Thomas Hutchison Lankford

(1848 - 1909) 


Early Years

Thomas Hutchison Lankford was born in Wayne County, Kentucky in November of 1848. His father, Dr. John C. Lankford, was 27 years old, and his mother, Sarah J. Hutchison Lankford, was only 13.

In the fall of 1852, his sister, Julia was born, though she died in infancy the following spring. Shortly after her death, the family moved to Daviess, Missouri, where they lived until 1861, when Thomas’ father died at the young age of 40. Thomas, himself, was only 12 years old.

Lincoln Jackson.jpg


Sarah took Thomas back to Kentucky for a time after his father’s passing, but they once again returned to Missouri in 1862 and settled in Chillicothe. By this time, the Civil War was starting to heat up and Missouri was heavily divided and Thomas likely saw great conflict in his home state throughout his early teen years.

About this time, Tom was apprenticed to Lucien J. Eastin, where he learned the printer’s trade. He traveled for several years along the lower Mississippi River before staying in Glasgow for a number of years as an editor.

In 1865, when Thomas was 16, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and Andrew Jackson hastily became the 17th president of the United States.


On January 2, 1883, 34-year-old Thomas married Florence Rosetta Woodford in Chillicothe, Missouri. She was a respectable, quiet woman with high ideals. Nine months later, their first child, Mary Alice, was born.

In February of 1885, their first son, Thomas Harold, was born.

1886 was a big year for "big town" of Chillicothe, Missouri. It was the year that the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad came through, the "Water Works" was established, roads were being paved, and electric lights began to illuminate the town. It was also the year that John Clifton Lankford came into the world. 

He was born on Halloween, and being the third child to be born within three years, parents Thomas and Flora, certainly had their hands full. His father, a publisher of the one of the local newspapers, was 37 years old at the time of his birth, and Flora had just turned thirty. Flora loved her children dearly, and in all of her deeds tried to instill in them a "love of right and justice."

In December of 1889, Hiram Woodford was born to them.

In February of 1892, their youngest child, Eldon R. was born.

1865 Chillicothe, MO map.jpeg

The Spanish-American war began in April 1898 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10th of that same year.



In 1900, the Lankfords were living at 330 Dickenson Street, and the children were attending school. It is likely that they attended the high school in the square bounded by Ann, Elm, Vine and Third Streets. Built in 1876, it was "considered one of the finest public school buildings outside of St. Louis."

This was the year a circus came to the town of Chillicothe advertising the miracle of a "horseless carriage". Schools were dismissed early for the afternoon so that students could witness first-hand their first glimpse of the "automobile".

In September of 1901, news would have been circulating of the assassination of President McKinley and the induction of his successor, Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1903, the Wright brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight in an airplane, something previously only dreamed about, but never thought possible.

Sometime around 1906, Tom suffered a stroke of paralysis. Although his overall health was severely affected, he continued to see to his business until he was no longer able to.

In 1907, the city of Chillicothe refused to pay the heightened prices that their Water and Light Supply Company demanded. This boycott strategy was taken in an attempt to coerce the supply company into selling to the city, who believed they would be able to better manage it, but was unfruitful. A lawsuit was filed and eventually taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Residents had to once again carry lanterns when they went out at night, as city streets were completely dark. This blackout period lasted for four years as the struggle between the city and the supply company continued.


In February of 1908, a giant local option parade was held in the downtown square, encouraging voters to turn Chillicothe into a dry city. In the end, both Chillicothe and Livingston at large voted against the sale of liquor in within county limits and in May, thirteen saloons were closed in Chillicothe. Booming town as it was, it wasn't long before alternate business filled the vacated buildings.

In March of 1909, Tom became ill with Bright’s disease of the kidneys. He spent most of his time at home, but would not let his illness keep him down. He spent time each day sitting up until the very end.

Early in the morning, on Saturday, May 29, 1909, Tom lay down to rest after having just been up for a few minutes, and died peacefully in bed. “The end came peacefully and was met cheerfully and with a quiet fortitude which was characteristic of the man.”

The Chillicothe Crisis was not issued for several weeks after his death.


1. "." Chillicothe Morning Constitution. 23 October 1905. digital image. : 2017. 2. "." Moberly Monitor-Index. 14 October 1905. Digital image. : 2015. 3. "." The Cameron Sun. 29 January 1931. digital image. : 2017. 4. "." The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune. 5 July 1905. digital image. : 2017. "." The Daily Standard. 7 September 1954. digital image. : 2017. 5. "John Lankford, Dr. Harold Lankford's Father, Dies Today." The Mexico Ledger. 12 May 1967. digital image. : 2017. 6. "Lankford." St. Louis Post-Disp atch. 13 May 1967. Online archives. : 2016. "No Minors in the Train Service." Moberly Evening Democrat. 24 August 1905. digital image. : 2014. 7. "U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918." Digital image. National Archives and Records Administration. : 2017. 8., Ancestry. 1900 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004. 9. , Ancestry. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2007. 10., Ancestry. Web: St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Post-Disp atch Obituary Index, 1880-2009. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009, 2008. 11. , 1910 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. 12. , 1920 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 13. , 1930 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. 14. , 1940 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. 15. , U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 16. , U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. 17. , U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2013. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 18. , U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. 19. , U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011. 20. , Lankford John C. and Stella C. "." Undated clipping, circa 2000, from unidentified newspaper. Privately held 2017 by Liza Reid, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Labadie, Missouri, USA. 21. Birth Records, 1847-1910. Lankford birth certificate. 22. Hand-written note - Dorothy Mullen Lankford. Hand-written note. unknown. Photocopy held privately held by Liza Reid, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Labadie, Missouri, USA. 2017. 23. Lankford, John Clifton. . , 1939. Railroad Retirement Board Files, Mo. Div #65. National Archives at Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia. 24. Missouri, Chillicothe. St. Columban Catholic Church, 1111 Trenton Street. Marriage Index. 25. Missouri. Death Certificates. The Department of Health & Senior Services, Jefferson City, Missouri. 26. Missouri. Jefferson. Bureau of Vital Records, Missouri Department of Health. Birth Registrations. 27. Missouri. Missouri Digital Heritage. Missouri Birth & Death Records Database. Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri, USA. 28. Social Security Administration. Application for Account Numbers, Form SS-5. Social Security Administration, . 29. Typed notes. Typed note. unknown. Photocopy held privately held by Liza Reid, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Labadie, Missouri, USA. 2017.