In researching the family William Wingeard found several articles about Levi Hocker’s mysterious disappearance and the subsequent discovery of his suicidal drowning. I’ve included transcriptions of the newspaper accounts below.
The Harrisburg Daily Patriot (Monday, October 30, 1876)
Friday night about 11 o’clock Mrs. Levi Hocker, who resides at the toll gate on the turnpike, a few miles east of this city, discovered the absence of her husband, who had accompanied her to bed at eight or nine o’clock. The premises were searched, and Saturday morning several parties scoured the woods in the vicinity and other points without finding the least trace of Mr. Hocker. At ten o’clock in the morning the search had proved abortive, and fears are entertained that evil has befallen him. On leaving the house Mr. Hocker placed the key on the outside of the door at which he passed to the outside and locked it. All of the other doors were found unlocked. Mr. Hocker is an old citizen of this county and has been held in high esteem. Of late he has been suffering from dyspepsia.
The Harrisburg Daily Patriot (Friday November 3, 1876)
Up to last evening no clue has been had of the whereabouts of Levi Hocker the missing farmer of Swatara township. The dams at Walker’s Mill and at the poor house have been “drawn off”, we have been informed, to ascertain whether the missing man had drowned himself, but no trace of him has been found. Photographs of him have been left at the Mayor’s office for the purpose of identifying the missing man.
The Harrisburg Daily Patriot (Thursday, November 9, 1876)
No clue has yet been ascertained as to the whereabouts of the missing man, Levi Hocker, of Swatara Township, this county.
The Harrisburg Daily Patriot (Monday, November 13, 1876)
A rumor circulated Saturday morning that the body of the missing man, Levi Hocker, was found floating in the new reservoir, a Patriot reported made diligent search after the facts relating to the matter, visiting the coroner and other parties who would be likely to know the truth in regard to the matter but no confirmation of the report could be obtained from any source.
The Missing Farmer Levi Hocker found
The Remains Buried at Churchville Yesterday
The Harrisburg Daily Patriot (April 30, 1877)
Most of the readers of the Patriot are conversant with the facts attending the disappearance of Levi HOCKER, a wealthy farmer residing on the Reading pike, about three miles east of this city, sometime in October last. Mr. Hocker, it will be remembered, quietly left his home in the night, with only a small amount of money in his possession. His relatives and friends instituted a rigid search for him, “dragging” several streams in the county, and pumping out the water from an abandoned well on the old homestead near Hummelstown, supposing, rightly, that he had committed suicide. A reward of $300 was offered for the recovery of Mr. Hocker, dead or alive, but up to Saturday morning no trace of him was had. On Saturday morning about eight o’clock, Messrs. Samuel Keller, a constable residing in Middletown, and a companion named Slack, proceeded to Fry’s dam, near that borough, for the purpose of lifting fish nets, and while so engaged found the body of a man entangled in the roots of a tree in the water in an advanced stage of decomposition. His features were nearly destroyed by the fishes, and were, therefore, not recognizable; but the friends of the deceased were notified of the finding of the body, and upon proceeding to Middletown, fully identified Mr. Hocker. Some, however, who had read the description given of Mr. Hocker, were positive, before his friends arrived that is was the body of the missing man. The body was fearfully offensive, and it was with considerable difficulty that Esquire Croll was enabled to hold the inquest over it. The body was properly coffined, taken away by the friends and was intered at the cemetery at Churchville, near Mr. Hocker’s late residence, at four o’clock yesterday afternoon. The verdict of the jury was death by suicide while laboring under a fit of mental aberration.