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HANCOCK, Andrew Ramsey

Andrew Ramsey HANCOCK, of Lacon, president of the Sparland Coal Company, is one of the best known men in Marshall county, having been prominently before the people for a quarter of a century, and very active in the councils of his political party, the democratic, having served as chairman of the county central committee, and is at present secretary of the same. He is not only well known locally, but throughout the state, having for many years attended every state and national convention of his party. A native of Marshall county, born in Hopewell township, November 23, 1848, he has here resided his entire life. His father, William W. HANCOCK, was a native of Dublin, Ireland, and came to the United States when a young man of twenty years. For a time he resided in Pennsylvania, and later removed to Dayton, Ohio, where he remained until the latter part of the ‘30s, when he came to Marshall county, and here resided until his death. Soon after coming here he formed the acquaintance of Elizabeth ORR, with whom he was united in marriage, and with whom he happily lived until separated by death. She was a daughter of James and Sarah ORR, natives of Maryland, and pioneers of Marshall county, the family locating in Lacon township, just north of Lacon. Her father died in 1867, at the age of seventy-eight, being born in 1787. Of the family only one now survives.

On coming to Marshall county, William W. HANCOCK worked for a time by the day and month until he had saved enough to purchase a small piece of land in Hopewell township, to which he removed and where he resided until his death. To his original purchase he subsequently added other tracts until he had a fine farm of six hundred and eighty acres, which he placed under a high state of cultivation. He was an excellent farmer, a good judge of stock and made a specialty of fine cattle. In addition to his home farm, he was the owner of three hundred and sixty acres in two farms located elsewhere. When he made his first purchase his capital consisted of six hundred dollars, the savings of years. By strict economy and careful attention to his business, he was enabled to place himself in comfortable circumstances and died the possessor of a fair share of this world’s goods. His death occurred in 1890, at the age of seventy-seven years. His wife survived him one year, dying in 1891. They were the parents of six children: Ann Louisa married Morgan BOYS, and died in 1865, at the age of twenty-seven years; James Washington, while making his home at Lacon, is a storekeeper in the United States internal revenue service at Peoria; William Emmett resides in Lacon; Andrew R. is the subject of this sketch; Alpheus died at the age of nineteen years, and Ira F. resides in Lacon.

In politics, William W. HANCOCK was a democrat of the old school, and was well posted in the political and general history of the country, and knew how to express himself clearly and forcibly upon all questions of public interest. He cared nothing for the honors or emoluments of public office, but did care for the principles of his party, in which he had the greatest faith and confidence. For years he served as supervisor of his township and also school treasurer, and was such at the time of his death. At the Baltimore convention in 1860, at which Stephen A. Douglas was nominated for the presidency, he served as an alternate delegate. He was strictly a temperate man, using no liquor or tobacco in any form. Reared in the Episcopal faith, in later years he attended the Presbyterian church, and died in the faith of a blessed resurrection. He was always an active, pushing and hard working man, and kept his business intact until the last, giving personal attention to every detail.

Andrew R. HANCOCK, our subject, remained at home until he attained his majority, assisting in the farm work from the time he was old enough to “drop corn” or follow the plow. His education was received in the public schools, but he has always been a great reader and observer of passing events, and is therefore one of the best posted men in the country. It may be said that he inherited a taste for political warfare, and from the time he cast his first vote in the spring of 1870 he has been prominently identified with the political history of his county and state. For two terms he served acceptably in the office of supervisor from his township, and in 1880 was nominated for the office of sheriff. Notwithstanding at this time the county had a republican majority of six hundred, he entered the canvass with a determination to win. The large republican majority was not only overcome, but he received a majority of one hundred and forty-eight votes. Re-nominated, he was elected by over five hundred majority. During his term several important murder trials occurred, and in the discharge of the duties of the office he displayed great ability. His abilities were recognized by the State Sheriff’s association by his election as president of that body, an office which he filled in a most acceptable manner. About this time he served one year as deputy United States marshal. After serving his second term as sheriff, he was nominated for the office of county treasurer, but was defeated by a small majority.

It must not be considered from what has already been said that Mr. HANCOCK is a politician pure and simple, for the fact of the case is he is recognized as one of the leading business men of the county, having for the past seven years been president of the Sparland Coal Company, and giving the business his personal attention. The company employs about one hundred miners and has a daily output of one hundred and twenty-five tons. Its main shaft is located near the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad at Sparland, and the company is now working its third vein, which is thirty inches thick. In addition to his duties in connection with the coal business, Mr. HANCOCK is engaged in buying and shipping stock, and supplying stock feeders with young animals. He has a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres, five miles from Lacon, and also owns one hundred and forty acres of the old homestead. In looking after his various interests it can be conceived that his time is fully occupied.

Mr. HANCOCK was married December 16, 1880, to Miss Phoebe A. MYERS, a daughter of John and Mary (WRIGHT) MYERS, of Roberts township. Her father, who now resides in Peoria, came to this county with his parents before the Black Hawk war, which occurred in 1832. His father, also named John, died here when past seventy-eight years of age, and the old homestead is yet owned by him. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. HANCOCK – Tracy and Lura – both yet residing at home. Mrs. HANCOCK is a woman of domestic tastes and habits, a member of the Congregational church, and is well known and universally esteemed.

Fraternally, Mr. HANCOCK is a Mason, a member of Lacon lodge, No. 61, F. & A. M.; of Lacon council, R. A. M.; of Peoria commandery, No. 3, K. T., and also the Shrine at Peoria. In Masonic work he has taken an active part, and is well posted in the history and work of the order. He is a lover of fast horses, and is at present president of the Lacon Driving association. As a citizen he has the best interests of his town and country at heart, and at all times is ready to give his influence in behalf of any good work.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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