On July 10, 1923 Schuyler, Virginia became
the birthplace of the
Earl Hamner Jr. He is the son of Doris Marion Giannini-Hamner
and Earl Hamner Sr.
He was the oldest of eight children. Earl Jr. had four
brothers and three sisters.
His siblings, in descending order by age, were
Marion, Cliff, Bill, Paul, Audrey, James, and Nancy.
Earl's mother, Doris (Giannini) Hamner, was a descendant of
The Gianninis immigrated to America from Lucca, Italy in the 1700's.
His paternal ancestors, the Hamners, came to The states from Whales. Prior to
the 1900's, they were tobacco farmers in Virginia, eventually residing in the
Blue Ridge Mountains.
Earl's hometown of Schuyler, Virginia revolved around the
Alberene Soapstone Company, at the center of town. The Great
Depression eventually lead to the closing of the mines and loss of jobs for
many of the locals, including Earl's father. Earl Hamner Sr. took a job in
Waynesboro, VA to support his family, supplementing his income in the family's
barn milling for locals.
His commute to Waynesboro forced him to stay the week in
a boarding house affording him the opportunity to visit his family solely on
the weekends. His long trip home always ended with a 6 mile hike to reach his
loved ones. That exact walk on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1933 was the
inspiration for The Homecoming, Hamner's 1970 novel, which became a Christmas special and the pilot for The Waltons in 1971.
Earl's contributions to Hollywood were well beyond that of just The Waltons. All of these things made
possible by his education at the University of Richmond (interrupted by his
being drafted in World War II) and Northwestern University eventually
graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor's degree in
© Earl Hamner