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Fayette County, Iowa
Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa
Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of
Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
John Hockings, an early settler of Fayette County, now residing in Oelwein, is a native of England. His birth occurred in Birmingham, Warwickshire, on the 23rd of November, 1825, his parents being John and Mary Ann (Westwood) Hockings. By trade, his father was a blacksmith, but in middle life quit the forge for the rostrum and became noted for his eloquence and fervor as a temperance lecturer. He was known in England as the 'Birmingham Blacksmith' and his efforts in that line of reform were very successful. He was born in Mead Lambeth, London, on the 19th of March, 1802, and wedded Mary Ann Westwood at Hales Owen Church, in the county of Shropshire, October 13, 1822. His wife was born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, on the same day that her husband's birth occurred.
They were blessed with a family of five children, but three died in infancy. The two who grew to mature years are John William of this sketch, who now goes by the name of John, alone, and his sister Sarah, who was born October 11, 1832, and is the wife of Thomas Marsland, of Burlington, Wis. The mother died in England, April 10, 1836, and in 1839 Mr. Hockings married Miss Eliza Clark, by whom he had four children. William, the eldest, married in Wisconsin, and resides on the old homestead near Burlington; Mary Ann is the wife of William Metcalf, of Madison County, Neb.; Eliza is the wife of George Streeter, a resident of Minnesota; and Phoebe is the widow of Jack Streeter, who was killed in 1888, while on duty as a railway engineer.
In 1844, Mr. Hockings emigrated with his family to the United States, settling near Burlington, in the Territory of Wisconsin. He located on a farm near Brown's Lake, but devoted much of his time to lecturing in the cause of temperance in that State and Illinois. He and his wife were identified with the Methodist Church, and were consistent and faithful members. Her death occurred in 1855, and he passed away in February, 1865. In his lecturing tours in Europe, Mr. Hockings traveled in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. His son John is the possessor of an interesting and valuable souvenir of his father consisting of a gold medal bearing date June 23, 1836, and a suitable inscription, as being presented to John Hockings by the Total Abstinence Society of Birmingham, England.
We now take up the personal history of our subject, who at the age of nineteen years accompanied his parents to America, locating near Burlington, Wis., where he engaged in farming. There he became acquainted with and wedded Miss Jane, daughter of William A. Jones, the marriage being celebrated on Christmas Day of 1850, at his father's old homestead. The lady was born in Shropshire, England, on the 8th of July, 1830, is one of nine children and came with her parents to America in the autumn of 1846. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, however, were natives of Wales, and in youth went to England, where they were married. They settled in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and thence came to America. Their children are Eliza, who became the wife of Hiram Hanson, and died in May, 1850; Marian, who was the wife of John Drayton, and died in England; Mrs. Hockings; Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Robertson, of Sacramento City, Cal.; William, the only son, who is supposed to be living in California; and Susan, wife of Henry Crowell, of Mozeman, Mont.; Ellen, the second wife of Hiram Hanson, is deceased. The father of this family, who was born in 1800, died in 1870, and his wife was called to her final rest in 1878. In 1856 they became residents of Iowa, locating upon a farm in Jefferson Township, Fayette County, where they spent the remainder of their lives.
Our subject also came with his family to Iowa in 1856. He located on section 20, Jefferson Township, where he devoted his energies to farming until 1885, when he removed to Oelwein, where with his wife and children he is now living. By industry, perseverance and good management he acquired the competence which now enables him to lay aside business cares and live a retired life. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Hockings consists of seven children, all of whom are living with one exception - Mary Ellen, the eldest having died in infancy. Fannie J. is now the wife of W. F. Baldwin, of Custer County, Neb.; Emily is the wife of Aurilius Conant, of Weyauwega, Wis.; Albert William married Emily Hanson and is a farmer of Jefferson Township; Charles C. is single and resides with his parents; Alfred L. married Clara Paign and is living in Oelwein; while Phoebe E., the youngest is yet at home.
Mr. Hockings is a Republican in politics, and has held a number of local offices, including that of Supervisor. He still owns his original farm of one hundred and twenty acres, situated within one a half miles of Oelwein. Mr. and Mrs. Hockings are members of the Baptist Church and are highly respected in the circle of society in which they move. He has led a useful and busy life, and after a residence of thirty-six years in Fayette County, now lives in quiet retirement in Oelwein, a city that he has seen spring from the wild prairie grass, where for years previous to the building of a house on its site he had traversed it in a primitive state."
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