In 1916 Augustin (“Gus”) Leo Hanks and his brother Austin were living in Bountiful, Utah, but looking for land to develop into productive farms. They were brought to the Snake River Valley by a realtor and as they came through Albion at sunset and topped one of the foothills, they saw the panorama below. Gus said it came to him that “here was where he would settle, bring a wife, raise a family and spend the rest of his life.”
Gus then bought and settled on 40 acres of rough land two miles west of Burley in the area known as Starrh’s Ferry. That year he planted a crop, harvested it and then returned to Utah to marry Olive Jane Abrams, originally from Solisberry, Indiana. They settled in a temporary tar paper shack on the property where four of their eight children were born, then eventually built a two-story brick home that still remains at 52 S 200 W.
Their eight children are: Barbara (Ray) Graham, Elizabeth (Alma) Clark, Morgan (Luanne) Hanks, Richard (Mavis) Hanks, Howard (Melba) Hanks, Helen (Morris) Dastrup, Marian (Edwin) Harris and David (Carolyn) Hanks.
Olive was an educated and refined person who had been teaching school when she met Gus. Together they taught their children hard work, music and rock-solid values. Olive was known for her artwork, music, creative writing, dramatic productions and teaching ability. Gus had a wonderful tenor voice and sang at hundreds of funerals throughout his lifetime. He’d served an LDS mission in Ireland and imparted some of that culture to his family. They both worked hard their entire lives making their land productive, raising good children and serving their church and community.
Gus contributed widely to farming in South Central Idaho during the depression by helping organize the Southern Idaho Production Credit Association so farmers could borrow money to finance their crops. He served on the board for 36 years, twelve of those as president.
He also served on the Cassia County Fair Board and two terms on the Cassia County School Board, meanwhile serving as bishop of the LDS Church in Starrh’s Ferry Ward for a decade.
Starrh Ward Bishops: front- Alma Tilley (1st Bishop of Starrh Ward ); A.L. Hanks (3rd Bishop of Starrh Ward) ; Con Anderson(5th Bishop of Starrh Ward ); back row- Weldon Beck(4th Bishop of Starrh Ward); Dick Holyoak (6th Bishop of Starrh Ward) [2nd Bishop of Starrh Ward, not shown]Olive developed cancer of the spine and passed away in 1970 at age 78. Gus then remarried (Elizabeth Jones) and lived until 1986, when he died at age 93. As their daughter Barbara said in her dad’s life sketch at his funeral: “Their lives were spent in years of toil, sacrifice, love and kindness.”
Gus and Olive Hanks, about 1967