At the close of the previous post, we saw that Vernon Ernest Tanksley finished up his duties with the U.S. Army. He was spared the horrors of World War I as the peace treaty had been signed just before he was about to ship off. After his first marriage with Blanche Arnold had come to an end, Vernon later met Frances Anna Byrd. The two were married on June 11, 1926 in New Albany, Indiana, and they remained together for 51 years until Vernon's death in 1977.
While in Palestine, Frances gave birth to their second daughter Wanda Delores on November 13, 1929. Of course, this was just a couple of weeks after Black Tuesday. Little by little, jobs would be harder to come by. Eventually, the family had to move to Mitchell, Indiana, and Vernon's father was able to secure for him a position as a custodian at the Burris Consolidated School. David Tanksley was involved in local politics, affiliated with the Republican party, and as a result had sufficient connections to find this job for Vernon in spite of a harsh economic climate.
In the early 1930s, Vernon was becoming more active in church-related activities, so much so that he was drawn towards the ministry. Although his family was part of The Christian Church, he ended up taking a correspondence course through Pilgrim Holiness Church, which was headquartered in Indianapolis at the time. This led to his becoming ordained as a minister around 1934.
Vernon also had a background in music. Aunt Wanda said he used to perform in dance halls before he went into the ministry. Though perhaps not a trained musician, his instruments included the trombone, accordion, violin and organ. His daughter Annis was also gifted at playing the piano.
From time to time, the family would gather on street corners near the church and perform. It was a sort of musical street evangelism.
In this post, I'll just provide some of the basics on Frances' life. The previous couple of blog entries (part 1 and part 2) dealt with my visits to her home in Madison, Indiana.
Frances was born on August 16, 1908 in the town of Marion in Lawrence County, about an hour and a half north of Indianapolis. If she were alive today, she would be 108 years old. It's not so far-fetched now that I think about it.
Her father was John Franklin Byrd, and Dora Alice Gaines was her mother. Frances' daughter Wanda (my great aunt) recently told me that she had occasional visits to her grandparents' home in Mitchell. I'm hoping she will be able to share with me her recollections of them one day in the near future. They would be my second great grandparents.
Based on the federal census data from 1910 and 1920, there were a total of nine, count 'em, nine siblings. Here's a list of their given names starting with the eldest: Lizzie, Bessie, Delbert, Selby, Gladys, Frances, Rex, John J., and Nola.
She was 17 years old, according to the 1930 census, when she married Vernon E. Tanksley. That would place their marriage around 1926 or 1927. No marriage certificate has been discovered as of yet. I am fairly confident that Frances was Vernon's second wife. It appears he was married to a woman name Blanch briefly, but they had no children together. Vernon and Frances, on the other hand, had two daughters, Annis and Wanda.
The family moved around a bit, even across state lines at least once. They briefly lived in Palestine, Illinois. In fact, that is where the youngest daughter Wanda was born. Then they moved to Vincennes, Indiana just east of the Wabash River along the Illinois/Indiana border.
At a certain point, Vernon and Frances lived in Houston, Texas, perhaps to be closer to their daughter Annis and my mother as well. And finally they returned to Indiana and settled in the historic town of Madison, where they lived at 313 Central Ave. The house is attached to three other private dwellings, and it is said that these homes were built sometime between 1830 and 1850.
I've been told that Frances loved to cook and she was really into keeping up the house. At one point in her life she worked for Meyers, which was a factory that did World-War-II related manufacturing and subsequently turned to the production of jeans and overalls. But it appears that most of her adult life was spent minding the affairs of the home and family.
Grandma Tanksley passed away on May 19, 1985. She outlived Vernon by about eight years. They are buried together in Springdale Cemetery.
This blog began with some references to the woman I grew up knowing as "Grandmother" - that is, my father's mother. She played a large role in my upbringing.
There is another woman that I should have also been able to call Grandmother or Grandma or whatever title she would have preferred. But she did not live very far beyond my first birthday. Her name was Annis Laverne Tanksley. This is my mother's mother. And a beautiful lady she was, indeed!
Annis was born in Bloomington, Indiana on July 7, 1927 to Vernon E. Tanksley and Francis Anna Byrd. She had one younger sister.
When my mother was born, Annis and her husband were living in Madison, Indiana. Sometime before late 1947, they packed up and moved to Houston, Texas.
It's never too late to get to know the ones you should have known but never did. We'll take the opportunity to celebrate Annis' life in future posts.