James W. Hankins was born on 25 July 1860 in Hopkins County, Kentucky. He was the third child born to Albert Elvie Hankins and Isabella Jane Goodloe. Albert died when Jim and his siblings were children.
In 1880, Jim lived in Hopkins County with his uncle Thomas H. Goodloe. He worked as a farm laborer.
Jim worked as a miner when he married Mary J. Combs on 6 April 1883. His stepfather, T. K. Devault, served as surety on their marriage bond. They were married at the home of bride’s father, who is unnamed in the record. Mary was fifteen years old and was born in Kentucky. Both of her parents were born in Tennessee. Nothing further has been found about Mary or her family, and her fate is unknown.
On 1 August 1889, Jim married Almeda Smith in Hopkins County. Medie was the daughter of Henry Clay Smith and Martha Howton. She was born on 6 January 1861 in Kentucky, probably Hopkins County.
Medie previously married L. E. Egbert on 15 August 1883 in Hopkins County. They had a son named Edgar H., who was born on 15 June 1887. After his mother’s marriage to Jim, Edgar went by Hankins for the rest of his life, but it is unclear if Jim formally adopted him.
Jim and Medie’s only child, Aggie A., was born on 9 July 1892 in Earlington in Hopkins County. The family lived on Robinson Street in Earlington in 1900 near his mother and stepfather, Janie and Thomas Devault. Jim worked as a coal miner. Jim and Medie lived on Robinson Street in 1910 and 1920 and Jim continued working as a coal miner.
Medie died on 20 December 1927 in Earlington of chronic endocarditis. She was buried in Grapevine Cemetery in Hopkins County.
Jim still lived in Earlington and worked as a miner when he married Lydia M. Allen Byrum on 25 April 1929. They married in Princeton in Caldwell County, Kentucky. Lydia lived in Providence in nearby Webster County, and Jim moved there after the wedding.
Lydia was born on 25 December 1873 in Webster County, Kentucky, to Robert Allen and Nancy Jane Pearson. She was the widow of Joseph O. Byrum.
On 15 March 1930, Jim committed suicide at his home in Providence. He lived several hours after shooting himself in the head with a shotgun by using a toe to pull the trigger. The Messenger reported Jim had been in ill health for some time, but domestic trouble was the reason for his action. He was buried in Grapevine Cemetery.
Lydia died in 1942 and was buried by her first husband in Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Providence.