Tuesday, October 20, 2015

He Owned a Company and Planes

This is another story about the recent research I've done into the descendants of my great great uncle, John William Jennings, Jr., thanks to a contact with someone through Ancestry.com, who sent me a copy of a chapter about the Jennings family from the book, Miller-Duff and Related Families by Marian Miller-Duff. I have spent several weeks verifying the information in the chapter and extending the research to include later generations. Along the way, I "met" Henry Lee Jennings, my third cousin once removed.

Henry was born on 14 July 1901 in Texas to Edward Henry Jennings and Cora Jane Jennings, who were first cousins. Harry had married a woman named Bernadine Olive some time before 1928. She was born in Missouri on 7 October 1903 but I do not know who her parents were. Henry worked as a salesman for Dixie Waxpaper Company and Bernadine worked as a stenographer at bank. They did not have children.

By 1940 Henry and Bernadine owned Mi-T-Fine Food Company, a food manufacturing operation. She worked there as the assistant manager. They lived at 702 North Hampton Road, which was valued at $6,850.

702 North Hampton Road; photograph courtesy of Google Maps

The couple eventually moved to 1362 Zang Boulevard, which is now Old Zang Boulevard and is just off South Riverfront Boulevard. That street runs beside the Trinity River.

In 1953 Henry and Bernadine visited State of Tamaulipas, Mexico, twice. They returned to Texas from Tampico on 25 February in a Ryan Navion private jet piloted by Henry. On 1 July they returned from La Pesca, a resort town on the Gulf of Mexico -- again, in the same plane piloted by Henry. It was at least the second plane he owned.

The Navion is a single-engine, unpressurized, retractable gear, 4-seat aircraft. It was originally built by North American Aviation and later by Ryan Aeronautical Corporation and Tubular Steel Corporation. It was designed to take advantage of the expected postwar boom in civil aviation. The Navion was designed along similar lines as the P-51 Mustang, one of the best fighter aircraft during World War II.

Restored 1947 Navion; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

From the scattered documents about Henry and Bernadine's life together, it seems they were quite successful and enjoyed the fruits of that success. Henry died 19 November 1975 in Dade County, Florida. He lived on Marathon Key at the time of his death. Bernadine lived another 26 years. I plan on ordering her original social application in order to hopefully learn her maiden name. According to the Missouri Birth Records, 1851-1910, 16 white female births were recorded for 7 October 1903; two of them without first names. So this is another research route to follow.

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