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Hennis Freight Lines trucks at Whitaker Park, 1962.

Hennis Freight Lines trucks at Whitaker Park, 1962.

Hennis Freight Lines trucks at Whitaker Park, 1962. The trucks are lined up at the front entrance on the left, with the fountains and pool at the right.

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  1. My great grandfather,Sam Hennis, was the founder of Hennis Freight Lines. I remember going to his granite house in Mt. Airy and visiting when I was a little girl . Papa and Mama Hennis were fun to visit. Mama Hennis was blind and had been since a young woman but she knew us all by our steps and voices. What wonderful memories of them and that beautiful Mt. Airy granite house, driveway and retaining wall. I am 57 and am planning a trip to go there this summer to see it all again.

  2. I am Todd Mendenhall my daddy Hal worked at Hennis for 18 yrs. he was there when it closed. he passed away in June 2013. Something that may be of interest. We had a yard sale today & a man came driving up in a chevy s10 with a Hennis license plate on front of it. His name was Bill Edmondson he is about 84 yrs. old now. Bill was on the silver bridge that callapsed on december 15 1967 he was one of only a handful of survivors. his partner was sleeping in the bunk at the time and he died in the accident. I had never herd of this till today but my mother said she remembered when it happened. My dad went on after Hennis closed and stayed in trucking an retired with another unionized company. I followed in his footsteps and have 20 plus yrs. in with ups in Winston Salem. Ups is right up the hill from where Hennis used to be I remember going there as a kid. I also remember picket lines when they went on strike. Any how I enjoyed meeting Bill edmondson today. Thought you might like that bit of history. Unfortunately I do not know any one in picture.

  3. I worked in the claims department at Hennis while in college (1962 – 1966) and recall that Mr. Shirley Mitchell was the president. I do not recognize those who are in this photo but do remember Larry May and Don Sebastian in claims.

  4. my father drove for hennis freight lines untill it became spector red ball when i saw him cry for the first time he drove for them my whole life when they closed their doors on gilchrist rd in akron ohio he had 35 yrs safe driving awards for the company he then went on to owning and operating denham trucking untill he retired with a no accident driving record in 1996 thank you hennis freight lines for the life i live i wear his key chain to this day lol william john denham jr

  5. I worked in the genl office in Winston for 15 years..along with Max Mckinnon in the Claims Dept..many thought that Mr Mitchell was a hard man to deal with..

  6. I do remember Tony at Hennis. Some folks recall me by my first name “Max”.

  7. I really like what is happening here…one of the original intents of Digital Forsyth was to spark comments and conversations about our past…thank you all for your contributions…

  8. My father, A.C. “Red” Jackson worked for Hennis from 1957 until 1961. He was Director of Sales. My sister-in-law, Sybil Rhodes, worked in the printing department. Hennis printed all their own supplies. We lived in Lake Hills before moving back to Chicago.

  9. I was in the army in 1962-63 with Jimmy J. Collins, we were good buddies and he used to talk about working at Hennis, I believe he was a dispatcher. I often wondered what became of him. He used to call everybody “Hoss”.

  10. My Dad used Hennis Trucking for shipping mostly in the 1960’s during his employment at The Suffolk Peanut Company (Suffolk, VA). Mr. Hennis allowed our family use of his rock house in The Meadows of Dan for 2 weeks in the summer for several years. Our family was always appreciative of his gesture. I visited it about 15 years ago. The current owners gave my wife and me a tour. Excellent memories, thanks to his generosity.

  11. Very interesting. I am a truck historian. Familiar with Hennis but only acquainted with some of the people that worked there. did Shirley Mitchell its owner at one time or an appointed President. First time I ever heard the name Sam Hennis. Altough always wondered how Mitchell became President of a company named Hennis. Was’tthere a Ken ? that was later with Carolina after Hennis closed. THink he passed away just a few years ago.

  12. My father, Henry Varner was a corporate pilot for Hennis. We had some wonderful times in the mountains at the Rock House on Mr. Mitchell’s farm. My first experience with a square dance. We would ride my Dad’s motorcycle up in the warm days and freeze to death riding back to W-S in the evening. We also spent some weekends at the Company Beach Houses in Cherry Grove. At that time there was only a couple more houses north and then just empty beach as far as you could see. I was 15 then, that is now 50 years ago. My Dad had a lot of good friends at Hennis. Sadly my Dad passed in 1984 at 55 years young.

  13. Worked in payroll in Winston-Salem in 1962. Moved
    to Charlotte later that year. Transferred to Ruby,
    S C (old Griggs Trucking)in payroll/office. Made it to dispatcher later on…really loved that job. Shirley Mitchell had his own plane with
    a private airstrip somewhere in the Caribbean. He would ride around the W/S terminal in the back of
    his chauffer driven Cadillac. Some of the drivers let me go on the road with them and get behind the wheel(that was a No No)…What A Thrill!! The new Mack F600 V8 Diesel was fun to drive…lot’s of power. Great memories of Hennis! Left in late ’65 for the Marines…

  14. I am curious about this trucking company as I found a keychain with a cointype medal attached to it.. on the back was a number24063 and a message that says to drop it in a mailbox and postage guaranteed. If the company no longer is there,, is this worth anything? Just curious

  15. I worked in the maint. dept as maint. records clerk, parts manager, purchasing agent,for Hennis from Sept. 1954.until merger with Spector in 1975 and then was assigned to the parts div. of Spector called Speedy Equipment until March of 1982 about a month before they shut down the operation. I enjoyed working with many of the Hennis employees over the years. I especially remember J.L.Phipps, Dewey Ferguson, L.J. Brown, Dusty Rhodes, Don Michaels, Bob Young, Hubert Mustin, Charlie Posey, Don Benton, Barney White, Shorty Moore who ran the Furniture Div.,Hank Tyson,Burton Whitsett, and many others. Some of these left Hennis after the people from McLean came to Hennis and some left after the merger with Spector. Many of these including myself endend up working for Builders Transport in Camden,S.C. Thanks for allowing me to put this on your site

  16. …enjoyed reading the posts regarding Hennis. I worked for McLean for 10 years (70’s) and immediately loved the friendly competition amongst the NC based LTL freight lines. Just recently, it occurred to me that there is no museum (that I know of) that serves as a testimony to these–and other great LTL carriers that have gone out of business or, been absorbed into others. I am interested in the possibility of forming such a museum if the support and financial structure could be amassed. Is there any interest among readers. Any contact, encouragement or interest would be wonderful. I can be contacted at [email protected]

  17. My dad, Jesse Wright, drove for Hennis starting in early 1950’s until the doors closed for Spector. I have wonderful memories of my dad being a truck driver. Some of his many friends that I recall are Ray Lawson, from the dock, drivers: George Sargent, Howard Foster, Jim Day, Jay Tilley,and so many more. I remember well the incident of the bridge collapse over Ohio river and couple of Hennis drivers went into the water. Daddy was out on a trip and we were so worried until we heard from him.

  18. I am James Jordan in Asheville. I bought a 1960
    H Model Mack Truck. According to records it was bought new by Byrd Motor Lines of Lexington, NC.
    While restoring the truck, I found a Hennis Freight Lines fuel receipt from Parson’s Truck Stop, Hwy 17 in Winfield, WVA. It was for tractor #1616.
    The driver was Sam Badgett? Do you know how Hennis
    Freight Lines acquired this tractor. Thanks, James Jordan 828/667-2219 or [email protected]

  19. My father, Elwood (Dusty) Rhodes worked for Hennis for about 25+ years. In fact until they closed the doors. He worked in the Maintenance Department, and enjoyed his many years there. I have fond memories of the Christmas parties, the Circle M Zoo. I particularly remember the switchboard operator Andi Anderson (sic) and Edda Davis, Don Brewer, who worked with my Dad.

  20. My grandfather Herbert “Hub” Groseclose drove for Hennis for many years until he was forced to stop trucking due to health reasons in 1968. I would love to find out more about this company as sadly he has passed. My brother has followed in his footsteps and I am a truckers wife. We know the sacrifices made daily my those in this noble profession.

  21. my dad, james donald(don) anderson worked in the parts department in the 60’s. he passed away december 24th 2015. he was 83. he told stories and shared memories of those days up until his death.

  22. My dads name was Jack Baynes I don’t know how long he worked for Hennis, he was killed in a auto accident in 1972 I was 7 yrs old it would be great to hear from anyone who may have knew him

  23. My dad was a auto mechanic for hennis freight line in 1960’s. While working for this company my father lossed his driving a truck that was defunctional. He was a dedicated employee to this company. My father died in 1967. I just a baby born in 1965. I never got to know my father to this day. I do has a relationship with his brother and sisters, to see the relationship they with their children. I feel so deprived of this part of my life. I will never know. I continue to this day long for that relationship that will happen in this life.

  24. McClearen Harrison was his name, they called him Mac at Hennis freight line on Airport Rd. In Greenville, SC

  25. My father McClearen Harrison (Mac) i never got to here stories of hennis freight line. which think i would have enjoyed.

  26. My dad was GEORGE EVERETT KEATON. He died in a truck accident while driving for Hennis in 1955. The accident happened near Pearisburg, Virginia near Walkers’s Creek. I wonder if anyone remembers him?

  27. My dad, Robert Reynolds, drove for Hennis /Spector for many years. He loved both companies and the Teamsters. He 1st drove out of Ruby, sc then Spartanburg, SC. His teamsters Co workers still met every Tuesday morning for breakfast until he passed 3 years ago. Thanks for all of the memories.

  28. Found this posted at …regarding Todd Mendenhall’s comment.

    ‘Now I Know What It’s Like to Drown’
    Truck Driver Survives Tragedy

    By Sandra Grant
    Staff Writer

    POINT PLEASANT – “Now I know what it’s like to drown. I expected to die,” said Bill Needham, a 27-year-old truck driver from Kernersville, N. C.

    Needham was one of the survivors of the tragic plunge of the “Silver Bridge” into the Ohio River Friday at Point Pleasant carrying untold numbers of hapless motorists to their deaths.

    A patient in Pleasant Valley Hospital here with a broken back, Needham thinks his truck driving partner is dead.

    “He was in the sleeping berth in the rear of the cab,” Needham said from his hospital bed, “and I think he had strapped himself in. He had no chance. The cab went all the way to the bottom.”

    Neadhani said he was still pinned inside the cab when it went under water and ”was running out of breath when I noticed a little crack in the window and finally forced it down – I managed to grab a box and hang on.”

    How[a]rd Boggs, 24, of Gallipolis, Ohio, also a patient in the same hospital with cuts and bruises, fears he lost his wife, Marjorie and 17-month- old daughter in the plunge.

    Boggs said he and his small family were returning to their home after visiting relatives in West Virginia when they became stalled in traffic on the bridge.

    “My wife noticed the bridge was quivering,” he related tearfully, “and asked what would we do if this thing broke. Then, suddenly it broke and we went down.”

    Boggs said he and his wife had just finished buying Christmas presents for the little girl.

    Bill Edmondson, a 38-year- old Hennis Freight Lines driver from King, N. C., said he apparently also lost his partner to the water.

    “The thing went down so fast I don’t know how I got out of the cab,” recalled Edmondson who was admitted to the same hospital with a broken right arm and head cuts.

    “I was starting down the Ohio side of the bridge when it suddenly started falling sideways. I didn’t hear any noise or anything.

    “When I got in the water I got hold of a seat and that was all that kept me up until they pulled me out.”

    Edmondson, who figures he was in the water at “least 10 minutes before he was pulled into a motorboat, said he looked into his rear mirror as he inched across the span and saw the bridge “loaded bumper to bumper with traffic as far back as I could see.”

    After he surfaced, Edmondson said, he could see only one other person swimming in the water.

    Other survivors at this small, overworked hospital were either too dazed to recall what happened or under heavy sedation.

    One man, Frank Wamsley of Point Pleasant, just shook his head when approached for comment.

    Another of the injured, who was pulled from the water by a passing tow boat was Paul Scott of Ohio. He likewise had no comment.

  29. Wow,I was just googling my dad’s old work when I found this. My dad ‘Sonny’ Thomas Donaldson drove for Tennis until Spector Redball. His work location was actually in Atlanta off chatahochee Blvd. He passed in 2005

  30. My dad, Clyde ‘Cotton’ Norman, drove for Hennis Freight Lines out of Winston-Salem, NC in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. He also drove race cars at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. If still alive my dad would be 89 years old.

    I wonder if anyone remembers him.

  31. I remember Hennis very well. I crossed the Silver bridge a couple of hours before it fell. I remember the truck stop at Winfield W Va where Hennis had a mandatory fuel stop. It was next to Myrtles if anyone remembers it. I applied at Hennis one time at Winston Salem but was turned down because I was too young. I remember one time right around Christmas one year a military hero, I can’t remember who, was in Wash D C unable to get a flight to North Carolina and Shirley Mitchell sent his private plane to bring him home. I have so many memories of Hennis thatI can’t tell them all here. My one ambition was to drive for Hennis but never got to. I was driving for Spector when they took over Hennis. One of their dock foremen named Mickey came to work for Spector in Columbus Oh. Shirley Mitchell might have been a hard man to get along with, I don’t know. All I know about the maan is that he was a generous kind hearted man. They even sent parts to a Mack truck I was driving when I broke down, with no charge. One of their trucks would drop the parts off at whatever garage I was at. I know I wasn’t the only one they did this for. I retired in 2006 with 47 years of safe driving with no accidents, and almost 4 1/2 million miles. Yes Hennis Freight provided me with some of my better years of truck driving although I never drove for them. I always had the greatest respect for them and their drivers.

  32. My grandfather, who died when I was a baby, 1961, worked in Chicago as a dispatcher for Hennis. Does anyone know where the company was located in Chicago?

  33. My dad drove for Hennis. He was killed in 1955 near Walker’s Creek in Virginia. I was only 5 months old and my sister was 9 years old. His name was George Everett Keaton. Sometimes he went by his first name and sometimes by his middle name. If anyone remembers him, I would appreciate any information.

  34. My dad was Richard lee BuLL sr. He drove for Hennis. He died in Feb. 8 2017. He just turned 80yrs. Just want to say he loved it.

  35. My dad George Everette Keaton,drove for Hennis. He was killed in an accident near Pearisburg, VA ( Giles County) in 1955. I was only 5 months olds. If anyone has any knowledge or pictures of him or the accident, I would appreciate the info. Sometimes he went by his first name , sometimes by his middle name. His nicknames were “Little Bone” and Johnny.

  36. Apparently, Lonnie Irving was a driver for Hennis, sometime before his untimely death at the age of, by Leukemia in December of 1960. He sang two songs, Goofball Brown and Pinball Machine. Both involved trucking, and seem to relate to that area of NC in some of the lyrics. The Mt Airy area of North Carolina.

  37. My father, A.C. “Red” Jackson was director of sales for Hennis between 1957 – 1961. I remember the traffic conventions that were held at the Mayview Manor Hotel in Blowing Rock, N.C. A majestic hotel in the mountains. All of the Hennis executives were in attendance as well as those from the other major trucking lines in the state. It was a grand time!

  38. Earlier in the comments Shorty Moore who ran the furniture division was mentioned. He had a son Billy and daughter named Pam. If they ever read these comments I would love to hear from them.
    Richard Jackson 540-896-1638

  39. My father, David Johnson, Jr. was a salesman for Hennis. I would go with him on Saturday mornings to Hennis in Winston-Salem where I would play on an adding machine at a secretary’s desk. I remember trips to Cherry
    Grove numerous summers, Blowing Rock weekends,
    Circle M Zoo and the Rockhouse, riding the cart pulled by a pony. Unfortunately, Dave as he was called passed away in 1967. He drove a 1960 Mercedes that Shirley Mitchell gave him to drive. Anyone that may remember Dave Johnson I would love to hear from you. Those were fun years!

  40. The Hennis driver that was Mr. Edmondson was Harold Cundiff. His wife Marie was a employee of McLean Trucking

  41. That should have been “was with Mr. Edmondson”. Mr. Cundiff did not survive….

  42. Don’t think anyone has mentioned that the 2nd truck in this photo appears to be a Pilot Freight Lines, wonder if the 3rd is a McLean Trucking, if so all 3 of Winston-Salem’s major carriers were present for this photo.

  43. My Father, Beverly H. Commins, was the Terminal Manager for Hennis Freight lines in Richmond, VA in the early 60’s. He spoke fondly of Mr. Mitchell and J. Van Stonestreet, the General Manager in Winston-Salem, NC, along with Marion Poole, Bill Johnson, and others who were the executive team at that time. Some may remember a particular Richmond driver for Hennis, Roy Southworth, who won many Virginia State and National ATA driving championships during his career. I still have the Hennis diecast truck Mr. Mitchell gave me for my third birthday (1961), a replica B-61 Mack single axle with the tandem axle, swing door trailer. Still in good shape after all these years and proudly displayed in my home office on top of a bookcase.

  44. My father, Beverly H. Commins, was terminal manager for Hennis in Richmond, VA from 1958 – 1963. He reported to Mr. Mitchell as well as J. Van Stonestreet at the corporate office (or, “The Hill”, as it was referred to) in Winston-Salem. Many stories were told to me and I still have copies of the company newsletters from the early ’60’s along with a Bible Mr. Mitchell gave all the employees one year for Christmas.

  45. How nice to read a bit of history about a company that was such a big part of our family’s life. Our dad was J. Van Stonestreet. He leased a truck and himself as driver to Hennis in the early years. Then became employed in dispatch and eventually became manager of operations before retiring with 25 years of service a year or so after the Spector merger. Or that’s how we, his daughters, remember if. A lot of the names
    mentioned here are very familiar to us. Dad died in 1994 at the too-young age of 69.

  46. I’m J. Van Stonestreet’s daughter. It’s been very enjoyable to come upon this picture and comment stream (thanks to my cousin!). A lot of familiar places and names bringing back memories. If my memory is correct (big if), Dad started out as a driver for Hennis and then spent some time in dispatch before eventually becoming Director of Operations. He celebrated his 25th year of service a couple of years before retiring. I believe he retired within a a year or two after the Specter merger. I wonder if anyone else has a big wooden serving tray with a picture of a Hennis truck on it?
    One year Mr Mitchell gave my sister and me a puppy for Christmas! Of course, she and I were beyond excited. Not so sure about my parents. I’m pretty sure Mom said he did not check with them prior to getting it:)

  47. My name is Glenn Wright. I worked at Hennis for over 6 years 1960-1967. I will always have respect for Mr. Mitchell, since he made it possible for my first job after graduation from Blanton’s Business College and Traffic Management School in 1960. I worked at the Winston Salem terminal for 2 years then transferred to the Portsmouth, VA. terminal where I worked for over 4 years, I was young and single then and worked with the nicest employees there at Portsmouth who treated me like family. It is so sad to think of what happened to such a great trucking company that affected so many fine employees. In my office at M&C Xpress here in Greensboro, NC I have a nice photo taken on the road of a Hennis tractor-trailer that I can look at every day and reminiscence. I will always think of my employment at Hennis Freight Lines as some of the best of my 58 years in traffic and transportation.

  48. My dad, Logan Schronce, was a mechanic for Hennis for a few years from 1953 -1955. I was a little girl but our family moved to Winston Salem for those years while dad worked there.

  49. My father James David Watts, from Norwood NC drove for Hennis back in the late 60s and early 70s. He passed in 72 when I was 8 years old and I can still remember the red Mack semi with the trailer that said Hennis in big letters. I have seen old trailers in salvage yards over the years that brought back the memories but more recently I just returned from Okinawa Japan and I when to a store there that sold old vintage American stuff and they had small Hennis shirt patches for sale. Wow who would imagine finding that in Japan. My father received several driving award when he was with Hennis and I 54 years old I still have them. I Loved reading all of the stories. We are all connected through our stories. Many of our family members probably knew one another.

  50. Worked for Hennis as freight handler in 1969.
    Foreman Lou Medell

  51. I used to see HENNIS trucks all over the highways when we went on family trips (eg Hwy 52). As a child they were my “favorite” trucking company I suppose. I never knew what happened to them? WHen were they in business (lifespan)?

  52. When did Hennis Freight Lines on Patterson Street in Wnston-Salem NC close ?

  53. My dad Joe Bush worked for Hennis Charlotte N.C. I was a little girl but I remember the trucks and when it merged with Spectrum.He worked different shifts. He made a living as a local truck driver. I think he then worked for Spectrum. He died in 2012.

  54. My father swears up and down that his great grandfather (so my great great grandfather) owned hennis freight lines, and I am wanting to learn more about my familys past

  55. My father worked there until his untimely death 1965. I think his title was general traffic manager. I remember getting to go to Shirley’s beach and mountain properties. He also invited the family to his house for dinner a number of times. He had various pinball machines which he would give me a roll of quarters to use in them every visit. He seemed a very generous man to me. I have a couple of hand painted Hennis trucks. They are big enough for a cat to sit on top of them. My cats don’t but could.

  56. My Dad drove for Hennis freight for years. He actually died at their terminal in Winston-Salem, NC of a massive heart attack at the age of 43. I was three years old when he died in 1967. His name was J.T. Jessup!

  57. I have fond memories of the Christmas parties that Shirley Mitchel gave at the Hennis/Avanti building on Patterson Ave. My dad was Lester Kiser and he drove for Hennis I think around 14 years and left to open Lester Kiser Motorcycles on Liberty St. Triumph, Yamaha, Ducati,Bmw and a couple other brands. I also remember the strike at Hennis and when the bridge fell. He had run over the road with one of the drivers that went into the river. After the accident he told us of times that you could see through holes in the bridge to the river below. Also, he was caught in the Chicago blizzard, and we didn’t hear from him for several days, we would sit around the TV at 5-6 pm hoping to hear they were getting people out. I have a pic he took that shows snow had drifted over the trailer and had completely covered the truck cab on one side. He always carried a camera, saltines and some kind of canned food. He delivered a birthday cake in a Hennis truck for a birthday party for J.F.K.-there is a pic of him and Shirley Mitchel with Mitchel’s two bulldogs delivering the cake. He talked about how the mechanics from Hennis and other local trucking companies would take turns (a week at a time) dragging tractors up Fancy Gap with an old Army Halftrack when the weather was bad and turning them loose at the top VA. side. Thanks Joe

  58. My father never worked for Hennis Freight Lines but we do know and are thankful for Shirley Mitchell’s compassion for others. My father served in the Army and in 1968 (I was 4yrs old) he was sent to Vietnam. He and 9 others were captured by Cambodia and held for 5 months and 2 days. After their release (Dec 19, 1968) and they made it back to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, Mr. Shirley sent his private plane to Washington and flew my dad back to Winston-Salem (Dec 22, 1968) to make sure he was here in time for Christmas. If Mr. Shirley had not done that he would not have been back in time as there were no commercial flights or seats available for my dad to take.

  59. My Daddy, Mavan Lewis worked for Hennis and later Spectrum, providing for our family of 8 children. I don’t know exact dates, but he was weeks from retiring with a good pension, when he was killed by a crazy woman trying to kill herself. Her car went airborne and hit my Daddy head on, in Spartanburg SC, April 5, 1973. My mother received a small pittance for 5 years, as I recall. Many of the posts bring back memories of people my Daddy worked with. My sister remembers the parties at Shirley Mitchell’s home, the zoo, etc.

    My Daddy had many friends to include Pratt Moore. We are lifelong friends with his family.

    Thank you to all who shared their memories.

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