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.