One of Gallatin’s most distinguished citizens, Alexander Monroe Dockery, was born in 1845 in a log cabin on Honey Creek south of town. From this humble beginning emerged an outstanding city, county, state and national official.
Dockery forwent a medical career to enter the banking business in Gallatin in 1874, establishing the Farmers Exchange Bank. It was soon recognized as one of the best rural banks in the state.
Always deeply committed to his community, Dockery served as a city councilman and in 1881 was elected mayor of Gallatin. He was soon caught up in the excitement and challenge of political life and in 1882 he ran for Congress and was elected. He served eight terms and was so popular and efficient that he was never opposed for re-election in all those 16 years. He authored many important pieces of legislation.
One of his recorded statements: “Unnecessary taxation leads to surplus revenue, surplus revenue begets extravagance, and extravagance sooner or later is surely followed by corruption.”
With the close of the 55th Congress, Rep. Dockery declined to run again. He came home in the spring of 1899 and announced himself a candidate for Governor of Missouri. Since the election was two years away, this gave him time to prepare for his campaign and attend to his ex-officio duties as a road overseer in Daviess County. For over 30 years he had devoted a part of his summers to the highways around Gallatin.
As a road overseer he wore no coat; he donned a big straw hat and a pair of pants. The word “pants” is used advisedly since in those days pants cost less than four dollars while trousers cost six dollars up. He always wore boots whether on the road or elsewhere.
One of his greatest achievements was to grade Lamma Hill, and make Gallatin accessible from the Wabash railroad station 180 feet below the town, and two and one-half miles away.
The day of his nomination for governor was cause for celebration in Gallatin. All business was suspended and a huge crowd gathered at the Rock Island depot to greet him on his arrival from the convention. The “colored” band, in full uniform, was there and “The Cab,” used to haul passengers from the depot to uptown Gallatin, was also positioned to haul him up Lamma Hill into town.
Instead of the usual team of horses, however, townspeople had fashioned a long rope and he was pulled to town by his supporters while the horses rested.
Dockery easily won the election and was inducted into office at Jefferson City January 1, 1901. His was an efficient and progressive administration and several Gallatin friends were appointed to key positions. The greatest sorrow of his life occurred in 1903 when his wife, Mary, died in the mansion. She had lived her life with the man she loved and was buried beside their five children who preceded them in death.
After serving his term of office, Dockery returned to Grand River country and the people who were dearest to him. He proved to be a most energetic and generous civic leader and assisted his town and county with several notable public works. In his declining years he became a self-appointed overseer for Union Township. He traveled the highways and byways in his road wagon drawn by an old gray mare, always seeking chuck holes and culverts in need of repair. His work force consisted of one negro gentleman, Mose Miles, equipped with a pick and shovel (which did not show too much wear).
During a trip to Washington in 1913 to attend the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson, he and Congressman J.W. Alexander called on the president. Wilson appointed Dockery as assistant postmaster general. Dockery spent the next seven years straightening out postal fiscal matters and improving its operation. He retired in 1919.
Gov. Dockery’s portrait hangs today in the courtroom of the Daviess County courthouse. He is remembered for his generosity in donating 15 acres of wooded land in the northeast part of town for a park which today bears his name. Seldom does a citizen stand so high in the esteem of fellow citizens. He was thoughtful, kind and courteous to all.
The first Gallatin High School yearbook, “The Gallamo,” was dedicated to A.M. Dockery. He had founded the high school library, served on the board of education, provided scholarships and other prizes. Perhaps as a reflection of his love for the children he and Mary lost, he established an annual Dockery Day on his birthday and all school children were admitted free to the Courter Theater to see a current movie.
Gov. Dockery died in 1926. Hundreds attended the services held at the Gallatin Methodist Church. He was buried beside his wife and children in a Chillicothe cemetery.