The Tracy Family History
the third born
Out in the middle of nowhere in Northern California there is a small, pretty graveyard. All graveyards have a story, even the small ones. (This story does not go where either you or I expect.)
I am going to take you back to Missouri before the Civil War. (This is the third time I have told you the same story.) Archibald Moon marries Emmaline Lester, and they have one son, George William. Emmaline then disappeared from the scene, and we can only assume she died at a young age.
Archibald marries again to Martha Wallace. This is a proud and illustrious line. That story is yet to be told. Archie and Martha have seven children. I descend from Lusannie. The first marriage and child is of a side interest, because it is not my direct line.
They are burned out of Missouri, cross the plains in covered wagons, and settle in Paskenta, California. They have a few more children in Paskenta, and then move to the mountains to Ono. However, George William Moon, the son by the first marriage, stays in Paskenta. Here he marries and raises a small family. Also, Archibald's youngest sister by 22 years, Elizabeth, marries Jim Howell. He becomes a sheep baron. (That means they were very wealthy.)
Both Geo. Wm. and Elizabeth have asthma. That might be the reason they both chose to stay in Paskenta.
Just recently, my mother told me that my father used to spend quite a bit of time staying with cousins in Paskenta. They would have to be the ones just mentioned. The Howell's, and the George Wm. Moon family, stilled lived in the area at this time.
I started the family history 20 years ago, and was now close to finishing the story. Over these 20 years, I have tried to contact the descendants of George William Moon. I knew it would be a slim chance because of what Aunt Hattie had told me: "I knew the family well. It was a small family. There were only three children." I was hoping that at least one of the families had stayed in the area and had not disbursed themselves throughout the world. All my efforts to locate descendants failed. Also, I did not try too hard, because it was not my direct line.
Six months later, I had my Moon chapters finished and wanted to get copies to all of my Moon cousins. I figured that Paskenta was very small, and it was on the way to Red Bluff. Mom and I go to Red Bluff all the time, so why not just turn off Interstate 5 and go a few miles over to Paskenta itself? I had never been there before. It was only a vague name to me.
Reaching Paskenta, I found it to have a general store with a part time post office, a community hall, and a small trailer park. There were a few buildings, but Paskenta was as small as a town can be and still be on the map.
A young woman was passing by, so I asked about the George William Moon descendants. She replied that the house was still there, but none of the family lived in Paskenta. As I said, it was a small town. I then went into the post office and asked the postmistress. She gave the same reply. I then asked if they had a local historian. She gave me the name of John Bedford, and told me how to find his house.
It was just a few minutes away. I parked just as John was pulling up in his pickup truck. He is 84 years old, extremely healthy, (that is; until he left the hospital two weeks ago after a 24 day stay for an aneurism.) He still runs cattle.
However, John is more than a rancher. He was born on the local Indian Reservation. All of his life, he has been the friend and benefactor to the Indian people. All of his life, he has been the friend and benefactor to his neighbors. John is the patriarch of the community. He is respected and known by all. He is the honored guest to all events. John attends every event: community gatherings, family reunions, and funerals. He has written the history of Paskenta. John knows everyone, and everyone knows John Bedford.
I asked again of the descendants. He replied that the family dropped by the house two weeks before and gave him the family photos. I had hit the jackpot! However, there was not much in the pot.
I found out that only two direct descendants still lived, but they had no children. I had reached the end of this line before I even began. The two living were: 90-year-old Elizabeth Cleek and her daughter Bette Trainor. I had breakfast with them in Red Bluff and came up with nothing.
I knew it was a real long shot at best. So I was not disappointed. Anyone doing history or family research finds that 90% of all the research ends up going nowhere. Research usually goes right into a brick wall. It goes with the territory. However, sometimes the long shots pay off.
I talk with John. I talk with Elizabeth and Bette. They give me names of others that are connected, not connected, but maybe. There is just nothing there. John keeps giving me names that are "your people." I just do not see any family connections.
George William Moon marries Emily Wood. (Everyone is quick to point out that she went by the name Emma.) As you can see in the stories to come, we have a strong Wood(s) line. The names are very close. For the last 300 years, our Wallaces and Woods have been immigrating together and intermarrying. (Although some do not know they are marrying cousins because the names change each generation of marriage through the wife's line.) John tells me to talk to George Wood, brother to Emma. It is doubtful she is even in my line. The DNA is getting very diluted. I decide to give it a shot and check it out. However, I know that I am getting a long ways off the mark.
I have to wait two or three months, because they are visiting in Chicago. I go over to see George and his wife Karen at their house in Corning. We have a long detailed two-hour visit. Their Wood line has been well researched and it does not fit into my line. There was just nothing there. The one benefit was that George had a photo of his great grandfather in Civil War uniform and his cavalry sword in mint condition. He let me handle the sword, which is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
Near the end of the meeting, George, offhandedly, mentions some of the people buried at the Paskenta cemetery. I have a chemical imbalance in the brain, which has caused me to be on disability for the last 15 years. The side effect is that when someone tells me something I might have a hard time registering it. It may take 2 or 3 hours, or even 2 or 3 days, before I fully realize what was said.
A few days later I get to thinking: Maybe I could take one of those Paskenta cemetery families and offer to write their family history. I have already done the research and written a parallel story. I have covered the westward movement, the establishment of Tehama County by Uncle Billy, etc. It would be a natural way to go. All I have to do is tie-in. By that, I mean to tie-in with our parallel histories and not tie-in by marriage. I have already written half the story.
This all evolved over a period of about six months. I went to the cemetery, walked through the gate and off to my right is a Hank's family plot. Take 23 paces ahead and there, on a large monument, is the name Daniel Boone Hanks. This is the family that I want. There has to be a story and a tie-in. (Later, I have an entire chapter on our people fighting for seventeen years, shoulder to shoulder, on the Kentucky frontier with Daniel Boone.) The next dirt road over you will find the graves of our distant George William Moon families. They are under the first big bushy tree and the other big bushy tree. Next to the Moon's are the Cleeks. The two families intermarried.
From the Daniel Boone Hanks monument, take another 12 paces ahead to the end of the concrete walk. (They might still have a large trash drum sitting at the spot.) Turn 90 degrees to your right. Now take 4 paces, which will put in front of a 12 inch by 24 inch flat marker: Amos M Hanks, US Navy, Mar 4, 1924 Jan 31, 1992.
I asked John if he knew any members of the Hanks family.
"I went to school with eight of them !"
I forgot the name on the tombstone. I asked John the name. He asked his wife. She gives one name and he says another. They can’t agree and get into an argument. Not wanting to interfere with their quality time together, I just tactfully said, “That’s OK. I’ll just get the name off the tombstone.”
Finally, John says, "Call the family up on the hill!" She does, and comes out of the house and says, "He's Amos."
Amos has an insignificant marker. Amos was an insignificant man. No one even called him by his real name. Everyone just called him "Bud." He was important to the parents who bore him and to the children he sired. But, in the whole scheme of things, Amos Hanks was a pretty common person… like most of us. However, "Tall oaks from little acorns grow.”
Out of high school, Bud served a hitch in the navy during the Second World War. He was married three times. The first wife would go on to have four husbands. The first marriage for both of them would produce four children: three boys and one girl.
Bud and Janet separated in 1961. She moves to Red Bluff a year later taking the youngest, a boy, with her. The rest of the kids stayed with Bud. The families, (thorough above-mentioned marriages) were all over the place: Northern California, San Francisco Bay area, Oakland, Sacramento, Reno, and Redding. Bud had some lateral movement but mostly anchored himself in Oakland.
Bud was a working man. Most of his career was in restaurant work. He could cook, so the kids never went hungry. Step-parents and step-siblings were constantly coming and going. They were just passing through.
Consider seven marriages between them, factor in the other spouses and their children, and you have a situation where today the four kids don't even know the names of some of their step-brothers and-sisters. The term the dysfunctional family first started to appear in the late 1970's or early 1980's. The experts have not yet figured out the exact year. They are still studying the dates of the different marriages, including the marriages of the different marriages before and after the marriages into these original seven marriages, all of the divorces…and the degree of bonding with each child. (Confused?)
The mathematical probabilities are so complex that most engineering schools have dropped their standard entrance exams and replaced it with this puzzle.
Years later the daughter would describe their plight: "We became CHILDREN-FROM-A-BROKEN-HOME (gasp). What he had to do was move (us) three kids eight times in five years, through seven cities, six jobs, and three marriages."
Note of historical interest: At fifteen, Amos (Bud) sent the girl packing to live with her mother at Red Bluff. They hardly spoke to one another for five years.
There are those in the clan today who will strongly object to my calling the family dysfunctional. However, none will disagree with Amos' portrayal of his kid's childhood as being "wildly unconventional." Discipline was bizarre. Bud could become almost strict when the children crossed his "vaguely defined limits."
Amos wasn't all that bad a father. The kids remember the good times. Dad would take them to Paskenta on hunting expeditions at Stony Creek and Grindstone Creek. When visiting Paskenta they would go to the graveyard. (As a toddler, the third child would kneel at the graves of our ancestors, crossing himself). Often, on an impulse, Bud would throw them all into the car and they would go off to see a movie. Any old movie would do.
The third kid would spend the summers with his mother in Red Bluff. The boy remembers the fun times of going down to Fosters Freeze, and walking the banks of the Sacramento River. I had the same experience. Every child growing up in Red Bluff has the same experience.
When growing up in Red Bluff in those days that was about all a kid could do, for Red Bluff is an insignificant town. When I lived in Red Bluff, there was only one stop light in the entire town, which was at Oak and Main Streets, downtown.
No one would have ever heard of Red Bluff if it were not for the lizards. All of the locals know the story. However, for those of you who have never been to Red Bluff, let me explain. When a car stops at the red traffic light downtown and waits two minutes for the light to turn green, the lizards run across the street, then jump up on the tail pipe to cool off. --told to me by a friend
It was not just the summers that the boy stayed with his mother. As a young teenager, he would catch the bus in Oakland and take trips up to Red Bluff to visit his mother. Sometimes Bud would drive the kids up to Red Bluff.
Let's go back to that marriage that I told you not to forget (chapter 4). Archibald's youngest sister by 22 years was Elizabeth. She married the sheep baron, Jim Howell. She named her second son George William Howell. He married twice.
His first wife was an 18-year-old Hanks girl. That puts us in the family of the Paskenta Hanks. (Often times, when doing research, you come up with conflicting facts. One official record shows the marriage to be to Margaret L. Hanks. Another official record shows the marriage to be to Lydia M. Hanks. It is the same marriage and same date. However, they are two different names. The volunteer genealogists at the Red Bluff library solved the mystery for me. Margaret L. (Lydia/Lydie) and Lydia M. (Margaret) were the same person.
I was born in Red Bluff and spent my very young years there. Our family then moved to Seattle, but I moved back to Red Bluff and lived with my Aunt Florence, finishing my last three years at Red Bluff High School, graduating in 1958. I was related to half the people in the county and went to school with the other half. I have visited my hometown continuously over the years. Until I stumbled upon this story a few months ago, I never knew the Hanks family existed. No one every told me. (John Bedford the historian never told me. Keith Lingenfelter the historian never told me.) No one talks about the family in Red Bluff. You do not talk about the family on the sidewalks, or in the restaurants, or gas stations, or the library, or the grocery store. The newspapers, magazines, television stations say nothing. You do not go up to the mother's house and knock on the door. The family exists, but it does not exist.
Although they come from a dysfunctional family, the kids are not all that dysfunctional. The sister, the first-born, moved to an island in the Indian Ocean and opened a restaurant. Strange, but not dysfunctional.
The second-born, is a college professor of entomology, and teaches about insects. Again strange, but not dysfunctional. (Except for Timothy Leary, who has ever heard of a dysfunctional college professor?)
What of the third-born who would spend his summers with his mother in Red Bluff, and would wile away his days going down to Foster Freeze and walking the banks of the Sacramento River? What became of the little child who would kneel at the graves of our ancestors at the little, pretty graveyard, and cross himself? What ever happened to the boy who would sit on the street curb for hours in down town Red Bluff watching the lizards?
He would do all right for himself, becoming an actor. (Who has ever heard of a dysfunctional actor?) He uses his family name, Tom Hanks.
In truth, Amos excelled in literature. He could converse easily on the classics. So good was his story writing in High School, (or was it college?), that his English teacher accused him of plagiarism. He thought that Amos was stealing and copying his stories from professional writers.
Such were his skills, that at the young age of 19, he was a naval instructor to sailors who were old enough to be his father.
He wrote an excellent 207 page autobiography, which was for family use. A member of the clan (now our clan) was kind enough to let me read Amos’ story.
On the GI bill, he took courses at USC and Berkeley, two of the finest colleges in the country. This was quite an accomplishment for a farm boy from Paskenta.
Amos received his BA at Berkeley. His ambition was to be a writer. In the first few pages of his autobiography he imitates the flowery and grandiose style of the writers of the last century, like Mark Twain. He learns quickly and finds his own style. Amos has a practical mind. He has contact with reality and does not indulge in flights of fancy. He can tell a story, and well. Too bad that Amos did not become a writer, for he would have made a great writer. I guess he had to leave that to his son.
Amos tried to break into writing. But, like all aspiring writers, he was faced with the fact that he had to stay alive. So he did what he had always done, worked hard. "For the next 35 years I was a cook. …among the best paid chefs on the East Bay." So good a cook that he was hired to teach the subject at a community college, receiving the highest pay in the department. He practically lived on campus, teaching chef-courses during the day, evening classes, weekend classes, and even summer school.
When I told you that Amos was a common person, I mean that he was an average man. He was average like we are all average. When I said he was insignificant, I meant that he was never famous, as we are not famous.
In a way we are all "Buds"… except for the third born.
Non-photo of Tom Hanks, #3,
because everyone knows what he looks like.
He graduated Skyline Hi, Oakland, 1974.
Non-photo of the youngest, Jim, #4.
Notice how they favor one another.
Works as a movie producer, mostly ‘B’ films,
Buford’s Beach Bunnies. (semi-dysfunctional.)
He graduated Mercy Hi, Red Bluff, 1978.
Non-photo of Sandra, 1st, because the Indian Ocean is to far to go for just one picture. Graduates Red Bluff Hi, 1969. Marries, has two kids. Moves to Sacramento where she wears a hat of many colors, heavily involved in media work. Ends up in England where she and her third husband move to an island in the Indian Ocean and open a restaurant. (Strange, but not dysfunctional.) By her own count, Sandra moves 31 times in 28 years.
Non-photo of Larry, 2nd, (Still can’t get this new digital camera to work right.)
Graduates Skyline Hi, Oakland, 1971. Then he moves to Red Bluff to live with his mother
and attends a local Junior college for two years. Now a professor of studying insects.
(Different, but not dysfunctional.)
Non-photo of mother's house, so no one will bother her.
Daniel Boone Hanks, patriarch to the Paskenta Hanks clan. Mary (Molly) Catherine Medford, married at 15.
Gladys Hilda Ball
Ernest Beauel Hanks, their son
Beauel's sister, Lydia
You remember that marriage I told you not to forget?
(chapter 4) Well...Lydia Hanks Howell, 1st wife of Geo. Wm. Howell, who was the
2nd son of Aunt Elizabeth (Moon) Howell, who was the younger sister by 22 years
Ernest Beauel Hanks and his wife, Gladys, have a son, Amos Medford Hanks who married Janet Marylyn Frager
Their third born is Tom Hanks, the actor.|
Many experts have tried to define the term "The Dysfunctional Family." The best definition I have come across is by Amos "Bud" Hanks himself. "Childhood had been a mess for them."
Bud was a chef for 35 years and "hated every day of it."
He was a writer. From the day he learned to read to the day he died all he
wanted was to be a writer. His daughter shared with him "...our infatuation with
"All the Hanks can write." -- Bette, a Paskenta Hanks and the family historian/genealogists.
My Paskenta Hanks cousins, both natural born and by earthquake adoption, never knew about our connection with Tom's family until I told them. Ed, the missionary, told me that as a child living in Corning, they would drive the few miles to visit the Hanks in Paskenta all the time. The families were very close.
I recently told the Paskenta historian, John Bedford, about none of my Paskenta Moon's knowing about our Tom connection.
In astonishment in replied, "What!"
"Everybody in Red Bluff knows it." -- Cousin Dee, a Hanks.
"I never knew it!"
The author's philosophy of genealogical research: It is not how close you are related to someone who is famous. The important questions: Is there free food at the family picnic? The Hank families have great Paskenta picnics.
I realize that this is a very very distant relationship,
However, it is very important to me and all of our cousins
...unless Tom Hanks next movie fails at the box office.
Reginald, one of the beloved Red Bluff lizards.
Run over by a truck in the summer of 1978.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net