W. J. Hancock
W.J. Hancock, of Saugatuck, Mich., purser of the City of Milwaukee, hailed from Jefferson county, N. Y., from which locality came more sailors than from almost any other section of the country, and those men coming from there were called "Ciscoe Chasers."
Young Hancock is a great-great-grandson of John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and a third cousin of the late Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. The Hancocks were of English origin and early settlers of Connecticut. Our subject's parents were W. J. and Harriet (Paget) Hancock. The father was born in 1812, and the mother born in 1832, at Rural Hill, N. Y. His father in early manhood was a school teacher and later a commercial traveler. His death occurred in 1885, at Mansville, N. Y. Mr. Hancock remained with his mother until he was twenty-one years of age, when he came to Saugatuck, Mich., to live with an uncle, W.B. Griffin, who was engaged in carrying on a sawmill there in connection with other lines of business. His uncle employed him as fireman at the mill, giving him one dollar per day for his services, and in this position he remained several months, when he was promoted to fireman of the new Saugatuck, a boat owned by Mr. Griffin, serving several months, when he was again promoted, this time being made clerk of the Saugatuck. The boat was then in the trade between Saugatuck and Chicago, its cargo being principally fruit. He remained on her that season and was engaged for the next, but in the meantime the boat was sold to Sans & Maxwell, of Pentwater, Mich., who retained the services of both the clerk and the engineer. Mr. Hancock occupied the position of clerk until the boat was laid up in the fall, when he was offered a position with the late W. B. O'Sands, of Pentwater, in his store, which he accepted. The following spring he was offered a clerkship on the steamer Kalamazoo, owned by Sans & Maxwell, his former employers, which position he filled, thus beginning his third year on the water. The Kalamazoo ran from the Michigan coast to the Graham & Morton docks in Chicago, Mr. Hancock acting as clerk, steward and general man. During the season, Mr. Morton, of the Graham & Morton Transportation Co., who happened in Chicago, came on board the boat and after a conversation with him, an application was filed for a clerkship on one of that company's line of steamers. Nothing more was heard of this until the following spring, although engaged for another season on the Kalamazoo, he was released by his employers, as a better position was tendered him. On May 1, 1889, he accepted the position for which he had applied, with Graham & Morton Transportation Co., and went on board their steamer Puritan, which plied between Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and Chicago. He remained on this boat until she was sold, two years later, at which time he was given the position of purser on the lost steamer Chicora. He was on the steamer City of Chicago until December 1, when the winter trips to Milwaukee were begun. He missed several trips on the Chicora, at that time visiting the World's Fair, and until her fatal trip being at home with his wife. He received a telegram from the president of the Graham & Morton Transportation Co., just too late to enable him to catch the train which would reach Milwaukee in time for him to board the Chicora on her fatal trip which sealed the doom of all his shipmates. After the loss of the Chicora, the Graham & Morton Co. gave him his old position on one of their steamers, and he has since been the purser of their newly fitted up and elegant steamer City of Milwaukee.
On December 30, 1891, Mr. Hancock was married to Miss Caddie Barber, of Saugatuck, a daughter of D. L. Barber, an old resident and prominent merchant of that place, which is the site of the scene laid down in E. P. Roe's "Opening of a Chestnut Burr." Mr. Hancock is one of the brightest young men on the lakes to-day, and we predict for him a bright future.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.