Friday, July 26, 2013

Obituaries Aren't Always Accurate But This One . . .

Every genealogist has probably seen obituaries with mistakes. When I decided to look for my great-grandfather's obituary last week while visiting Hopkins County, Kentucky, I didn't expect to find one with quite so many errors. 


Rev. Hankins, Baptist 
         Minister, Dies at 71

   Rev. Lee Hankins, 71, West 
Broadway, died at 1:15 o'clock 
this afternoon of heart trouble and 
complications following several 
months illness.
   Rev. Hankins, a Baptist min-
ister for years, had a wide ac-
quaintance in Hopkins and other
western Kentucky counties where
he held pastorates. He was a for-
mer resident of Earlington.
   Surviving are his widow, four 
children, T. R. Hankins, Birming-
ham, Ala., A. G. Hankins, Mon-
tana; James Hankins, California
and Mrs. Virgie McCauley, Green-
ville, and three grandchildren, Miss-
es Vera and Ella Hankins and
Jewell Hankins, of this city.
   Funeral arrangements are to be
completed. 

How nice. This obituary names Lee's surviving descendants — four children and three grandchildren. But, of those seven people, four of the names are wrong. And that's not all.

His son, "A. G." Hankins was really Albert Elvie or A. E. The family called him Elvie but he was often referred to as A. E. in records and newspaper articles. OK. G or E. It's a typo. But that is just the beginning. 

His daughter "Virgie" was Verda — my grandmother. Most people called her Verdie. I guess I can see how someone could mistake Verdie for Virgie and misspell her name but there's more.

Misses Vera and Ella Hankins? Make that Garah and Helen. 

Then there is that reference to three surviving grandchildren. That's what it says. "Surviving are" . . . "three grandchildren." Maybe they didn't mean that to be the only surviving grandchildren but his four children listed in that sentence were, in fact, the only ones surviving. (Three other children preceded Lee in death.) 

At the time of Lee's death, he had 14 living grandchildren — nine of them belonged to Virgie, I mean Verdie. 

Lee and his wife, Samantha, helped raise Garah, Helen and Jewel after the death of one or both of their parents. All three were still living with them at the time of Lee's death. No doubt that's why they were mentioned in his obituary.

I'm glad I didn't need this obituary to identify Lee's children and grandchildren. I hope no one else ever does.  


Source: "Rev. Hankins, Baptist Minister, Dies at 71," (Madisonville, Kentucky) The Messenger, 23 Apr 1929, p. 1. 

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