One can hardly mention a phase of development of Stark county with which Hon. Cyrus Bocock of Bradford has not been prominently connected, and he is well known outside the limits of the county, for he served for two terms in the state legislature and was for eight years a member of the board of equalization. Not only does he command the respect of all with whom he is associated because of his marked ability, but he also has the faculty of making and retaining friends and is probably the most popular man in the county.
A native of Ohio, he was born in Highland county on the 5th of October, 1832, of the marriage of Elijah and Barbara (McKinney) Bocock, natives of Virginia and Pennsylvania, respectively. They were married in Ohio on the 18th of July, 1822, and remained in the Buckeye state until 1832, when they removed westward to Fulton county, Illinois. There the father purchased timber land, which he cleared and placed under cultivation, devoting the remainder of his active life to agricultural pursuits. He reached an advanced age, dying in March, 1885, on his eighty-seventh birthday. He was a quiet and unassuming man but possessed genuine worth. His wife died in 1879 when eighty-one years old, in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which she was a devoted and active member. Mr. and Mrs. Bocock were the parents of seven children, all of whom are now deceased, save our subject.
Cyrus Bocock passed his boyhood and youth under the parental roof and received a good education for those days. He attended the public schools until about twenty years of age and he then became a student in a select school but was compelled to give up further study in less than a year on account of his health. Later he taught that school for six months and then, having received a teacher’s license, went home and began teaching in the district schools. For fourteen years he followed that profession and also engaged in farming, as the school term lasted but six months during the winter. During this entire time he taught in three adjoining districts, one of which was his home district. This record indicates the excellence of his work and his popularity with his patrons.
In 1857 Mr. Bocock came to Stark county, Illinois, and engaged in farming here for eighteen months, but as the crops were a failure he returned home and again turned his attention to teaching. In the spring of 1866 he became a resident of Camp Grove, Stark county, and purchased a small country store at that place. At that time the nearest railroad was thirteen miles away and the settlers did much of their buying at small crossroads stores such as Mr. Bocock conducted for about four years. In 1869 he sold out his business and when the railroad was built through Castleton he was quick to recognize the value of that town as a trade center and built the first store there. He engaged in general merchandising at Castleton for fourteen years and also established the post office there. On selling out his mercantile interests he took up his residence upon his farm of two hundred and forty acres in Penn township, which he had bought in the meantime and which he operated successfully for three years. He then removed to Bradford and engaged in the loan and collection business, in which field he was active fore many years. In the management of his affairs he displayed unusual knowledge of local business conditions, a keen insight into human nature and a soundness of judgment that enabled him to succeed where others would have failed. He was also uncompromisingly honest in all of his transactions and no one has ever charged him with sharp practice or deception. For many years he was the only auctioneer in this locality and cried the greater number of sales in his part of the county. Since 1910 he has confined his attention chiefly to such business as comes within the scope of a notary public, public administrator and conveyancer. He has served as public administrator of Stark county for about thirty years and has settled more estates than any other man within its borders. He has also drawn up many wills, leases, mortgages and other legal papers and is recognized as an expert in work of that character.
Mr. Bocock was one of the organizers and is still one of the large stockholders of the local electric light plant and also of the Empire Telephone Company, of which he is president and which operates through Stark, Bureau and Henry counties. In addition to his extensive interest in those concerns he owns eight hundred acres of fine land in South Dakota and two hundred and forty acres in Penn township, this county. His advice is often sought on business matters, as his judgment is unusually reliable and as the greatest confidence is felt in his integrity.
Mr. Bocock was married on the 2nd of April, 1857, to Miss Eleanor M. Fouts, who was born in Fulton county, Illinois. She grew to womanhood there and acquired her education in the public schools, and for some time was one of Mr. Bocock’s pupils. They have become the parents of seven children, as follows: Charles W., ex-treasurer of Stark county, is residing in Toulon and a sketch of him appears elsewhere in this work. Francis M., a retired farmer living in Wyoming, this county, married Miss Annie Mahler. Robert Leonard, who was formerly a traveling man but is now a merchant of Los Angeles, California, married Miss Ella Christie. Emma Luella is at home. Sarah Ada gave her hand in marriage to William Malone, a resident of this county. Cyrus Oscar passed away on the 12th of March, 1904. Clarence E. is now dean and professor of science at the Idaho Normal University at Albion, Idaho, and has been connected with that institution for eleven years.
Mr. Bocock is a stanch republican and has for years been a leader in his party. He has served on the county and congressional central committees and has at all times done all in his power to secure the success of his party at the polls. He has held a number of offices, both local and state, and in all of his official capacities has discharged his duties with an eye single to the public welfare. While living in Fulton county he was county supervisor for five years and held a similar office in this county for many years. As before stated he has been public administrator for about thirty years and for some time he has been a member of the town board of Bradford. In 1872 he was elected to the state legislature and served one regular term and one adjourned term. In 1888 he was again chosen as a state official, being elected a member of the board of equalization, and in 1892 he was reelected, service for eight years in that capacity. For the last six years of that time he was a member of the committee on corporations and among the powerful companies with which his committee was concerned was the Pullman Company.
He is an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity, being identified with Bradford Lodge, No. 595, A.F. & A.M., of which he had served as secretary for twenty-one years, when he resigned that office in 1914. He is also affiliated with the Knights Templar commandery at Princeton, Illinois, and the Eastern Star, and is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which lodge he has filled all of the chairs. His life has been a long and honorable one filled with accomplishment along many lines of endeavor and, although he has reached an age when most men are no longer able to take a part in the world’s work, he is still active in business and is vigorous in both mind and body. He has gained financial independence solely through his own efforts, as he began his career without capital and without the aid of influential friends, and has at all times depended entirely upon his own resources. Although he values highly material prosperity, he has never made the attainment of wealth his chief aim in life. On the other hand he has at all times adhered to the highest standards of probity and has given of his time, thought and means to the advancement of his town and county and has been willing to aid those less fortunate than himself. He is respected for his ability and loved for his generosity and kindness.
Source: History of Stark County, Illinois, and its people: a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, Hall, J. Knox, Chicago : Pioneer Pub. Co., 1918, p. 51.