Michael Rorick

Michael Rorick was of Dutch descent. He was born April 10, 1749, in Bergen County, and came to Franklin Furnace about 1765, in the employ of the men who built and ran the earliest forge there. He was then but seventeen years old, and drove an ox team for carting around the forge. By careful saving he gathered a little property, and some years later secured a tract of wild land, embracing several hundred acres, on the west bank of the Walkill, above the forge. He lived at first in a log house, but afterwards built the frame dwelling which stood a hundred years, and was burned after the construction of the N.Y. Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which ran beside it. The house was at that time occupied by his grandson, Samuel Losey, who inherits that portion of the homestead farm.

Michael Rorick, in 1774, married Lucretia Hardin, who was born in Massachusetts, February 21st, 1752. The region around their home was a vast forest, with the exception of the little clearing where there had been a small Indian settlement, and within which their house was erected. An old Indian trail crossed the Kill at what is still called “The Ford”, where the water is shallow and runs with nearly a uniform depth over a pebbly bottom. It then passed along up by the stream on the edge of the meadow and upland, very near where the road was formerly located. The trails were very narrow footpaths, where the Indians walked in single file, one behind another; for it is said they never went two abreast, and so disturbed as little as possible the foliage along their footpaths. Traces of Indian occupation may still be seen in the fruit trees, some of which, planted by them, are yet, after all these years, standing and bearing in their season blossoms and fruit. The apples are of peculiar variety, the plums of the common red sort, while the cherries are of three kinds – red, yellow and black.

It was with difficulty Rorick could preserve his sheep from the attack of wolves which abounded in the country. To save his flock, he constructed caves in the side of the hill into which they were driven at night. One morning, at break of day, the cries of the wolves were heard just opposite the house, and one of the men ran out and fired at them. They fled to the Kill and passed over it in two or three jumps, making the water fly and shaking themselves from the wet as soon as they were over, when they started for the mountain on the east side. A hunt was organized by several men, who saw nothing that day of the wolves, but killed a bear and several wild cats in Bear Swamp, then an almost impenetrable jungle on the mountain near Losey Pond. The passage way for beasts from the Wild Cat Mountain to the Munson Mountain seems to run very near the house, and frequently the cry of the panther, as well as the howl of the wolf, was heard at night.

The Indians were occasional visitors for years after the settlement. A rock on the Wild Cat Mountain, whose top overhangs its base, was occasionally the halting place at night for their warriors and hunters. One day a warrior, decorated with red paint and naked to the waist, presented himself at the door with a demand for food. He said he would tell them where there was a lead mine if they would feed him. When his hunger was appeased, he said the mine was under a clump of trees in the bend of the river. No search has ever yet been made to verify the saying of the Indian.

Michael and his wife were very exemplary in their lives and firm in their religious belief. Their four sons and six daughters, who survived childhood, were trained in the knowledge of the Scriptures and to follow their godly example. The parents were among the ten corporate members who formed the Franklin Baptist Church at its organization December 11, 1823.

When Michael died, October 28, 1832, at the age of eighty-four years, and Lucretia, September 12, 1834, aged eighty-two, they were buried in the grave yard of the Franklin Church. In March 1832, Michael put all his property into the hands of two trustees, who were to furnish him and his wife a good, comfortable and ample support, and divided the remainder of his estate among his heirs apparent, while he and his wife survived, and after their death, make equal division of all his estate among his children.

Source: Haines, A.A. 1888. Hardyston Memorial: A History of the Township and the North Presbyterian Church, Hardyston, Sussex County, New Jersey. Newton, NJ: New Jersey Herald Print.

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