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My Life is an Open Book
(Donna Cooper has been kind enough to share with us an excerpt from the writings of her great-great-grandfather. Those interested in the Hancock, Vickery and Burris lineage may E-mail Donna for more information.)

In about 1958 Imogene Hancock May copied Rev G.B. Hancock's family notes which were kept by Pearl Williams Wilson. Many years later the notes were printed by Imogene Hancock May. "My Life is an Open Book" is a collection of writings which are nothing more than some hand written notes that G.B. Hancock had written and passed down to his offspring about his life. The booklet gives a lot of data about his family back in the hills of Kentucky. It extends his life into those hard struggles of being a child whose parents died leaving him alone to the world.

 As a child, in the hills of Gap Creek in Wayne Co., he lived with one relative and another until he finally came to Missouri. When G.B Hancock arrived in Missouri, he first settled in the Macon Co., Mo., where he met and married his wife, Mary Minerva Burris. It was not until later that he moved his family to Barry and Stone Counties, Missouri. However he and his wife, Mary are buried at Marrs Hill in Stone Co., Mo.

When Rev G.B. Hancock's daughter, Sally Pearl, died on Nov 13, 1905, the "notes" or "Hancock scrapbook" became the precious possession of her (Sally Pearl's) child, Pearl, who so graciously loaned it to Imogene Hancock May and Imogene took it to a hometown publisher, and then the Hancock notes were passed around to family members, and it became "Grandpa's book" published about 1958, without a copyright, under the name of "My Life is an Open Book". In the front of the booklet is a picture of G.B. Hancock, his wife Mary Minerva Burris whom he married 1859 in Macon Co., Mo. and all his children which are listed as such: Martha Ella Newman, Martin Luther Hancock, Clara Elizabeth Berryhill, Oscar Jeff Hancock, William Calvin Hancock, Trusa Etta Wilson, Minerva Emmaline Smith, Charles Tuggle Hancock, Sally Pearl Williams, Ben Abner Hancock, and Ina Cordelia Hancock.

For the sake of interest I have transcribed parts of the notebook collection that seems to have a bit of historical nature. The notes I have added are enclosed with brackets...Donna Cooper. 

My Life is an Open Book
by Rev. G.B. Hancock

My father, Benjamin Hancock, was born in N.C. near the Virginia line, in the year 1778. The old family record was lost during the late war -- we cannot give many dates.

He was the son of Benjamin Hancock, a brother, we learned from an old uncle on my mother's side, of John Hancock, whose name stands at the head of the list of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. My grandfather was a soldier through the entire War of Revolution. (My note: Ben received a military grant on Gap Creek for his military service. He was a Revelotionary Veteran from Fluvana Co., Va., then Randolph Co., N.C.) At an early date he moved to what was called the new purchase of Kentucky. As land was not valuable convenience was the main item in selecting a location, they settled on Gap Creek, Wayne County. He was the second settler in that part, a family by the name of Stockton having preceded him.

Here game, timber, water and Indians were plentiful, but they had to go one hundred miles to get their grinding. At the age of forty-two years my father was married to Elizabeth Vickery. (My note: Wayne Co., Ky records show they were married in Dec 10, 1820) To them ten children were born, six sons and four daughters. Three of the daughters died in early childhood. June 7th, 1839, the writer of these lines was born.

In some respects our father was an eccentric man. In naming his sons this appeared. The first son was christened, Jessee Emsly John Vickery Hancock, the second, William Luther Martin Daniel, the third, Benjamin Francis Henry Tuggle, the fourth, James Calvin Delay, the fifth George Berry Dandridge Cruz, and the writer, Leland Golmon Buford Kimbrel. Our oldest brother died where we were but a child. Except the third the others, for the sake of convenience, just kept tow of their initials.

(My note: the history of the family is in the naming of these children. Example: Benjamin Hancock was one grandfather's name and Francis Vickery was another grandfather's name. Some of the children have names of uncles, etc. Their names are the story of their family history and are a most interesting study within its self.)

At an early date my father erected a water mill on his farm, which did the grinding or most of it for the neighborhood. He was a farmer, a miller, a justice of the peace, and a Baptist preacher. He never attained to notoriety as a preacher, but was a man of considerable influence and after he ceased to be a JP when a difference would arise in the neighborhood all appeared to be willing to leave it to Uncle Ben, as he was familiarly known. He had no concern so far as the goods of this world were concerned beyond a reasonable supply of food and raiment.

He was a friend of the poor, the widow and orphan. He raised four orphans and looked to the extent of his ability after objects of charity. I heard in my childhood how many such objects have died in his house, but do not now remember. We will know after awhile when the books are opened.

My father inherited the old homestead. (My Note: He says that Benj Hancock Sr. lived there on the same property before his father Benj Hancock Jr. According to Benj Sr's will the property was to be divided between Jessy and Benjamin Jr after he and his wife passed on.)

The house was a hewed log house, covered with chestnut shingles, covered when nails were not to be had. The shingles were pinned to the laths. When not quite four years old (My note: ca 1843) my mother died, leaving a girl baby, something over a year old, the only girl in the family. (Her name is believed to have been A.W. Hancock.) Our father had to tend his mill, superintend the farm, and attend his meetings; neighbor women were kind, but we were a family of neglected ones. My oldest brother had gone into the tanning business, and looking after a wife. It was a good farmer in those days that could afford biscuit for breakfast Sunday mornings. Uncle John Hicks came nearer doing so than most men in that part. Uncle John had a grown daughter, and brother often went to the Hicks' residence. And we were always rejoiced when we could think brother had gone to see Miss Hicks; for she would fill his coat pockets with biscuits for us children. And now if I should at any place where I stop to hold a meeting find a family that could make biscuit that would taste half as well as those did I certainly would make that my home while in those parts. Brother married a Miss Huffaker, but in a little over a year they were both laid in the Arter Creek Cemetery. (My note: Wayne Co. deed books show the spelling to Otter Creek.)

Before I reached my thirteenth birthday (ca 1852) father was called to go. He called me his boy baby. He was old and feeble, and was only sick about two days. In the evening before he died at night he asked for his lips to be moistened. I got some water and a rag and wet his mouth. He then fixed his eyes upon me, and with an effort that called for all his strength he prayed for the blessing of God to rest upon his boy. These were his last words. We were then a broken family. The third brother took charge of the little girl, the boys each had to care for himself. If children who have a home and kind parents that they fail to appreciate could only spend a few months as we spent the next few years, it would perhaps be a good schooling.

After the death of my father I went first to live with an aunt on my mother's side. This was a mistake, not that I could have gone into a nicer family than Doctor Fleming's. Kinder old folks, or nicer children I could not have been with. Aunt was one of the nicest hands in the country to make cloth. Father kept sheep and raised flax, and had cloth made twice a year. He would have jeans enough made in the fall to make the boys each two pair of pants and a hunting shirt. In the spring he would have tow and flax cloth made. Each of the boys would get two pair of tow pants.

The larger boys that were wanting to get out into society would get a flax pair for Sunday use. Some times there would be sufficient flax scraps to make the "boy baby" a pair of pants. When such was the case there would be one cheerful heart in that family. When the cloth would be ready the women of the neighborhood would come, in mass, cut and make the garments. Upon one occasion a woman that did not understand her business as she might have done was given the task of cutting and making my flax pants.

She missed it so far in cutting that when they were done I could not get into them. I was always of a forgiving disposition, but I am not consious at the present time that I ever did forgive that woman. Father had to economise, so the jeans cloth would be bark colored. Aunt Fleming (My note: This was Dorcas Vickery Fleming) would make blue mixed jeans. She not only made blue mixed of a fine quality, but for her boys a Sunday suit she would mix in Turkey red enough to give an extra appearance.

It was winter time when I went to live with that family. Aunt gave me a nice fitting suit of her extra jeans. Well, Joseph may have thought as much of his coat of divers colors, but I am sure he did not think any more of his coat than I did of my suit. And now, if I could have a suit of as nice jeans as that was you preacher could have your Prince Albert, and welcome. (Dorcas Vickery, sister of Elizabeth Vickery Hancock, married Dulaney R. Fleming, 11 Sept 1833 in Wayne Co., KY)

My father was a very indulgent parent. Except when I had to stay with little sister I was my father's constant companion. After Creek Baptist meeting house was built on Father's land, Gap Creek was between our residence and the meeting house. (Wayne Co., Ky records show where Benj Hancock deeded land to the members of Otter Creek Church of Wayne, $2.00 per acre which includes the Meeting House now occupied by its members, lying on the waters of Otter Creek, beginning at a white oak.../s/ Benjamin Hancock. Witness William (x) Rains, Benjamin Hancock Jr, John Craig. Deed Book B, page 26. June 8, 1814. Recorded Mar 20, 1815 page 219-220.)

Father was old and tottery. In crossing the creek and in climbing the hill upon which the meeting house stood he would brace himself on his right side with his cane and on the other by resting his left hand on my shoulder. Whenever I was with him I was a happy boy, whether on the road, the farm or about the little water mill. After his death I missed his kind counsel, his words of encouragement, and above all his caressing live. I longed to be the object of someone's affection and tender care.

Uncle and Aunt Fleming were kind, but they had a large family of children, and boys near my size, that made me feel that I was one there for who there was no room. Spring opened, I longed for home. My oldest living brother had married and lived at the old home. I went back with the idea of living there, but it was no longer home. I went to live with a cousin by marriage, I was taken sick and they sent me back to my brother's to be care for.

When I had sufficiently recovered I went into an adjoining county to live with a second cousin by marriage. They were inclined to be tyrannical. While there I determined to become a Christian, but was prevented. Although but fourteen years of age I was decidedly of a religious turn of made of common domestic. A few miles from there, in what was known as Caney Gap, lived an aged widow by the name of Beck. She and a dt about 35 years old lived alone, except what time F.E. Beck, a grandson, and a Baptist preacher, stayed with them. They wanted a boy to stay with them. Hearing of me, and being well acquainted with father, as he was one of their kind of preachers, they concluded I was the boy they wanted.

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