September 13, 1842
John Hollis Bankhead, born on this day, was a member of Congress for 33 years, as a representative and senator, and served as a soldier, state legislator and prison warden. The farmer and businessman was patriarch to one of Alabama’s most famous families: sons John H. Bankhead II and William B. Bankhead, who also were politicians; daughter Marie Bankhead Owen, a state archivist; grandson Walter William Bankhead, a politician and businessman; and granddaughter Tallulah Bankhead, a star of stage and screen. The elder Bankhead, while warden of the state penitentiary in Wetumpka, lobbied for improvements to the state’s convict-leasing system, which exploited inmates as cheap labor for private industry. While Bankhead did not call for an end to convict leasing, he advocated reforms that included improved living conditions and inspections of working conditions.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
John Hollis Bankhead served with the Confederate Army of Tennessee during the Civil War and was wounded during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Tallulah James Brockman, wife of John Hollis Bankhead. (The Washington Sketch Book, Ida Hinman, Wikipedia)
“Sunset,” John H. Bankhead’s home in Jasper, Walker County, which he had built around 1910 while serving in the U.S. Congress. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
John Hollis Bankhead (1842-1920) was a U.S. senator, an Alabama state legislator and warden of the state penitentiary at Wetumpka from 1881-85. His efforts to improve the nation’s roads and waterways led to bridges, roads, and tunnels being named in his honor. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
John Hollis Bankhead, with son, William B. Bankhead, c. 1913-1917. (Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Alabama Senator John Hollis Bankhead poses with granddaughters Tallulah, left, and Eugenia in Washington, D.C., during a Confederate veterans reunion in 1917. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Senator John H. Bankhead’s daughter, Marie Bankhead Owen, and granddaughter, Tallulah Bankhead. Marie headed the Alabama Department of Archives and History for 35 years. Tallulah was an internationally renowned star of the stage and screen who spoke against racial injustice and inequality. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
John Hollis Bankhead in 1910. The U.S. senator from Jasper was a strong advocate for (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Wikipedia)
Portrait of John Hollis Bankhead, c. 1911. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.