Tuesday, July 17, 2018

“Springfield don’t look like it did during the war” – A Hancock Family Letter

In 1912, Richard W Hancock, age sixty-four, wrote a letter to his son Ed who was living in Seiling Oklahoma.  The letter was postmarked 23 February 1912, Memphis Tennessee.  For family historian, the letter is of value because it lists the birthdates of the nine children of Richard White Hancock and his wife Elizabeth Ann Taylor.  It also mentions a few bits of family miscellany.

For more general historians, Dick Hancock’s description of Springfield Missouri in 1912 might be of interest.  At the time of the letter the Richard Hancock family had been living, farming and pursuing the building trade near Maysville, Dekalb county Missouri for nearly forty years. The town of Springfield Missouri resided about two hundred and thirty miles to the south of Maysville – a long trip.  During the Civil War Dick Hancock had served more than three years with the Missouri State Militia (Federal Troops), and was stationed at Springfield in the Spring of 1863. Following the War, he stood witness to the growth and change of the town.  

Reading through his letter, it was fun to note his mention of “. . . a wagon factory that turns out 100 wagons a month.”  This must have been impressive to a man whose father, Edward Hancock, had been noted as a “wagon-maker” in the 1850 census of Scott county Kentucky.

Enjoy the letter:

RW Hancock to his son Ed Hancock of Seiling Oklahoma, postmarked 23 Feb 1912, Memphis Tennessee -

I have had several calls for mill work and may go back to Springfield soon if things go alright.  Your mother said to send you all the dates of the childrens births:

Charley was born 5 July 1867
Maggie, 27 Feb 1869
Kate, 28 Jan 1871
Bess, 28 Jan 1875
Julia, 17 Apr 1877
Jack, 20 Aug 1879
Spencer, 5 Nov 1882
Fred, 13 Nov 1884
you, 2 Feb 1873.

We have letter from Maggie . . . 12 days.  They were all well.  Their children had the measles.

I have not seen any of Jhn Ballingers folks since I came home.  Jack weights 170 Spencer 150 and Fred about 130.

We have 2 spring calves and will have 2 or 3 more during the summer.  We will not raise any colts this year.  Springfield dont look like it did during the war.  It is a large town now.  Two railroads and both have large . . . and employ a great many men.  Electric lights and water works and is a good manufacturing town.  Iron works and a wagon factory that turns out 100 wagons a month.  A furniture factory and lime works 3 large mills corn plant and . . . small concerns.  Brewing and everthing namely found in large cities.  Population between 25 and 20 thousand.  I would like to live there if it was not so full of negroes  they number 5 or 6 thousand and steal everything thats loose.

Mr E H Brant moved to Maysville and went in the Poultry business.  Ben Taylor rented his farm and went to Excelsior Springs  . . .

Your mother is doing her work but she suffers with rheumatism all the time.

Hoping this will find you and family well

I will close write soon
Your father RW Hancock

For more details on Richard White Hancock, visit his page at Family Stories, pamgarrett.com.

Moving back in time:  Otis Sylvester Garrett 1894 > Margaret Susan Hancock 1869 > Richard White Hancock 1845.
Richard White Hancock is my husband’s greatgreat-grandfather.

About the photo:
The image above come from Springfield, Missouri, and Surroundings, a 35-page illustrated booklet containing numerous engraved prints of Springfield scenes . . . The digital collections of the Local History and Genealogy Collection of the Springfield-Green County Library (Springfield, Missouri) are excellent.  Be sure to visit.


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