John C. Rorick

A Long and Active Life

Varied Experiences – Pioneer and Patriot – Services to His Community and State – Honored by Fellow Citizens and Associates

John C. Rorick was born near Elmira, New York, February 13th, 1834, died at his home in Wauseon, December 8th, 1920; between these two dates there is a period of nearly eighty seven years; a long life time and filled with a variety of experiences beyond the average of those which come to the lives of American citizens. Mr. Rorick was of a sturdy stock remarkable for its longevity and as well for its initiative and energy in service to its time and place.

William Rorick, his father, was of German parentage, as a young man of twenty-five he made the trip from New Jersey to Elmira on foot and six years later he was a member of the “Westward Ho” which people this section of the country with those pioneers of indomitable spirit and will who have conquered the wilderness and gave it as a heritage to their successors in the generation that followed. William Rorick made the trip from New York to Lenawee County, Michigan, with his little family in a covered wagon in 1836, he died at the age of 93. The mother who shared the adventure and the task of her pioneer husband, was Phoebe Breese, from the same family came such men as Judge Sidney Brees of Illinois, and Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the inventor of the telegraph.

The characteristic traits of his ancestry are evident throughout the life history of Mr. Rorick.

In the days of his boyhood, society made but meagre provision for the school training; but his undaunted determination led him to work out his own training and education by supplementing the meagre school advantages with his own persistent effort to acquire for himself the knowledge essential to successful and useful living: One and one half terms at Medina Seminary in Tenawee [sic] County and a rather meagre course in Commerce in Gregory’s Commercial College of Detroit formed the framework upon which Mr. Rorick by his own study at home and constant search for information wrought out for himself what was recognized by those who knew him as a liberal education. To the last days of his activity he was constant in effort to add to his fund of information, so it was indeed true that with him education was the process of a lifetime.

The pioneer spirit and versatility of his character is exemplified in an outline of his life’s activities.

At the age of eighteen he began teaching school; in 1854 he was in the Lake Superior Copper country as “Boss of the Kilns” at the Ridge Mine Ontonagon; returning to the states in company with two other young men on snow shoes 250 miles through unbroken wilderness with only a chart and compass to guide them; he again took up the occupation of teaching, giving instruction in writing, drawing and bookkeeping in Madison, Wisconsin and towns in that vicinity. In 1855 he in company with Dan Howard, a noted pen artist, charactered the first Commercial College in the State of Wisconsin, located in the city of Milwaukee; Mr. Rorick’s position in this school being the professor of the science of accounts and Commercial Law. He became proficient in pen drawing and his work in this line was awarded premiums in art exhibits in Chicago and elsewhere. Selling out his interest in the Commercial College in Milwaukee, he retired to Aurora, Illinois and in 1860 returned to Michigan. In 1862 December 15th, he was united in marriage to Miss Emma J. Whiting at Elmira, N.Y. returning to his home in Michigan with his bride. In 1864 he became the proprietor of the Sherman House in Wauseon. In 1866 he purchased the Morenci Hotel Morenci, Michigan, in 1867 he became the owner and operator of a Spoke Factory at Canandaigua, Michigan. In 1872 he moved to Wauseon where he resided to the date of his decease: In addition to the enterprises already alluded to he has been actively involved in agriculture, having owned 12 farms in Ohio, besides numerous others in the States of Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Kansas. He was engaged in Commerce in Wauseon for a number of years as a member of the grocery firm of White and Rorick; he was also president of the Grayson Telephone Company of Sherman and Dennison, Texas with headquarters at Lima, Ohio.

Mr. Rorick has also distinguished himself as an inventor, having to his credit the following practical and useful inventions: The Rorick System of re-working butter, which went into use among shippers in 1878. The Quadrant Bevel Square; an improved Air Pad Truss and several other practical devices. He was also a frequent contributor to the press on political and social subjects.

In the field of public service Mr. Rorick has made himself a remarkable record. In Lenawee county Michigan he was called to serve as a member of the School Board and as Justice of the Peace; in Wauseon he has served as councilman, Mayor, President of the Board of Education and a township trustee. He has served the State of Ohio as a member of the Board of Equalization, in 1881 and again on the same board in 1901. He was elected State Senator from the 33rd Senatorial District in 1891 and was re-elected to this same position in 1893, serving two full terms as State Senator; for two years he served as a member of the Board of managers for the Ohio State Penitentiary. His last important public service was as a member of the Ohio State Constitutional Convention in which body he helped to frame the present Constitution of our State. To all of these positions whether great or small he brought a thorough knowledge of practical economics, a well balanced judgement, an unfailing energy, a true public spirit and unsevering fidelity to every trust reposed in him, by which he merited the confidence and esteem which his fellow citizens gave him.

In private life he was a loyal and faithful husband, a friend whose true friendship found expression in kindly deeds as well as words. He loved his fellowmen and loved to mingle with them. He found real pleasure in ministering to the comforts and pleasures of others. His long life is closed and his best monument is the record of a life well spent in service to humanity. He leaves in the circle of those nearest to him by family ties his faithful wife, companion and work-fellow for fifty-eight years; his adopted daughter, Mrs. W.C. McConnell of Adrian, Mich., a sister, Mrs. Converse of Adrian, Mich., and a brother, Dr. E.H. Rorick of Fayette.

Funeral services were held at the house on East Elm Street Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11th, Rev. Arthur E. Fish, pastor of the Congregational church officiating and Wauseon Lodge No. 156 Knights of Pythias, of which he was a member performing their burial service at the grave.

Mr. Rorick was at the time of his death Commander of the Associate Members of Losure Post G.A.R. Members of this Post were in attendance in a body at the funeral services.

Source: Fulton County Tribune, December 17, 1920.


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.

Continue reading “Estell H. Rorick”

Estell H. Rorick

HON. ESTELL H. RORICK, Superintendent of the State Institution for the Feeble Minded at Columbus, Ohio, was born in Lenawee county, Michigan, September 1, 1842. His father moving, from Horseheads, N. Y., in 1836, was one of the early pioneers of that part of Michigan and was a large land owner when the subject of this sketch, was a. boy. Educational facilities were not good, but young Rorick, by close attention to his studies at the district school and at home to enter the Medina Academy at the age of sixteen. He afterward attended college at Kalamazoo, Michigan. but lacking means to finish his course, he taught two terms of district school, intending later on to return to college. At the Medina school, he formal the acquaintance of Dr. Weeds, a physician of note, and thereby, conceived the idea of studying medicine and turned his studies, in that direction Dr. Weeds, who became a surgeon in the United States service was located at Nashville. Tenn., where Mr. Rorick joined him in 1864 served as hospital assistant until the close of the war. He then returned to Michigan and in due time entered the University, of. Michigan at Ann Arbor and graduated, from the medical department in 1869. and located for practice at Tedrow. Ohio, and was rewarded with eminent, success from the beginning. Three years later he sold out his practice to Dr. G. P. Campbell and bought out Dr. J. 0. Allen of Fayette. He did much toward building up Fayette and making it one of the most prosperous educational and business towns of its size in Ohio, He contributed largely toward the expense of establishing the Palette Normal University and at his own expense furnished a room in the institution, fitting it up with mannikins, models, charts and all other useful apparatus and delivered regular courses of lectures, on the subjects of anatomy, physiology and hygiene free of charge. He took a postgraduate course at the Detroit Medical College and graduated March 2, 1875. In 1877 he went to Scotland and took a partial medical course in the University of Edinburgh and after visiting and studying the principal hospitals of London and Paris returned to his practice in 1878. He again took a post graduate course at the Alabama Medical Collage at Mobile and graduated March 15, 1883. He was elected to the state legislature in 1887 and again in 1889; serving four years, His service as representative was satisfactory to: his constituents and useful to the state. As a member of the Finance committee of the House he was required to visit frequently the State institutions, this giving him an opportunity to carefully study their conditions and to note their requirements. His education and professional experience as well as his interest in and familiarity with the state institutions became so well . known that he was recognized throughout the state by those in authority as a man well adapted to assume the difficult management of a state hospital, for which his name was prominently mentioned in connection with the superintendency of several institutions, but at the close of his second term in the legislature he returned to his practice in Fayette, after taking a course of studies at the Polyclinic in New York, and graduating in 1892. Under the first administration of Gov. Asa S. Bushnell, he was elected by the board of directors to the superintendency of the State Hospital at Athens, Ohio, which institution he took charge of in June, 1896. His administration was a successful one and his business management a great saving to the state. The grounds and buildings were vastly improved, and at the same time the per capita cost of maintenance was reduced to the lowest figure in the history of the state for a similar institution. A vacancy occurring by the death of Mr. Doren, Dr. Rorick was requested to take charge of the Institution. for Feeble Minded at Columbus by Gov. Myron T. Herrick, which he did in May, 1905. The same business methods used at Athens were employed at Columbus, resulting in a saving to the state of $13,222.58. for the months ending October 15, as compared with the same months for the year 1904. Dr. Rorick’s father, who was of German descent, was born in New Jersey, March 30, 1805, and died at Morenci, Mich., January 15, 1898. His mother, Phoebe Ann Breese, was of English parentage, born at Horseheads, N. Y., October 27, 1811, and died in Seneca, Michigan, September 1, 1858. He was united in marriage to Mary P. Acker, August 20, 1868. They have but one child living— Mabel, who is attending the university at Columbus. The eldest child, Clark, died at the age of eight and Georgie at the age of twenty. Dr. Rorick has been financially successful, being a large real estate owner as well as having controlling interest in the First National Bank at Morenci.

Source: Mikesell, Thomas. 1905. The County of Fulton. Madison, WI: The Northwestern Historical Association.

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.

Continue reading “Did You Know That?”

Well Known Morenci Resident Passes Away

Mark C. Rorick, older son of Cosper and Nancy A. Breese Rorick, was born on a farm in Seneca township, Michigan Dec. 7, 1845 and died Feb. 6, 1922. His brother Leroy W. was born Sept. 14, 1847. He lived with his parents in a log house until the brick house was built in ’68. Cosper Rorick, father of M.C. Rorick, had a small clearing 3-4 mile north of what is now Seneca village, woods being on all sides. Canandaigua was the nearest post office and trading point combined and traveling was accomplished entirely by ox team or by horse back. The nearest church was at Medina, seven miles distant, and this they attended every Sunday morning. It was necessary to make an early start as they drove an ox team and wagon with a board across the wagon box for the little boys.

When about five years of age “Mark” commenced school in the home district 2 1/2 miles way in the Rorick district today. He walked back and forth to school. When the Tufts school house was being built he attended school in a part of the James Lord home, temporarily. Continue reading “Well Known Morenci Resident Passes Away”

A Well Known Citizen Gone

Death of Leroy W. Rorick at his Home in Morenci Last Saturday Morning

Leroy W. Rorick, a well known citizen of Morenci, died at his home here last Saturday morning, March 10, 1917, after an illness of several months. The funeral service was held Monday under the direction of the K. of P. Lodge of which he was a member.

Judge B.L. Hart of Adrian and Hon. B.D. Chandler of Hudson, who represented the order, gave words of sympathy and helpfulness to the bereaved family.

Miss Virginia Wilson sang a solo. The out of town relatives who attended the funeral were: Mrs. William Rorick of Buffalo, N.Y., Mrs. Spencer Sloan, Mrs. Della McCloe, H.C. Rorick and wife, A.V. Foster and wife of Toledo, J.C. Rorick of Wauseon, Dr. and Mrs. E.H. Rorick, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Sullivan, P.F. Cawley and daughter, Helen, Earl Baldwin and wife, John Rorick and Mrs. G.H. Crane of Fayette, Hon. G.B. Horton and John Cole of Weston.

Leroy W. Rorick was born in Seneca township, Sept. 14, 1847. His father, Cosper Rorick, a native of New Jersey, came to Michigan in 1840 and commenced with the pioneers in the work of changing a wilderness to a domain of elegant homes and productive farms. His father was married to Nancy A. Breese, Jan. 15, 1845, and they settled on a farm one mile north of Seneca in a log house with primitive surroundings, where Leroy was born. He grew up on the farm laboring with his father in the fields as boys in those days did and walking two and a half miles to a district school house for his education which was completed at the Medina Academy.

He was married Feb. 10, 1870 to Harriet L. Porter to whom were born one daughter, Nellie R., wife of Dr. Murphy of Columbus, OH and Cosper M., cashier of the First National Bank of Morenci. He commenced the work of an active life on the farm where he resided until 1888, when he moved to Morenci where he lived a retired life for one year, then going to Fayette where he purchased a livery business which he successfully followed for nine years. Disposing of the same, he followed the business of harness making for about six years in Morenci, after he which he purchased a farm two miles west of Weston where he resided about three years. He then purchased a small country home near Seneca where he lived until the spring of 1916 when he built a home and moved to Morenci.

His life has been a full demonstration of industry, kindness and business integrity and his faithful friends are numerous wherever he is known. His departure is mourned by all who knew him. He is survived by one brother, Mark C. Rorick of Morenci.

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.)

Did You Know That?

John C. Rorick was born near Elmira, N.Y. in 1834. He came to Seneca Township with his parents, William Rorick and wife, Phebe (Breese) Rorick in 1836. In 1867 he was owner of a spoke factory at Canandaigua and also dealt in real estate.

In 1864 he purchased the Sherman Hotel in Wauseon. He soon sold this hotel and he and his brother, Jacob M. Rorick, bought the Morenci Exchange Hotel. At the time he was in the butter business and patented the Rorick system for working store butter which added millions of dollars to the value of butter purchased from the producers in the general market. Mr. Rorick was educated in the Medina Academy and began teaching at the age of 18 years. He soon went to Wauseon and lived there.

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.)

The Hon. John C. Rorick, Native Elmiran, Died in the West

The Republican of Wauseon, O., under the date of December 10, contains an account of the death and a brief sketch of the life of John C. Rorick, who was born near Horseheads. He was a lineal descendant of the early Breese settlers of this valley and until recent years always came to Horseheads to attend the annual reunions of the family and enjoyed an extensive acquaintance in his native county as well as in adopted state. The Republican says:

“Hon. John C. Rorick died at his home on East Elm street, Wednesday afternoon after an illness extending over several months. Mr. Rorick was one of the foremost citizens of the county, a wealth and successful businessman and was identified with several of the banks, business houses and in [sic] institutions.

“He first came to this place in 1865 and purchased the Sherwood House. The next year he removed to Michigan where he remained till 1872 when he again came to Wauseon where he has since resided.

“Mr. Rorick enjoyed the confidences of his fellow man. He served them faithfully and they gave him places of high honor. Twice he was elected to the state board of equalization of property for taxation and in these positions, he won the reputation of being the friend of the average man. His work was marked by ability, fearlessness and honesty.

“Governor Harris appointed Mr. Rorick a member of the state board of Ohio penitentiary managers where he demonstrated his ability as a financier of the first rank. Here he gave the people an efficient, economical administration. In 1911 he was elected a member of the state constitutional convention.

“In all public service Mr. Rorick has proven faithful to every trust reposed in him and he leaves a record and a name untarnished. He kept the faith of he served and made his word as good as his bond.

“John C. Rorick was born near Elmira, N.Y., February 13, 1834 and moved with his parents to Lenawee county, Mich., in 1836. Here he grew to manhood and endured all the hardships of pioneer life. His education he secured mostly by home study. He taught school for a short time and then completed a commercial course, graduating from the Gregory Commercial college, of Detroit.

“For some months Mr. Rorick had been in failing health and in the afternoon of December 8, this active, useful life was ended. He was survived by his wife, a foster daughter, Mrs. W.C. McConnell, of Adrian; a brother, Dr. E.H. Rorick, of Fayette.

“He was commander of the associated G.A.R. organization and a member of Wauseon lodge, Knights of Pythias.”

Source: Elmira Telegram, December 26, 1920.

Hannah Breese Rorick

One by one the pioneers who prepared the way for the religious and material prosperity of our state are passing from our midst. We do well to pause in our rapid life and look back upon the times and conditions out of which they brought law, order, and prosperity from the primitive forest and savage conditions.

Mrs. Hannah Rorick, born in 1819 in Chemung County, N.Y., was married to Deacon Estell Rorick in 1836. They came to Lenawee County in 1837 and settled in the wild unbroken country and worked out for themselves and their children character and material prosperity worthy of all founders of our state. Early in her married life, joining the visible Church of God, she was for nearly 60 years a member of the Baptist Church. First in all good work for Church and State, earnest, careful for essential things of both religion and government, but liberal to all the differing views.

Their home was open for other denominations as well as their own. Their open hand was ready for the cause of Christ by whomsoever represented. In the fullness of years, God has called her to himself and to the husband who preceded her 16 years ago.

At her funeral, which was conducted by her pastor, Rev. J. McLean, from the home of her daughter, Mrs. S.K. Porter of Seneca, were gathered her children, Cosper Rorick, Mrs. P.H. Spear, Mrs. Rorick Bennett and Mrs. Porter with their children and grandchildren, a goodly number of strong earnest men and women of two generations who will honor her memory and in her life find an example worthy of their emulation and inspiration to higher living and a check to the temptations which assail them in the battle of life.

Mrs. G.H. Crane and Mrs. A.V. Foster of Toledo are granddaughters of Mrs. Rorick. The Estell Rorick farm is where Herbert Rorick, a great-grandson lives.

Source: The Christian Herald, November 19, 1897.

Cosper M. Rorick

Cosper M. Rorick, who is one of the representative business men of the younger generation in the village of Morenci, where he is manager of the W.A. Mace real estate and loan business, is a native son of Lenawee county and a scion of one of the old and honored families of this section of the state. He was born in Seneca township, this county, Dec. 31, 1874, and is a son of Leroy W. and Harriet L. (Porter) Rorick, both of whom were likewise born in Seneca township, where their respective parents located in the early pioneer period. Casper Rorick, paternal grandfather of of the subject of this review, was a native of New Jersey, and he came to Lenawee County, Michigan, as one of the early settlers of Seneca township, where he eventually became the owner of a landed estate of 400 acres, a very considerable portion of which he reclaimed to cultivation prior to this death, which occurred Nov. 27, 1874. His venerable widow, whose maiden name was Nancy A. Breese, now maintains her home in the village of Morenci, where she is held in reverent affection as one of the noble pioneer women of the county. Leroy Rorick was reared to manhood on the old home-stead farm, and after duly availing himself of the advantages of the common schools of Seneca township he continued his studies for some time in Medina Academy. He continued to be actively identified with agricultural pursuits for many years after initiating his independent career, but in the late 80’s he removed from his farm in Fayette, Fulton County, Ohio, which lies contiguous to Lenawee County, Mich., and was there engaged in a livery business for a period of nine years. He then disposed of his various interests in Fayette and took up his residence in the village of Morenci. A few months later he returned to his farm in Seneca township, where he has since lived virtually retired and where is enjoying the reward of former years of toil and endeavor. He is well known and highly esteemed in this country and while he has never been an aspirant for public office he has given a zealous support to the cause of the Democrat party.

He is affiliated with Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias.

Of the two children, the subject of this sketch is the younger, and the older child, Nellie, is now the wife of Dr. William D. Murphy, who is engaged in the practice of his profession in the city of Columbus, Ohio, and who is recognized as a physician and surgeon of marked ability. He was graduated from Starling Medical College, Columbus, Ohio, and after his graduation began the practice of his profession in Fayette, that state, where he remained until the spring of 1908, when he returned to the capital city of the state, where he has secured a representative clientage. He is a Republican in politics and was a member of the board of pension examiners in Fulton County, Ohio, as well as a member of the village council of Fayette.

He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, in which he has attained to the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite, and also is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. He and his wife have three children — Leroy, William and John. Dr. and Mrs. Murphy are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Cosper M. Rorick, the immediate subject of this review, secured his preliminary educational training in the public schools of Seneca, and after completing the curriculum of the high school he was for some time a student in the Normal School in Fayette, Ohio. After leaving school he was associated with his father in the livery business in Fayette, and about 1898 he came to Morenci, where he purchased the harness and saddlery business of Leroy S. Brener. He continued the enterprise until 1900, when he sold the business to his father, who later sold it to William Sears. Since retiring from this enterprise the subject of this review has held the responsible position of manager of the real-estate and loan business of W.A. Mace, in which connection the farm lands controlled aggregate fully 800 acres.

In his political allegiance Mr. Rorick is found arrayed as a loyal supporter of the cause of the Democratic party, and he served four years as township treasurer of Seneca township, as township supervisor for one year. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Knights of Pythias.

On Nov. 30, 1897, Mr. Rorick was united in marriage with Miss Georgia L. Mace, daughter of George A. and Jennie (Starkweather) Mace, the former of whom died in 1875 and the latter is now a resident of the city of Lansing, Mich., though both were reared and educated in Lenawee County. Mr. and Mrs. Rorick have four children: Amanda, W. Kirk, Leroy Max, and George M.

Source: Bonner, Richard Illenden. 1909. Memoirs of Lenawee County. Volume 2. Madison, WI: Western Historical Association.