Cora Belle Hensley Haney was born March 19, 1889 in Alleghany County, North
Carolina. She was born to James Crawford "J.C." Hensley, b. October 18, 1852
d. Feb. 26, 1914 and Rebecca Lewis b.1853 d. Sept. 14, 1901. Belle was only
12 yrs old when her mother passed away. She shared many fond memories of her
mother, and from her stories we knew her mother had red hair, something Belle
was very proud of. She was the youngest of four known children. Shared
between James Crawford and Rebecca were: William Crawford Hensley b. March
14, 1869 d. 1950; Louiza "Lou" Hensley Bradford Davis b. Nov. 16, 1877 d. July
23, 1943; and James Jasper Hensley "Uncle Jim" b. June 7, 1886 d. Dec. 22,
Sometime after Belle's mother passed away, the family moved to Yancey County,
North Carolina, either to follow work or family. On March 22, 1906 Belle
married Sam C. Haney, b. June 8, 1882 d. May 10, 1960, three days after she'd
turned sixteen. They immediately began a family: Clifford Haney b. April 30,
1907; Dessie Mae Haney Bryant b. June 21, 1909; Loyd Haney b. Dec. 27, 1912 d.
in infancy; Gerta Haney b. Dec. 27, 1913 d. Jan. 17, 1914; Gustie Georgia
Haney Murphy b. May 6, 1914; Thelma Haney Whitson Renfro b. June 11, 1916 d.
Feb. 14, 1991; Robie Haney b. July 15, 1919 d. Jan. 14, 1993; Vester Haney b.
June 28, 1922; Boyd Haney b. April 10, 1925; Ferland Haney b. Dec. 2, 1927;
and Letcher Haney b. Aug. 27, 1931.
Life was no fairy tale for Belle. Her father forced her to marry so he
himself could re-marry; this was just the first of many heartaches Belle had
to endure. She lost two children within two years in infancy, Loyd first and
Gerta second. Sometime in the years that followed Belle began practicing
midwifery in Yancey and Mitchell Counties. She aided in helping birth many of
her own grandchildren. Her oldest daughter Dessie Mae married Luther Bryant
Dec. 26, 1926. Belle helped her birth five children, three girls and two sons
that died in infancy. Dessie's husband Luther was killed Aug. 19, 1939 in a
logging accident, leaving behind a wife and three young daughters. The year
1940 was another tragic year for Belle. Two of her children, Ferland and
Dessie took pneumonia. Ferland recovered and Dessie passed away on May 19,
1940 leaving her children orphans.
After Dessie's passing, many family members were willing to take one or two of
the grand-children but not all three. Belle would not have it, she wanted the
girls to stay together. She decided to keep them with her and raise them with
her own children still living at home. Sam was not happy with Belle's choice
to keep the three granddaughters. Not long afterwards, he moved out and left
Clifford Haney, her oldest son, served his country during WWI. When WWII broke
out, Robie enlisted in the Army. Vester he wasn't old enough to enlist, so he
told Army officials he was the twin to his brother Robie. Vester was sent to
France where he was one of many soldiers killed. He died June 19, 1944.
This was a really hard time for Belle. As a way to soothe her heartbreak, she
would go fishing, thinking things over. She decided not to have Vester's
remains sent back to the U.S. She had heard tales of others getting the wrong
bodies back, so he was laid to rest in the Memorial Cemetery in France.
When the Korean war came about two more of her sons were drafted, Ferland and
Letcher. Before Letcher left he married Wilma Sturgill. During his enlistment
she lived with Belle and her granddaughter Maphrey. Belle prayed daily for the
war to end so her boys could return safely home. When Dwight D. Eisenhower
called for the end of war, he became Belle's hero. She kept a picture of him
on her dresser until her dying day.
Belle continued living in her home for several years even after all her
children and grand children had moved. Letcher's wife became very sick. Belle
decided to sell her home and move with her son and his family to care for his
two young children. This would be her last home, she lived out her final days
with the family. During her stay, another grandchild was born. Belle died in
their home in Feb. of 1970. Her death was very painful for the family. The
next year, they had another child and named her after Letcher's mother.
There is no way of knowing exactly how many children Belle helped bring into
the world. She was a very neat, clean and organized woman. She shared many
interesting stories with her family, stories passed down and well remembered.
She was a remarkable woman, in my opinion, although I never had the honor of
meeting her. All I have are the stories and each one is precious to me. She
was very proud of her family, she often bragged about how smart the Hensley's
were. She told stories of how her grandfather had come here from Ireland, he
was a cabinet maker. Belle did not learn to read or write until she was
expecting her last child, Letcher. She decided to teach herself by reading
the New Testament in the Bible, and read it every year until her death.
Belle's life with Sam was not always pleasant. He had a tendency of being
quite ill natured with his children. Belle did not let him intimidate her.
Once, someone parked a car outside of their home, to be able to walk to
another's home further back. Robie decided he wanted to sit in the car, and
this really seemed to bother Sam. Sam picked up a rock and was going to throw
it at Robie to show his displeasure. At the time, Belle was churning butter
and saw the events about to take place. With churn still in hand, she grabbed
Sam by the "hair of his head" and wrung him until he dropped the rock.
Belle had a soft side as well. When she went to live with her son and his
family, she became very fond of their child born during her stay. She quite
literally spoiled him. When he was in trouble, she'd sit on Letcher's belt to
keep him from spanking the boy. Cuddling him in her arms saying "come here and
let me nuss you". She was very compassionate toward others. If she heard of a
family being burned out of their home or some other type of tragedy, she'd
have someone take her to those in need so she could give them "a piece of
money". It was her way of helping others less fortunate.