Tom Hanks and Mister Rogers Are Cousins

Family History
20 November 2019
by Ancestry® Team

Few celebrities are as beloved as Tom Hanks and Mister Rogers. Both appear so approachable—and you just really want them both to live next door.

So it makes sense Hanks’ portrayal Rogers is being hailed by many as spot-on. But could there be a deeper connection?

Members of the Ancestry® research team wondered just that. And what they uncovered was a surprising connection: Hanks and Rogers are sixth cousins.

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Hanks and Rogers Related How?

As huge fans of both Rogers and Hanks, Ancestry researchers were excited to dig into the site’s database of over 20 billion online records to build out Hanks’ family tree.

Chart showing how Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers have a common ancestor born in 1732.

It turned out Hanks and Rogers were 6th cousins. They both had the same 5x-great-grandfather: Johannes Mefford.

Johannes Mefford immigrated from Germany in the 1700s. He raised a family of patriots: Three of his sons served in the Revolutionary War, including ancestors of both Hanks and Rogers.

Rogers’ ancestor William Mefford (Johannes’ son) was captured by the British in 1782 and spent months on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua.

Hanks’ ancestor Jacob Mefford (also Johannes’ son) participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay

Tom and Wife Rita Surprised

While attending a screening of the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Tom and his wife Rita Wilson learned about the family connection between Hanks and Rogers for the first time, from Access Hollywood reporters.

And they seemed surprised. Wilson was visibly moved, exclaiming,

“No. Impossible. No, you’re pulling our leg.”

Hanks was more calm (perhaps channeling Rogers), simply asking “how far away” the relationship was.

Then Hanks added,

“It all just comes together.”

What Will You Discover?

With billions of records on Ancestry, there’s no telling what family connections you might uncover.

You could find connections you always suspected or be completely surprised by who’s in your tree.

Start a free trial on Ancestry today.