JOHN HOLLIS BANKHEAD
John Hollis Bankhead was born on his father’s farm in Marion (now Lamar) County on September 13, 1842. He was educated in the country schools of his native county and with this meager scholastic preparation became a man of solid and practical learning. He was married November 13, 1866 at Wetumpka, Alabama to Tallulah Brockman and they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1916 at their home ‘Sunset’ at Jasper, Alabama. At the time of his death there were surviving him, his wife, Tallulah Brockman Bankhead and five children: Louise (now deceased) wife of A. G. Lund; Marie, wife of Thomas M. Owen; John H. Bankhead Jr; William B. Bankhead and Henry M. Bankhead. During the time Senator Bankhead was a member of the Senate, his son, William B. Bankhead was a member of the House.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, John Hollis Bankhead enlisted as a Private in the Army of the Confederacy and was in the conflict from the beginning to the end. After the battle of Fishing Creek he was promoted to Third Lieutenant and later became Captain.
Senator Bankhead’s death removed from the Senate the last Confederate soldier to occupy a seat in that body. During his services in Congress he supported the bill to locate and mark the graves of Confederate soldiers who died in northern prisons or were buried in the north.
After the Civil War Captain Bankhead returned to his home and resumed life on the farm. He was elected a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for the session of 1865 and 1866 from Marion County. He was a member of the State Senate from the 12th Senatorial District in the General Assembly of 1876 and 1877. In 1880 he again served in the House of Representatives of the Alabama General Assembly from Lamar. He was later appointed Warden of the State Penitentiary and served in this capacity for four years.
On September 3, 1886, at the Fayette Court House Captain Bankhead was nominated for Congress by the Democratic Convention of the 6th Congressional District of Alabama and elected to the office in November of that year, serving continuously from March 4, 1887 to March 4, 1907. His bill was adopted for an appropriation of 75 million dollars for post roads which was later increased to 200 million dollars. The Bankhead Highway beginning at Washington, D. C. and ending in San Diego, is a just recognition by the public of the achievements wrought by John Hollis Bankhead on behalf of good roads throughout his nation.
He entered the Senate in 1907 after the death of our distinguished Senator John T. Morgan. He was re-elected by the people in 1911 and again in 1919. He was serving his thirteenth year in the Senate when death called him. All together his period of service in congress was nearly thirty-three years.
Additional Comments: John Hollis Bankhead was the son of James Greer and Susan Hollis Bankhead. Through his efforts the government made its first survey of Muscle Shoals for power development, the Warrior River became the world’s longest canalized waterway and Mobile became a deep-seaport.
Source: The Mountain Eagle newspaper issue of 2/12/1922