State Senator Joey Hensley Talks About Growing up in Hohenwald, Tennessee
Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) in studio to talk about his background and growing up in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
Leahy: We are joined right now for the very first time by our good friend, State Senator Joey Hensley. Good morning, Senator Hensley.
Hensley: Good morning, Michael. It’s good to be here with you today.
Leahy: You’ve been on our newsmaker line many times and every time I just bug you, come on in! And finally, we’ve succeeded and you are here. And you are looking dapper in your three-piece suit with your tie. And you are ready to go up to the State Capitol and do some business, as they say.
Hensley: That’s right. But this is early in the morning. (Leahy laughs) But I get up early a lot of mornings, so it’s no problem. Yes, it’s a big day today in the capitol. I’m on the finance committee and chairman of the revenue subcommittee. We meet this morning and are looking at a lot of legislation, and the session is really gearing up and getting busy.
Leahy: It’s March now, and the session started in mid-January, and now typically, these sessions go until May or so.
Hensley: Typically the end of April but there’s no set finished date. It is basically when we get the budget passed, and all the bills signed and make sure everything is going through. After the budget gets passed, then it’s usually a week or two and we finish, but usually the end of April, the first of May.
Leahy: You are a medical doctor currently?
Hensley: I am, yes.
Leahy: You live in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
Hensley: Hohenwald, Tennessee, yes.
Leahy: I just have to say what a great name.
Hensley: That’s German for high forest. Hohenwald was settled by the Swiss and the Germans. And so Hohenwald is German for high forest.
Leahy: That’s a good history lesson here.
Hensley: And the county was formed because Mayor Meriwether Lewis is buried right outside of Hohenwald. Lewis County was formed right around his grave. And so Hohenwald is the only town in the county, but that’s my hometown.
Leahy: Yes, Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Hensley: Lewis and Clark Expedition. And he was quite a brilliant guy. Had a kind of troubled personal life.
Hensley: He had a troubled life, and he was traveling down the Natchez Trace and was killed. There’s still a big mystery of whether he committed suicide or whether he was murdered. And there’s been talk of digging up his grave in the past, but he was killed on the Natchez Trace and he’s buried there right outside of it.
Leahy: He was a young man at that time.
Hensley: He was a young man. He was still in his mid-thirties or so.
Leahy: Mid-thirties, yes.
Hensley: He had already made the trip out West, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and was traveling down the Trace. And back in those days, the Trace wasn’t a much better trail. So he wound up being killed our committing suicide is still a mystery.
Leahy: Where are you on that mystery?
Hensley: I think he probably was murdered.
Leahy: I’m on that same path as well.
Hensley: I don’t think he committed suicide, but that’s been 200 years ago.
Leahy: He had a powerful friend in Thomas Jefferson.
Hensley: He did have a powerful friend. Yes.
Leahy: And if he got in trouble, I think Jefferson would’ve helped him out.
Hensley: I think he would. But traveling down the Trace, there were robbers and all kinds of people on the Trace. And so, who knows what happened?
Leahy: So you grew up in Hohenwald.
Hensley: I grew up in Hohenwald, yes.
Leahy: And went to medical school?
Hensley: I went to medical school in Memphis, and first of all, went to Columbia State Community College. And then went to Memphis State, which is the University of Memphis now. And then went to medical school in Memphis and did a family practice residency there.
I was in Memphis for about 10 years doing my training and then, I came back to Hoenwald and have a solo family practice in Hoenwald. I’m one of the dying breed, I guess. A solo family practitioner in a small town. But I’ve been very fortunate to be able to still practice medicine and be in the legislature as well. Being in the legislature is part-time so most people have other professions. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do both.
Leahy: And your district now includes all of Lewis County, Maury County, and just a tiny sliver of Williamson County. You represent me.
Hensley: I do.
Leahy: I know. I’m in that little sliver.
Hensley: It’s a tiny sliver, but there’s a lot of people that live in that sliver. That’s Spring Hill in Williamson County, so there are about 32,000 people in that part of Spring Hill.
Leahy: And also what other counties?
Hensley: Giles and Marshall County.
Leahy: That’s a lot of people. How many people are in that district?
Hensley: It’s about 220,000 people.
Leahy: And they all have your phone number. (Laughs)
Hensley: They all have it available. Yes. I’ve published my cell phone all the time. I’ve been in the legislature, which is quite a while.
Leahy: We’ll talk about that and more and what the agenda is in our next segment.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Joey Hensley” by Tennessee General Assembly. Background Photo “Downtown Hohenwald” by KFlanz. CC BY-SA 4.0.