Contributed by Judith Graves. 2018

A grave marker in Maple Hill Cemetery, Helena, AR is inscribed “last survivor of Sylvanus Phillips.” This monument marks the resting place of my first cousin, two times removed, Nelia Hanley Lewis, who died in Helena in 1930. This inscription must have been thought to be correct at the time, but was not correct, and was the motivation for research into my lineage from Sylvanus Phillips. I, Judith Graves, am a direct descendant of Sylvanus Phillips and his wife, Rebecca Kendrick, through their daughter Caroline. Sylvanus and Rebecca Kendrick Phillips are my Great, Great, Great Grandparents. (See Sylvanus Phillips’ profile in this section).

Caroline Phillips married Thomas B. Hanley in Phillips County, AR in 1838. They are my Great, Great Grandparents. The following are excerpts from the Arkansas Gazette on 20 June 1880: “Judge Thomas Burke Hanley, who died at Helena, Arkansas, on Wednesday, the 9th inst., 1880, was born in the city of Lexington, Ky., on the 27th day of June, 1814, to Major John Hai/Hay Hanly and Margaret McKenzie Montgomery. Major John Hay Hanly first emigrated to the U. S. in 1805 from Tipperary, Ireland. In 1813 the couple moved to Nicholasville, near Lexington, KY where the first of their children were born. Both Major Hanly and his wife died in Nicholasville, she in February and he in November 1867. They are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Lexington, Fayette, KY.

Judge Hanley was educated at Transylvania University, located at Lexington, Ky., where he graduated in the law department in the spring of 1834. In the fall of 1834 he came to Arkansas and settled at Helena, where he resided until he died. He was twice married; his first marriage occurred in Kentucky, on the 2d of September, 1834, to the second daughter of Patterson Baim; she died at Helena on the 19th of August, 1836, leaving two children - daughters, only one of whom survives, and who married of John C Frazer, and lived near Lexington, KY.

Judge Hanley married on the 18th day of December, 1838, the daughter of Colonel Sylvanus Phillips, for whom Phillips County was named, and for whose daughter the city of Helena was named.

Caroline Phillips was born in Phillips County about 1813 and died 2 Nov, 1898. An obit from the Helena Weekly World on 3 Nov.,1898, reads, “Mrs. Hanly Dead. Mrs. Caroline P. Hanly, one of the oldest and most respected citizens of Helena, is dead at her home opposite the Catholic Church. She will be buried tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock from the church. In view of Mrs. Hanly's great age and of the intimate connection of her family with the founding of the city of Helena, as well as on account of her many solid virtues, it would be a graceful thing for the principal places of business to be closed tomorrow morning at the hour appointed for her funeral, and that all our citizens attend the funeral services.” Mrs. Hanly was the last remaining child of Sylvanus Phillips and Rebecca Kendrick, and she herself had outlived all her children." Both Judge and Mrs. Thomas B. Hanly are buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, as well as many of their children.

Also from the 20 June 1880 Gazette: “Judge Hanley was elected judge of that circuit in 1848 or 1849, and held the office until 1853, when he was elected to the state senate, which position he held until he was appointed one of the associate justices of the supreme court by Gov. E.N. Conway, and this position he held until 1860-1, when he was elected to the constitutional convention, which took the state out of the union in May 1861. In February, 1862, he was elected a member of the Confederate Congress from that district, and was re-elected again in 1863, and was a member when our government exploded, on the surrender of Lee and Johnston in the spring of 1865. He was a member of the legislature of this state from the session of 1838, up to the time of his election to the circuit bench in 1848 or 1849, and presided over the senate as president from 1850 to 1854. He was also a member of the last legislature. In all the positions of honor and trust that he has been called upon to fill, no one has been more faithful in the discharge of duty. A warm friend and a kind neighbor, he will be missed in all the walks of life, and the writer of this loses one of his warmest friends.”

As a member of the Confederate House of Representatives from Arkansas, and as a Secessionist member of the State Convention in 1861, Judge Hanly strove mightily to take Arkansas out of the Union. Although an early motion to this effect was voted down, the action he proposed was eventually taken. He continued to occupy his seat in the Confederate House of Representatives until March 1865. Three letters written by Hanly to members of the Confederate Congress and its governing body can be read in their entirety in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 161-171.

Also in this article, edited by Willard E. Wight, (assistant professor of Social Science, Georgia Institute of Technology) Thomas B. Hanly is described as a”vigorous and aggressive personality, and although the numerous public positions he held interfered with the growth of his practice, he prospered materially. In 1860, through his own exertions and his wife’s inheritance, he possessed real property to the value of $100,000 and personal property to the value of $20,000 including thirteen slaves.”

Wight describes Judge Hanly as of medium height, with black hair, closely cropped beard and dark complexion. Possessed of a vigorous and aggressive character, he had devoted friends and bitter enemies. That the latter were not too numerous, at least in his home county, is indicated by the fact he was frequently elected to public office.

Judge and Mrs. Thomas B. Hanly were said to have 13 children, but we can account for only 8. None, or little, is known of five: Augustin, Caroline, Anna, Andrew C. and Thomas B. Other children of Judge Thomas B. Hanly and Caroline Phillips were Sylvanus P., John, and Robert Montgomery, my Great Grandfather.

Robert Montgomery and “Dora” had four children, Sylvanus Phillips Hanly, Carrie Mae Hanly (my Grandmother), Andrew Chism Hanly, and Margaret “Maggie” Hanly

Remarks by Judith Graves: You may notice that, in this article, this family name is spelled two ways. Thomas B. Hanly's marker says "Hanly". The articles quoted here have been copied as they appeared. Some of them spelled it Hanley while others spelled it Hanly. I have seen Thomas' middle name as "Burton" and "Burke". There is no way to prove or disprove either spelling.

It was a disappointment that nothing could be found about Robert Montgomery Hanly's life. But just as he left few records, there will probably be nothing about my life in the next hundred years. I am alive because he lived and I am truly grateful to my Great Grandparents for that. My Father was named Robert Montgomery for him.

What amazes me is that this family traveled many miles to be educated, establish businesses, and create different lives. They were progressive people, moving to whatever area provided most opportunity.

This family history could not have been written without all the help from Meradith McGee, Wanda Ridge and Patty Smith. Their tireless searching found the articles quoted here and I am truly grateful for them and their research. Wanda Ridge and Patty Smith were as ecstatic as I was when they found Thomas B. Hanly's marker in St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. They sent me a photo and I cried. I was so thrilled to see it. We weren't even sure one existed. I have never known anything about my Grandmother's family. My Aunt Carolyn, her daughter, tried during her life to find out more about this family but never did since today's technology was not available then.

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