Henry Porter

The only thing we knew for sure about Henry Porter is that his name wasn't Henry Porter

— Bob Dylan and Sam Sheppard, Brownsville Girl

"Henry Porter" was not the “real name” of writer “O. Henry”
"William Sydney Porter" was not the "real name" of writer "O. Henry"


Who was "O. Henry"?

Many words in this article are taken directly from the poems or wikipedia articles linked in references, sometimes rearranged, cut-up.

(This is indicated by the category: cento)

  • Henry was a musician
  • Henry was an artist
  • Henry was a writer
  • Henry was a master of the short story form

and then again

  • Henry was a licensed pharmacist
  • Henry was a shepherd
  • Henry was a cook
  • Henry spoke a little Spanish, a little German, henry read the classics
  • Henry was a member of the "Hill City Quartette", a group of young men who sang at gatherings and serenaded young women of the town

When is it?

It's 1887

And Henry is a draftsman at the Texas General Land Office, earning $100 a month. Equivalent to 14 yak-holograms in today's most popular alternative universes.


Henry's friend Richard Hall (not that Richard Hall) became Land Commissioner for the great state of Texas, and offered Henry the job.

the shadows to the marketplace Merchants and thieves, hungry for power, my last deal gone

He is a draftman at the Texas General Land Office, $100 a month. 481 crypto-prisms in tomorrow's patois.

Inside Job

Draftman by day and by night --

Henry drafts stories

  • like "Georgia's Ruling"
  • like "Buried Treasure"

-- it will be another 10 to 27 years before they are published

When Richard Hall ran for but missed out on the Governorship - a new governor was sworn in, and the very next day:

Henry resigned from the Texas General Land Office.

It's 1891.

Henry is working at the first bank of Austin, the first First Bank of Austin -- he works as a book keeper and another thing. I can't recall.

Within 3 years-- by 1894:

The bank accuses Henry of embezzlement, he is fired.

What does a young man do?

At the heart of every great fortune there is an equally great swindle

What does a young man do?

After a successful angel investment round he has -- unofficially -- received funding from the first bank of Austin, the first First Bank of Austin.

What does a young man do?

He splashes out and starts a weekly, humorous newspapaer - “The Rolling Stone”

He would name it not just after the song that would later be named after it, or after the band or the magazine, but maybe after another thing, who knows.

The Rolling Stone featured satire on life, people, and politics and included Henry's short stories and sketches.

Circulation rose to 1500 people, or 14 million by today's figures.

By 1895 The Rolling Stone stopped the presses rolling. The dream was over.

The Rolling Stone, despite its failure, got the attention of the Houston Post who gave Henry Porter his first professional writing job.

Henry -- not for the first time -- snatched a kind of victory from defeat

His pay was one quarter of what it had been at his last two jobs. But as his popularity grew, so too did his pay packet.

Henry gathered ideas

Henry gathered ideas for his column by loitering in hotel lobbies and observing and talking to people there. This was a technique he used throughout his writing career.

Federal Auditors

While Henry was in Houston, federal auditors audited the First National Bank of Austin and found the embezzlement shortages that led to his firing. A federal indictment followed, and Henry was arrested on charges of embezzlement.

Henry fled.

Henry Fled

Henry fled; he fled first to New Orleans and later to Honduras, with which the United States had no extradition treaty at that time.

Henry lived in Honduras for six months,
until January 1897.

There he became friends with Al Jennings, a notorious train robber, who later wrote a book about their friendship.

Wait. Who was Al Jennings?

Alphonso J “Al” Jennings

The only thing we know for sure about Al Jennings is that his name wasn’t Al Jennings.

Alphonso, born 1863, an attorney in Oklahoma Territory. Later a train robber, and a movie star -- but back in 1892 -- he was the lead prosecutor for Canadian County Oklahoma.

And in 1895 he joined his brothers Ed and John in their law practice.

In October of that year Al's brother and Ed Jennings was killed, and his brother John Jennings wounded, in a shootout with rival attorney Temple Lea Houston.



Last born child of the first president of the republic of Texas.

Temple Lea Houston carried a Colt revolver,
which he named "Old Betsy",
always strapped to his waist.
Some called him
"the best shot in the West."
He wore buckskin attire
and a sombrero
from Mexico
with a wide brim and a silver eagle.



The only thing we know for sure about TEMPLE LEA HOUSTON is that his name wasn’t TEMPLE LEA HOUSTON.


Houston carried a Colt revolver, which he named "Old Betsy", always strapped to his waist.

Well, there was this movie I seen one time About a man riding 'cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck

Houston was acquitted - so Alphonso fled.

He gained employment in Creek Nation and soon joined at outlaw band.

During the summer and fall of 1897 the desperados, often referred to as the "Jennings Gang," composed of Frank and Al Jennings, Little Dick West, and Morris and Pat O'Malley, robbed trains, general stores and a post office, with little monetary success. Two of his most publicized robberies were the August 16, 1897, robbery of a Santa Fe passenger train located three miles south of Edmond, Oklahoma and the October 1897 robbery of a passenger train near Chickasha, Oklahoma. When attempting the Edmond robbery, the gang unsuccessfully attempted to break into a Wells-Fargo safe. After the dynamite failed to blow up the safe, the gang made their getaway. No one was killed during this robbery, but Jim Wright, a passenger who refused to surrender his valuables, had part of his ear shot off.

The only thing we know for sure about Jim Wright is that his name wasn’t Jim Wright.

They failed to break the safe — but got away with a bottle of whiskey and a bunch of bananas.

In 1904 William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry, published the short story "Holding Up a Train," a story inspired by Jennings's career. Jennings himself was the actual author of this story.

Jennings became a celebrity.


See also


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