Biography of William Horner Cocke

With various corporate interests William Horner Cocke has been closely associated, these various business enterprises benefiting by the stimulus of his industry, keen sagacity and capable management. He has made for himself a most creditable position in business circles and since 1908 has been president and general manager of the Commercial Acid Company which in 1918 became the Southern Acid & Sulphur Company of St. Louis, while with various other concerns he is also associated as stockholder or official. He was born in City Point, Virginia, September 12, 1874. His father, Henry Teller Cocke, was born in Prince George county, Virginia, October 5, 1841, and came of English ancestry, the family having been founded in Surry county, Virginia, in 1684. Representatives in the direct line remained In Prince George county, which was formerly a part of Surry county until William H. Cocke left Missouri in 1894 or for a period of two hundred and ten years. They were always prominent in the social and political life of Virginia. Henry Teller Cocke served for four years with the Prince George Cavalry of the Confederate army and in days of peace devoted his time to farming and merchandising. He married Elizabeth Welsh Horner in December, 1870. She was born April 3, 1848, at Warrenton, Virginia, and was also of English lineage, the Horners having first settled at Port Tobacco, Maryland, but in the early part of the eighteenth century they removed to Fauquier county, Virginia. Henry Teller Cocke died on the 20th of December, 1888, and his wife passed away February 27, 1918, having long survived her husband.

William Horner Cocke obtained a high school education at Staunton, Virginia, where he studied for a year and afterward spent four years in the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, Virginia, being there graduated in June, 1894, with first honors in his class, receiving the first Jackson Hope Medal. He was adjutant of the Battalion of Cadets during his course in military school and became commandant of cadets and professor of mathematics at the Kemper Military Academy, Boonville, Missouri, with which he was thus connected from 1894 until 1897.

Determining upon the practice of law as a life work, however, he prepared for the profession and was graduated from the law department of Washington University in St. Louis in 1898. In the following year he entered upon the active practice of law and continued to devote his energies and attention to the profession until 1906. He then became president of the St. Louis Chemical Company and so continued until 1908, when he organized the Commercial Acid Company and was chosen president and general manager thereof. The name of this company was changed to Southern Acid and Sulphur Company in 1918. He is a director of the American Trust Company of St. Louis and of the Southern Coal, Coke & Mining Company of St. Louis. He has devoted his entire time to the development of his business except while active in the army. He was also a director for three years of the Title Guaranty Trust Company.

On the 20th of December, 1905, Mr. Cocke was married to Miss Anne Jeannette Owen, a daughter of Herbert A. Owen and Harriet (Kearny) Owen of St. Joseph, Missouri. Mrs. Cocke is a great granddaughter of General Stephen W. Kearny of Mexican war fame.

In politics Mr. Cocke has always been a supporter of democratic principles save in the years when William Jennings Bryan was a candidate for president. He belongs to the Kappa Alpha, a Greek letter fraternity, and is well known in club and social circles, belonging to the St. Louis, Racquet, University, St. Louis Country, Florissant Valley Country and Sunset Hill Country Clubs. His religious faith is that of the Episcopal church.

During the period of the World war both Mr. and Mrs. Cocke took active parts in upholding the interests of the army. The latter was a most earnest worker with the Red Cross, while Mr. Cocke brought his military training and experience into active play overseas. He had gained valuable knowledge during his student days in the Virginia Military Institute and was later instructor of military science in the Kemper Military Academy. He became first lieutenant of the Fourth Missouri Volunteers and was in the service nine months during the Spanish-American war, while for three and a half years he was adjutant and major commanding a battalion of the First Regiment of the Missouri National Guard. Later he was major and brigade adjutant of the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Brigades of Infantry during the World war. These brigades were a part of the Thirty-fifth Division and served in France for ten en months, Mr. Cocke participating in the St. Mthiel and Argonne campaigns, thus gaining intimate knowledge through personal experience with all the methods of modern warfare. He was discharged from the army March 25, 1919, at Camp Dix, New Jersey. While in France he attended for three months the Army General Staff Lallege at Langres. Like the great majority of the khaki clad boys who made so brilliant a record in France, Mr. Cocke returned to the United States to resume his place as a factor in its business circles. His work has been an important element in promoting various corporate interests and the Southern Acid & Sulphur Company is meeting with excellent success under his direction.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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