Week 9: #52 Ancestors – Multiples
By Eilene Lyon
“Mr. Weston – It seems to be concluded that late keeping apples are a desideratum for California cultivation, our long dry seasons prematurely ripening the varieties usually keeping well in northern latitudes. I have late keeping varieties, acclimated to southern latitudes…which you will please test as to their quality.” Charles Mock – June 14, 1859 in a letter to the Sonoma County Journal
My 3rd great-grandmother, Christina (Mock) Davis Cooke, had seven brothers. Their parents were David and Elizabeth (Hoover) Mock of Davidson County, North Carolina. The Mocks moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, in the 1830s. Four of the seven Mock brothers ended up in Sonoma County, California, in the mid-19th century.
Two of the brothers (both single), Wesley and his older brother, William, headed to California from Missouri with the 49ers. They spent three years mining on the Feather and Yuba Rivers, though they did return to Missouri in 1850.1
The two “Gold Hunters” were enumerated in Missouri in the 1850 census, taken in October.2 Presumably, they decided to put their affairs in order to move to California permanently.
Wesley and William relocated to Sonoma County in 1853 to take up farming. Two more brothers joined them there soon after. Charles, the eldest of the Mock children, brought his family all the way from North Carolina. He and his wife had been running a school for girls back east, but Charles was also a committed agriculturalist, running a nursery and orchard.3 He brought fruit trees with him to the west coast.
The last of the four brothers was John Lewis Mock. He moved to Missouri with his parents when he was 19 years old. Like Charles, he brought a wife and children to Sonoma County. He continued his work as a farmer and was very active in the local grange. He also had a nursery selling fruit trees.4
John was actually in California when the 1850 census taker came around to his home in Missouri, but they enumerated him with his family anyway.5 History books don’t mention him traveling west with Wesley and William, but he may have. More likely, he went to California to take over his brothers’ claims so they could go to Missouri for the winter.
All four brothers, and their wives and children, became well-known in the Petaluma and Santa Rosa areas. Their longevity earned William and Wesley biographical notes in local history books. William’s life story has some items of particular interest.
In 1832, he became a cadet at West Point, where he studied engineering and was graduated in 1836. He also developed his skills as a portrait artist.6 Upon graduation, he began writing a diary of his travels that included a visit to his parents and siblings at their new land in Missouri – they hadn’t yet finished their log cabin. While there, he received a 2nd Lieutenant commission to serve in the Seminole War in Florida.7
“About the first of September a communication from the war department reached me embracing a brivet 2nd Lieutenant commission and orders to report for duty by the 30th inst. I accepted the commission and on the 14th inst set out to join my regiment.” – William Mock Diary 1836
Tiring of military service, at the rank of Captain, he handed in his resignation to his superior, William T. Sherman, in 1841 and returned to Missouri.8 He served as the Lafayette County surveyor until heading to California.
In Sonoma County, William turned his engineering skills to good use, inventing a horse-powered hay baling machine in 1865. It operated much like a threshing machine.9
It appears that all the Mock brothers made notable contributions to the development of agriculture in Sonoma County. They also served in a variety of civic roles. I do have to wonder what their farm lands would be worth today. Probably more than the gold they found!
Did any of your relatives go to California in the gold rush? What have you learned about them?
Feature image: These draft horses are preparing to power a threshing machine (below). They will march in a circle and a series of gears will turn the drive shaft seen lying on the ground. Another series of gears at the threshing machine operate it in the place of steam power. Taken at Prairie Village near Madison, South Dakota. (E. Lyon 2015)
Note: The impetus for this blog post came from a news report last week in the New York Times that informed me of the terrible grizzly bear mauling death of 40-year-old Charles W. Mock IV. I don’t know if/how this unfortunate man is related to my Mock ancestors (it’s not an unusual name), though both lines go back to Rowan County, NC. I extend my sincere condolences to his family.
John L. Mock of Petaluma, Sonoma County, had a son named Charles Wesley Mock who died in Tacoma, Washington, in 1898, as a result of a bicycle collision (he on one bike, a woman on another). He is not in the line of Charles W. Mock IV above. The family use of the name Wesley may stem from their connection with the Methodist Church.
- Gregory, Tom. 1911 History of Sonoma County, California, With Biographical Sketches… Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, pp. 426, 1046. ↩
- William Mock and Wesley Mock. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Lafayette, Missouri; Roll: 403; Page: 232b – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145289218/charles-mock ↩
- “Fruit Trees.” Petaluma Argus, December 17, 1861, p. 2 – via Newspapers.com. AND “Petaluma Grange.” Petaluma Weekly Argus, February 25, 1876, p. 3 – via Newspapers.com. ↩
- John L. Mock. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Lafayette, Missouri; Roll: 403; Page: 244a – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Gregory, p. 1045. ↩
- William Mock Diary 1836-1841. Transcription by Barbara Webster, posted on Ancestry.com. Original in the collection of United States Military Academy (West Point). ↩
- https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Army/USMA/AOG_Reunions/31/William_Mock*.html ↩
- “Mock’s Roller Hay Press.” Petaluma Weekly Argus, July 13, 1865 p. 2 – via Newspapers.com. ↩