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Daniel C. Jacokes

Rev. Daniel Cook Jacokes

Daniel Cook Jacokes was born in Charlestown, N.Y., April 15, 1813. A few of his school years were spent in Geneva, now Hobart College, in Geneva, N.Y.

He was married in 1832, and while yet young he and his wife came to Michigan, spending one year in Detroit, where he was a member of the elder Dr. George Duffield’s church.

He then moved to Lodi, Washtenaw County, where he spent two years with his father, who had located there. During this time he pursued his studies preparatory to entering the ministry. In early life his mother had consecrated him as, she did also his two brothers, to that calling, and it is a little remarkable that the three sons carried out their mother’s wishes.

It was expected that Daniel would enter the ministry of the Presbyterian church, but he announced his change of views in regard to Bible doctrines, and changed his denominational relations.

In the fall of 1840 he offered himself to and was admitted on trial in the Michigan Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church. His ministerial appointments were Farmington Circuit, Lake Superior Indian Mission, Grass Lake, Girard, Northville, Mt. Clemens, Port Huron, Pontiac, Trenton, Lafayette St. (Detroit), Chaplain to the Fifth Michigan Infantry, Dexter, Pontiac, Adrian District as Presiding Elder, Hudson, and Chaplain of the Eastern Michigan Asylum at Pontiac. This last position he held from 1878 till 1892, when failing health led him to resign the position and also to ask of the Conference a superannuated relation.

Bro. Jacokes was no ordinary man. The majestic form in which his spirit dwelt drew marked attention wherever he went. With head erect, with forehead broad and surmounted by a luxuriance of jet black hair, with eyes keen and piercing, with face in every line and contour expressive of the strong character behind it; he moved among men with the ease and bearing of a born commander. Few men have possessed a physical constitution equal to his. During his long life he was scarcely ever laid aside from his activities by sickness, and he often spent twenty of the twenty-four hours in work and study.

His intellect was characterized by strength and quickness of perception. If there was any lack of equilibrium in his mental powers, it was in the excess of his imagination over the reasoning faculty. His native endowments were large and varied. He was shut up to no one department of study, but the doors of the kingdom of knowledge were open to him in many directions, and he heard voices within inviting him to enter and revel in her hospitalities. Had he selected some one department of the great empire of truth and committed his strength to it, he doubtless would have been counted among the world’s leaders in that department. He delighted in scientific pursuits. Astronomy was his favorite study. In this field he was an enthusiast. Many a midnight hour did he spend in his observatory, which he constructed at a large expense and which he transported from place to place as his ministerial appointments were changed. He equipped it with a very fine equatorial refracting telescope. For many years of his life he was more familiar with the stars and the nebulae than with the faces of men. Under the influence of his enthusiasm in this department of science, many a youth was encouraged in high resolves which led to success in life, among whom was the late eminent astronomer. Dr. Watson, of the Michigan University, also the late Dr. Walker, of Chicago. Bro. Jacokes said to the writer of this sketch: “ I love the telescope which carries me over such vast fields of God’s universe, but when I want to contemplate God’s greatness, I study his works through the microscope.” Bro. Jacokes possessed mechanical genius in an unusual degree, and would easily have been an expert worker in wood, brass and iron. His study, which contained from four to five thousand volumes, many of which were of great value, contained also his tools and turning lathe, and there he made his telescopes and microscopes and musical instruments.

He was an extensive and a comprehensive reader, grasping the meaning and scope of an author with remarkable facility. The fields in which he spent most of his reading were “Metaphysics Moral Philosophy and Ecclesiastical History.” He had carefully studied the different system of religions in the world and compared their influence and teaching with that of Christianity, and thus furnished he was an able defender of the faith. He gave much study to the languages, especially those more immediately connected with scripture history, and was more or less familiar with the Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, and also with the German and French.

In the wonderfully instructive and rapidly widening field of Bible Archaeology, Bro. Jacokes had few equals. He read thoroughly the doings and reports of the various exploration parties and obtained possession of a vast number of maps and photographs of their discoveries from the old world. His lectures on archaelogy were full of instructive illustrations as they were by maps and charts of recent discovery.

As a preacher he was instructive, drawing largely upon his accumulated resources for illustrations of the truth. His profound belief in the scripture doctrines, his masterly use of the English language, his vast sweep of imagination enabled him at times, especially under the excitement of a great occasion, to reach heights of Christian thought unknown to many minds. There are old people today who speak with lively interest of sermons they heard him preach more than fifty years ago.

His vast and varied reading, his retentive and well stored memory, his intense love of knowledge and pleasure in imparting it, together with his genial spirit, made him a delightful conversationalist. The children gathered around him wherever he went and the young people called him their friend and instructor.

Bro. Jacokes’ abilities were recognized beyond the bounds of his pastoral charges or of his Conference or State. In about the year 1853, the Weslyan University, of Delaware, Ohio, conferred on him the degree of Master of Arts, and afterwards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. At the time of the revision of the State Constitution by which the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage was prohibited, he took a prominent part and was a very able advocate of the cause of temperance. At that time the Sons of Temperance was a very powerful organization in the United States and he was their Grand Worthy Patriarch. At the American Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia, in 1876, Governor Bagley appointed him Commissioner of the Educational Exhibit for the State of Michigan. Here his genius rendered most valuable service. He organized a scheme for an educational exhibit which at once met the approval of and was adopted by the National Board of Education and copies of it were sent to each state and to foreign nations. The educators of other nations studied his plan with admiration and copied it for their use in their own countries.

In 1877 he was appointed by the governor a member of the State Board of Health, a position which he held for nine years; and also agent of the State Board of Corrections and Charities for Oakland County. In 1882 he became a member of the American Public Health Association, a scientific society of very high character.

Bro. Jacokes’ mental activities continued to the closing year of his life, and his sympathies in every good cause waned not with his increasing years. As the world receded from his view, his heart seemed to grow and glow in the light of the unseen world, and he seemed to rest and revel in the very inner meanings of the gospel he had believed and preached. He died of paralysis, in Pontiac, January 11, 1894.

His widow, the wife of his young manhood, and his only son, Judge James A. Jacokes, remain to cherish his memory.

A great concourse of Christian mourners gathered at his funeral, among whom was a large number of his brethren in the ministry, whose hands bore him out of the house of worship and laid him in his last resting place.

- Detroit Annual Conference minutes of 1894, pp. 52-55