Many years ago, the comedian Bill Saluga appeared as a guest on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” His hilarious stand-up comic routine concerned a man whose name was “Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.” and involved the numerous variations of the name that were available for use in identifying the man.
“Ahh, ya doesn’t has to call me Johnson! You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me RJ…but ya doesn’t hafta call me Johnson.”
Right: First cousins Denver Owen Henline. In the Navy uniform is the son of Coy Clarence "Frank" and Audrey (Reip) Henline and in the Army uniform is the son of Ezra Andrew "Pid" and Minnie (Riffle) Henline.
A Case of Double Identity
Indeed, just three years previously, Samantha’s son “Pid” named his first son “Denver Owen Henline.” The writer asked Burlen Henline, son of “Frank” Henline and brother of the “other” Denver Owen Henline, how it came to be that his father named his brother the very same uncommon name as his first cousin had been named. Burlen was at a loss for an explanation. There was no popular Methodist circuit –riding preacher named “Denver Owen,” nor any current movie star or country singer, or president by that name which could have inspired this case of double identity, and to Burlen it is still just a big mystery. The folks at the Henline homestead in Orlando referred to Pid’s son as “Denver” and Frank’s son as “Owen” in order not to confuse the two cousins. There is no report on how the two boys may have introduced themselves to the other.
Ahh, ya doesn’t has to call me Henline! You can call me Denver Owen, or you can call me Owen, or you can call me Denver, or you can call me D. Owen, or you can call me D. O....But ya doesn’t hafta to call me Henline.
Be that as it may, this is about as good a lead-in to a little story about the two Denver Owen Henlines that the writer can dream up. Briefly, here are some differences between the two Denver Owens.
~ Pid and Minnie Henline’s son Denver Owen, b. 1922, grew up in Orlando, was nicknamed “Red”, and served in World War II in North Africa and Italy. He married Gladys Hitt and worked in coal mining and glass production.
~ Frank and Audrey ‘s son Denver Owen, b. 1925, grew up in the Clarksburg area. He served in the Pacific in World War II. He married Doris Williams and worked in the steel industry.
Denver Owen Henline-
Son of “Pid” and Minnie (Riffle) Henline
“Pid” Henline’s true name, according to the handwritten inscription in his mother’s Bible, was Ersie A. Henline. He was the fifth child of Beham Henline and Samantha (Skinner) Henline. With regard to the spelling of “Pid’s” name, it should be noted that his tombstone in the Orlando Cemetery declares his first name to be “Erza.” Born in 1885, “Pid” was followed in birth by his younger brother by three years, Coy Clarence, who was known to his siblings and friends as “Frank.”
Left: Ezra "Pid" and Minnie Henline with Ruth, Earnest Andrew "Bud" and Jessie. Center: Minnie with Denver Owen, Right: Edward, Jessie, Ruth and Denver Owen.
Speaking from personal experience, red-headed boys are frequently suspected of mischievous behavior by their school teachers. Just as red capes incite a bull in a ring, so too does red hair excite the suspicions of harried school teachers when their backs are turned. Perhaps there was a kernel of truth of the connection between hair coloration and mischievous behavior in the case of “Red” Henline. According to Stanley Barton, his son-in-law, many tales of school-related pranks were told by “Red” to his children as they were growing up.
Teacher on a Sled
Right: Denver Owen in boots in the front. Elmer Pumphrey behind him in the middle, sister Ruth Ellen is beside him in front.
Paddling of a Teacher
Ghosts and Coon Hunting
Left, above: Draftees. Denver Owen is in the back row, fourth from the left.
Right: Gladys Katherine Hitt
Post War Employment
During the war, Pid and Minnie Henline decided to give up life on Three Lick and moved to the metropolis of Weston and its suburb of Shadybrook. It was to this home that “Red” returned when he was discharged from the service in December 1945. After a period of re-adjustment to civilian life and surveying the employment prospects, “Red” decided to take employment in the coal mines of Webster County and he and Gladys moved to the Webster County town of Cowen. The small town of Tioga was the location of a deep mine which was welcoming returning veterans for coal mining jobs and “Red” signed on. According to Stanley Barton, the seams of coal in the Tioga mine were five to six feet thick. Being only five feet and four inches tall, “Red” didn’t have to bend his head much to work in the lower seams of coal. Although high coal was much better to work in than low coal, a troublesome aspect of the Tioga mine was the frequency of roof falls which endangered the miners. “Red” reported to his family that “glory holes,” nearly twenty feet high would appear in the mine roofs after a roof fall and shoring up such a cavity was problematic and scary to the miners who worked there. After less than a year living in Cowen and working in the Tioga mine, “Red” didn’t want to press his luck any further and left the wilds of Webster County and a “death trap” coal mine for the more placid countryside around Jackson’s Mill where he found employment loading coal on coal cars for Bitner Fuel. For the next thirty-five years, “Red” was employed by Bitner Fuel.
During his later years, “Red” often asked family members to drive him to Orlando, the home of his youth. “He loved Orlando,” recalled his son-in-law Stanley Barton, who frequently was the driver for the Orlando excursions. Besides Three Lick, one place in Orlando which especially drew him was the Orlando Cemetery, a place where he found peace and contentment. “Red” passed away in 1996 at the age of 74 and now rests in the Orlando Cemetery. In November 2000, his wife Gladys joined him and reposes by his side.
The Other Denver Owen Henline –
The Samantha Henline family was peculiar when it concerned names of individuals or animals. For example, the family always had farm dogs but there seemed to be no consensus among the family as to the name of a particular dog. Some family members referred to a dog as “Bullet,” while others called the same dog “Sandy,” and then others called it “Porter.” This of course caused endless confusion to the poor dog because it never knew what its name might be from one minute to the next. The same confusion reigned when it came to the names of Beham and Samantha Henline's children. William, the oldest, was known as “Todd,” Estella was known as “Estie” or “Stellie,” Ernest was known as “Heaterhuck,” Erza was known as “Pid,” Clora was known as “Cooch,” Margaret was known as “Mag,” Verdis was known as “Polar,” and Coy was known as “Frank.” So, what to do about two grandchildren, both named “Denver Owen Henline?” Imagine, if you will, the old folks sitting around the Henline living room chuckling and discussing how to identify each of the two boys. One might suppose that one could be referred to as “Frank’s boy, Denver” or “Pid’s boy, Denver.” Of course, substituting the name “Owen” wouldn’t work either because Samantha already had a grandson named Owen Thomas. Just as the diehard Henline family members continued to call the same dog “Bullet,” “Sandy,” and “Porter,” they never worried about the incongruity of having two close-in-age grandsons of Samatha Henline who were both named “Denver Owen Henline."
Although Samantha Henline and her children who remained in Orlando would have enjoyed their brother Frank’s company more often, the fact of the matter is that he lived in either Clarksburg or in Doddridge County and didn’t make it back to Orlando that often. As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” so having two Denver Owen Henlines in the family didn’t cause that much confusion.
Uncle Sam Finds Another Recruit
Left: Example of a Kamikaze attack.
Married Life and Weirton Steel
Denver found employment with Weirton Steel and later with its successor, National Steel. He retired from the latter corporation with many years service as a loader at the Riverdocks.
Comment 1: from Lora Lee (Swiger) Gilmore:
I was also wondering if much is known about Uncle Todd. I have a picture him. He was a handsome man. Grandpa did not talk about him much. I too have fond memories of Orlando. We always went to Orlando when Burlin would come up from Marietta and get us. I lived with Frank and Audra and they raised me. For most of my life my grandparents and I were alone as all the other children had moved away. I have very found memories of them and I miss them to this day. They loved me very much and had great faith in me. My grandfather used to tell me not to depend on a man for a living. He said that I should get myself and education and be able to be self sufficient. Prior to getting married to Ed Gilmore in 1970 I did just that by becoming a nurse.
We were always very happy when Burlin came and took us to Orlando. Grandpa or Papaw as I called him did not own a car and could not drive. I even remember riding with Burlin by myself to Orlando so I could be with him. He was a very special Uncle to me. I saw him just recently back in June. It was so good to see him since it had been 10 years when I last saw him. Burlin would sit me up on his school books so I could see out the window. I remember once when I went with Burlin to Orlando; I went to barn with Uncle Heater in the morning to see the animals and I got my socks wet from the dew. Aunt Clorie told me she was going to spank me for getting my socks wet. She made me stand by the hot coal fueled potbellied stove. As a young child I disliked her and was afraid of her because of the sock incident, but as I grew into a teenager I knew her as a very sweet, loving, and kind. Great Aunt.
My favorite thing to do in Orlando was to go to Coleman and Helen's house. She was such a great cook. I always got to play with her children and we would run around the farm. Once Charles Jefferies and I collected leaves in the woods for a school project I had and I got poison oak and was in really bad shape for awhile.
I'll sign off now. Sincerely, Lora Gilmore