Alexander M. Dockery — A Chillicothe perspective

Alexander M. Dockery is buried beneath a red marble obelisk that towers 15 feet or so into the air at Edgewood Cemetery in Chillicothe. But Gallatin claims Dockery as a native son because he was born in a log cabin on Honey Creek, five miles south of Gallatin on Feb. 11, 1845. He moved back to Gallatin when he was almost 30 years old and made a fortune from founding and serving as cashier of Farmer’s Exchange Bank in Gallatin.

Dockery moved around frequently as a child because his father, Willis E. Dockery, was an itinerant Methodist Episcopal preacher. His mother, Sarah Ellen Dockery, weary of the frequent moves, finally insisted that Willis buy the family a permanent home in Chillicothe. Many of Dockery’s boyhood years were spent in Chillicothe.

Dockery graduated from St. Louis Medical College in 1865, just a month before the official end of the Civil War. He practiced for three years in Linneus. In 1868, he moved his practice to Chillicothe.

On April 14, 1869, he married Mary Bird, daughter of Chillicothe banker Greenup Bird and they made their home in Chillicothe. As a young doctor, Dockery advanced himself quickly. He served as Livingston County physician from 1870 to 1874, as president of the Chillicothe Board of Education from 1871 to 1873, and in 1972 was selected as a member of the board of curators for the University of Missouri.

In March, 1874, at the age of 29, Dockery went into a business partnership with Chillicothe druggist Thomas Bootin Yates. Both men moved their families to Gallatin, and they bought the private banking house of Armstrong & Thompson, changing the name to Farmer’s Exchange Bank. Yates served as president and Dockery as cashier. The bank prospered until late into the 20th century. Charlie Litton served on the bank board for many years.

Dockery served as a Gallatin city councilman from 1879 to 1883, when he was made mayor. That same year he was elected to Congress for this district. He served as U.S. representative until 1899, a not-too-shabby 16 years. In 1901, he was elected as Missouri governor and served one term. Beginning in 1913, he served six years as an assistant U.S. postmaster for this area.

— written in 2002 by Dave Kinnamon,
staff writer for the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune