One of the best known citizens of Gallatin, MO, was Alexander Monroe Dockery (1845-1926) — Missouri’s first governor of the 20th Century. He is known as a great Missourian who believed in the principles of Thomas Jefferson. He dedicated his public and political service to an advancement of these principles.
Mr. Dockery was born Feb. 11, 1845, five miles south of Gallatin. He attended several medical schools and practiced medicine at Linneus in Linn County and also at Chillicothe. Dr. Dockery gave up medical service in 1874, returning to his home town of Gallatin to become a director and cashier and secretary of the Farmers Exchange Bank.
Cashier Dockery served with T.B. Yates for 13 years. Mr. Yates was the bank president from 1874 to 1892. John W. Meade took the cashier’s job in July, 1886, and became president in July, 1899.
Dockery began his national career in 1882 when he was elected to Congress from the 3rd Congressional District. Congressman Dockery served eight terms in the House of Representatives (16 years).
In 1900, Congressman Dockery was elected governor of Missouri. He served one 4-year term. In 1913 Gov. Dockery was appointed Assistant Postmaster General by President Woodrow Wilson and he served throughout both of Wilson’s terms.
These are perhaps Dockery’s best noted stints in public service. But he also served in other modes and was well-known in Gallatin. He had a dignified yet simple bearing and charming character. He had an unforgettable smile and wink, a warm hand clasp, high ideals and outstanding ability. Dockery also had a great love for children, perhaps heightened by the loss of all of his own children.
Dockery was the son of the Rev. Willis E. and Sarah McHaney Dockery. His father was a distinguished minister of the Methodist Church. Alex continued in that faith and his funeral service was at the Gallatin Methodist Church. His body was placed at the Edgewood Cemetery in Chillicothe. Beside his children and his wife who preceded him in death.
Dr. Dockery married Mary E. Bird on April 14, 1869. All of the seven children born of this union died in infancy. Mrs. Dockery died at the State Executive Mansion in Jefferson City in January, 1903. She was the daughter of Greenup Bird of Daviess County.
Gov. Dockery was active as a Mason. In May, 1883, he was elected Grand Master of Missouri. Gov. Dockery was also elected Grand Master of Missouri Odd Fellows in May, 1910, then the only person in the state to hold both places of honor.
Dockery died in Gallatin at the home of Mrs. E.S. Gregory on Dec. 26, 1926. In an editorial published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the following description was given to the “first Missouri governor of the 20th Century:”
“He was an honest and well-intentioned as well as able man. His humorous wink and the high-top boots he always wore are minor symbols of a vanishing political era in Missouri and may be called to mind longer than much more important things associated with other leaders.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch speaks of Gov. Dockery as a great Missourian. “For more than 40 years, then, he was a man of consequence in the Democratic party, and one whose qualities were esteemed by all citizens familiar with public affairs. Those qualities were substantial rather than striking. Mr. Dockery possessed an abundance of common sense and a scrupulous honesty against which no breath of suspicion was raised… a politician of the old school, who loved the game in all its aspects, a citizen of worth and character, his name belongs in the list of Great Missourians.”
The Farmers Exchange Bank had passed away a few months prior to Gov. Dockery’s death (in March, 1926) followed in less than a week by the Farmers Bank of Jameson and the Bank of Jameson. All closed by the state’s State Finance Commissioner.
— written by David Stark, Daviess County Historical Society