Access Hollywood surprised Tom and his wife, Rita Wilson with the news on the carpet and they were both shocked. Rita exclaimed, “no impossible, no you’re pulling our leg,” and Tom saying, “it all just comes together you see,” as they looked through the family tree recognizing some of Tom’s ancestors names.
To make this powerful discovery, Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, used its database of over 20 billion public records to create Tom Hanks’ family tree and found that he is sixth cousins with Fred Rogers, something that he did not know while portraying the beloved television personality in the movie.
“For more than 30 years, Ancestry has helped millions of people discover the story of what led to them, including the remarkable connection between Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks. It’s no surprise they are related as the similarities between the two are uncanny. Even if we don’t know it, our pasts impact our present. You never know what you’ll find on your journey of personal discovery,” said Jennifer Utley, Director of Research, Ancestry.
Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather, Johannes Mefford, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century. Johannes raised a family of patriots; three of his sons (including Tom Hanks’ and Fred Rogers’s ancestors) served in the Revolutionary War. Fred Rogers’s 4x great-grandfather, William Mefford, served in the navy and was captured by the British in 1782. He endured life on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua until he was released ten months later. Tom Hanks’s 4x great-grandfather, Jacob Mefford, joined the War as a private and participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay. So, Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor, they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence.