ROBERT AYERS HANKINS, M.D. - A native of Carlinville, Dr. Robert Ayers Hankins has been known by the people of this community ever since his boyhood and it speaks in no uncertain terms as to his credit when it is states that today he is one of the most respected men in the city. The son of a physician, he assisted his father efficiently in practice before securing a diploma, and an experience of thirty years has made him a recognized leader in the profession in this section. He was born June 20, 1848, his parents being John and Elizabeth (McKee) Hankins. The father was a native of New Jersey and the mother of Pennsylvania. In their family were seven children, Robert, John, Charles, William, Leon, Virginia and Mary.
The father of our subject engaged in farming in his younger days and later was apprenticed to learn shoemaking. He began reading medicine in New Jersey and in the spring of 1844 came to Illinois and located at Carlinville. Here he continued the study of medicine and subsequently matriculated at Rush Medical College, Chicago. He employed his knowledge to good advantage at the time of the cholera epidemic, in 1851, and in 1855 was graduated from the Eclectic Medical College of Philadelphia. He practiced in Carlinville until his death, and was known as one of the most successful physicians in Macoupin county. He served as mayor of Carlinville in 1885 and also as a member of the Constitutional Convention of Illinois. He was an ardent lover of peace and occupied a chair as a member of the Peace Convention at Philadelphia. In his early manhood he paid considerable attention to military tactics and was a member of the State Militia of New Jersey. After the outbreak of the Civil war he drilled a number of companies in Illinois, proving very efficient in this capacity. He was not a member of any religious denomination but attended the Methodist church in which his wife held membership.
The grandfather of our subject on the paternal side was born in England and married Johanna Ayers. He emigrated to America and engaged in school teaching. In his family were three children: Davidson, Robert and John. The great-grandfather on the paternal side was a soldier in the British army. The maternal grandfather was James McKee, a native of Pennsylvania of Scotch ancestry. He gained a good reputation as a horticulturist. In his family were several children among whom were Elizabeth, James, William and Margaret.
Robert A. Hankins received his preliminary education in the public schools of Carlinville and later was graduated at the high school. He then pursued a course of four years at Blackburn University. He began the study of medicine under his father and after having prepared himself thoroughly, entered college at Philadelphia, from which he was graduated in 1872 with the degree of M.D. Ever since leaving college he has practiced at Carlinville and among his patrons are the leading families of the city. He has kept thoroughly informed as to the great improvements and discoveries in medicine and surgery and is fully abreast of the times in a profession that calls for the clearest judgment of the most carefully trained minds.
On the 3d of June, 1875, Dr. Hankins was married to Miss Jennie Bell, a daughter of Edwin Bell, and they have three children: John, of Carlinville, who is married and is the father of one daughter, Zella; Robert, who is a graduate of the Carlinville high school and is now studying medicine; and Clara, who married Claude Speer, foreman of the Springfield Record, and is the mother of three children. Mrs. Hankins was born in Alabama. Her father was a native of Virginia and her mother of Tennessee. The family came to Illinois and first settled at Duquoin where the father died, the mother passing her closing years at Carlinville. Mrs. Hankins has lived in this city since 1866. Of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Bell seven grew to maturity: Edwin G., who served in the Union army at the time of the Civil war; Mary Tennessee; Annie; Sarah; Jennie, the wife of our subject; Emma; and Archie, who was killed in the Confederate army.
Dr. Hankins is an active and valued member of the Illinois State Eclectic Medical Society. He is not connected with any religious denomination but his wife is a member of the Baptist church. Fraternally he belongs to Mount Nebo Lodge No. 76, A.F. & A.M., and the Carlinville Lodge of Odd Fellows. In politics he is an earnest adherent of the democratic party. He has not sought public office but served as mayor of Carlinville for one term and has also been a member of the city council and of the school board. Guided by wise teachings and worthy examples, he has gained a reputation for fidelity to his profession and the honorable discharge of his responsibilities. His upright character has never been questioned and he has attained what all might well aspire to possess - an unblemished reputation.