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Emmett Hoctor was found dead in his home in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The date of death has been ascertained as November 29, 2010. The discovery was made when a service organization who administered to Hoctor attempted to make a delivery, after several days of being prohibited by a severe winter snow storm. In this past year Hoctor had been in frail health and suffered cardiac complications, the probable cause of his death. Hoctor, found lying on the floor of his home, had been dead apparently for at least a couple days.
Emmett Hoctor was a friend of The James-Younger Gang, and over the years had contributed articles to the organization’s Journal. He also had been a member and contributor to NOLA and WOLA. He also was a contributor to Wild West magazine. He held a Master’s degree in History.
Hoctor claimed to have written to James Starrs to convince Starrs to exhume the body of Jesse James and to perform DNA testing. With the approval of the Jesse James family, the exhumation of Jesse James was executed in 1995. Afterward, analysis of Starrs’ procedures, techniques, and results have fallen into critical question. In 1999, Hoctor expressed his own regret that the objective of the exhumation had become botched, calling the exhumation’s report into question himself, although he maintained that the exhumed body was indeed that of Jesse James.
Among the historical works produced by Hoctor is his accounting of the Hoctor family’s history, It’s a Long Way from Tipperary. His great grandfather Patrick Hoctor immigrated from Ireland in the midst of the potato famine. In America Patrick married Julia Kennedy, another immigrant from Tipperary. The couple struggled through the Civil War and an Indian uprising. In 1872 Patrick and Julia migrated to a small community south of Omaha, Nebraska. Emmett’s grandfather, Thomas Hoctor, had been born in a log cabin at Lake Pitts, Minnesota, before the couple moved to Nebraska.
In Nebraska, Emmett’s grandfather Thomas attended a one-room country school and later a business school in Omaha, as he worked with his father on the family farm. Being Irish, Thomas gravitated towards politics and was elected city clerk of South Omaha before he was 21 years old. Later he was elected city treasurer, county commissioner, and in 1906 Mayor of South Omaha. He was again elected Mayor in 1912. Thomas was identified in the Omaha press as “the man with a heart as big as a sugar barrel.” Thomas retired from public service to his real estate office. In 1890, Thomas Hoctor married Pauline Paulsen, an immigrant from Germany, who converted to Catholicism in order to learn English. Of the couple’s three children, James, Emmett Francis, and Charles Hoctor, Emmett Charles Hoctor was born to Charles and Florence Seymour Hoctor.
Educated as a doctor and psychiatrist, Emmett’s famous uncle Dr. Emmett F. Hoctor spent all his life in service to the Farmington (Missouri) State Hospital. He has been Jesuit-educated at Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, where he received the Alpha Sigma Nu Award, given to the top student in a class. As a medical professional, Dr. Hoctor advocated revolutionary theories that emphasized humane treatment of patients, and lobbied passage of a patient’s bill of rights. He also pioneered the desegregation of state hospitals. In 1979, A bill to rename the facility the Emmett F. Hoctor Medical Complex was pending in the Missouri Legislature. Dr. Hoctor already was the recipient of Presidential Citations from Presidents Nixon and Ford. In 1966, he had been honored by the Pope with the Knights of St. Gregory Award, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a Catholic layman. The life of Dr. Emmett F. Hoctor is accounted in the book Let Me Not Be Mad, Sweet Heaven.
Emmett Charles Hoctor was born in 1950 in Omaha. Named after his famous uncle and father, Emmett lived quietly, often struggling with health demons that seemed beyond his control. Except for his time in the limelight of Jesse James, Emmett acquired no great notoriety. He remained in the shadows of his father and grandfather. Emmett was friendly and amiable, even among those whose opinions he opposed. Those who knew him will recall him as a warm and friendly gentleman.