A Heritage of Music Making
Below, right: Amos' father John Columbus Henline. Click on this photo to see the detail.
Their dad Amos Henline was born in Orlando in 1893, the son of John Columbus and Sarah (Godfrey) Henline. Amos was already fiddling at the age of 21 when an accident at work, in the veneering mill at Burnsville, took two fingers. Amos then found life-long employment at the Burnsville area operations of the Philadelphia Gas Company and its successor, The Equitable Gas Company.
There is a maid in our town,
A darling niece of mine.
She is so very blithe and gay.
Someone nicknamed her “Shine.”
She is so very kind and good,
You couldn’t help but love her.
I know you’d never if you could,
Praise someone else above her.
She is very young, and so discreet,
Most beautiful to behold.
She’s fair in form, in manner sweet,
She’s worth her weight in gold.
I hope that on judgment morn,
When all the saints shall rise,
That Olive in a spirit form
Will meet me in the skies.
Soon my days on earth will cease,
For I am growing weak.
But Olive, still you’ll be my niece
And I, your Uncle Zeke.
There is a man in Buzzardtown,
Not handsome, so to speak.
For he is none other
Than my Uncle Zeke.
Some people think him funny,
But he seems to make friends,
So we’ll not count him slow.
I think him a jolly old fellow,
To me always the same.
And I shall always love him
As long as Zeke is his name.
I’ll remember that dear old face
And do for him all I can,
For to me he is always the same,
And is such a dear old man.
So may God bless and keep him
As good as he is today.
When he kneels down to pray.
And now the friends of Buzzardtown
Join with me and speak,
That we shall always love him,
As long as he is Uncle Zeke.
Olive (Henline) Brannon gave birth to two children, Robert in 1936 and Joyce Carole in 1937. A devoted mother, Olive’s life would be far too short, passing away in 1946 at the age of 32. Helen Jeffries remembers the Orlando community was much saddened by Olive’s untimely death. Olive, despite her terminal illness, managed to visit friends and relatives in the Orlando area to say her goodbyes. The name of Olive’s daughter, Joyce Carole, translates into “Joyful Song,” which is a fitting legacy to her mother.
In the late 1930s Jimmy left Burnsville and went to Norfolk, Virginia to work in a defense plant. He was married briefly to Wilma Dennison and when that union collapsed, Jimmy left Norfolk and went to Cincinnati to work near his brother and musical partner, Charlie. Jimmy opened a electrical business, J & J Electric, in the Cincinnati area and worked in the electrical field for the remainder of his life. Jimmy and Charlie continued their avocation of playing music in the Cincinnati area and frequently returned to their home in Burnsville with their fiddle and guitar on holidays and vacations to entertain the homefolks with music. .
Waitman Collins recalls that Charlie Henline, Andy Knight, Kenny Gifford and he would go out on the railroad tracks near the B & O trestle over the Little Kanawha River at night and sing songs “for the fun of it,” and would sometimes serenade Rhody Rollyson, a large lady who lived on the bank above the road near the trestle. After Rhody had been serenaded long enough, she would stand up on the porch and tell the boys that “It’s time for you bullfrogs to go home to bed.”
Whatever the case, Charlie became employed by Sears Roebuck Company in Cincinnati as an appliance salesman and worked there his entire career. Of course, Charlie still played and taught others to play the guitar, and played musical engagements at social clubs, political rallies, private homes and anywhere else there was a need. Charlie often came back to West Virginia to visit family and friends in Burnsville and Orlando. Charlie’s guitar accompanied him everywhere he went and it was played every chance Charlie got to entertain a music-loving ear.
Neither James nor Charlie Henline enjoyed good health as adults. Both brothers had several operations in their later years. Marlene Henline, wife of James, recalls that during their seven years of marriage her husband had eleven operations. Joyce Brannon was with her niece Jackie (Henline) Bowser when Charlie was entered into a nursing home after developing Alzheimer’s disease. This crippling disease however did not diminish Charlie’s love of music and he continued to play his guitar in the nursing home (when he wasn’t trying to escape) according to his niece, Joyce Brannon.
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss.
Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by.
Is a better home a-waiting
In the sky, in the sky? 4
1. Uncle Zeke, the Bard of Buzzardtown, has often been the source of stories on this website. His writings have enriched the preserved the history of Orlando and the surrounding area. "Uncle Zeke" is the pen name of Patrick Newton Blake (1867-1951) born on Clover Fork, made his home near the confluence of Posey Run and Oil Creek. For more on Uncle Zeke, see entries for December '06 Trouble At Uncle Zeek's House and October '06 Uncle Zeke From Buzzard Town
2. Walter Blake was the brother of Charlotte Blake, the first wife of Amos Henline. Walter worked for the Philadelphia Gas Company. In mid-life, Walter sustained a broken neck and for the remainder of his life wore a metal back brace with a heavy rubber band attached to the back brace which looped over Walter’s forehead in order to hold his head erect. Boys of the area, referencing the rubber band type device, called Walter “Old Slingshot.” Walter was a member of another band referred to as the “Buzzardtown Hillbillies”. Sam Bragg was also a member of that band.
4. These words from the song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” were writen by Ada Habershon.
comment 1 Joyce Brannon
Joyce Brannon, daughter of Olive (Henline) Brannon, is also musically talented. As a ten year old child she rode her bicycle six miles to Hurst, Gilmer County, to take piano lessons. Joyce Carole graduated from Glenville State College with a degree in Music and is a retired teacher in Richmond, Virginia.
Joyce tells us that her Uncle Charlie and a companion (Waitman Collins says it was Charlie’s brother, James), flagged down a Greyhound bus which they assumed was going to Charleston. The bus driver negotiated a fare with them and accepted what money they had for the ride. There was apparently no discussion about where the bus was heading and instead of Charleston the bus ended up in Cincinnati. Thus began the Henline exodus to Cincinnati. All four Henline brothers, Jake, Pat, Charlie and Jimmy (The four brothers are pictured to the right) ended up in Cincinnati eventually. After high school, Joyce, their niece, also migrated to Cincinnati for employment, but returned shortly afterward to commence college at Glenville State.