Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Granddaughter Remembers Orlando Visits

by Ruby Jarvis Brooks

My memories of Orlando go way back- I am now 84 years old. My parents lived outside of a small town called Belington, WV. Every summer, my Dad would take me, along with my mother, my sisters Rose and Martha, and later my little brother Franklin, down the road to the town of Norton and put us on the train to Orlando. There we would spend 2 or 3 days visiting our family, then we would get on the train again to go to Copen, where my Grandmother Estie (Henline) Godfrey Thomas lived, to stay the rest of the week.

Left: the author Ruby with younger siblings Franklin, Martha and Rose Align Left
Right: Map of West Virginia showing the towns mentioned in this entry.

In Orlando, we would stay with Aunt Clorie, and her brother Uncle Heater Huck [Ernest Roy Henline] and my mother's cousin, Opal (Jeffries) McCrobie. When we would arrive, Uncle Heater always had bubble gum waiting for us- those big gumballs! He would put Aunt Clorie in charge of the gum to hand it out to us as she saw fit.

1. Great Aunt Vada with her daughters (Ruby's cousins) Annabelle and Mary, Opal with cousin June Nixon. 2. Cousin Owen Thomas holding Franklin. 3. Heaterhuck Henline, 4. Cousin Coleman Jeffries with cousins June and Billy Nixon.

We would also visit Uncle Polar [Verdis Carder Henline] and Aunt Vadie, [Vada Belle Riffle] who lived up a steep hill that started up by Uncle Heater's and Aunt Clora's lawn- and I do mean straight up! We liked playing with Uncle Polar's daughters, Mary and Anna Belle. Uncle Polar was a tall man, and when I was very small I was afraid of him because I thought he was a giant!

Right: Ruby's mother Sophia (Godfrey) Jarvis.
Left: Ruby's parents Jesse and Sophia (Godfrey) Jarvis.
Right below: Aunt Clorie (Clora Henline) with Ruby and Rose.

My mother was Sophia (Godfrey) Jarvis, the oldest daughter of Estie (Henline) Godfrey Thomas by her first and late husband, Malitas Godfrey. Mom only had one whole brother, Harry, who then lived in Clarksburg. All the other siblings, the Thomases, were her half brothers and sisters. Their father was Estie's second husband, Mike Thomas. My mother's father had died from typhoid fever when she was just a toddler.

My father was Jesse Jarvis. He met my mother when she was working at Dick Skinner's restaurant and he came in as a customer while traveling for his job with the mines. They were married in 1925. I am the oldest of their children, born in 1926, followed by Rose in 1928, Martha in 1932 and Franklin in 1934. I am now a widow and I live in Woodbridge, VA. Rose passed away in 2004. Martha lives in New Bern, NC. Franklin lives with his wife Norma on the family home place near Belington, and still farms.

After all these years, my memories of Orlando are still very vivid. My visits there were very happy times. Uncle Heater, Aunt Clora, and her children Opal and Coleman still lived in the house in Orlando. Sometimes Aunt Margaret (Henline) Nixon would come to visit when we were there and that was always fun! We liked playing with her kids, June and Billy. At night, the sleeping quarters were scarce when everyone came to visit. They would make palats on the floor for us kids, and that was fun.

One of the biggest parts of life and times in Orlando was of course the trains! Several of our family members worked for the railroad, including Heater Huck. The train whistles, the sound of the train chugging on the track, and how they'd wave at us when it passed by are other fond memories. After the train was gone, it left a special kind of dust on the bushes and trees near the tracks. I can still see it and smell it to this day.

Left: The Henline home with Oil Creek at the front.
Right: Great grandmother Samantha (Skinner) Henline

I remember visiting at the house in Orlando when my great grandmother Samantha (Skinner) Henline was still living. I recall her as being quite old and ill and she spent a lot of time in bed. Someone would put me up on her bed, and I would pretend to feed her. She was such a sweet lady, she pretended to eat my imaginary food. I remember going to her funeral. I was four years old when she passed away in 1930. In those days, there was no road up to the cemetary on the hill, so we all had to walk as they carried the casket all the way to the top of that steep hill. I was so little, all I could see were the legs of the adults, and my little legs were getting so tired. Then one of the uncles came along and scooped me up and put me up on his shoulders, and carried me the rest of the way. There is now a good road that goes up there.


  1. My Grandmother was raised in Orlando. She was a Casto. Irene Casto Hobbs. Her mother and father were Edward Clinton Casto and Lula Ellen Henline Casto. They a total of 6 children Irene, Ira, Esker, Virgil, Lillian and Virginia. My grandmother use to tell me about her mothers brother Oscar "Doc" Henline and his wife Laura or Laurie and their adopted son who was a little person. Lula lived there until January 1967 when she died. Uncle Doc found her out in front her house where she apparently fell dead. I believe my grandmother said that Docs wife had died shortly before or after Lula. Lulas husband Edward Clinton Casto had gone out of town to work and was killed. I have seen this website before and always wondered why this entire family was never mentioned on here. My grandmother graduated from high school there in 1929. She married Harvey B. Hobbs from Fayette county West Virginia.

  2. My grandmother(Irene Casto Hobbs) grew up in Orlando. Her parents were Edward(Elias)Clinton Casto and here mother was Lula Ellen Henline Casto. They had the following children Virgil Casto, Ira Casto and Irene Casto(twins), Esker Casto. Lillian Casto and Virginia Casto. My grandmother use to always tell me stories about her Uncle Oscar"DOC" Henline and his wife Laura. I have read this blog several times and find it hard to believe this entire family with the exception of Doc and Laura have never been mentioned. Lula Ellen Henline Casto lived there from very young until January 31, 1967 when she died. Does anyone have any information on this particular family?