Origins of Gallatin’s Dockery Park

Gallatin’s city park bears the name of Governor Dockery who donated 14 acres of land for public use (1906). The park was located on the bluff of the Grand River in northeast Gallatin, along the main way into Gallatin from train depots nearer the river. Later, 6 acres was added to the park.

Gallatin’s city park bears the name of Governor Dockery who donated 14 acres of land for public use (1906). The park was located on the bluff of the Grand River in northeast Gallatin, along the main way into Gallatin from train depots nearer the river. Later, 6 acres was added to the park.

Governor Dockery served as president of the park board for many years. The asset was maintained by a 2 mill tax.

Much of the cultural life of Gallatin centered around the annual Chautauqua held every August in the park. This 9-day event attracted traveling groups of entertainers, and harkened to the type of entertainment used at Chautauqua, New York.

Attractions remembered at the annual event in Gallatin included an eminent wizard of the world’s master magicians, Robert Wassman; a noted author, lecturer and educator, Dr. Burris Jenkins; and popular films featuring Fatty Arbuckle. There were acrobatic acts and musical presentations, animal acts, and gifted soloists. Many of the people who appeared in Dockery Park became celebraties of national and international acclaim.

The Hockensmiths were among the many families that attended Chautauqua held in Dockery Park, Gallatin, MO, each summer for a number of years. This photo taken in 1918 shows William Hockensmith, Olive Myrtle, Mary Margaret, and Grace holding Charlotte.
Dockery Park entrance

 

Residents purchased season tickets and brought tents to the park along with furniture for light housekeeping. Lumber for tent flooring could be rented from the local lumber yard. A stock tank provided drinking water, with tin cups wired to the tank rim. Soft drinks could be purchased, along with peanuts and other snacks and foods.

Stone offices were built to provide shelter for the ticket sellers at both entrances to the park.

— taken from “A Historical Inventory of Daviess County, pp. 103-105.