Henning has a rich African American heritage from slavery to freedmen business owners to author Alex Haley. The town also has a strong history of industrial innovation and was the first railroad town in Lauderdale County with a depot appearing in the early 1870s.
Take a literary excursion to the 10-room bungalow where Alex Haley lived with his grandparents. Will E. Palmer, Haley’s maternal grandfather, built the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center. Some of the 1919 furniture in the home belonged to the Haley family. The museum features Haley’s work, childhood memorabilia and references to the people who inspired his characters in “Roots” his 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. On the front porch, young Alex heard the oral accounts of family history, including stories of Kunta Kinte, captured near his West African home. When adapted for television, “Roots” became one of the most popular television programs in history. Visitors can see Haley’s final resting place on the front lawn of the home. The home is the first state-owned historic site devoted to African-Americans in Tennessee.
Henning’s Fort Pillow State Historic Park, located on the Chickasaw Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, is rich in both historic and archaeological significance. The well-preserved Civil War earthworks mark the site of the Confederate Army’s extensive fortifications built in 1861 and subsequently occupied by the Union Army. One of the most controversial battles of the Civil War occurred here, called by many “the Massacre of Fort Pillow.” Today, you can sightsee along the 20 miles of trails leading to the restored fortifications. Study cannons and other artifacts on display throughout the museum.
Enjoy fishing on the 25-acre Sullivan’s Pond and hiking to view wildlife preserved in this 1,642-acre park. The Mississippi River borders the park and provides great prospects for bass, bream, crappie and catfish. The Mississippi River Corridor is full of recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiasts including biking, camping, boating, picnicking, hunting, paddling, hiking and fishing.
Ringed with beautiful, ancient cypress and tupelo trees, Champion Lake and Little Champion Lake are a paddler’s dream. A small pier is available for birdwatching and fishing amidst the quiet serenity.
Inside Alex Haley’s childhood home, imagine the stories that inspired “Roots.” Explore historic trails at Fort Pillow State Historic Park and come back for an October festival.