William Lee Bankson

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1836 - 1913

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BANKSON.--Rev. W. L. Bankson, of Lincoln-Decatur Presbytery of the Synod of Illinois, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, departed this life January 1, 1913, at his home in Blue Mound, Ill., age seventy-six years, three months, twenty-eight days. Brother Bankson's funeral was the largest ever held in Blue Mound or vicinity, there being a special train from Decatur to Blue Mound and return to accommodate those of the Knights Templars of the Masonic Order and the friends and relatives who attended the funeral service.

His health has been failing since the disgrace which the Decatur Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church threw upon him when they by charge found him, a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, guilty of a charge of insubordination to and disturbing the peace of the churches of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. While Brother Bankson never paid any attention to such heresy as this, in reference to his duties as a minister, yet, this, and the trouble that followed, sank deeper into his life than mind of mortal man can know and finally robbed that mind so brilliant and active of its vitality till at last death broke the tingling cord and the soul sped home to the reward of the children of God. He entered the work of the ministry before the Civil War and had reached licensure when the call came for volunteers. Being a true citizen he quickly responded to the call and enlisted in the 21st Vol. Infantry and served three years, being in the following battles: Fredericktown, Mo., Perryville, Ky., and Stone River, Tenn. Being wounded in the battle of Stone River and taken prisoner, he was sent to Libby prison, but was soon exchanged and placed on the V.R.C. where he served till honorably discharged in June, 1864. Immediately on returning home he entered school at Mt. Zion Seminary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church were he finished his course of study and was ordained in the fall of 1865. He as married to Martha Adams October 26, 1865 and to this union was born three children all who survive the departed father. His wife of youth and son and daughter who live in Blue Mound patiently cared for him in the hours of trial and affliction and with a host of relatives and friends wait till they shall be summoned to the reward to which he has gone. He had been a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for more than fifty years and few of our men have seen more active service in that length of time than Brother Bankson. He spent his entire life's work in the Decatur Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He was one of the missionary ministry pastors of this presbytery being a good revivalist and the founder of churches at the following places: Cisco, Bethlehem, North Fork and Blue Mound. At the latter place he was pastor for more than thirty years. He was the leading man in securing the funds for the building of the Presbyterial Mission Church in Decatur and through his arduous efforts largely made it possible for it to be maintained till it was on sure footing financially. His records show that he married 800 couples and some of these have seen their children married by this man who officiated in their marriage years before. The writer preached the funeral sermon and was only sorry that he was not more intimately acquainted with this Reverend brother that he might have spoken of more of the deeds of valor. But when the veil which shields us from the more perfect vision that comes with the laying aside of the mortal coil, then we shall indeed know even as we also are known.
                                                                               Rev. J. T. COLEMAN,

Pastor Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bethany, Ill.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, January 30, 1913, page 80]


By Florence N. Murray Smith

William Lee Bankson as born September 3, 1836, Bowling Green Township, Fayette County, Illinois. He was the son of Peyton and Eleanor Bankson.

When three years of age, his parents removed to Moultrie County, Illinois, where he grew to manhood.

Mr. Bankson was converted while quite young and decided to enter the ministry. On September 24, 1858, when twenty-two years of age, he was taken under the care of the Vandalia Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, then in session at Bethany, Illinois.

He then attended school at Virginia, Sullivan and Mt. Zion, Illinois.

On May 9, 1861, he enlisted in the army, belonging to the Twenty-first Regiment, Illinois Volunteers and was discharged July 9, 1864.

He was licensed to preach by Vandalia Presbytery, September 12, 1864, and on the 18th of September, 1866, was ordained to preach the gospel, which he did for more than forty years, almost the entire time in Macon County, Illinois--twenty years at Blue Mound, Illinois, which shows how dearly his parishioners esteemed and loved him.

He was one of the men who organized the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Decatur, Illinois, being chairman of the Board when the church was dedicated; he also organized several churches in the country.

He officiated at nearly eight hundred marriages and conducted many more funerals of which we have no record.

Reverend Bankson departed this life January 1, 1913, at the age of seventy-six years, three months and twenty-five days.

His widow and daughter, Miss Nellie Bankson, reside at Blue Mound, Illinois. Thus his life work ended; he has gone to join the dear ones he had loved and lost awhile.

[Source: Our Senior Soldiers: The Biographies and Autobiographies of Eighty Cumberland Presbyterian Preachers. Compiled by The Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication. The Assistance of Revs. J. L. Price and W. P. Kloster is Greatfully Acknowledged. Nashville, Tenn.: The Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915, pages 116-117]

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Updated September 18, 2007