Thomas Richard Hankins, the oldest of Lee and Samantha’s seven children, was born on 13 February 1880 in Earlington in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Some sources, including his amended death certificate, give his birth year as 1881. But he was four months old at the time of the 1880 U.S. census, listed as born in February of that year. Dick’s original death certificate had the correct birth year of 1880, but his son Forrest, who had provided the original information, submitted an amendment to change the year to 1881.
Dick married Bettie M. Smith, daughter of Robert Alexander Smith and Amanda A. Oldham, on 1 March 1905 in Hopkins County. Bettie was born in April 1883, probably in Hopkins County. Dick and Bettie had two children—Garah Emma born on 24 July 1906 and Roxie born in 1907.
Roxie died of spinal meningitis on 12 July 1909 in Hopkins County. Bettie died of tuberculosis in Earlington on 21 December 1909. They were both buried in Grapevine Cemetery in Hopkins County.
As a young man, Dick worked in coal mines in Hopkins County before beginning a career with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. L&N took him to Nashville, Tennessee, and then Birmingham, Alabama. His daughter, Garah, remained in Hopkins County, living with both Dick’s parents and Bettie’s. In 1911 and 1912, Dick was boarding at 310 12th Avenue South in Nashville and working as a fireman for the railroad.
Dick married Edith Rhea Jackson on 3 October 1912 in Davidson County. Rhea was the daughter of William Jackson and Susan Pope of Robertson County, Tennessee, born there on 26 September 1883. Their only child, Forrest Payne Hankins, was born in Nashville on 11 January 1914.
Dick may have had another wife between Bettie and Rhea. This blurb ran in the Earlington newspaper, The Bee, on 16 May 1911. “Mrs. Dick Hankins, of Nashville, is visiting friends here.” That was about two years after Bettie died and more than a year before he married Rhea. “Visiting friends” indicates she may have been from Hopkins County, but no other evidence of another wife has surfaced.
Dick and Rhea lived at 1113 Division Street in Nashville until moving to Birmingham about 1917, where they remained for the rest of their lives. In Birmingham, they lived in three locations in the Inglenook area (524 Terrace Blvd, 29 Water St, and 4229 Jackson St) before moving to 1317 28th N about 1935.
They lived at the Terrace Blvd address when Dick registered for the World War I draft in Birmingham on 12 September 1918. He was an engineer with L&N by that time and was described as tall with a medium build, brown eyes, and black hair.
During Dick’s career with L&N, he worked as a fireman and an engineer. He retired in 1951, two months short of having forty-two years of service.
Dick and Rhea still lived at the 28th Street address when she died on 29 August 1959 in Birmingham. Rhea was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Springfield, Robertson County, Tennessee.
Dick died on 11 January 1965 at St. Vincent Hospital in Birmingham of inanition (exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment). He was just over a month from turning eight-five years old. Arteriosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis in both lungs, and a fractured left leg, which he suffered in a fall at home eleven days earlier, contributed to his death. He was living with Forrest at 8005 9th Avenue South when he died. Dick was buried next to Rhea in Springfield.
Garah Emma Hankins
Garah was born 24 July 1906 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, and lived there all her life. She married George “Jack” Gamblin in 1929 and they had eight children. Jack was born on 20 May 1905 in Hopkins County, the son of S. H. Gamblin and Sarah Ann Furlow. He worked for St. Bernard and West Kentucky Coal Companies.
Garah died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 9 December 1961 at the Hopkins County Hospital in Madisonville. Jack died there of a heart attack on 18 June 1962. They were both buried in New Suthards Cemetery in Hopkins County.
Roxie was born in 1907 and died of spinal meningitis on 12 July 1909 in Hopkins County. She was buried in Grapevine Cemetery in Hopkins County.
Forrest Payne Hankins
Forrest was born on 11 January 1914 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. He married Lillian Irene Turk and they had one daughter. Lillian was born on 6 April 1918, the daughter of Emmett Little Turk and Lillian Gertrude Parker. Like his father, Forrest worked for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in Birmingham.
Forrest died in 1981 and was buried in Jefferson Memorial Gardens East in Trussville, Jefferson County, Alabama. Lillian died on 9 May 2010 and was buried next to Forrest.