Biography - THEODORE ROCKENFELLER
The keynote of success is pluck and persistence in a well-planned course of action, and in reviewing the record of Theodore Rockenfeller, a representative citizen of Streator, it is to be seen that this rule holds good. He stands for progress, for good government, for the best possible educational facilities for the young, for all that tends to uplift and benefit humanity, and thus no eulogy is required in setting forth his history, but the mere presentation of facts.
Though he is a native of Germany, his birth having occurred at Coblentz on the Rhine, in 1852, our subject has no recollection of that land, as he was but three years of age when he was brought to America by his parents. That worthy couple, John M. and Catherine Rockenfeller, had learned much in favor of this country, and wisely decided that they would found a home here, where they might rear their children under the beneficent institutions of the republic. The family landed in New York city after a tedious voyage of seven weeks on a sailing vessel, and continued their westward journey to Peoria. Illinois. At the end of a year they located near Washington, Tazewell count}-, where their home was made until 1864, and the following eleven years they were residents of Woodford county, Illinois. In 1875 they came to Streator, and here the father is yet living, but the mother died four years ago. They had four children, the older son being killed while employed by the Santa Fe Railroad Company, ten years ago; Hannah is at home, and Elizabeth is the wife of Robert Genseke.
Theodore Rockenfeller received a liberal education in the common and select schools of this state, and for four years was a student in the Northwestern College at Naperville, Illinois. From 1876 to 1884 he was successfully engaged in the mercantile business in Streator, and in the year mentioned was appointed agent for the sale of railroad lands in southern Minnesota along the line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. After he had disposed of a large amount of this property he was made the general agent and manager for the company's lands in that section of the country, succeeding in establishing thousands of families along the line of that road. For ten years he was the immigrant agent for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad. In September, 1898, he was elected to the position of vice-president of the Farmers' Colonization Company, of Chicago, which controls many thousands of acres of desirable farm land in varions parts of the west. During the fifteen years which Mr. Rockenfeller has devoted to this line of enterprise he has been remarkably fortunate, as he has disposed of over live hundred and seventy-five thousand acres of land, situated chiefly in Illinois, Iowa and southern Minnesota. The incalculable good thus accomplished is not limited to the financial side of the question, but, considered in a broader light, means the opening up of vast territories and fields of usefulness and prosperity in the west, and the placing of thousands of families, many from overcrowded cities of the east, in comfortable homes, where their labor receives its due reward, and poverty and privation become things of the past. In addition to his other interests, Mr. Rockenfeller has extensive investments in mining property. He is president of the Streator & Cripple Creek Gold Mining Company, and the president of the Security Mining & Milling Company, of Omaha, Nebraska.
In affairs affecting the welfare of this state and community our subject takes a patriotic interest. For a period of ten years he served as a member of the Streator board of education, and assisted in the organization of the local Young Men's Christian Association. He is a strong Republican, and socially is identified with the Modern Woodmen of America, belonging to Camp No. 4. In 1891 he married Miss Louise Holbine, and they have one son, Vernen W. They are members of the First Presbyterian church, Mr. Rockenfeller being one of its trustees.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 318-319.