Ellery M. Hancock

Ellery M. Hancock

With the exception of brief periods spent in Milwaukee, Chicago and Decorah, Ellery M. Hancock has been a resident of Waukon for fifty-seven years and he has long been numbered among the leading and representative citizens of Allamakee county. He has been a prominent factor in the public life of the county but since 1906 has continuously devoted his attention to the insurance business.

His birth occurred at Winchendon, Massachusetts, on the 11th of July, 1850, his parents being Moses and Sally L. (Alger) Hancock. The father, who was born at Templeton, Massachusetts, on the 1st of Decmeber, 1808, became a merchant and manufacturer of woodenware at Winchendon, that state. He was one of the selectmen of Winchendon, and at one time represented that town in the Massachusetts legislature. Leaving Winchendon in the spring of 1856, he made his way to Iowa and reached Waukon on the 9th of April. Here he embarked in the mercantile business in partnership with L.T. Woodcock, who had taken up his abode at Waukon two and one-half years before. Moses Hancock was called upon to serve the public in varous capacities and acted as chairman of the first county board of supervisors in 1861. When he passed away in the year 1872, the community mourned the loss of one of its most respected and influential citizens. In 1832 he had wedded Miss S.L. Alger, by whom he had ten children, all of whom are deceased except the two youngest, namely: Ellery M., of this review, and George A., who is now a resident of Chicago.

One of the sons, Frank E., enlisted in 1861 in Company B, Twelfth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, one of the three regiments to hold the "hornet's nest" during the first day's fighting at Shiloh - April 6, 1862. He was surrendered with his regiment, and after spending six and one-half months in southern prisons passed away at Annapolis, Maryland, on the 26th of October, 1862, the first night after having been exchanged.

George Alger, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a farmer by occupation and a captain of militia in the War of 1812. He was a descendant of Thomas Alger, who settled at Tauntion, Massachusetts, from England, about 1665. His daughter, Mrs. Hancock, died in the year 1877.

Ellery M. Hancock, who was a little lad of about six years when brought to this state by his parents, has resided in Waukon continuously since, with the exception of brief periods spent in work at the printer's trade in Chicago, Milwaukee and Decorah prior to 1873. His education was obtained in the common schools. In the spring of 1868 he entered the office of the Waukon Standard to learn the printer's trade, working under the direction of R.L. Hayward & Company. A.M. May was at that time the editor of the paper. In 1873 Mr. Hancock purchased a half interest in the journal, Mr. May owning the remaining half. Business was carried on under the firm style of May & Hancock, for about nine years or until 1882, when Mr. Hancock retired because of ill health, and turned his attention to insurance.

It was about this time that he compiled a history of Allamakee county. He became secretary of the Waukon independent school district, serving in that capacity for many years. He likewise served as township clerk of Makee township for several terms, and at the time of the incorporation of Waukon in 1883, was elected city clerk, acting as such until 1895. In 1894 he was chosen recorder of deeds for Allamakee county and served in that capacity throughout the following twelve years, being five times reelected by flattering majorities. His record as a public official, characterized by unusual efficiency and faithfullness, is one of which he has ever reason to be proud. In 1906 he once more entered the insurance field and has since successfully conducted business along that line in connection with abstracts of title.

In 1881 Mr. Hancock was united in marriage to Miss Charlotte M. Wedgwood, a daughter of Rev. John M. Wedgwood, who was for many years a loved pastor of th Waukon Baptist church and at one time superintendent of schoos of Winneshiek county. The demise of the Rev. Wedgwood occurred in 1891. Mrs. Hancock is an alumna of Northwestern University, having previous to her marriage, won the degree of M.D. from the Woman's Hospital Medical College, now affiliated with the Northwestern. She served for two years as an interne in the Chicago Woman's Hospital and spent a similar period at the Rockford (Ill.) Seminary as instructor in mathematics and as graduate nurse. Prior to that time she taught in the Waukon school and also in Winneshiek county, and was deputy county recorder the twelve years her husband occupied that office.

Mr. and Mrs. Hancock have two daughters, both of whom are experienced teachers, beginnning with country schools. The elder, Clara L., received the degree of Master of Didactics from the Iowa State Normal School in 1906, and graduated from the Iowa State University in the Liberal Arts class of 1913. The younger, Harriet A., after preparatory work at the State Normal, has since taught in the graded schools of Decorah and Osage, Iowa.

Mr. Hancock has been actively interested in various fraternal societies, including the Iowa Legion of Honor, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Modern Brotherhood of America. He became one of the first members of the Waukon Military Company and was for many years a leading spirit in the organization, which has become a credit to the county. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Waukon Baptist church, to which his wife and daughters also belong. He is interested in all that pertains to progressive public movements and both in citizenship and in provate life has manifested the sterling traits of character which everywhere commmand respect and regard.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall

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