Did You Know That?

Almost a centenarian at the time of his death, William Rorick passed away in 1898. He was widely known as Seneca’s pioneer and Morenci’s oldest citizen.

Mr. Rorick was remarkably long-lived and especially so considering for a period of almost 40 years he had been more or less of an invalid. But he possessed a naturally powerful physique which carried him through to the advanced age of nearly 93 years.

He had a kindly, generous nature and cheerily greeted passerby’s as he sat on the porch of his residence in the summer or the visitors who came to his room in the colder seasons. Everyone liked “Uncle Billy” as he was universally called. He took pride in the family he had reared.

William Rorick was born in Sussex County, N.J., March 30, 1805. He made the journey to what was then called the “Lake Country” in the state of New York, a distance of 500 miles on foot. Before leaving N.J., he took the precaution to buy a pair of half soles for his boots, but carried them only as far as Horseheads in his pocket where he paid 23 cents to have them put on.

This trip was made in 1828, during the Presidential campaign. He used to relate every detail of a barbecue that was held on the route, where a whole ox was roasted for the occasion. He was a Democrat, but he had a companion who was a Whig. They agreed that they would both hurrah for Jackson and get a slice of ox. When it came to a test, his associate weakened and was chased out of camp. Mr. Rorick hurrahed for Jackson and ate ox and then joined his hungry companion and tramped on.

He worked the first winter for his board for a widow, getting the entire timber for a large barn. After that he worked by the day until May 22, 1830, when he married Phebe Ann Breese and bought a piece of land near Elmira, New York, and cleared a farm which he sold in 1836. He then started with his family for Michigan, driving the whole distance in a covered wagon and crossing the river at Detroit on ice. He arrived on December 31.

He worked for H.S. Russell and then bought the first 40 acres of the “old farm” in Seneca and commenced the pioneer’s struggle for material advancement, having a one room log cabin in a four acre clearing with a brush fence.

His wife passed away September 1, 1858 and May 25, 1859 he married Elmira Wintermute of New Jersey, who passed away in Morenci, January 21, 1888. His brothers Estell and Cosper came to Michigan soon after he did. These three brothers married three sisters, the Breese sisters, Phebe, Hannah and Nancy.

Source: Lundahl, Helen Rorick. (n.d.) The Rorick Family in America. (NB: This manuscript is held in the Toledo-Lucas County Library and contains a number of transcriptions of undated newspaper clippings.)



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