Mary Denman Hankins was born in Oliver Springs, Roane County, Tennessee, on January 31, 1930. She grew up in Middle and East Tennessee, and has lived in Greeneville, Tennessee, since her marriage in 1951, with the exception of eight years, from 1987 to 1995, when she lived in Cedar Hill, Texas.
Her parents were Lela Emaline Cox and
Elmer Hoyle Denman. Lela Emaline Cox, b. May 1, 1904, died June 12, 1972;
Elmer Hoyle Denman, b. July 21, 1903, died March 27, 1991.
"Out, out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that
struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more."
William Shakespeare, "Macbeth", Act V, Scene 5.
I memorized this quote from "Macbeth" in high school, and it has always impressed upon me the relatively brief time we all have here in our earthly lives. It seemed fitting to use this theme as I wrote this family story and my personal memories, which I hope will preserve some of our "walking shadows" so that future generations will not forget their ancestors when their "hours upon the stage" are completed. Volume I of this family story touches on the lives of my family from the birth of my father in 1903 until 1951. Volumes II and III, which will be forthcoming in 2004, will complete a century of family stories, to the present day. During this century of our walking shadows, our candles have burned, some more brightly than others, and some whose light flickered out too soon. With the real light that came into the world to shine on all mankind (John 1:9), our Heavenly father keeps pointing the way across the stage for our family members living today, helping direct our performances before we too are heard no more in this place.
Rachel Denman at the well at the Cox home place in 2000. Double click photo for larger image.
In this story, all of the events are based on my personal recollections, so are naturally described from my perspective. I include a written record of some events in the lives of my family and myself, beginning with the birth of my father and mother, and including brief sketches of their parents and siblings. Hopefully those of you who have lived through the same time periods and events will have your personal recollections brought back to life through my own memories.
I wish to thank all of my relatives who helped provide information for this book. I am grateful to my distant cousin, Rollo Stovall, now deceased, who published his genealogy of the Stovall family, and to my sister, Rachel Denman, who collected some of the Denman genealogy and history. A second cousin, Janice Patterson, of Dalton, Georgia, has also provided information recently which helps with the Denman side of the family. Her grandfather was the brother of my Grandmother Denman.
Also, I express my gratitude to my maternal grandfather, Samuel Marion Cox, for providing me with information on a few of our ancestors on my mother’s side of the family several years before his death. My Uncle Glenn Cox’s children also helped with some genealogy they have collected through the years, and my mother’s sisters, Cora Lou Bishop, Stella Cox, and Juanita Wheeler, related the events I have recorded here about my mother’s early years.
I also wish to thank my youngest daughter, Amy Hankins Griffith, for her many hours of work in editing and preparing this book for publishing.
My desire is that this book will record some of the family history during the last century which will be of interest to present and future family members. Also, I hope that it will provide stepping-stones for younger members of the family to become interested in keeping the family tree and the family story alive and recorded for future generations. In so doing, they will have a deeper appreciation and understanding about some of their ancestors who preceded them…in their brief moments of time as poor players and walking shadows upon the stage before their candles were extinguished.
May God be the never-ending light that guides each of us as we play out our role in life, now and in the generations to come.
Mary Denman Hankins
A. "Sissie" Daniel, my father’s mother, was born on December 29, 1861.
She died on October 2, 1932, when I was a toddler not yet three years old.
All I remember about her is being at her home after she died. Mother was nursing Leland at the time, and I remember sitting with her and watching many people come and go from the home. This was at the time when the dead were laid out in open caskets in their homes, and wakes were customary before the funerals. Mother’s younger sisters came to the home on the day of the funeral to baby-sit us while Mother went to the funeral with Dad. Our aunts took us into the yard when they saw the funeral procession parking along the road in front of the house following the funeral service at the church. There we could watch the procession then walk up the hill of the Stovall Cemetery to the spot where she was laid to rest. At that time my parents had four small children—Carolyn, Junior (Denny), Leland, and me. Since we lived in Tennessee we had never visited our Denman grandparents often, so only Carolyn and Denny could possibly remember ever seeing my grandmother alive.
James Leonard Denman, a soldier in the Confederate army during the Civil War, was married to Lucy Martha Stovall, and they had six children. James Leonard died at Petersburg, Virginia in 1863, a victim of typhoid while fighting in the war. An uncle of the children, Charles Whitworth, was appointed guardian of these six orphans after their mother died three years later.
One of these children was Judge Harrison Denman, who grew up and married another Stovall descendant, Frances Daniel. Their youngest child was my father, Elmer Hoyle Denman. Grandfather Denman, Judge Harrison, was born September 8, 1858, and he died on December 6, 1939, seven years after the death of his wife. He became a farmer, a blacksmith, and carpenter during his lifetime. At the time of his death we lived in Dayton, Tennessee. On the day of his funeral we drove to Pine Log, had dinner at Dad's brother Milton’s house, attended the funeral at the church, and then went to the Stovall Cemetery for his burial. This time Mother took all of us children to the funeral. . . . (read more in the book)
My Parents and Grandparents