Julius F Crocker was born in Payson, Illinois in 1854, son of Dr. Henry A. Crocker, a physician who practiced in Hannibal, Missouri, and moved to Payson before the Civil War. Julius Crocker also became a doctor and lived in Payson and later in Melrose.
The first doctor Crocker practiced medicine and owned one of two taverns in the village of Payson. According to the Quincy Daily Whig in 1854, “This large and commodious building [was] in the most pleasant part of the town; its owner, Dr. Crocker, is a gentleman of fine accomplishments and urbane manners, which fits him well for the duties of his occupation; finally, we may say that this Doctor’s house may well be denominated the travelers rest.”
Julius F Crocker married Harriett Scott, known as Hattie. They produced many children, ten of whom lived long enough to be named. By 1891, Dr. J. F. Crocker had formed a family band he called the Star Band. In 1891, the Quincy Daily Herald reported that the oldest musician was eight years old and the youngest was three. The littlest one “keeps as perfect time with the drum and cymbals as any older and more experienced musician.” They were a success at the Richfield band festival, and planned to use their earnings to purchase new music stands.
The Crocker children, who were listed on the census sheets of the time with a single name and initial, actually bore as many as a dozen names per child. For example in 1893 Dr. Julius named a new daughter: Jennie Lind Myrtle Star Florence Nightingale Helen Messenger Gould Lorena Baer Brandt Crocker. Her next oldest brother was: Mozart Beethoven Bellini Bertini Rosini Czerny Abbe Liszt Gillmore Thomas Crocker.
While these strings of names were unusual, one earlier child’s name raised a furor in Payson. Dr. Crocker named him Waldo Emerson Napoleon Bonaparte Simon Peter Jesus Christ Crocker.
Several of the most influential and outraged citizens of Payson wrote to Dr. Crocker. “We the undersigned, being deeply grieved and shocked at the name you have given your child, the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, and believing it blasphemy, hereby request that you do not apply this name to your child and that you cause this name to be stricken from our county record.”
This request was presented personally by the signers to Dr. Crocker, along with assertions of his high regard in the community and assurance that such a name would bring reproach on the community and “do his child great injustice should he live to years of understanding.”
The good doctor stood firm. He replied that the law had required him to record a birth name for each child, and “he had given this name after mature deliberation, and the name had got to stand.”
The aggrieved petitioners registered their protest in the local paper, and announced that they would be collecting signatures for their petition. Eight months later, the County Recorder had not received any petitions. It is unclear if further action was taken, but the name seems to have remained unchanged.
In 1893, the Crocker family band performed to a crowd of five hundred at Highland Park in Quincy. The Quincy Daily Herald said, “The father plays the cornet, Mrs. Crocker plays the trombone; two children play alto and bass horns, and the little tots play the bass drum and triangle. The kid who taps the latter is only 2 years old. The music furnished is of good quality.”
In 1894, the Crockers produced twins, a boy and a girl. Dr. J. F. Crocker named them: Brandt Talmage Wendling Ingersol Swing Blaine Columbus Washington Jefferson Lincoln Grant Crocker. The girl was Josephine Applewhite Anna Bird Laura Thomas Fannie Leach Gregg Chubbuck Brandt Crocker.
There were other ways in which Dr. Julius Crocker did not follow convention. When the family lost a baby, the child’s body was preserved in alcohol and placed in a glass display case where it could be seen for several years before it was finally buried. In 1893 he had two of his children’s bodies on display in his home.
Dr. Julius Crocker had a brother, Dr. Frank Crocker, who was a veterinarian in Payson. This doctor had a hair-trigger which occasionally caused trouble. In one case he was enraged and choking a young boy into unconsciousness when some bystanders pulled him away. While Crocker was being restrained, the young boy picked up a rock and hit Crocker in the head hard enough to make him unresponsive for three days, and it was feared he would die. Crocker recovered, but lost most of his ability to hear.
Frank Crocker lived on the square in Payson and during the Old Settler’s picnics would stable horses for the day at a rather higher rate than normal. In August of 1908, at the close of the fifteenth Old Settlers picnic, one young man, George Reidel, from Hull complained to Mrs. Crocker about the fifty-cent fee charged for leaving his horse tied at the barn all day. She called her husband who arrived with a pistol and took two shots at Reidel. One bullet missed and a second lodged in his leg. Pandemonium followed, along with an indictment of Dr. Crocker a few days later.
The case came to court where Frank, described as “a conspicuous personage on account of his long flowing whiskers and large spectacles,” claimed self-defense and that the Reidel youth had been drinking and carried a knife. The judge had some trouble finding an impartial jury, but eventually testimony began and continued through parts of three days.
The jury deliberated from noon until 11 p.m. on Friday and most of Saturday morning before reaching a guilty verdict on the lesser of three charges, “assault to do bodily harm with a deadly weapon without any provocation.” The possible punishment was a fine or jail time or both.
On Monday, the judge pronounced sentence. Frank Crocker was fined $325 and costs, but the jail time requested by the prosecution was not imposed. Total costs for the shooting amounted to $457.45 and were paid by the defendant on the spot.
Later events would underscore the difficulty the jury must have had in determining blame between the two. The victim, Reidel, was arrested later that same month for assault on a young woman in Hull. The following month, Reidel’s father was arrested for flagrant violations of the internal revenue law by selling beer by the keg. The following year, Crocker himself was again arrested, this time for choking his wife.
“Aged Payson Man on Rampage,” Quincy Daily Whig, August 3, 1909
“An Abundance of Names,” Quincy Daily Journal, August 19, 1893
“An Excited Community,” Quincy Whig, May 2, 1884
“A Pioneer Dead,” Quincy Daily Journal, January 5, 1900
“Civil Suit Brought Against Dr. Crocker,” Quincy Daily Whig, September 9, 1908
“Crocker Bound Over by Court,” Quincy Daily Whig, September 8, 1908
“Crocker Case is Being Heard,” Quincy Daily Whig, October 1, 1908
“Crocker is Being Tried,” Quincy Daily Herald, October 1, 1908
“Dr. Crocker is Given Big Fine,” Quincy Daily Whig, October 20 1908
“Dr Crocker Shoots Man,” Quincy Daily Herald August 28, 1908
“Dr. Crocker Found Guilty,” Quincy Daily Whig, October 4, 1908
“Dr. Crocker Was Guilty,” Quincy Daily Herald, October 3, 1908
“Evidence All In in Crocker Case,” Quincy Daily Whig, October 2, 1908
“He’s Great for Names,” Quincy Daily Journal, November 13, 1894
“Hull Blacksmith is Under a Cloud,” Quincy Daily Whig, November 7, 1908
“Julius Crocker was Arraigned,” Quincy Daily Whig, August 4, 1909
“Julius F Crocker, well known retired doctor dies at his home here,’ Quincy Daily Journal, September 7, 1923
“Local and General News,” Quincy Daily Journal, September 4, 1893
“No Report in Crocker Case,” Quincy Daily Whig, October 3, 1908
“Payson,” The Quincy Daily Whig, June 13, 1854
“Pleasures of the Time,” Quincy Daily Herald, September 11, 1893
“Richfield”, Quincy Daily Journal, June 18, 1891
“What’s in a Name,” Quincy Daily Journal, December 12, 1883
“Young Reidel was Arrested,”Quincy Daily Herald October 27, 1908