Biographical Memoirs of Wells County, Indiana, 1903. pp. 105-112.
HON. LEVI MOCK.
Among Indiana's distinguished sons and leading men of affairs the name of Hon. Levi Mock, of Bluffton, has long been pre-eminent. Of commanding intellectual ability and eminent professional attainments, he has been a forceful factor in the legal circles of the state, while as a director of thought and moulder of opinion he is duly recognized and appreciated by his fellow citizens of Bluffton and Wells county. Paternally Mr. Mock is descended from German ancestry and inherits in a marked degree the sturdy characteristics and sterling qualities for which that nationality is distinguished among the peoples of the world. His great-grandfather, Devaulter Mock, was a native of the Fatherland, came to America in the time of the colonies and settled in North Carolina, where he reared a family and lived the life of an honest, industrious and, to a considerable extent, a successful tiller of the soil. Among his children was a son by the name of Daniel, whose birth occurred in North Carolina, and whose marriage was also solemnized in that state. Shortly after taking to himself a wife Daniel Mock moved to Ohio, thence a little later migrated to what is now Randolph county, Indiana, but at that time the western verge of civilization, settling in the beautiful valley of the Mississinnewa, where he afterwards entered lands and developed a farm and became one of the most enterprising and progressive men of the community which he assisted to establish. It is a well authenticated fact that Mr. Mock was the third white man to locate a home within the present limits of Randolph county, and the part he took in the early growth and development of the country entitles him to specific mention as one of its most aggressive pioneers. Physically he was almost a giant and moved among his fellows as one born to command. Five feet ten inches in height and measuring forty-five inches around the chest and correspondingly strong, he was a remarkable specimen of symmetrically developed manhood, being as honest and honorable in his dealings and as unsullied in character as his bodily powers were vigorous. Possessing excellent judgment and strict integrity, he became useful to the early settlers in the adjustment of their business affairs and his advice was eagerly sought and acted upon in matters of more than ordinary moment involving a knowledge of law. Daniel Mock was three times married and had children by each wife, the majority of whom grew to mature years and became useful in their various spheres of life. Enjoying superb health, he lived to a good old age in possession of his physical and mental faculties, having never lost a tooth nor at any time attempted to aid his eyesight by the use of glasses. He departed this life at the age of eighty-four, honored and esteemed by all who knew him, leaving to his descendants the memory of a name untarnished by the slightest suspicion of anything savoring of dishonor.
Emsley Mock, son of Daniel Mock and father of the immediate subject of this review, was born in Ohio in 1813 and when a small boy accompanied his parents to the new home in the wilds of the Mississinnewa. He was reared to young manhood amid the pioneer scenes of Randolph county, chose agriculture as the vocation best suited to his taste and inclinations and continued that pursuit near where the family originally settled until 1869 when he sold his possessions and divided the greater part of the proceeds among his children By industry and good management he not only made a fine farm but succeeded in accumulating an ample competence, with the residue of which he came to Wells county the above year and purchased a small estate near the city of Bluffton. Here he spent the remaining years of his life as a contented agriculturist until called from the scenes of his earthly labors on the 3rd day of January, 1877. Like his father before him, Emsley Mock was a man of herculean physique and strength, attaining a height of six feet five and one-half inches and weighing in health upon an average of two hundred and twenty-five pounds. He was superbly developed mentally as well as physically, independent in thought and action, and the soul of honor in all that constituted true manhood and upright citizenship. His name was a synonym for integrity, his word among his fellows was taken in lieu of his bond in business transactions and the correctness and purity of his motives were never questioned by any one with whom he had dealings. A profound student of the sacred scriptures, he so believed in the goodness and overreaching mercy of an allwise Father as to disassociate his name from the idea of everlasting punishment, a favorite doctrine at that time among orthodox churches and much more frequently discussed than at the present day. His reading and investigation led him to accept the beautiful doctrine of the final salvation of the human race, as consistent with the nature and attributes of God, and he lived in that faith for a number of years, later in life becoming a spiritualist, a belief from which he also derived much pleasure and genuine satisfaction. The wife of Emsley Mock bore the maiden name of Ruth Watson; she was the daughter of James Watson, a native of Pennsylvania, and first saw the light of day in that state, but grew to maturity near Jamestown, Ohio, where her father moved when she was quite a small child. The Watsons were of Irish lineage and members of the family achieved much more than local distinction in different professions and vocations. A brother of Mrs. Mock, Hon. Enos L. Watson, became an eminent member of the Indiana bar and practiced his profession at Winchester for a number of years with distinguished success. His son, Hon. James E. Watson, of that city, is one of the brilliant orators of the west and for four consecutive terms represented his district in the congress of the United States. Mrs. Mock was born in the year 1816 and died at Bluffton in 1897. She became widely known as a leader among the spiritualists of Indiana, took advanced grounds in the advocacy of that belief and for a number of years shone as one of the cult's most brilliant and influential stars. She was a lady of strong mentality, wide reading and beautiful moral character and her influence had much to do in forming the life and shaping the destiny of her distinguished son whose name furnishes the caption of this article. Emsley and Ruth Mock were the parents of three sons and one daughter; the latter's name was Rachel, and when a young woman she became the wife of Emanuel Trostel, of Randolph county, her death subsequently occurring in this city. John G., the second in order of birth, is a well known and prosperous farmer now pursuing his vocation in the county of Wells. The third in succession is Levi, who is the immediate subject of this review, after whom comes James D., also a successful agriculturist of this county.
Levi Mock was born April 20, 1840, in Randolph county, Indiana, and to him fell the good fortune of being reared in close touch with nature on the farm, that fruitful soil from which has sprung much of the nation's political sinew and moral fiber. With the exception of the time spent as a soldier, he remained on the home place until his twenty-sixth year, attending to the varied duties of the farm in the summer and of winter seasons prosecuting his studies in the public schools of the neighborhood. After completing the usual course he secured a teacher's license and for some years divided his time between teaching and attending school, devoting the fall months to the latter and the winter and early spring to the farm. Blessed with excellent parentage, young Mock grew up with intelligent conceptions of life and the dignity of honest, honorable endeavor. Inheriting from his father the splendid physical and mental qualities for which the paternal branch of the family had long been noted, and from his mother equally marked intellectual traits, softened perhaps by the gentle feminine graces which were among her distinguishing characteristics, he early developed vigor of body and independence of mind which enabled him to formulate plans for his future course of life and action. With a well defined object in view, he determined to make the most of his time and circumstances and that he succeeded in carrying out these purposes and realizing in full the ambitious desires of his youthful days is attested by the distinguished course he has since pursued as an influential factor in the political arena and that eminent position which he has attained in professional circles and in the world of affairs. When the national atmosphere became overcast with the approaching clouds of civil war, Mr. Mock did not long discuss the advisability of tendering his services to the government in its hour of need. Animated by patriotic motives, he laid aside his studies and on the 14th of August, 1862, enlisted in Company E, Eighty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, which formed part of the Fourth Army Corps. He saw considerable active service in West Virginia and Kentucky, sharing with his comrades the vicissitudes and fortunes of war until failing health obliged him to leave the ranks and take treatment in a hospital. For a period of sixty-six days he was closely confined to one room and such were the sad effects which disease made upon his erstwhile vigorous constitution that at the end of that time he was pronounced unfit for further effective duty; accordingly in April, 1863, he received his discharge and as soon as possible thereafter he returned to his old home, where, under more salutary influences and surroundings, he in due time regained a goodly portion of his wonted health.
As soon as sufficiently recovered Mr. Mock resumed his studies, which, with teaching, engaged his time until 1866, when he began reading law under the guidance of his uncle, Hon. Enos L. Watson, of Winchester. Much of his study was prosecuted at home during his hours of leisure and with such assiduity did he apply himself to his books that his Sundays were devoted exclusively to their perusal and not infrequently would he pore over his text of nights until the still small hours of the morning admonished him to recuperate his jaded energies with a little sleep. Meanwhile he would recite to his uncle at stated intervals, receive his instruction, and in this way he continued his investigations in the realm of legal science until sufficiently advanced to engage in the practice. Mr. Mock's preliminary studies covered a period of about two years, at the expiration of which time he located at Bluffton where, in February, 1869, he was formally admitted to the bar. Here he soon made his presence felt, not alone in his profession, but also in local politics as is attested by the fact of his election as mayor of the city within nine months after his arrival. So ably did he discharge the duties of this position that he was retained in the office by successive reelections from the year 1869 to 1873 inclusive, and in 1875 he was again made the city's chief executive, serving in all eight gears, the last two under the amended charter which extended the term of mayor to two years. In 1870 Mr. Mock entered into a law partnership with Hon. Joseph S. Dailey, the firm thus constituted lasting for a period of eighteen years, during which time it built up a business second in volume and importance to that of no other legal firm in northeastern Indiana, the two distinguished members easily ranking with the ablest and most successful lawyers in this section of the state. They represented either the plaintiff or defendant in nearly every important case tried in the courts of Wells county during the existence of the partnership, in addition to which their practice extended to many other counties, also to the supreme and federal courts where they added to their already firmly established reputations as masters of their profession. The firm of Dailey & Mock was dissolved by the appointment of the former to the circuit judgeship, from which time Mr. Mock was with Abe Simmons in the practice until about 1893 when he took John and George, his two sons, who have since been partners, under the name of Mock & Sons.
By the sheer force of his powerful personality, as well by reason of combining within himself the essential elements of leadership, Mr. Mock forged to the front in the councils of the Democratic party and within a short time after locating at Bluffton became an acknowledged power in local and state politics. In 1882 he was elected joint representative from the counties of Adams, Jay and Wells to the general assembly, and two years later served in the legislature from Wells and Blackford counties and in 1886 was elected from Wells county. His career as a law maker fully justified the wisdom of his choice and wild little or no exception met the high expectations of his constituents irrespective of party. He became one of the most influential members of the body and both in the committee room and on the floor did much towards moulding public thought and shaping legislation. Through his instrumentality many important laws were passed which have had a decidedly beneficial influence on the state and as a leader of the Democratic side of the house he was untiring in his efforts to strengthen party lines and promote a spirit of harmony in the organization throughout Indiana. For four years, beginning with the year 1889 and ending with 1893, Mr. Mock was a member of the board of directors of the Northern Indiana Prison at Michigan City, in which capacity his business-like methods and untiring efforts were of especial value to the state. He looked carefully after the interest of this institution and the welfare of its inmates, and took advanced grounds as to the proper management and treatment of the criminal classes. The board's report to the governor contains the following statement expressive of his views upon this important matter: "The board is of the opinion that crime is a disease resulting from heredity and environment, and that no man should be punished for what he does, but should be imprisoned to protect society, and while in prison it is the duty of the state to elevate his manhood to a higher standard if possible, which can only be done by moderate labor, kind treatment and moral suasion." This broad humanitarian view of one of the most difficult and perplexing problems that has been engaging the attention of the management of penal institutions, although in advance of the age, was not without a decided effect upon the chief executive and law-making power, for since the adoption of the report the Southern Prison has been made an infirmary, thus revolutionizing the government of the two institutions which formerly obtained.
Mr. Mock has long been interested in the agricultural development of his own and other counties and has done much to encourage and foster modern methods of farming and other industries growing out of husbandry. In 1879 he was elected president of the Wells County Agricultural Society and during his incumbency devoted much time and energy to place the organization upon a firm financial basis so that it would answer the noble purposes for which it was originally designed. Additional to the official stations already referred to, he has been identified at different times with various enterprises calculated to promote the industrial growth of Bluffton, while all movements having for their end the material prosperity of the city or county have been sure of his encouragement and support. He is indeed public spirited, taking an active interest in whatever tends to the material advancement of the community and, having implicit faith in the future of the city of his residence, has done as much if not more than any of his fellow citizens to advertise its advantages to the world as a favorable business center, a safe place wherein to invest capital and a desirable residence location.
Reference has already been made to Mr. Mock's power and influence as a politician. In every campaign his voice is heard and as a strong, logical and eloquent speaker he has few superiors on the hustings in the state. Thoroughly grounded in the basic principles of jurisprudence and familiar with the intricacies of practice, he stands with few peers as an able and conscientious lawyer, looking upon his profession as the means by which wrongs may be righted, justice done and society and the state protected. At different times he has been called to the bench and there, as before the court, his attainments have shone with peculiar luster, fully demonstrating a masterly grasp of great legal questions and an ability to render decisions in strict harmony with the letter and the spirit of the law. He served as special judge in the courts of Wells, Adams, Jay, Blackford, Huntington, Allen and Grant counties, frequently occupying the bench for weeks at a time, and while serving thus his opinions were characterized by lucidity and great legal acumen, his rulings were fair and impartial and his decisions, devoid of technical verbiage, but clear, explicit, incisive and embodying every point at issue, seldom if ever suffered reversal at the hands of the supreme court.
Personally Mr. Mock is a gentleman of unblemished reputation and the strictest integrity and his private character as well as his career in public places and as custodian of high and important trusts has always been above reproach. He is a vigorous as well as an independent thinker and has the courage of his convictions upon all subjects which he investigates. He is also strikingly original, prosecutes his researches after his own peculiar fashion and cares little for conventionalism or for the sanctity attaching to person or place by reason of artificial distinction, accident of birth or tradition. He is essentially cosmopolitan in his ideas, a man of the people in all the term implies and in the best sense of the word a representative type of that strong, virile American manhood which commands and retains respect by reason of inherent merit, sound sense and correct conduct. Like his father and grandfather before him, Mr. Mock is a man of heroic mould and superb physical proportions. His commanding height of six and a half feet and correspondingly large but well knit frame, weighing two hundred and sixty pounds, makes him a marked figure wherever he goes and he is sure to attract attention in any crowd or assemblage as a man born to leadership. With his splendid build he likewise possesses almost unlimited endurance and knows not by practical experience the meaning of weariness or fatigue such as the average mortal feels. Mr. Mock is a great lover of manly sports and nearly every year finds pleasure in hunting bear, deer and other game in the forests of Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota and other western states and territories, frequently prolonging these excursions for weeks and months in the pursuit of his favorite pastime. He is usually accompanied by a few congenial spirits and in this way, far from the distractions of courts and the trammels of civilization, they throw care to the winds, forget their annoyances in the joys of the hour and for one brief season at least get in close touch with nature by throwing off artificial restraints and imbibing in some degree the unseen spirit pervading the universe.
Mr. Mock is a man of domestic tastes and takes a loving interest in the beautiful and attractive home of which he is the head. He was happily married on the 19th of November, 1871, to Miss Rebecca C. Patterson, daughter of Samuel and Mary (McFarlin) Patterson, who moved to this county in an early day from Beaver county, Pennsylvania, where Mrs. Mock was born. Mr. and Mrs. Mock are the parents of three children, John, George and Charles, the first two members of the Bluffton bar and associated with their father in the practice under the firm name of Mock & Sons. They read law under the father's direction and each was admitted to the bar on the day he attained his majority. Mr. Mock has been an active member of the Masonic fraternity for over thirty years and stands high in the order, having taken a number of degrees, including that of the Royal Arch. He is also identified with the Improved Order of Red Men, being a charter member of the camp meeting in Bluffton, and is also a charter member of the Elks. A careful and conscientious investigation of spiritualism led him to accept that beautiful and satisfactory belief and he is now one of its most intelligent advocates, though by no means narrow or intolerant in his views, according to everybody the same right of opinion which he claims for himself.