Biography of Herbert Henry Jennings

Herbert Henry Jennings, born on August 7, 1887, in Middleway, West Virginia, rose from modest beginnings to become executive assistant to industrialist Raymond J. Funkhouser. After early jobs with the R.F. and P. Railroad and American Express, Jennings took over his family’s mill business in 1913. He later ventured into manufacturing, notably with Funkhouser’s granulated stone plants and chair factories. During World War II, he built a plant producing airplane parts. Jennings, a Republican and Christian, married Louise Linthicum in 1914 and had four children. He resided in his rehabilitated family homestead in Middleway.

In the course of an eventful career, Herbert Henry Jennings of Kearneysville, West Virginia, has made his way from unimportant early occupations to the post of executive assistant to the great industrialist, Raymond J. Funkhouser. As a youth whose principal heritage was a “sane mind in a sound body,” he began making his own livelihood and overcame many obstacles in his climb to important achievements. In the words of an editor: “Blessed with an even disposition and a fine personality, Mr. Jennings has surmounted what seemed to be impossible barriers; his courage and faith in the future opened the way to the success which he richly deserves, and in which his many friends all over the country rejoice.”

Born at Middleway, West Virginia, on August 7, 1887, Herbert Henry Jennings is the son of J. Henry and Anna Virginia (Roberts) Jennings, both of whom are deceased. His father, born in Edinburg, Virginia, in 1840, was a saw and grain mill operator, who died in 1913. The mother, a native of Middleway, Virginia, born in 1850, passed away in 1921. When hardly more than a boy, their son, after receiving his education in the public schools of his birthplace, took his first job with the R. F. and P. Railroad in Richmond, Virginia. He later was employed with the American Express Company, in Washington, D.C., and while in this city attended the night classes of Strayer Business College. In 1913, upon the death of his father, who owned a flour, grist, and saw mill in Middleway, Herbert H. Jennings moved back to that village and took over the business of operating the mill.

In 1914, he started a chair factory in Middleway, manufacturing porch chairs, and continued in this business, together with managing the mill, for two years, after which time he consolidated his chair business with the Hollingsworth Wheel Company of Hagerstown and moved the factory to that city. The enterprise failed, and its founder, now married and a father, had to begin life all over again without means or a job. Looking around for an opportunity, he found what he thought was it, in a project to furnish Camp Meade, Maryland, with two thousand cords of firewood. The contract required financing, and to this end he sought the help of the Funkhouser brothers. Referred to Raymond J. Funkhouser, the latter-named agreed to consider it, and in the meanwhile gave Mr. Jennings temporary employment and funds to carry him over the current crisis. Then he was sent to work loading railroad ties over several parts of Maryland and West Virginia and was advanced to lumber operations. The cordwood project was forgotten, and since 1917 Mr. Jennings has been associated, with interruptions, with the Funkhouser interests, always with freedom to engage in independent operations.

In 1920, Mr. Funkhouser developed an interest in granulated stone of natural colors of red, green, and black, for surfacing asphalt roads, which necessitated finding deposits of these various colored stones, resulting in plants being built at Granville, New York; Poultney, Vermont; Tellico Plains, Tennessee; Fairmount, Georgia; Delta and Charmian, Pennsylvania. It was Mr. Jennings’ job to build and operate these plants, and this branch of the Funkhouser industries being one of the oldest, continues to be one of the most important. Mr. Jennings recounts his further experience: “In 1927 I resigned my job and moved to Winchester, where I built a chair factory, known as the Acorn Manufacturing Company. I operated this plant for two years, at which time the Victor Products Corporation was formed, and the Acorn Manufacturing Company was included in the new corporation.” Shortly afterwards the Victor Products Corporation bought out the O’Sullivan Rubber Company of New York and moved the production of rubber heels from Akron, Ohio, to their plant in Winchester, and Mr. Jennings, once more associated with R. J. Funkhouser, was made manager of the O’Sullivan Rubber Heel Company, in 1930. He is now assistant to Raymond J. Funkhouser, prominent industrialist and agriculturist, and is manager of the Victor Products Corporation plant in Ranson. Other plants of this corporation are located in Hagerstown and Berkeley Springs.

In 1941 Mr. Jennings purchased the family homestead in Middleway, rehabilitated the home, and with his family moved back to the house in which he was born. Within a year he also built a small plant and, with his son Henry, made airplane parts during World War II for the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation, at Hagerstown, Maryland. This was later consolidated with the Victor Products Corporation, and removed to Ranson, thereby launching the first operations of the corporation in Ranson. Mr. Jennings is fraternally affiliated with the Triluminar Lodge No. 117, of Middleway, Free and Accepted Masons, and the Chapter, Royal Arch Masons. He favors the Republican party in political views and is a member of the Christian Church.

At Hyattstown, Maryland, on October 31, 1914, Herbert Henry Jennings married Louise Linthicum, daughter of Cassidy and Rachel L. Linthicum. Mr. and Mrs. Jennings are the parents of four children: 1. Henry Herbert, born September 3, 1916, a graduate of Winchester High School; he married Yvonne Paxon of Purcellville, Virginia, and they have two children: Mary Michel and Johnny. 2. Rachel Virginia, a graduate of Winchester High School and the Maryland Institute Art School; she married James Hafer. 3. Paul Nelson, a graduate of Charles Town High School. 4. Mary Stuart, a graduate of Charles Town High School and Bridgewater College; she married Benjamin Hoover.


Couper, Wm. (William), History of the Shenandoah Valley, Family and Personal Records, vol. III, New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1952.

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