Brocks Started Candy Company, Served In U.S. Senate

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - by John Wilson
Senator Bill Brock
Senator Bill Brock

William Emerson Brock realized his longtime dream of becoming a traveling salesman when the R.J. Reynolds Company decided to hire "the greenest country boy we can find.'' A top-notch
salesman, he later built up a candy business in Chattanooga and became a U.S. senator.

The Brocks apparently trace back to Moses Brock, who came from London to Virginia on the ship Peter and Galey in 1700. The Brocks settled at Dam Neck near Norfolk in Princess Anne County.

Noah Brock, who was born at Princess Anne County in 1722, married Sallie Old about 1755. One son, John, was born in 1754 and married Ann Huddleston. Another son, Nathaniel, was born in 1757. He was a soldier under Col. Thomas Elliott in the 4th Virginia Regiment in the Revolution. He was first married to Mary Huddleston, who lived from 1753 to 1785. His second wife was Sarah Eaton. Children by the first wife were Francis who was born in 1779 and married John McDonald, and Enoch. Nathaniel Brock moved to Currituck County, N.C., after the Revolution. The Brocks pushed on to the future Davie County in the vicinity of Mocksville about 1808. Nathaniel Brock died there in 1818. His marker calls him a "farmer, preacher, woodman.''

Enoch Brock was born in 1782 in Currituck County on the coast. He married Sarah Etheridge, the daughter of James Etheridge and Mary Williams, in 1804. Their large family included Daniel E., Mary Eaton, James Nathaniel, Nathaniel Taylor, Enoch Silver, Sally, Frances M., William Harrison, Benjamin Franklin, Malissa Williams and Thomas Gregory. Many of these Brocks ventured west by wagon to Dresden in West Tennessee in 1839. Enoch Brock, who was chairman of the County Court at Davie County, died in the first year of the Civil War. His wife had died in 1850.

Nathaniel Taylor Brock stayed in Davie County with his wife, Clarissa Smith, who was born in 1816. She was the daughter of Levi Kitely Smith and Martha Holden. Their children were Emeline F. who married Martin Rowan Chaffin, Levin E., Sarah T. who married George Watson Nicholson, and Amanda M. who died when she was four.

Another son was Richard Emerson Brock, who was born at Farmington in 1840. He married Mary Ann Howell. On April 1, 1862, Richard E. Brock enlisted at Mocksville with the Confederacy's Co. E of the 42nd Infantry. He was wounded near Bermuda Hundred, Va., May 21, 1864, but returned to duty in September. Brock had been promoted to lst sergeant on July 31, 1864. He was with the company at the surrender near Old Trinity, N.C., and he heard General Joseph Johnston's final speech to the troops. His health was weakened by the war and he was an invalid many years. He died in 1888, leaving a widow and five young children.

The children were William Emerson, Matthew Levin, Albert Taylor, Josephine Amanda "Minnie'' and Richard Gwyn who married Emma Sue Smartt. W.E. Brock, the eldest son, had to end his brief formal education at a log cabin in the community of Grasshopper to help keep the farm going. When he was 23, Brock went into Winston-Salem and became a clerk at Brown's General Store at $30 per month. After three years, his sales output was higher than the other six clerks combined and his pay had been raised to $50. With a bonus he received, he was able to buy a house for his family. The 94-acre farm was sold for $590.

One of his customers was the sister-in-law of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, and she helped 
young Brock get the job as a "drummer.'' He made an impressive record traveling the Southeast for Reynolds and was named sales director with an office in Chattanooga at the Southern Hotel. But by 1906 Brock had had enough of the road and he borrowed money to purchase the Trigg, Dobbs and Company wholesale grocery. It had a small candy business as a sideline, but Brock pushed that operation at a facility on Chestnut Street and in 1910 changed the name to Brock Candy Company. His mother moved to Chattanooga and other family members joined the firm. Sales at Brock Candy reached the half-million-dollar mark in 1913 and topped $1 million by 1917. In 1950, a five-story concrete expansion was added at Chestnut Street, then the firm moved to a large new facility on Jersey Pike in 1961.

W.E. Brock married Miriam Acree, daughter of a Knoxville minister. She was 14 when they met and they were married in 1903 when she was 20. The Brock home was on Missionary Ridge. Their sons, W.E. Brock Jr. and Richard Acree Brock, also became active in the candy company, which had become the largest candy manufacturer in the South. W.E. Brock Sr. became a civic leader in Chattanooga and was president of the Chamber of Commerce. Director of many companies, he was president of the Chattanooga National Bank. He rescued the Read House at a time when it seemed the hotel might fail. A strong Methodist, it is said he was responsible for building more than 100 area churches. He was also active in politics, and in 1929 Governor Henry Horton appointed him to the U.S. Senate after the death of L.D. Tyson. He won his own term in 1930 and was active in creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He died in 1950.

Richard A. "Dick'' Brock married Margaret McAllister. They moved late in life to Arizona. Their daughter, Dr. Margaret Brock, married Dr. Frederico Florendo.

W.E. Brock Jr. married Peggy Kruesi, eldest daughter of Paul Kruesi, who was a partner with the senior Brock in many civic endeavors. Their sons were William E. "Bill'' Brock III, Paul Kruesi "Pat'' and Frank Acree Brock. Bill Brock followed his grandfather into the U.S. Senate and he was also U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Labor Secretary and chairman of the Republican National Committee. He married Laura Franklin "Muffett'' Handly, then Sandy Schubert. His children were Bill Brock IV who married Maureen White, then Laura Powell; Oscar Handly Brock who married Meg Persinger, Laura Hutcheson Brock who married Christopher Doley, and John Kruesi Brock.

Pat Brock took over leadership of the candy company. He married Mary Alice "Fifi'' Brown, then Nina Earle. His children were Paul Kruesi Brock Jr. who married Susan Davenport, David Emerson Brock who married Kelly Pruett Baker, Robert Kingsley Brock who married Betsy O'Dell, Charles Ellet Brock who married Lisa Beth Green, Katherine Earle Brock who married Richard Paul Aertker, and Hamilton Meade Brock who married Kristen Beth Kyburz.

Frank Brock served as president of Covenant College. He later developed Brow Wood south of the college on Lookout Mountain. It included home sites on the bluff as well as an assisted living facility across Scenic Highway. He married Dottie Goree. Their children were Frank Kruesi "Krue'' Brock who married Hollee Huckaba, Myra Kruesi Brock who married Paul David Rustand, and Marshall Goree Brock who married Kimberly Hinson.

Children of Richard Gwyn Brock were Richard Gwyn Brock Jr. who married Hardie Tharpe, Mary Ann who married Samuel H. Carter, and Sue Smartt who married William Thomas Rhyne Jr.

Brock Candy Company was sold in 1995 to the E.J. Brach Corporation.


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