Q: Solomon Hancock is mentioned in D&C 52:27. What special talent did Solomon have? Was Solomon able to fulfill his desire to go to the West?
A: Solomon Hancock was born in 1793 in Massachusetts. He was a member of the Methodist Church and became their favorite singer in camp meetings. He would often sing duets with Alta Adams, whom he married. He moved from Massachusetts to New York and then to Ohio.
Solomon adhered to the Methodist faith until he received evasive answers from a minister about what happens to children and infants who die. Solomon and Alta had ten children, six of whom died as infants. In 1830 upon hearing Parley P. Pratt preach in the Kirtland vicinity, Solomon requested baptism. In June 1831 he was called to serve a mission with Simeon Carter. They journeyed through Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, organizing branches of the Church.
Solomon moved to Jackson County, Missouri in 1832 and witnessed the violence of the mobs. In 1834 Solomon was appointed to the high council in Clay County. He was serving a second mission to the East when he received word of his wife’s death. The Prophet Joseph penned in his journal, “May the Lord bless him and comfort him in this hour of affliction.’
Solomon returned to Missouri and settled with his living children in Far West in 1836, where he purchased property and again served on the high council. He married Phoebe Adams, the niece of his first wife in June 1836, with whom he had five children. Solomon is remembered for singing at the Far West Temple site dedication in July 1838.
In the spring of 1841, Solomon moved to Lima, Illinois, where he again served on the high council until violence forced him to flee to Nauvoo for protection. As fear of mobocracy lessened, Solomon was appointed president of the Yelrome (Morley spelled backwards) or Morley Settlement, Illinois branch in 1845, an area in the southwest corner of the county, on the Hancock-Adams county line.
In the fall of 1845, Solomon reported that the mobs had burned all the houses on the south side of the branch, Edmund Durfee’s home was the first burned to the ground. But Soloman’s home remained standing and on November 15, 1845, when Edmund Durfee returned to harvest his crops, nightriders set fire to Soloman’s barn. As the men ran out to try to save the barn, Edmund Durfee was shot and killed. His home was burned to the ground. When mobs again threatened, Brigham Young wrote to Solomon advising him and the other members of the settlement to move back to Nauvoo, which they did. Solomon’s father, Thomas, is recorded as having died in Morley’s Settlement in 1844.
By April 1846, Solomon had migrated to Iowa Territory, and his greatest desire was to go west. Lacking the funds for the journey, Solomon found employment clearing timber. When about two-thirds of the land had been cleared, Solomon became critically ill and was unable to finish the job. The employer refused to pay him because the job wasn’t finished. Solomon’s mother died in January 1847 at Council Bluffs. His brother Alvah, died in July 1847. Solomon’s health rapidly declined, and on 2 December 1847, near Council Bluffs, he died at the age of fifty-four. His brother, Thomas III, and his sister, Eliza, both died in January 1848.
While the location of Soloman’s grave isn’t exactly known, a special monument was dedicated to the Hancock Family at Crook’s Cemetery, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, by Franklin Carl Hancock, great, great grandson on June 8, 2005. “. . . we feel it altogether fitting and proper that we re-dedicate and erect a permanent marker so that their loved ones still living may come here and reflect on the lives of these special Saints who sacrificed so much during the early days of the restored Gospel.’
Solomon’s widow, Phoebe, left Winter Quarters in June 1849, in the Allen Taylor Company, with her five children. They arrived in Salt Lake in September and then settled in Payson, Utah. Solomon’s three sons from his first wife also made the journey to Utah. Two of Solomon’s sisters and two of his brothers also made it to Utah.