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.