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.
Amy, Charles, Mary,
Jennifer and Susan at (Mary's) retirement celebration, Dallas 1995.
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, 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."
Mary Denman Hankins
The above quote from Shakespeare, which I memorized in high school, always enters my mind when I think of the brevity of our lives here on earth. In writing this family history, which deals with my family from the birth of my parents through one century, 1903-2003, I often reflect on how our little lights brighten the corners while we are here on earth, strutting and fretting our hours upon the stage. In Volume I, 1903-1951, I told about the lives of my parents, grandparents, my siblings when we were young, and my own life until I finished college. In Volume II, the story continued as I married, moved to Greeneville, Tennessee, and the next year became a mother. That story told about my husband's family, my children, and all the members of the new generation born in the Denman and Hankins families from 1951 until 1978.
In Volume III, I continue my family story, which begins after the death of my husband, Charles Russell Hankins, on July 13, 1978. That was the darkest period of my life. However, I have heard it said that there is not enough darkness in the world to put out the light of a single candle. Those around me, through their love and kindness, brightened the corners with their candles, and helped me through that terrible darkness. My children and the rest of Hank's family had the same assurance as I did, that the Light of the World was with us all the while, helping us overcome the darkness.
Volume III continues my family story from August, 1978 until May of 1995, when I returned to Tennessee after living in Texas. During this period of sixteen years, there were many changes in our lives, as new candles were lit and some burnt out. Bits and pieces of these changes are related in this volume of my story. I would like to thank each one of you who have helped me recall events which occurred after July, 1978. Many of my relatives have helped me recall certain events, or have related stories to me about the family during the past century.
All the stories and incidents recorded in the books are naturally from my perspective and from my memory of the event or what I was told. When my recollections of any recorded incidents or dates are incorrect, please forgive me. My siblings, who are Carolyn Leonard, Elmer Hoyle Denman, Jr., Leland Denman, Rachel Denman, James R. Denman, David Denman, Kay Payne, and Roselyn Witherspoon, provided assistance, especially with information about their children. In addition to my brothers and sisters, some of my cousins, nieces, nephews, and in-laws who have contributed information or pictures included in the book are Glenda Wood, Lesley Cox, Arnold Cox, Patricia Denney, Mary J. May, Norma Garrison, Kenneth Cox, Kelly Cox Smith, Eloise Reed, Carol Little, Clinton A. Little, Jr., and Janice Patterson. My children, Jennifer Haag, Charles T. Hankins, Susan Giraldo, and Amy Griffith, have also been of much assistance in recalling family events and providing pictures. Grandchildren Eric Haag and Megan Key have also helped me recall some incidents in this volume. Two of my aunts who have passed away in the last year, Cora Lou Bishop and Stella Cox, shared some of their memories with me in the early part of 2003. My appreciation goes to all of you and to others whom I have not named. In the Hankins family, Gypsy Norton, Betty Gott, Mary Ellen Honeycutt, Donna Parrack, Pam Benko, Karen Baylor, and Bill Gott furnished information, as did cousins, Andy Daniels, Gloria George, Drucilla Surber, Brenda Thomas, and Helen Kelly.
My son, Charles, was the first to suggest that I write a book, so I want to thank him for the encouragement to do so. My daughter, Susan, has also urged me to record events on paper However, my youngest daughter, Amy Griffith, is the one who offered to help me edit the manuscript, get it to the publisher, and handle all the business details, so much credit goes to her. Without her help, I would not have made it all the way to a finished product.
Finally, I want to thank Linda Taylor and all the staff at HistoryPreserved.com, a division of Agreka Publishing Company, who have been so helpful in working with Amy on the publishing end. Thank you so very much.
My desire is that some of the descendants of the Denman, Cox, Hope, Bohannon and Hankins families will continue to record the history of our families into the future. That way, information will be quickly available to family members down through the years. All of the genealogical data included in this volume is not documented, but most of it has been provided as factual.
Mary Denman Hankins
“Jesus bids us shine with a clear,
--Susan B. Warner
The morning of July 18, 1978, arrived. The events of the last few days still seemed like a nightmare to me. My husband Hank now lay in his grave on the side of the hill in Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. On July 13, 1978, a sudden heart attack had snuffed out his burning candle. His hours on the stage were no more on this earth. Mama Hankins and her family, my children, and I, were still in a state of shock. Life must go on, however, so we continued our stumbling through the darkness, glad for the little candles around us, and for God's grace, to help light our way. My two older daughters, Jennifer and Susan, stayed with me for a few days. They were a big help in writing thank-you notes to those who had expressed their sympathy in so many ways. Donna Gott and some others in Hank's family also helped complete the notes. There were many other details to take care of concerning Hank's death. I needed to do as much of this as possible before school opened for the next term a few weeks later.
Charles had to report to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to complete his ROTC training that summer. He left about two days after the funeral. Nancy First, his fiancé, and her mother offered to postpone the wedding, but Charles wanted to go ahead and get married on the date set for the wedding, August 26, 1978. That was about six weeks after the death of his father.
PART ONE Changes! Changes! Changes!
PART TWO My Life in Texas! July, 1987-May, 1995
PART THREE Family Updates, 1978-May, 1995
APPENDIX I American Cultural History, 1980-1989