Tom Hanks Family History


Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, better known as Tom Hanks, was born on July 9th, 1958 to Amos (Bud) and Janet Hanks in Concord, California.  He has two older siblings, Larry and Sandra, and one younger, Jim.

When Tom was two his parents divorced.  The three eldest children, including Tom, went with their father.  He was an itinerant cook and they moved around a lot.  By the age of ten, Tom had lived in ten different houses in California.

This constant moving led to an unstable school life where he was awkward and often painfully shy. A feeling of loneliness continued with him into his twenties.  He got exposed to doses of Catholicism, Mormonism and the Church of the Nazarene, as well as being for several years a Bible-toting evangelical teenager.

He acted in school plays while attending the Skyline High School in Oakland.  He said later: “Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant.”  Tom studied theater in California and got his acting break in New York in the early 1980’s.

His big breakthrough came with the 1994 release of the smash hit film Forrest Gump, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar.  His box office appeal has continued over the years.

Hanks in Virginia

Tom’s family lineage extends from California all the way back to Virginia in the early days of America.

His forebear in America was Thomas Hanks, born in Gloucestershire, who came to Virginia around 1654.  He had been a captured soldier of Cromwell’s Army during the English Civil Wars and was, it is believed, transported to America on the Rose as an indentured servant.  In time he became a tobacco farmer in Richmond county, Virginia.

His son William, born in Virginia in 1655 and known as “the carpenter,” prospered and had amassed a significant estate by the time of his death in 1704.

It was John,  the youngest of his three sons who married Catherine Williams in 1713, who was to have the best known offspring:

  • the line through his second son Joseph led to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln.
  • and the line through his third son John led eventually to the actor Tom Hanks.

John’s son John and grandson Abner both fought in the Revolutionary War.  Both men married into the same Dale family.  Abner was said to have been married six times and to have had twenty-one children.

After the Revolutionary War Abner moved to Kentucky and then in 1829, with his fifth wife Hannah Stewart and the Utterback family, to Indiana where he married his sixth wife and later died.

Hanks in Kentucky

There was already another Hanks in Kentucky before Abner’s time.  That was John Hanks who was born in Virginia in 1767 and descended from another son of immigrant Thomas Hanks.

He was a frontiersman, Indian fighter, farmer and hunter, a friend of Daniel Boone, and a man who at the time of the Revolutionary War was an eyewitness to some of the earliest events in Kentucky – the capture of war chief Blue Jacket near Maysville and the building of the first settlement in eastern Kentucky.

William Hanks, the son by Abner’s first wife Molly Dale, was in Kentucky by about 1805.  Following him were two generations of Hanks – William Hanks Jr. and Daniel Boone Hanks – who were both born and raised in Kentucky.

And California

It was Daniel Boone Hanks from Booneville, Kentucky who made the move West with his wife Molly in the 1870’s.  They were pioneer settlers in the tiny settlement of Paskenta in Tehama county in northern California.  Daniel and Molly raised eleven children there at Hanks Place.

Daniel’s son Ernest met his death in Willows, California in 1935 at the age of forty-four.  He was clubbed to death by a pitchfork wielded by his long-term partner E.C. Best after a dispute.  There were no witnesses.  After two trials Best was eventually convicted of the manslaughter of Ernest Hanks.

Ernest’s son Amos was just eleven at the time of the killing.  In 1942 at the age of eighteen he enlisted in the US Navy and went to sea.  After the war his ambition was to be a writer.  Instead he became a chef and an itinerant one at that.  He married his first wife Janet Frager in 1950 and they had four children together, the third of whom was the actor Tom Hanks.

Sometime in the 1980’s Amos showed up in Paskenta looking for his childhood home.  Then each year he would return there.  When he died in 1992, he chose to be buried with other Hanks at the Paskenta cemetery.

Tom Hanks’ Family Tree

  • Thomas Hanks from Gloucestershire (1625-1674) m. Elizabeth Lee (1627-1702) in England
  • – Peter Hanks (1648-1702)
  • – Richard Hanks (b. 1651)
  • – William Hanks (1655-1704)
  • – Stephen Hanks (b. 1659)
  • – Robert Hanks (1661-1691) m. Margaret
  • William Hanks from Virginia m. Sarah Woodbridge (1651-1708)
  • – William Hanks (1679-1733) m. Hester Mills
  • – Luke Hanks (1681-1757) m. Elizabeth Glasscock
  • – John Hanks (1681-1740)
  • John Hanks from Virginia m. Catherine Williams (1694-1779) in 1713
  • – William Hanks (1714-1782) m. Winifred
  • – Eleanor Hanks (1717-1782) m. Mr. Dodson
  • – Elizabeth Hanks (1720-1788) m. Richard Woolard
  • – Sarah Hanks (1723-1780)
  • – Joseph Hanks (1725-1793) m. Nancy Lee
  • – John Hanks (1728-1810)
  • John Hanks from Virginia m. Susannah Dale (died 1766)
  • – George Hanks (1760-1824) m. Elizabeth Dale
  • – Abner Hanks (1763-1846)
  • – John Hanks (1765-1821) m. Charity Gatlin
  • – Elijah Hanks (1766-1821) m. Winifred Dale
  • Abner Hanks from Virginia m. Mary (Molly) Dale (1765-1806) in 1787
  • – Thomas Hanks (1791-1882)
  • – Mary Hanks (1796-1831) m. Elisha Mills
  • – Elizabeth Hanks (1798-1863) m. John Utterback
  • Thomas Hanks from Virginia m. Sarah (Sallie) Tandy (1791-1862)
  • – Allen Hanks (1814-1872) m. Nancy Scanland
  • – Elijah Hanks (1816-1901)
  • – Wesley Hanks (1817-1885)
  • – Thomas Hanks Jr. (1819-1897)
  • – Emerine Hanks (1821-1892) m. Walter Ferris
  • Thomas Hanks Jr. from Kentucky m. Rachel Cull (1817-1870)
  • – Daniel Boone Hanks (1847-1920)
  • – David Hanks (1848-1864)
  • – Lutisha Hanks (1849-1911) m. Aldrich Huling
  • Daniel Boone Hanks from Kentucky m. Molly Mefford (1855-1923) from Missouri in California in 1873
  • – Effie Mae Hanks (1886-1930) m. Lester Flood
  • – Silas Hanks (1888-1947) m. Mary Brady
  • – Ernest Hanks (1890-1935)
  • – Eugene Hanks (1893-1963) m. Lorena Tatham
  • – Albert Hanks (1894-1977) m. Hazel Uhl
  • – Mabel Hanks (1898-1966) m. Edward Williams
  • – Kenneth Hanks (1901-1951)
  • – Pearl Hanks (1903-1980) m. Robert Black
  • Ernest Hanks from Paskenta, California m. Gladys Ball (1889-1965) from Iowa in Wllows, California in 1916
  • – Gladys Hanks (1917-2007) m. Arshall Vann
  • – Ernest Hanks Jr (1922 -2001) m. Phyllis O’Hagen
  • – Amos (Bud) Hanks (1924-1992)
  • – Mary Hanks (1927-1993) m. Loyal Brummet
  • Amos (Bud) Hanks from Paskenta, California m. Janet Frager (1932-2016) in 1950 (divorced in 1962); rem. Winifred Finely in 1962 (divorced in 1965); and rem. Frances Wong in 1965 (divorced in 1984)
  • – Lawrence (Larry) Hanks (b. 1953), professor of entomology
  • – Sandra Hanks (b. 1956), writer, m. Benoiton (divorced)
  • – Tom Hanks (b. 1958)
  • – James (Jim) Hanks (b. 1961), actor, m. Karen Praxel
  • Tom Hanks from Concord, California m. Samantha Lewes (1952-2002) in 1978 (divorced in 1987); rem. Rita Wilson (b. 1956) in 1988
  • – Colin Hanks (b. 1977), actor, m. Samantha Bryant – with Samantha
  • – Elizabeth Anne (EA) Hanks (b. 1982), writer – with Samantha
  • – Chester (Chet) Hanks (b. 1990) – with Rita
  • – Truman Hanks (b. 1995) – with Rita


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Written by Colin Shelley

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