The Mysterious Silas James Lankford of Smith and Dickson Counties, Tennessee

by deb - June 5th, 2011.
Filed under: Genealogy. Tagged as: , , , , , , .

My latest family sleuthing has been centered on Silas James Lankford/Langford and his wife Nancy Susan McKinnis Lankford/Langford and Silas James’ father, Henry Lankford.

In my last entry I was pondering whether Silas James was still married to my great-great-great grandmother when he married for the second and third time in Dickson County, Tennessee, in 1879 and 1881.

After searching the county court, circuit court and chancery court records of Smith Co. TN, from about 1865 through 1887 when Susan McKinnis Lankford died, I found NO record of a divorce between Susan and Silas James Lankford.  So, it appears that yes, Silas James married again without divorce while his first wife was still living.

I also decided to see if I could learn more about Silas James by researching Smith Co. TN probate records for Henry Lankford, Silas James’ father.  Henry died in 1891.

After searching the Smith Co. TN Chancery Court Records Index (loose records collection), I found two entries for both Henry and “S” Lankford and Henry and James Lankford.

In folder 2909 of the loose Chancery Records of Smith Co. TN I found a suit in 1896 involving O.S. Lankford et al vs James Lankford et al.    This suit was full of gems…. stating that all the Lankfords named were of Smith County, TN  “except James Lankford who resides in Dickson County, TN”…and including naming “their father” Henry Lankford and said father…died intestate in Smith Co. TN on the 1st day of Sept. 1891. 

Another page had Dickson Co. written at the top and was a subpoena for James Lankford to be summoned and  to answer in chancery court in Smith Co. TN .   

My last gem of the day was found in Smith Co. , TN Deed Books 6-11 1883-1899 by Partlow, 1996.   On page 167 James Lankford and wife E.T. of Dickson Co. TN sold to L.O. Lankford their interest in land of their father, Henry Lankford, 23 Oct 1896.

Although I have not been able to find too many records in Dickson Co. that name James Lankford, it’s been thrilling to find the Smith Co. TN records that place James and wife in Dickson Co. TN.

I love a mystery-especially when the possible answer is just waiting in the records for me to “dig it out”!

1 Response to The Mysterious Silas James Lankford of Smith and Dickson Counties, Tennessee

  1. Gale Williams Bamman

    Great sleuthing yet again, Debbie! How exciting to find absolute proof that the Silas James in Dickson County was, yes, indeed, our Silas James of Smith County!
    I wonder how the brother who found him in Dickson County knew to look for him there? And, I wonder if that brother was the L.O. Lankford, to whom Silas James and wife E. T. sold their interest in his father’s land…in that deed of 1896?? Silas seems to have stayed away all that time, as his father (Henry) died in 1891, and evidently Silas didn’t know about that. It was five years later before he sold his interest in his father’s land to L. O. Lankford. Strange. Silas would have known that he would be an inheritor of his father’s land when said father (Henry) died. Perhaps he was trying to conceal his second marriage? Wonder if Emma knew about his first marriage — to Susan? Knock, knock: Hello, Silas James. I’m your brother L. O. Lankford, and our father has died, and we need you to sign away or sell your interest. Oh, and by the way, your wife (meaning Susan) died in 1887, and your children are (and describes where they are living,etc.). I wonder if the fur flew about then. What a tale of trying to live incognito you have uncovered, (after hearing from the cousin who wrote you, telling of his father’s remembering being told that Silas James left Smith County and went off to Dickson County). Very interesting!! Gale

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