Noted genealogist, author, lecturer and actor Henry Z. "Hank" Jones will be the featured speaker for the LLCGS fall conference on October 12, 2012. Be sure to save the date on your calendar and plan to attend.
Hank Jones' biography
Not long ago, Time Magazine had a cover-story devoted to
genealogy in the new millennium and chose to close the article and tie things
together with a quote from Hank Jones. That's a long way from his genealogical
beginnings: Henry Z ("Hank") Jones, Jr. has been actively climbing
family trees since the age of eight, when he found an old trunk filled with
fading tintypes, family letters, and old newspaper clippings in the basement of
his parents' home in San Leandro, California. He wrote his first genealogical work
A Few More Left: The Story of Isaac Hillman, his great grandfather, while
still in high school. Hank continued to pursue his genealogical interests while
attending Stanford University, from which he graduated in 1963.
Hank discovered that he descended from Abraham Bergmann, a German from
Iggelheim in the Pfalz who immigrated in 1709 to County Limerick, Ireland, his
interest in all matters Palatine was born. He exhaustively combed all archives
in Germany, London and Ireland to gather all extant data on this Irish-German
group who arrived with his ancestor in 1709/10 and then published his results
in 1965 in The Palatine Families of Ireland (reprinted and expanded in 1990 by
Determined to continue his investigations into all the families
who left Germany in the great exodus, Hank
then turned his attention to those 847 families who settled in colonial New
York in 1710. His New York Palatine project began in 1969: Hank's goal was to
write a history of these courageous emigrants firmly documented with sources
contemporary with the events!
Palatine Families Research
Every extant New York "Palatine"
churchbook was extracted for every Palatine reference 1710 - 1776, and this
information was placed on family groupsheets - which eventually totalled
17,000! A major thrust of the project was to find the ancestral homes and
German origins of the 847 families, and, via Hank's village-to-village
researches overseas, over 600 of the 847 were found and documented in Europe.
two-volume set The Palatine Families of New York - 1710 was finally published
in 1985 and has won the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award as "best
genealogical work of 1986" and also the Award of Merit "in
recognition of distinguished work in genealogy" from the National
For his efforts on the Palatines, Jones was elected as a
Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, of whom there are only 50 in
the world. Hank has continued to write many articles on the Palatines over the
years, and they have been published in The American Genealogist (TAG), National
Genealogical Society Quarterly, New York Genealogical & Biographical
Record, Genealogical Journal, Genealogical Magazine of Pennsylvania, Der
Reggeboge, The Palatine Immigrant, and many others. He also has served on the
national Board of Directors of the Genealogical Speaker's Guild and as a
Trustee of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
1989, Hank co-authored a volume with noted Pennsylvania scholar Annette K.
Burgert on the German origins of 250 families from the Neuwied/Westerwald
region who arrived in Philadelphia 1740 - 1753 entitled Westerwald To America
(published by Picton Press). More Palatine Families, the companion volume to
his 1710 set, which chronicles the European origins and American activities of
many of the families who arrived in colonial New York, Pennsylvania, and New
Jersey in the great second wave of emigration from Germany 1717 - 1776, was
released in 1991.
Hank's 1993 book Psychic Roots: Serendipity & Intuition in
Genealogy (Genealogical Publishing Company), drawn from intriguing near
"Twilight-Zone" experiences shared by over 200 prominent family
historians, is now in its 6th printing.
NBC-TV's popular program "Unsolved Mysteries" starring Robert Stack featured
an episode based on Psychic Roots. Hank's story of how he started genealogy at
the age of 8 by exploring that old trunk was recreated and dramatized. He also
had the opportunity to talk at length about his experiences in genealogy on the
show, prompting a deluge of mail and calls from viewers wanting to know more
about his work and how they might pursue their family history. This wonderful
response has prompted a sequel - one of Hank's newest books - More Psychic
Roots: Further Adventures in Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy (also
published by GPC): 225 genealogists worldwide contributed 300 new
stories/experiences for this latest volume.
Hank's Life as an Actor
his "other life" apart from genealogical research, Hank Jones has
been in the entertainment field since his graduation from Stanford. He began
his career as co-star of the old daytime Tennessee Ernie Ford television show
on ABC, logging 400 network appearances on the program; during this period,
Hank also recorded albums on RCA, Capitol, and Epitome Records. In 1963, Hank
Jones began a twenty year career as an actor in films and television.
He was a
featured player in many of the Walt Disney films of the 1960's and 1970's,
which still come back to haunt him on television today! These include
Blackbeard's Ghost with Peter Ustinov, Elsa Lanchester, and Suzanne Pleshette,
Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes, The Shaggy D.A. with Dean Jones and Tim
Conway, The Cat From Outer Space with Sandy Duncan, and several others. He also
appeared in many other films, including MGM's Girl Happy with Elvis Presley (a
Palatine descendant of Valentin Pressler of 1709) and 20th Century Fox's Tora! Tora! Tora! the Academy Award winning film about Pearl Harbor.
television, Hank Jones had recurring roles on My Three Sons with Fred MacMurray
and William Frawley, and also on the Patty Duke Show. He was on many of the
comedy programs of the 1960's and 1970's, including Love Boat, The Jeffersons, Mork and Mindy, The Henry Fonda Show, Love American Style, Petticoat Junction and many others. One of his most interesting roles was playing
former Beatle Ringo Starr's twin brother (after five hours of make-up every
day) in a tv version of Mark Twain's Prince and the Pauper.
years, Hank has been featured in countless tv commercials, several of which
(for MacDonald's, Hai Karate After Shave, Honda, and Dial Soap) won awards and
were shown on NBC's PriWORLD'S GREATEST COMMERICALS show. A long-time songwriter
and member of ASCAP, Hank's song Midnight Swinger, recorded by Mel Torme, was
honored with a preliminary Grammy nomination in 1970. In 1986, Hank made three
appearances as "champion" on the popular quiz-show Jeopardy! on
television. Besides all the fun and money involved, it gave him a chance to talk
about genealogy on national television and brought forth thousands of letters
from around the country from those interested in the Palatines!
retired from "on-camera acting" in 1981 to devote more time to his
first love of genealogical research. He has a daughter Amanda, now in her mid
30s, and lives with his wife Bonnie in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego.
Biography courtesy Hank Jones, used with permission
Friday, October 12, 2012
Hank Jones Conference
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Southeast Community College
Continuing Education Center
301 S. 84th St.
This is a cross-posting from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogy Society blog, which I also manage; disclosure: I'm the publicity chair for LLCGS.