Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Story of the Hanging Tanksley

It seems to be about time that I explained the gravestone picture I use as the header for my blog. I found the hanging Tanksley stone in the Bethel Greenwood Cemetery in Lincoln County, Oklahoma.

 I went to the cemetery because of a Find A Grave request for a picture.   To get there you go to Chandler which is on the Turner Turnpike (I44) between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Take state highway 18 north for about eight miles until you see the cemetery sign. 

Go right on the county road for about three miles and there it is. 

It was a really nice August day, not too hot which is remarkable for Oklahoma in August. I was looking for the grave of a retired peace officer, C. O. "Blackie" Winfrey. The Find A Grave entry for him includes the statement, "The greatest honor a fallen police officer can receive is the simple statement from other officers of, 'He was a damn good cop, one of the best.'" He also has the distinction of being born and passing away on the 4th of July.  I knew as soon as I saw the cemetery that I was going to find more than one interesting gravestone. My normal method of searching a cemetery is to start at the front right corner, work my way down one side and then back up the other.  Fortunately the Winfrey stone was not too far down the right side.

But before I found it I came across the Tanksley grave.  It caught my attention, not just because of the unusual method of hanging the stone, but because my great great grandmother was Lavinia Jane Tankersley.  Most people who research the Tankersley line agree that the Tankersleys and Tanksleys are probably related. The hanging stone was in the middle of a large family plot with only one other stone right next to it.  That stone marks the grave of Civil War soldier, James E. Tanksley, Co. F, 11 Kansas Cavalry, with no dates or other identifying information.

Being the driven genealogist that I am I tried my best to find a connection between the Tanksleys and my Tankersleys. The best that I could do was a reference that James might have been born in Illinois, where my Tankersleys were, but most records have him born in Tennessee in 1844, the son of Thomas P. Tanksley and Mary Surrelda Roberts. He died in Lincoln County in 1908.  So far I have not been able to track down the rest of his family and my search for his ancestors and a possible connection has been stopped cold at his father.  

There are many other interesting gravestones in this marvelous Oklahoma cemetery, but they will have to be patient and wait for another day.  Today was devoted to my, so far unfulfilled, search for a lost connection.


  1. Hello Richard,

    Well your turn to shine in the spotlight in the "Meet a Rabbit" column is here. I apologize for the 2 week lag in posting. I wonder if this is the reason I am having trouble getting Rabbits to participate? Oh well.

    Due to this sporadic participation, the schedule is seriously out of whack. So what I have done is take the names on my list (of which you are one) and ask that if you would like your turn to be showcased in the column, please send me your intro/bio/whatever you you like to say along with any photo(s) as soon as humanly possible. Remember that it can be as lengthy as you would like and the content is your choice.

    My bag o rabbits is empty and I have no more to pull out of the hat, i.e. the publication schedule is completely void of articles.

    If you would rather not participate, please let me know asap so I can move on to the next Rabbit.

    Thanks and have a great day!

    Sheri Fenley

  2. Richard,

    This was an interesting story. I am not related to them but I happen to know that Jim Tanksley still has numerous family in the Cushing area. One of his nieces just passed away this year and she was married to a Church of the Firstborn elder. Jim was also an elder of the church, in fact he was ordained in 1895 with 6 others.



  3. My married name is Tanksley. My husband, Richard Delmer was born in Broken Arrow, OK in 1934 to Lilli B Blevins and John H. Tanksley. I have 3 sons, Richard M., Kenneth L. and James P.