Index to carillons and chimes by Hanks/Niles

The Hanks/Niles foundry, now closed, provided bells for three chimes in the USA.  See the bottom of this page for additional historical notes on the origin and development of this bellfoundry and on the various names used by it.

For an explanation of what this index contains (and does NOT contain), and of the additional details on each entry, see the Bellfoundry Indexes Advice.

Hanks & McGraw, bell and brass founders, 1842?-44?

  Proprietors: Geo. L. Hanks, Arthur Hanks, James McGraw


George L. Hanks, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, 1844?-49


Cincinnati Bell Foundry, Geo. L. Hanks, prop., 1849-59

CINCINNATI - M                : USA - OH     1850 C  [chime]
   Mechanics Institute 
CINCINNATI - STT              : USA - OH     1851*C  chime
   St.Teresa of Avila RC Church 
   * moved to this location in 1955 

Niles Works Bell Foundry, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, 1860-1869

DAYTON - F                    : USA - OH     1869 F*  chime
   First [English] Lutheran Church (ELCA) 
   * 8 of 9 oldest bells; some dated 1868

Historical Notes:

George Lucius Hanks, born in the state of New York in 1813, was a nephew of Col.Benjamin Hanks, who had operated one of the earliest regular bell foundries in the United States, at Hanks Hill, east of what is now Storrs, in the town of Mansfield, Connecticut.  (Individual bells had been made in America even before Benjamin's birth, but it's not certain that any of their makers operated a bellfoundry as a regular part of his business.)  Col.Benjamin and his son Julius (George's cousin) had moved to Gibbonsville, New York, in 1808 to start an enterprise which included the making of bells; one of their apprentices was Andrew Meneely, who eventually bought Julius's property in Gibbonsville and started the first Meneely bellfoundry.

The Hankses were a prolific and energetic bunch, with many of the men undertaking a wide variety of industrial enterprises and many of the women marrying men who were similarly inclined.  Col.Benjamin's son Truman was involved, in partnership with Col.Benjamin's brother Alpheus, in iron foundries in Gibbonsville and Troy, New York, as well as in Hartford, Connecticut, and Cincinnati, Ohio.  While in Troy, they also operated for a few years the instrument making and bellfounding business which Julius had moved there from West Troy; then they handed it over to Julius' son Oscar.  It must have been while Alpheus and Truman were in NY that George L. was born to Alpheus.

Alpheus and Truman Hanks invested in the Cincinnati industrial enterprises of Jonathan Sands Niles and his brother James, though they don't seem to have lived there themselves.  Jonathan Niles married George's older sister, Maria Hanks, thus becoming a nephew to Alpheus and cousin to Truman as well as brother-in-law to George.

George moved to Cincinnati in the 1830s, possibly before he married Julia A. Bunce of Hartford, CT in 1836.  He first appears in the 1839 edition of the Cincinnati city directories (though unfortunately they were not published annually until after 1855).  In that year, he was a partner in a jewellry and silversmithing shop.  It's not certain when he began casting bells, though certainly it was by 1842, when he was in partnership with Arthur Hanks (a cousin) and James McGraw.  It is thought that he had learned the bell trade before he left New York, but just when, where and with whom is not known.

The Hanks-McGraw partnership only lasted for a couple of years.  After it broke up, Arthur did not continue with bellfounding, but worked in iron founding, brass founding, farming and other occupations.  George did continue with bell and brass foundry work, strictly under his own name, though there are hints that he may have had one or more silent partners in this enterprise. 

Eventually he began using the name Cincinnati Bell Foundry (see above).  The bells which he made for two chimes in 1850 and 1851 (listed above) were cast with the assistance and guidance of Francis Mayer, who had cast the bells for the first American-made chime in Philadelphia in 1848, and who would later operate his own bellfoundry for many years in Saint Louis, Missouri (though he made no more chimes).

Shortly after the sudden death of George L. Hanks in September 1859, the name of his foundry was changed (see above); this may reflect that it was part of the industrial enterprises begun by the Niles brothers.  (However, the Niles brothers had sold out their industrial interests in 1857-58, leaving their name behind as they retired to Hartford, Connecticut.)  Obviously George's two sons were too young to have learned the trade yet.  On January 1, 1870, the Niles Works Bell Foundry was sold to Vanduzen & Tift for $5000, payable in three annual installments.

Philena Hanks, oldest child of Rodney Hanks (brother of Alpheus and Col.Benjamin), married Andrew Meneely; one of her younger sisters married a partner in the Jones bellfoundry of Troy, New York.  These two women were both first cousins of bellfounders (Julius and George L. Hanks) as well as being wives of bellfounders.  Marcia Hanks, younger sister of Truman and Julius, married Isaac C. Oothout of West Troy, NY, probably a relative of a partner of Andrew Meneely.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the bellfounding interests of Col.Benjamin Hanks were reflected in his younger brother and in at least eight of their children, nieces and nephews (or spouses thereof), extending to at least one grandson and three grand-nephews.

The interconnections between the Hanks family and the other aforementioned bellfounders and industrialists are shown in a different manner on a Hanks genealogy page.

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This index page was built from the database on 16-Dec-03 and last revised on 17-Dec-18.

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