The Avenue

The View from Hippie Hill

Photos by Bracken Mayo

“Isn’t that cute?”

A bearded, dreadlocked blonde man known simply as Hippie sits in a trailer and picks out a little tune on a guitar. Bottle caps hang from a mess of hair that would make you think he was a crazy lumberjack if you didn’t know him.

Outside, a few black clouds hang over a cluster of teepees perched on a hilltop. A few drops of rain reach us through the trees. Dogs are trotting through the clearing; they look groomed and fed.

This ramshackle mountaintop campground is in the woods of Christiana, right off I-24 and halfway between Murfreesboro and Manchester.

Known as Hippie Hill, the place is often confused with The Farm in Summertown, Tenn, and followed by a trail of assumptions—that they’re all drugged out Deadheads, that they’re a cult, that they’re jobless, that they stay holed up on the hill and never come down.

Last month, The Pulse visited Hippie Hill just to see what it’s really like, and as it turns out, those assumptions are more than a little off-base.

“If Jesus Christ came up here, I’d invite him in, ask him if he wanted something to eat, and in the springtime, he’d be working outside, planting the garden with the rest of us,” Hippie says.

Hippie has overseen life on the hill with his wife, known to everyone as Mama Jeanie, for the past 12 years, offering food and shelter to kids who need it.

Both Hippie and Mama know what it’s like to be homeless, which is what inspired Hippie Hill and kept them running the place for more than a decade. Kids that come to the hill are given help—whether it’s help giving up drugs or help finding employment—and are taught how to live off the land as much as possible. They learn to sew, they learn to build. Everyone contributes. Everyone is treated the same.

There are people who stay at Hippie Hill just for the night, and there are people who are there to stay.

It’s a steep climb to the earthy haven, though it’s easy to find. A sign at the base of the hill proclaims their simple slogan: Helping Hungry Kids. Further up the path, a clutter of old cars, including a Volkswagen van, hide in the grass to the left. The final climb is potholed and easier on foot.

At the hill’s summit, people are playing with their dogs, talking to each other or just milling around, sleepy-eyed. It’s early still. Though the woody area has largely been cleared, tall trees loom over the hilltop.

The trailer where Hippie plucked the guitar sits near the entrance; further in, there is an array of trailers and teepees. Most of what you see is what they’ve built.

There are the trailers where most residents live, and there are teepees, one of which houses a pool table, that were built by people on Hippie Hill. There is a shack with a stove, oven and sink. On one side of the clearing, a shower house is under construction and nearly complete. Their port-o-potties, referred to as “shitters” around here, are emptied weekly. There is a garden, which is tended with everyone’s help.

It’s clear why Hippie would say Jesus Christ would help out at Hippie Hill—everyone there pitches in, because Hippie and Mama provide more than food and shelter; essentially, Hippie Hill is a family.

The family has been growing and changing for 12 years, since Hippie and Mama took up residence on the land (114 acres), which is owned by a close friend. From there, the pair proceeded with their project of helping kids who may not, though that isn’t always the case, have anywhere else to go.

Some kids come to Hippie Hill lacking basic skills; one resident, Matt Humphries, who moved from Virginia and has lived on the hill for about four months, says he’s seen kids who have never used a shovel or cut wood.

But those are the types of skills that are taught on Hippie Hill.

Drugs are not tolerated. Hippie and Mama are more than willing to help someone kick an addiction, but as Hippie says, the kids have to want to kick it. On the pathway to the hilltop, a sign prohibiting drug use hangs on a tree.

“We do not stand for that,” says Teagarden, an older resident who has lived further down the hillside for years.

As we talk, two young visitors who were just passing through wave goodbye to their friends and head out. It sounds like last night was a rowdy one.

There’s more than just youth on the hilltop, though; all ages reside or travel through the area. During The Pulse’s visit, several homeschooled children were staying temporarily with their parents.

With so many people coming and going or putting down roots on the hill, I wonder how word has spread about Hippie Hill.

“Word of mouth,” Mama says without hesitation.

Yes, it’s a humble abode. They live through modest means. But people come there, they opt to live there, because they want to. And no one appears to be doing without the necessities. In the summer, there are air conditioners and fans in the trailers. In the winter, they have wood stoves in the trailers and the kitchen, as well as propane heaters and fire pits. And nobody goes unfed.

Mama turns to a resident named John Brittain, also known as Yohn.

“You ever go hungry?” she asks him.

He shakes his head. Yohn has lived on the hill for three years. He moved from North Carolina, where his parents reside, and he plans on returning someday.

Yohn is a booking agent, which brings up important aspects of life on the hill: art and music.

For 10 years, Hippie Hill has hosted a lot of concerts. Some are very impromptu jam sessions, others have showcased Murfreesboro greats like The Corbitt Brothers and The Great Barrier Reefs.

A well-built stage is centered in the clearing with a white sound booth recently built and situated not too far off. In June, Hippie Hill will be hosting its annual Afteroo, a week-long music fest right after Bonnaroo. In late March, they hosted their first Metal Fest.

Yohn talks about shows at Hippie Hill as we walk down a path on the hillside. We stop at the prayer circle, where residents come to meditate. Flat stones encircle a sort of shrine where people have stuck flowers, pictures.

On the edge of the hill, the scene is unreal. Pale green is pushing up through the tree branches and on the surrounding hills that curve below the mountain. Hippie refers to it as “God’s view.”

In the summer, the leaves are so thick they hide the view, and it’s pitch-black at night. But now it’s spring.

Living here, there must be something to it.

To learn more about Hippie Hill, visit www.hippiehilltn.com. See The Pulse calendar for shows at Hippie Hill or shows organized by Hippie Hill Productions. To contribute to Hippie Hill, donations can be sent to HHK, 8627 Burks Hollow Road, Christiana, TN 37037.

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19 Comments

  • Jim Early

    It’s all about ☮ ❤ and ♬ ♫ Loving you family. Altho’ I have never lived there it is my home away from home and have met some of the best people I have ever come across.

  • mamma jeanie

    thank you boro pulse for giving us oppurtunity of being in you newspaper it was a beutiful story of our home we love to do this its what we love to do

  • Tammy Anderson

    The best neighbors you could ever ask for, they will help you in a heart beat, love you hippies peace!

  • Jean

    I am an ol hippie from the 60s. I hope you come to florida.I sure would love to meet you. I wish i could get up there. Peace, love and music and being so close to God no one could ask for more in life. Love and peace. Jean

  • lyndsay bradley

    It’s Bout time they gother the actuall real facts about hippie hill! They are amazing ppl and help alot of less fortunate out and we all know (well most of us) what that’s like! It’s my home away from home too and there is nothing but music and love and hard work that goes on! Love u family glad ur getting the recognition you deserve!!

  • Victims of Hippie Hill

    Tom Maddox is a con-man who conives unsuspecting people up to the property to extort free labor. He also extorts the children there with a phony helping hungry kids charity. He charges rent and organization dues and demands free labor from the people who are trapped into poverty on Hippie Hill. When people with kids try to leave Tom Maddox locks them out of thier belongings and tells them everything they own belongs to him. He needs children on the hill to con people out of money with the ruse he is supporting them which is a lie.

    The children in the pictures on this website are in DCS custody now because thier parents tried to escape Hippie Hill when they realized Tom Maddox was expoliting them for profits so Tom made up horrific lies and told them to the police and DCS when the parents were forced to get a police escort to the hill to get thier belongings. The children watched thier parents assaulted when Tom had people kick down their trailer door and assault them because they were moving out and had to call 911 because of the crimes against them. Then he locked them out of thier belongings and stole everything of value he wanted. Three cars they owned on Hippie Hill were vandalized beyond repair within ten minutes of the police leaving. Beware the police will not help any victims to Tom Maddox on Hippie Hill. If you go there you are on your own.

    If you call the police on Tom Maddox he threatens extortion against you and calls DCS and tells them lies. Tom Maddox is no “Hippie” he is a professional con artist whom is actually a violent thug who hurts women and children and uses thier presence to swindle money out of people. Do not give a penny to this criminal he needs to be thrown into prison for assaults and robberies and false information to police and other government agencies too numerous to mention.

    Hippie hill is a crime ridden den of sin where people drink thier lives away. Violence is incessant and Hippie and Mama sell drugs and steal residents belongings after chasing them away for a living. Or if they have children for Tom to expolit for charity Tom holds them hostage with extortion threats. He is very charismatic and coniving but do not trust him he is a back stabbing liar who is capable of anything. Look up his criminal record he is a three time loser who is hiding out under the lie of being a Hippie.

    There is nothing Hippie about Hippie Hill. Tom beats people up for selling pot without his permission or anything else. His own underage daughter lives in squalor in a filthy rodent infested tralier and sells drugs. He fancies himself a mob boss who puts out “hits” on the people who resist his manipulation. Do NOT let anyone you care about go to Hippie Hill. People are raped, robbed and victims of extortion and slave labor there. The whole place is infested with lice and rats and rabid dogs running wild. If he wants something you own he will find a way to steal it. It you resist him stealing from you he will either beat you up himself or pay someone else to. He will destroy you and all you own if you try to escape with what is yours.

    If you call the police for help he will lock the police out by padlocking the front gates. Then he will gather up his minions and rehearse a lie so when police finally contact him everyone is lying about what really happened. Hippie Hill is a living hell. It is a constant crime scene of povery and terror and gross violations of codes and ethics and should be condemned.

    There are people who are going to sue Tom Maddox for everything he owns and shut down that cesspool onve and for all. If you are on Hippie Hill get out while you can. If you speak to Tom Maddox take it from me he is a pathological liar and if you do your homework and talk to anyone not on that hill who has known him for some time you will find that the consensus is consistent. Tom Maddox is no Hippie he is not even very human. No decent human could do what he does and live with themself.

    The pictures of children in this article need to be removed from the PULSE website. They do NOT live on the hill and were published without the consent of the parents. Tom should not be allowed to go on collecting donations for children whos lives he has destroyed. The children and the parents have contempt for Tom Maddox and Hippie Hill. They will never set foot on that God forsaken place again.

    If you have children do NOT take them up to Hippie Hill no matter what Tom Maddox tells you. After ou are trapped there awhile and go broke from working without pay while paying rent he will turn on you like he does everyone. He will try to steal your children and act as if they are his. God help you if you try to escape with your children and your belongings. If he cannot steal your children he contact the police and DCS and tell them outrageous lies. If you try to take your belongings he will have you attacked and chased off the hill the steal and or smash everything then deny it all. He is a very manipulative liar who cons both citizens, reporters and the local police with sheer falsehoods.

    If you go to live there you will regret it for the rest of your life that is if you can escape at all. His trick is to drive you into hopeless poverty so you can never afford to leave. He is like Charles Manson and Hippie Hill is like Jonestown.

    PULSE magazine you have been promoting this con man for a long time while people were suffering from his criminal actions. Lets see if you have the journalistic integrity to leave my comment up. Its time the truth be told about Hippie hill. There is nothing I have written here I have not also written and told to the police and all other municipal authorities. These are the truths. We were the victims of Hippie Hill and all of Tom Maddoxs coniving scams and we lost everything as a result of this lunatics revenge spree.

    BEWARE of Tom Maddox and Hippie Hill!!!

  • John Clark

    “Hippie Hill” is a scam run by convicted felon TOM MADDOX and drug dealing JEANIE. They call themselves “HIPPIE” and “MAMA” but they are about as hippie as Bonnie and Clyde. They are burnt out tweakers who take slaves up on this wretched hillbilly knoll outside Christiana TN always running one kind of SCAM or another to collect “donations” to keep the constant supply of booze and drugs flowing. These are violent back stabbing backwoods criminals who lie and cheat and steal for a living. Many people have been hurt and have their lives destroyed by Tom and Jeanie. The entire place should be condemned a health hazard in violation of every law. Has nothing to do with hippies its a place where drunks guzzle down gallons of whiskey and kick dogs and beat up people. TOM MADDOX is an ex-prison scrapper and likes to beat up defenseless people. He brags of how many people he has beaten up on the hill. People are stabbed, raped and robbed there. They refuse to improve the road in and out so the police can’t get there because that is how criminals hiding out like it however it backfired on them when they got so drunk they burned the place down and the fire trucks could not come. Then they used the fire where they almost killed many people due to codes violations and drunken negligence as an excuse to con more people out of money. Then they attacked the families who live there and the violent drunks attacked and chased away all the children and smashed and robbed their house. Then they lied to the police and lied to everyone and are still lying through their teeth whenever the subject comes up.
    However justice will prevail and they will be sued by all the people they have ripped off and attacked and robbed and raped and misled and hurt and swindled. Beware of that filthy den of drunken sin and wickedness TN hillbilly hill.

  • zach kelp

    for the last two poorly written comments about hippie hill.. im ashamed of those who criticize those whom they know nothing about. I find it very funny that people say things like that about the hill when they have probably ate there,, slept,, joked,, jammed,. its probably due to these people not being able to live a simple life… they probably have gotten themselves into debt,, trouble with the law,, might be hungry,, who knows.. its time to live and give. its ok tho because yall will still be able to eat sleep joke and jam there anytime you want.. bring the WHOLE family, cause no one gets left behind… thanks for the BS remarks and taking time away from ur precious lives to badmouth.. its ok tho.. we forgive and forget. love!

  • Ashley Ohmsa

    This article is an accurate representation of Hippy Hill where I had the pleasure of spending a month with great, funny and interesting people! I had no money and only a backpack while I traveled and I was fed every meal there. I loved how we’d have a hill meeting at 10am to talk about what the plan was for the day and to see who wanted to volunteer for what. At one point I got a bladder infection (not unusual for me) and Hippie and Mama Jeanie paid for me to go to the doctor in a nearby town!!

    I loved every awesome person on that hill. It was such a great experience, thank you Mama and Hippie!

  • Harold Reed

    Hippie hill is a disgrace to our community Tom is a known criminal who sells drugs and lets kids drink themselves to death. Why is the Pulse promoting this much hated crime haven? The police need to shut this place down. Shame on you.

  • Robert Weren

    How typical that the publicity starved tyrants that run this so called hippie hill tricked a local newsman into running a story portraying the awful degenerate place as actually helping people. The author of this article is as gullible as Thomas is manipulating. These people who run that crime squat are always looking for new recruits to replace those who manage to escape. Thomas is always seeking ways to get people to give him money because he is a no good scoundrel. I have heard first hand horror stories from so many people that have been used and abused and ripped off by this joker farm. Take a good look at the dog in the photo above. See its ribs and sucked in stomach? It is starving. If this place feeds why is the dog starving? The money donated to this biker dive goes to drugs and human destruction. They live off the state food cards they demand everyone apply for. Thomas and his partner in crime keeps the cards and pin numbers. Everything about this so called hippie hill stinks including this misleading tripe that has been published above. Do some investigating before you mislead the public. Most of the comments online cheer leading this joker farm are from Thomas clan of misfits themselves. The place is known as copperhead hill to us locals. It used to be a junkyard and it still is. Only now the junk is Thomas and his band of marauding felons. Likely the only reason it has not been condemned it that the local authorities are on the take. However I have heard from the police in Manchester that they know very well it is a crime haven and Thomas Maddox is a vicious gang leader and known drug dealer. They prey on people from the Bonnaroo festival and lure them up to their squat with some phony “Afteroo” show. They have ripped off and scammed many people this way. This man Tom is not a Hippie he will pretend to be your best then turn on you like a wild animal. Watch out.

  • Jamie Holt

    When are federal agents going to step in where the crooked local law enforcement has failed and put and end to pervert hill? Extorting children for money? Luring teenage girls up there to dance in shadow boxes for filthy old drunks? The Pulse helping to collect “donations” for a fire set by out of control underage drinking? Half a dozen completely false websites claiming to help hungry kids? Put the lying drunks on the stand and watch their alibis crumble. Hippie Tom is criminally insane. Defrauding the state out of hundreds of food stamp cards and giving 2% back to the rightful owners does not make you a charity it should get you locked up. I urge the state to stop issuing food cards to 8627 Burks Hollow Road until an impartial investigation is does as to where these funds are being diverted. HHK is a criminal cult and thousands of people including the taxpayers of TN are being systematically defrauded each day it continues.

  • Rico Esquandias

    It’s funny. I’m reading all the posts on here that are exposing this douchebag corn-rowed knucklehead and his band of merry lowlives, and I think back to when I lived in Christiana. A year ago, I called on an ad from craigslist that was advertising a VW transporter for a decent price. The ad stated that the VW was located on Hippie Hill in Christiana. Having never heard of the place and actually laughing that someone thought to name a tract of land after the counterculture should have been a tip off. A gruff sounding “gentleman” answered and I proceeded to ask questions that any serious buyer would ask. Quite suddenly, after he answered a few, he turned on me like a psychopath and began to scream profanities at me. I hung up. He called back several times to let me know that he would kick my a$$ and that I was piece of sh!t, etc. I hung up. He called back again. This time I was a stalker. Anyhow, this piece of work turned out to be this Maddox chap who is the “caretaker” at this “non profit”. He called for a few days and eventually, I would assume, he lost interest because others were being harassed. Search thesamba dot com and youll find that this twit has shared his gift of gab with many others. I find it a stretch that he’s helping “kids”. Well, you certainly can’t judge a book by its cover, but this book is the intellectual equivalent to the Bernstein Bears. No. Strike that. That’s a good series.

  • James Two Eagles

    Hippie Hill

    A place where,,,this happened March 2013

    i came back from work to pick up my family and my wife told me that hippie tom, smash,wish were going to kill me, but she let out that she told them something i ONLY said to her!!
    My wife started up the van and drove off the hill and smash in his truck came hauling but and cut in front of her and blocked her.
    she had to slam on the brakes, my 2 1/2 daughter was not straped in, let a lone in her car seat, they could of killed her and us.
    I jumped in the seat took the wheel and they chased us for miles trying to run us off the road. THIS HAPPENED

    human slavery along with a horse theft ring and a auto theft ring not to mention keeping the residents on the hill and working for hippie only for buying, (dope) THIS IS all true!!

    keeper of the woods

    jamestwoeagles@yahoo.com

  • Mary Swanson

    I just wanted to warn any women who may be lured up to Hippie Hill TN by the Afteroo festival talk that there is no festival just some really dirty old perverted men and few lousy bands. I was here for one day thy tried to grope me and stole my car keys I had to escape on foot and have my car towed it cost me $400 Hippie Hill TN Afteroo is not a festival it is a trap to rape and rob females. If you go you will be the only girl there (with teeth). Beware.

  • always/n.y. swilly kid

    I lived on the streets in murfreesborow with my girl for weeks and never had a chance to make it up to hippy hill but I heard all good about the place. all you people who talk shit about havin to work and help out everyone like a family does you people are worthless hippy lets people come there with open arms ofcoarse everyone should contribute and give what they can that’s how all the world should work if you don’t like it don’t go there its simple . the place sounds like my style somebody give me a call so I can know what to bring when I come back to the town im a tramp so im all over all the time but I have my cardboard creditcard tex or call me my thumb is always up 1607 349 2189 hurry with the calls people I wanna get there hell with new york

  • Walter Wesley

    We just got back from hippie hill it was a crazy nightmare. Please know people you don’t ever want to be there. My girlfriend and I both are treating each other for scabies the trailers are infested. Also they all got really drunk and tried to take advantage of here while they lured me away with lies. We are home now will never go back. Also they are thieves in sheeps clothing. Place completely sucks royally.

  • Trainer

    I read the article and every comment here so far.Very much from both sides I know to be mostly true.A lot of good decent people are associated with the hill,some of the best souls you will ever meet.Then there is the dark ugly under belly of the snake there waiting.It’s both. Most communes start out with good intentions.I have lived at many,including the hill.If you are street tough enough it may be a good place to get off the streets for a while and do a little tent camping.If you are looking for a spiritual retreat in the woods you probably should camp away from the main living areas as far as possible.You can camp/commune with the hippies and/or get drunk and loaded with the biker influence that will stomp you into the hospital if you cross them or get too stupid.Expect to pay up for any rent you owe

  • Marie Fox

    Tom Maddox and his partner in crime Ingrid are the most dangerous criminal con artists in the State of TN. In any other place they would be wearing orange jumpsuits and doing life sentences. But in backwards Rutheford county they do anything they please with the backing of the local Beuford T Justice good old boy bumpkins with badges. Counting the days until rapist Tom and his tweaker wife Ingred aka Jeanie aka mama travel outside the county and get slammed by honest law enforcement. I’ve got a bottle of bubbly just waiting to celebrate when these criminals go down in flames as they deserve. Tom is a raging pervert and also a cold blooded lying thief. String the maggots high!

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