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JIM: Big news from 1914, the passing of Mr. Simcoe Dockery
Next to the Doughboy Monument, embedded in the image of any traveler may be that of a tall stele in Jamestown City Cemetery, beside, up the hill, and to the North of the beautiful Jamestown United Methodist Church. Though a vast number see it in their minds, scarcely any remember and few know the significance of the tall spire, which evokes Jamestown, the Washington Monument, in the nation's capitol, or the Jefferson Davis Monument at Fairview. Jim has researched the matter - refreshing the memory of a man who was a giant of his time, well-deserving the focal point of an incredibly beautiful cemetery. Yesterday, on a brief visit, Linda and I were amazed in the past, we'd only seen the whole image of the grounds. But as we always learn Walking Columbia a quiet reverent stroll instills an irresistable desire to see return. Our thanks to JIM for this re-discovery of the significance of he visual cue no one who appreciates the charm of Jamestown could have missed.
Click on headline for complete story with photo(s)
Toward the end of June, 1914, the Adair News offered wholesome advice a-plenty both to the village of Jamestown and to Jamestown's most prominent citizen.
Although stating "considerable improvement" had been made in county seat of Russell in the past few years, the News sniffed that "the entire town is sadly in need of side walks" and starkly pointed out a comparable village, Edmonton, had recently installed an electric light plant. According to the paper, side walks constituted the very panacea Jamestown needed for elevation to the next plane, pompously prognosticating, "the population would increase, business would grow, and the female population would rise up and call the men blessed."
The report of Mr. Simcoe Dockery's poor health
Another article in the same edition reported that Mr. Simcoe Dockery of Jamestown, well-known throughout that section, was in very poor health. Mr. Dockery, then in his 73rd year, owned "two or three valuable river bottom farms" (five, actually) in Russell County and a thriving general store in Jamestown, was President of the Bank of Jamestown (est. 1899), and was generally -- and accurately -- believed to be the richest man in the county.
The News, constitutionally unable to keep from doing so, went on to opine, "Evidently his decline in health is due to too much business," and concluded, "There is no necessity for him to work, and in our judgment a few months rest at a quiet watering place, is what he needs."
He rallied in August, but death came calling.
Alas, the News,diagnosis and prescriptive cure came too late. Mr. Dockery rallied enough in mid-August to contemplate "having considerable concrete work done around his store building" (in accordance with the newspaper's earlier unsolicited advice), but death came calling a few days the autumnal equinox. On the afternoon of Saturday, October 3rd, Mr. Dockery put aside his worldly wealth and woes and ventured forth into the great unknown.
He had taught school, served term as Sheriff of Russell County
The October 7th edition stated that in his younger days, Mr. Dockery had taught school for while and then served a term as Sheriff of the Shire of Russell before turning his attention to commerce. Said the paper of the deceased, "Starting poor, he was ambitious to accumulate and was very successful throughout his life, leaving an estate estimated to be worth eighty to one hundred thousand dollars." (Extrapolation from later articles leads one to believe perhaps the estate's actual value was closer to $65,000, not an inconsiderable amount in its own right, equal to about one and a half million dollars in today's money.)
Funeral was largely attended
The funeral, held on Sunday, October 4th, was largely attended, "a great many friends being present to pay tribute." The paper noted that while the deceased had no particular religious affiliation, "he often attended Church services," and, in remarking about his character, observed, "He was strictly an honorable man, and was ever ready to denounce lawlessness of every character."
Death impacted many
Ripples from Mr. Dockery's death spread almost immediately. Circuit Court opened in Russell County three weeks after his passing and the final paragraph in a brief report about opening day stated, "The death of Mr. Simcoe Dockery and the effect it would have on a number of people in the county, was frequently discussed. He [held] many notes and mortgages, and of course the estate must be settled." Several days earlier, executors Judge W.W. Jones and James Garnett, both of Columbia, had started work in inventorying the estate.
An aside on Adair Countians involved in start of Bank of Jamestown
(The James Garnett mentioned here was James R., Judge Jones' law partner, not James Jr., son of Judge Garnett. Mr. Dockery, along with Adair Countians R.F. Paull, Judge James Garnett, and Judge W.W. Jones, comprised almost half the members of the joint stock company formed in 1899 to start the Bank of Jamestown.)
Bulk of estate went to one brother, children of another
As he died unmarried and sine prole, Mr. Dockery devised the bulk of his estate to his brother Hugh M., who lived in Kansas City, Mo., and to the children of his deceased brother Vincent. A stipulation in his holographic will, however, required that a monument costing not less that $2,500 be erected in his memory. The will also "set aside $500 which is to be expended by the cashier of the Jamestown Bank in keeping his last resting place in good condition," and he requested burial in a metallic casket in the Jamestown Cemetery, next to his friend, Mr. Wm. M. Green, who had passed thirty-some years earlier.
A listiing of some of the real estate
The property and real estate not specifically devised included nine town lots on Columbia Street in Jamestown; the old jail lot; four parcels of land totaling 148 acres; 500 bushels of corn harvested in crop year 1914, "now in cribs on Cumberland river"; and 22 shares of $100 [par value] each "of the Capital Stock in the Bank of Jamestown." At the auction, held in late June, 1915, the old jail lot -- that being the location from which Elmer Hill effected a jail break in 1900 -- sold to the Miller Bros. for $330, while the bank shares sold for $200 each, the buyers being J.N. Meadows, five shares; C.A. Hammonds, five; Smith Bros., five; Ezra Moore, five; and J.D. Hammonds, two shares.
Cost of stele, in today's dollars: $60,000
As the estate settlement came to a head that early summer 99 years ago, so inspired were the residents of Jamestown by the prospect of a magnificent stele gracing the city burying ground, there arose from the citizens a general sentiment "to have the cemetery cleaned up, re-fenced, and beautified." (The $2,500 spent on the marker in the mid-nineteen-teens equaled almost $60,000 in today's dollars.)
Marker delayed in part by lawsuit
It took nearly three years from Mr. Dockery's death, the delay quite possibly caused in part by a lawsuit over how particular sections of the will were to be construed, but in the summer of 1917, under the direction of estate executors Judge W.W. Jones and James Garnett, the towering marker claimed its place in the cemetery. Other than Mr. Dockery's name and date of birth and death, the only inscription is "An honest and successful man, honored and respected by his fellow men."
Monument arrived by rail, river, in three pieces
This humble scribe heard this many years ago: the monument, manufactured in three pieces -- base, pedestal, and stele -- came via rail to old Burnside and from there, was transported to Russell County via the Cumberland River. The three sections were off-loaded at Dunbar Landing, and it took a six-hitch of mules to pull each section up the hill from the landing.
Compiled by JIM
This story was posted on 2014-10-19 06:32:02
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