by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
“Miner Recollections” has chronicled the lives of numerous coal-mining families in Western Maryland. We’ve captured joy and tragedy, which we will do once again, as we recall this intriguing Henley story.
Noah Henley was born in Sheffield, England in May 1862, the son of Richard Hendley and his wife Elizabeth. The family immigrated in 1870 and settled in Eckhart Mines, where Mr. Hendley was employed as a coal miner.
Noah followed in his father’s footsteps, as did many young men, to one of the few places of employment---the underground mines.
On April 11, 1891 Noah’s father, Richard, was killed in the Hoffman Mine at the end of his shift. Most mines had a double entry system, one for cars and another where men could walk safely, away from the tracks. Mr. Hendley chose to walk on the tracks that day as he was leaving work; when coal cars broke loose and ran down the slope, he was crushed between the cars and the heavy timbers.
In spite of this tragic loss, Noah Hendley continued to work in the same mine where his father had perished. He found happiness, a few months after his father’s funeral, when he married Miss Marion Glass on October 22, 1891.
By 1900, Noah and Marion had welcomed four children into the family. The joy of parenthood was overshadowed when two of those children died.
Noah left his job in the mine in 1905 when he was sworn in as deputy sheriff of Allegany County along with Sheriff Horace Hamilton. Noah moved his family to the jail residence on Prospect Street in Cumberland. He encountered enough trouble there to rival the stories of the “Wild Wild West.”
In 1907 an event occurred in Cumberland that jeopardized Noah’s life. The jail was stormed by an angry group of men who used a battering ram to gain entrance to the jail. While trying to protect an inmate, “Noah was roughly handled and his clothes nearly torn from his body.”
Challenge besieged him both at work and at home. The census of 1910 questioned the number of children born in the household, and the number of children living. At Noah and Marion’s home, the answer was six children born with NONE living. A Cumberland Evening Times article on April 15, 1908 explains: “Elizabeth, the daughter of former Deputy Sheriff and Mrs. Noah Hendley, died early this morning from measles and pneumonia. Another child is also lying dangerously ill with the same dreaded malady….” The other child was son William, who died five days later. The funeral procession left Cumberland on the electric railway; services were from the Eckhart Baptist Church.
On July 2, 1908 another article appeared in the newspaper stating that “Mrs. Hendley was down with typhoid fever, having been suffering with the disease for two weeks with no improvement yet.” Fortunately, Marion survived her bout with typhoid fever.
Three weeks later, Noah, now sheriff, was called to assist in an altercation on Mechanic Street in Cumberland. During the melee he was shot twice, once in the right hand and once in the left chest, just above the heart. “Sheriff Hendley, bleeding, tottered out of the doorway, blood streaming from the wound in his hand. He was assisted to the Wilson Bakery across the street.” He was later moved to the Allegany Hospital where he recovered from his wounds.
Noah did not seek another term as sheriff, but remained in law enforcement as a police officer for the railroad.
By 1920 Noah was a widower, living with his sister and brother-in-law, Mary Emma and Louis Winterberg. Also living with them was their 78 year-old mother, Elizabeth. Elizabeth died three years later and was laid to rest with her husband Richard, who had died in the April 1891 Hoffman Mine accident.
Noah eventually took a second wife, Othalia Murray. He became a father again at the age of 57. He had five wonderful years with his little girl Patricia before succumbing to a heart attack on December 11, 1935.
Coal miner, sheriff, and police officer Noah Hendley, an English immigrant of good character, faced life’s challenges head-on, as described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians: 9-10, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of a bronze statue to honor all of our coal miners and name those who died while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD 21532.
We welcome updated information and encourage your participation.
Contact Polla Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bucky Schriver at email@example.com
to share your thoughts and stories. Be on the lookout for future “Miner Recollections.”