With the exception of Fairview and Caldwell Lanes, the primary streets and roads throughout the neighborhood are named after Southern authors and writers. The narrow “byways” are all named for local people who were in the chain of title for property purchased for the New Neighborhood.


O. Henry is actually the pen name of William Sydney Porter, born September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. His father was a physician and his mother died when he was only three years old. William was an avid reader, but dropped out of public schools when he was fifteen in order to go to work in a drug store. He moved to Texas for two years and worked on a ranch. He held a number of jobs in Texas, including bank clerk. Porter married in 1882 after moving to Austin. Two years later, he started a humorous weekly paper entitled The Rolling Stone (not likely related to the current paper, pop group, and culture). After the newspaper failed, he moved to Houston and became a columnist for the Houston Post.

In 1896, William Porter was charged with stealing funds from the bank and ordered to stand trial in Austin. There is debate over his guilt and most believe that he was more guilty of poor bookkeeping than criminal conduct. Although he might have been pardoned of all charges, he fled to Honduras. Porter was finally arrested when he returned to his wife’s deathbed, and was imprisoned for three years in 1898 in a penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio.

While in prison, Porter wrote short stories under various pen names to earn money for his daughter. His first work, “Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking,” was published in McClure’s Magazine. Upon leaving prison in 1901, Porter changed his name to O. Henry and almost immediately moved to New York City, where he wrote a story a week for the New York World. O. Henry’s sentimental short stories expose human weaknesses and have natural characters. His characteristic plot lines are developed around coincidence and fate and he became a master at the plot twist or “surprise ending.” Few of us could have completed school without encountering an O. Henry short story somewhere along the way. Several of his best known stories include “The Gift of the Magi,” "The Ransom of Red Chief,” and "The Last Leaf.” He published nearly 250 works of fiction in a total of 14 different collections, including three collections that were published after his death. O. Henry’s first collection, Cabbages and Kings, was written in 1904 and is a well known volume to just about any high school student. A two volume set (library binding) of the Complete Works of O. Henry is available from Amazon for $129.

Sadly, O. Henry’s last years were not good ones. He was taken with alcoholism, ill health, and financial problems and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1910.

In his National Public Radio (NPR) segment on Sunday, September 11, 2005, Garrison Keillor covered some of the great author’s life. Included in the discussion was mention of the fact that the “O” in O. Henry stands for “Oliver.” Even with many long days spent in high school English literature classes, I have never known what the “O” stood for. Now we all know!

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