Biography - Martin Hankins

MARTIN A. HANKINS, of Vienna Township, Johnson County, won a good military record while fighting for the Union during the late war, and has since proved an equally valuable citizen in his capacity as farmer and stock dealer and as a competent, stirring business man. He was born February 7, 1845, in Kentucky, the third of the ten children of Cheston Hankins and his good wife.
The father of our subject carried on farming in Kentucky until 1857, when he emigrated to Illinois with his wife and their five children. He bought a partly improved farm of eighty acres in Massac County, and in the cabin that stood on the place he and his family began life in their new home. Fifteen years later he sold that property and purchased another farm three miles distant, which is still in possession of the family, and there he and his wife spent their remaining years, he dying in 1865, and she twenty years afterward. They had the following children: William, who died young; Rhoda Ann, who died at the age of thirty-four in Massac County; Martin A.; Wilson D., who lives on the old homestead in Massac County; Jesse, who died on the home farm; Reuben, who died young; Sarah, wife of Benjamin Leach, of Metropolis; Nancy J., who died in Massac County; David, living on our subject's farm; Logan, who died at Metropolis; and Ellen, who died on the old homestead.
The subject of this brief biographical review obtained a fair education in the common schools and was well trained in all that pertains to agriculture on his father's farm. When about seventeen years of age he left home to become a soldier, enlisting in Company A, Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry. He unfortunately contracted the measles not long after, and was so seriously ill that he was discharged from the army. Nothing daunted by his short experience of military life, after his recovery he again enlisted in a few months in a cavalry regiment and remained at the front until the terrible war was closed. He fought right well at Ft. Donelson and in other important engagements, and was for some time in active service in Alabama and elsewhere in the South.
When he left the army, our subject returned home and resumed his duties as a private citizen, and the following March took upon himself the responsibilities of married life, wedding Miss Sarah Leech, a native of Massac County and a daughter of David Leech. Her paternal grandfather, James Leech, was originally from South Carolina, whence he removed to Kentucky and from there to Illinois, and died in Massac County. He was a farmer and reared his son David to the same occupation. The latter a boy when his parents cast in their fortunes with the early pioneers of Massac County, which was in all its original wildness when they settled there, with the exception of a few attempts at reclaiming the soil made by scattering settlers. Mrs. Hankins' father obtained a good education mainly by his own application, as there were but few schools in his boyhood in southern Illinois. He became a successful farmer and was aided in the upbuilding of a comfortable home by his wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Mathews, and to whom he was married in Massac County. They had six children, namely: James K., a teacher in Texas; David, who died at Jackson, Tenn., while fighting for his country; Sarah; Benjamin, a resident of Metropolis; Joseph, a resident of Texas: and John, who died in infancy.
At the time of his marriage, Mr. Hankins removed to a farm in Massac County and carried it on six or seven years, and then made his home for two years on land belonging to his wife. After that he dealt in stock at Metropolis two years, and engaged in the same business in Macon County one summer. After spending the subsequent two years in Metropolis, he went to Ft. Worth, Tex., staying there four months, and after an eight months' residence in Metropolis, and a three years' sojourn on a farm in the same county, he came back again to Metropolis, and from that city to his present location on section 10, Vienna Township. This is a fine farm of one hundred and seventy-six acres of well-tilled and highly productive land and provided with substantial improvements. Mr. Hankins devotes much of his time to dealing in stock, and his business calls him away from home a great deal. He is a good judge of stock keeps well posted in the markets, and is shrewd and enterprising in his dealings, which are always conducted fairly, and he is one of the moneyed men of the township. He has an able co-adjutor in his wife, who is an intelligent, well-informed lady with quite a faculty for business, and during his frequent trips away from home she superintends the work of the farm. Mr. Hankins is a loyal citizen of commendable public spirit, and in politics stands with the Republicans. He and his wife have a very pleasant home, which is brightened by the presence of five of their six children, Laura K., .James, Mertie, Charles and Essie. Their daughter Alice C. is the wife of D. W. Mathis.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 214-215.

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