Estell H. Rorick

It was September 1, 1842, that Dr. Estell H. Rorick of Fayette began his earthly career in Seneca, Michigan. He is a son of William and Phoebe (Brees) Rorick, the father from New Jersey and the mother from New York State. The young man was reared on a farm in Lenawee County, and in 1867 he entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as a student in the medical department there.

The Rorick family history began in Michigan with the coming of William Rorick in 1836, and he owned a great deal of land in Lenawee County. He was in position to give superior educational advantages to his children, and when the Doctor was 16 years old he attended the Medina, Michigan academy. He later attended college at Kalamazoo but lacking funds to continue at the time he engaged in teaching for two years. At Medina young Rorick formed the acquaintance of Doctor Weed, and it was through his influence that the young man decided to study medicine and surgery.

In 1864 the young man joined the staff of Doctor Weed, who was then an army surgeon, and he assisted the surgeon until the end of the Civil War. It was after the close of the war that he entered the medical department of the University of Michigan, and in 1869 he graduated with honors from that institution. Doctor Rorick began the practice of medicine at Spring Hill (Tedrow) but three years later he sold the practice at Spring Hill and located at Fayette. He made a financial success of the practice of medicine, and he contributed much to the success of Fayette College. A student of the College afterward wrote: “Those school days in Fayette Normal back in the ’80’s are never to be forgotten,” and Dr. Rorick is mentioned with others who helped to establish the school that would be worth while to those who attended it.

Dr. Rorick is identified with many of the business interests of Fayette. Since 1896 he has discontinued the practice of medicine, giving his entire time to business enterprises. He is a stockholder and director in the Farmers State Bank, and he owns considerable real estate in the community.

On August 20, 1868, Doctor Rorick married Mary P. Acker. She was a daughter of George and Minerva (Cottrell) Acker. Like her mother she is a native of Gorham, while her father came from Lehigh County, Pa. The Ackers and the Cottrells were among the pioneers of Fulton County. The grandparents were George and Lydia (Holbern) Acker and Rea and Harriet (Stevens) Cottrell.

The children born to Dr. and Mrs. Rorick are: Clark Chappell, who died at the age of eight years; Georgia Agnes, who died at the age of 20; and Mabel Acker, who is the wife of F.T. Sullivan, of Fayette.

While Doctor Rorick was not an active politician, when Gov. Willis was elected in Ohio he named him a member of the board (state) of administration with authority to manage the state institutions. For nine years he had been superintendent of the Athens State Hospital, and it was here that he displayed executive ability. It was at Athens that the Doctor has his first personal knowledge of the institutional life in Ohio.

While serving as a member of the state board of administration Dr. Rorick had opportunity of observation, and at his behest wards of the state were sometimes changed from one institution to another. Sometimes a prisoner was transferred to a hospital, and a hospital patient place in prison — the confinement best adapted to the needs of the case. A newspaper clipping says: “Dr. E.H. Rorick has been a friend to the young man, and many a boy owes his success in life to some word of encouragement or a start given him by Doctor Rorick.”

While in his young manhood Doctor Rorick stood ready to do anything necessary to help himself along, and when he needed money he worked in a brickyard for it. There were frequent jumping contests and his strong physique enabled him to win, having one time covered 41 feet and 8 inches in two hops and a jump and he won thirty dollars in cash that way. Many honors have been awarded Doctor Rorick in connection with the institutional life of Ohio, but a friend sums it all up by saying, “The Doctor Rorick that will be longest remembered is that smiling, cheerful, kind physician who gave lectures on physiology and anatomy to the classes of the old Normal School, who cured the boys and girls of their aches and pains, and broke up some of the worst cases of homesickness. Who inspired them to be something and do something in the world. Who with friendly help and kind words piloted the boys and girls who came under his influence through the dark clouds of discouragement.”

Doctor Rorick and his wife came in much contact with the students of Fayette College and since “the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,” they will be remembered for many years to come by those in whom they manifested a friendly interest.

In contrasting present day conditions with the time when he began the practice of medicine, Doctor Rorick says, “You have only to remember that within this time the fever thermometer came into use. The temperature used to be estimated by the rapidity of the pulse and the touch of the skin. The appearance of the tongue in those days was a great indicator of what was going on internally. A hypodermic syringe was not in use for many years, and the antitoxin and serum treatments had not been thought of in those days.

Bleeding for pneumonia and typhoid fever was still in vogue, but this method of treatment was becoming obsolete, and the fever patient was allowed water and milk to drink. Pneumonia was supposed to originate from taking cold. Malaria was a poison floating about causing fever and ague. The mosquito had not yet been discovered as an agency for the distribution of malaria and fever.” The review of such a life is indeed a revelation.

Someone writing of the man says: “The great secret of Doctor Rorick’s success lies in the fact that he makes no distinction between individuals. He has the same hearty hand-shake, the same warm smile, the same cheerful word for all alike,” and when one has spent more than half a century in one community the people know all about him. Quoting again: “There are none who know Doctor Rorick as well as Fayette people. He has never sought other residence and has not often left the town since he first came among us.”

Source: Reighard, Frank H. 1920. History of Fulton County, Ohio. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company.

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