Thursday, January 10, 2013

Perry Hankins Has a Headstone!

For years I thought Perry Hankins did not have a headstone. I was wrong.

Perry died in Denver Colorado in 1922 and his body was returned to Hopkins County, Kentucky for burial. He was in Denver for treatment of Tuberculosis. According to his obituary, he was buried in "the Catholic Cemetery" but there is no cemetery known by that name in Hopkins County.

Perry was my paternal grandmother's brother. One of my aunts told me years ago that she thought her Uncle Perry was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Madisonville but he isn't listed there or in any other cemetery in the Hopkins County Cemetery Books. I figured my aunt knew what she was talking about and that Perry just did not have a headstone. 

Imagine my surprise when I found a record for Perry in's database U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963. Hmmm, if Perry has a headstone, where is it? Was he really buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery or somewhere else? Why isn't he listed in the Hopkins County Cemetery Books?

This application was completed on 26 May 1950 by Perry's son, William Perry Hankins. Almost 30 years after Perry died. And, in addition to the questions it raises about where Perry was buried, it contains information I did not have!

Most of the typed information on the form is checked in red ink but a few items are changed in that same red ink (apparently by the person processing the application). 

Perry's birth date was typed on the form as 17 October 1898 but it was changed to 4 October 1897 so I still don't know exactly when Perry was born. All I had before was October 1898 from his 1900 census record. Was the date his son gave correct or the one from his military record? 

He died on 1 December 1922. His obituary doesn't give the date he died. The clipping I have was saved by family members and it doesn't include the name of the newspaper or the publication date. With this date, I can now check the two local newspapers and find that information—maybe even a second obituary in the other paper. 
Perry enlisted on 3 October 1916, had the rank of 1st Sgt in the 144th Infantry, Hq Company and was discharged on 31 July 1919. That information was typed the front of the form. He enlisted again on 5 Aug 1919, had the rank of Cpl in the 15th Recruitment Company and was discharged on 4 August 1920 (this information was written in red ink on the back of the form). The record from the Mountain Branch Home for Disabled Soldiers gave that original enlistment date and a discharge date of 5 August 1920 (one day off) but didn't indicate he was discharged earlier and re-enlisted.

This application didn't immediately help with the question of where Perry was buried. Earlington, Kentucky was typed in the "Name of Cemetery" box. Kentucky was marked out and "Cem" written in what appears to be pencil. (Definitely not the red ink used everywhere else.) A typed note on the back of the form states: "Note: This stone is to be place on a grave in a family plot." One thing is for sure—Odd Fellows Cemetery is in Madisonville, not Earlington. 

The answer was at Find A Grave, just waiting for me to look. Skimming through a search list of Hopkins County, Kentucky cemeteries, I found Earlington Cemetery, also known as Oakwood Cemetery. Google Maps shows the name as Calvary Oakwood Cemetery. A photo of the cemetery sign shows the name as Earlington Cemetery, Mt. Calvary/Oakwood and the photographer notes there are two sections of the cemetery. Mt. Calvary is the Catholic section and Oakwood is the Protestant section. 

A memorial for Perry Hankins was created on 4 April 2011 and a photo of the headstone made as a result of this application was just added on 22 October 2012!

But why isn't he in the Hopkins County Cemetery books? I found Oakwood Cemetery at Earlingon in volume III and there is one Hankins listed there. Henry not Perry. However, Henry's birth and death dates match the dates on Perry's headstone application and the photo at Find A Grave. And he is listed right next to George and Ollie Hill—parents of Perry's wife, Margaret. 

I've looked at that page several times before but just looked at the name and moved on. (After all, it wasn't even the right cemetery.) I didn't have a date of death until now but the October 1898 birth date and the Hills buried next to him should have rung a bell. If I'd paid closer attention, maybe I could have found Perry a long time ago.


  1. Great sleuthing. Sometimes you just have to work for it. ;)

  2. That is a fantastic resource, and one that was unknown to me. I have ancestors who I KNOW are buried in certain cemeteries. They are not included in the records. In one case, they hired someone to document every headstone. Knowing the history of this ancestor, there is no headstone. Therefore, no record.


  3. Wow - I didn't think of this resource at all... Now to go back for a couple of people and see if they are listed too! Thank so much for posting such great details. You definitely found so much to help you get to the end goal. Congratulations - as Hummer said above, you sometimes just have to work for it! Great work!

  4. That's awesome! It's always amazing to me how new things are coming on-line all the time...just like that Find-A-Grave memorial. This reminds me that I need to make a list of my top 10 "mysteries" and devote a day once every few months to just re-searching places I've already looked on line.

    Great story - and yeah for you!!

    1. Thanks, Diana. I'm sure I had checked Find-A-Grave for him in the past but I should be re-checking there more often, too.

  5. Your research shows a lot of patience and persistence. Good for you! I wonder why the first name is different -- could he have had two first names? This story has a happy ending. Very satisfying.

    1. Thanks, Mariann. I believe the cemetery book mistake is just that, a mistake. His full name was William Perry and the headstone (that was used for the cemetery book transcription) clearly says Perry not Henry.

  6. Don't you just love it when it finally all comes together :)