Of the seventy-two years--1821-1893--the natural life of the subject of this sketch, over fifty of them were spent in the gospel ministry and in preparation for it. Dr. Hendrix was converted at 17 years of age, became a candidate for the ministry in Elk Presbytery at 20, was licensed at 22, and ordained at 24. Though the school advantages of his day were few and inferior, yet by energy of will and perseverance he acquired more than an average preparation for his work. he took rank among the best of the ministry of his generation. Theologically he was educated where so many of the giants of our early ministry were trained, as he rode the circuit. In his early ministry he rode the circuit in North Georgia and East Tennessee. Just preceding the war he spent two or more years in Home Mission work in Cincinnati. Much of his ministry was spent in Middle Tennessee as pastor, teacher and evangelist. Many old residents in Williamson, Davidson, Maury, Marshall and Bedford Counties remember with delight his burning appeals and sweet singing, the latter being an especial gift.
In 1849 Dr. Hendrix secured his greatest earthly prize, Miss Margaret J. Reed, of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Never a minister had a more faithful helpmeet. She still lives. When Tennessee's sons were called to martial contest he enlisted as chaplain in the 4th Tennessee regiment, continuing till the close of the war. After a few more years spent as pastor and teacher in Middle Tennessee, he moved to McKenzie, in the western part of the State, where in 1870 he established "Hendrix High School." Here began the most effective and extensive teaching work of his life. It was in a field white unto harvest. Large were the number of young men and women who were helped to better thinking and nobler living by reason of his tuition. In them he still lives and labors. In 1872 Bethel College was removed from McLemoresville to McKenzie, and on his election to the presidency, "Hendrix High School" was merged into that of a college. It was as president of Bethel College, 1872-1882, that Dr. Hendrix did, perhaps, his best work for the church. It requires no little energy, wisdom and skill to remove and re-establish an institution of learning, especially where there are dissatisfied sections and brethren to be conciliated.
It deserves to be reiterated that Dr. Hendrix never ceased to do preaching work during the twelve years of his school and college work at McKenzie. Besides much revival work, for which he had eminent fitness, he served various congregations as pastor, the McKenzie congregation being among the number, which he served two years, 1872 and 1881. After resigning the presidency of Bethel College, Dr. Hendrix entered with full energy and time into pastoral and evangelistic work. Though over 60 years of age he seemed to have lost but little of his strength and none of his fire. He burned to the last. In 1890 he became pastor at Franklin, Tenn., where he continued till the failure of health. In the spring of '93 he moved to Nashville where he died August 16th, the same year.
Dr. Hendrix was in many respects more than an ordinary man and preacher, yea, more than an average one. He was a man of great native ability, of untiring energy and an unyielding will. When we take into consideration the meager opportunities for early classical training, and the comparative proficiency he attained as a student and scholar along many educational lines, we can but admire the quantity and quality of work he accomplished. He was no mean theologian, the church having few, if any, abler defenders of her creed. As a preacher he had few superiors in any communion. His style was the logical conversational, becoming in the latter part of address declamatory--impassioned, and often concluding with a burst of eloquence and warmth of pathos impossible to resist.
It was as a student in Bethel College--1876-1881--that the writer learned to know and reverence Professor Hendrix. he always manifested an especial interest in the "preacher boys," instructing them not only in literature and science, but also in theology. The writer and others took a course of theology under Dr. Hendrix, using Beard's Theology as a text book. His lectures were always strong and helpful. In this way many young men who were not able afterward to attend a theological seminary, secured some theological training for their work, and those who were able afterward to attend found that the training thus received prepared them all the better to profit by a seminary course.
Mention has been made of his gift of song. To old Bethel College pupils the picture, perhaps, which rises most often on memory's vision, one which makes tender the soul and moistens the eye, is that of President Hendrix officiating in the chapel service. It was there that one was made to feel and see the tender side of his nature. He always led the singing. In song almost seraphic he poured out his soul to God. At these times the study hall became a sacred temple, and from president's and students' desks ascended sweetest incense to God.
Christian, preacher, teacher--in these our brother proved himself
a workman, He is dead, yet he lives, lives in the lives he helped
to make and labored to ennoble.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, June 24, 1897, pages 1638-1639]
W. W. Hendrix becomes a candidate of Elk Presbytery on October 15, 1840
[Source: Minutes of the Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, October 13-15, 1840, page 244]