Saturday, October 31, 2020

Royce and Irma Hancock

 Royce David Hancock (1893- 1957) was the son of Charles and Mary Jane Brittingham Hancock of Snow Hill Maryland.  He had eight brothers and sisters and was an intelligent hard working young man, who played coronet in Susie”s band and worked at Dr Jones Drug store.

In 1911 Royce Hancock left Snow Hill to take a job in Delmar with a drug store.


above April 1911 Snow Hill Democratic Messenger

His brother, John H. Hancock, also moved to Delmar.  John would work for the railroad for 32 years and his wife and family would live over on Pine street.

At this time a young school teacher named Irma deLearsey Boston worked at the Delmar Maryland school.  She was from Quantico, the youngest daughter of Ezra S. Boston and Eliza Emily Phillips Boston.  She had graduated Wicomico Salisbury High School in 1906 and then went to Baltimore to attend Maryland normal school to become a teacher.  In Irma’s high school yearbook her narrative says she is the biggest flirt in school and not only wins all hearts but keeps them too.

Naturally young people will meet and a 16 year on again off again courtship begin between Royce and Irma

From newspaper clippings of the time Irma rarely missed a dance in town.  She was delayed one year in opening her class because she had slipped off a Ferris wheel in Ocean City and hurt her foot. In another article she recalls when she went home to Quantico from Delmar for the weekend she would hire a buggy and horse at the Delmar livery stable drive home and then on Monday return to Delmar.

A month after his sister, Mary Lucile Hancock, had passed away in Baltimore, Royce Hancock was drafted in September of 1917 and sent to Camp Meade for training.  Other Delmar boys sent with him were; Michael R Elliott, Elmer J Davis, and Clarence M Guthrie.

After Camp Meade he went to the School of Military Aeronautics at Princeton University in New Jersey. 

After a couple more training schools he was assigned to the 644 Aero Squadron of the American Expeditionary Forces.

In March of 1918 Lieutenant Royce Hancock boarded the transport ship “Leviathan” to go to France.  The Leviathan was a German Ocean Liner seized by the US Government at the start of WW1.  The ship could carry 2,000 crew members and 9,000 troops.  Later in the war it had an infamous reputation as a plague ship when in September of 1919 with 11,000 men on board the Spanish influenza broke out. By the time she arrived in France there was 2,000 sick from influenza and 80 had died on the way over.  Eventually Lt Hancock made it to Field 8 at Saint Maixent France.  This is where American Chasse pilots received their combat instruction and the finishing touches for being sent to the front.

Insert photo of 644th

In February of 1919 the unit was sent back to the states on board the transport ship “Siboney.”  The “Siboney” had been built in Philadelphia in 1917 by Wm. Cramp and Son.  Lt Hancock caught the Spanish flu and spent several months in the hospital until being discharged in Sept 1919.

above from the Wilmington news Journal Sept 25, 1919

He only spent a brief time in Delmar as by 1920 he was working in Dallas, Texas as a druggist.  It was like the song said “how ya gonna to keep’ em down on the farm (after they have seen Paree)?   About this time Irma Boston left Delmar and started teaching in Atlantic City New Jersey.

In 1927 he was living in Michigan and after years of courting Miss Irma Boston he finally married her in Manhatten New York.  They returned to live in the Midwest until settling in Park Ridge, Illinois.

In 1930 he became a salesman for the fabric division of E I duPont in Illinois. He would stay in that position for 27 years before dying in 1957.  He was buried at Cape Charles. 

Irma would move to live with her niece, Mrs. Roy G Bishop, in Danville, Virginia in the summer and in the winter live in Florida. In 1959 she would return to Delmar to speak to the reunion of classes of 1914-1917.


She would die in 1961 and is buried in Cape Charles.  Cape Charles seems to have been picked because it was the home of her only surviving sister, Mrs. Walter Wise.


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