water from the ice box and poured it on him, came too and staggered off home.

The third man, he was a skinny man that owned a shack at one end of our property, my dad bought a sick cow from someone and it died a few days later, the man told him to remove the cow, he piled brush on the cow and poured gas on it and set it afire, the man was a coward, he told the manager at the country store if that cow hasn't been removed by sun down, he would kill him, he didn't tell my dad the cow did not fully burn up.  This was planned out murder.  The man that swung the knife, came back and apologized and asked my dad if he would drive him home.  This is how lawless the place was:  a neighbor told my mother, he saw what looked like three men carrying what looked like a man into the shack at two am and he said, I came by after they left for work and I peeped in the window and there was a claw hammer, a club and a chair laying in the bed.  The Undertaker said his body was beat black and blue.  I would bet that the so-called law told them what to do.  He had a round circle in his fore head and they said, he hit a chair round on his way
down after Damewood shot him for not leaving after he was told to do so. 

Of course, my mother didn't pass on the info that she got, there was no telephones, she didn't drive, I don't think she even got the car he was driving, she was un-educated.  That was the way it played out. 

Your Friend,


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