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Biography - HARRY E. ROCKWOOD

Owning and occupying one of the nice country homes in Farm Ridge township, LaSalle county, is found the gentleman whose name forms the heading of this sketch, - Harry Earl Rockwood, - a representative of one of the well-known families of the county.

He was born on his father's farm in Farm Ridge township, April 27, 1861, a son of William H. Rockwood, deceased. The Rockwoods are of English origin and the family was represented in America at an early day, New England being their first place of settlement. (The genealogy is given more fully further on.) William H. Rockwood was born at Chesterfield, New Hampshire, November 2, 1826. In 1835 John Rockwood and family came to Illinois and settled in South Ottawa township, LaSalle county, and on his farm he and his wife passed the rest of their lives. He was a schoolteacher as well as farmer, and his religious creed was that of the Presbyterian church.

At the time his father moved to Illinois William H. was a boy of eight years. He attended the district schools here and later was a student at Granville, Illinois, and on his return from school he engaged in farming, which he followed through life. He died on his farm in Farm Ridge township, LaSalle county, June 2, 1881, at the age of fifty-five years. He was married, February 13, 1855. to Maria I. Dolittle, a native of St. Mary's, Georgia, and a daughter of Alfred and Adaline (Garvin) Dolittle, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of Florida. Alfred Dolittle was a merchant. He came to South Ottawa, Illinois, in 1851 and engaged in business and here he died at the age of sixty years. Mrs. Dolittle died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Rockwood, at the age of sixty-one years. Mr. Dolittle was the father of eleven children, five by a former marriage and six by the mother of Mrs. Rockwood. Mrs. Rockwood was educated in Vermont and Massachusetts, and was before her marriage a popular and successful teacher. To William H. Rockwood and wife were given seven children, of whom only three are living, the others having died in early life. These three are Harry E., the immediate subject of this sketch, who occupies the old Rockwood homestead; Everette C., of Indianapolis, Indiana, engaged in the stock business; and William H., Jr., a teacher, of Grand Ridge, Illinois. The father was a man of local prominence. He filled several township offices, at different times, such as assessor and collector and member of the school board. He was an active church worker, identified with the Presbyterian church and for years one of its trustees. Mrs. Rockwood, his widow, has a pleasant home in the village of Grand Ridge, where she has resided since 1893, having moved here from the farm now occupied by her son Harry E.

The Rockwood farm is one of the best improved and most desirable in LaSalle county. The residence is located on a natural building site; the barn is spacious, and everything is conveniently arranged, - in short, a model farm. While he carries on general farming, Mr. Rockwood makes a specialty of the stock business, raising and marketing cattle.

Harry E. Rockwood was married, in 1893, to Miss Nelly Margaret Shepherd, of Deer Park, this county, where she was engaged in teaching previous to her marriage. Their union has been blessed in the birth of three children: Frank Shepherd, Robert Earl and Mildred, aged five, four and two years respectively.

Mr. Rockwood is one of the progressive, up-to-date farmers of the county, interested in everything intended to promote the general welfare of his locality. He is a Republican and has filled some of the township offices. Fraternally he is identified with Occidental Lodge, No. 40; Shabbona Chapter; and Ottawa Commandery, No. 10, of Ottawa.

In the genealogy of Mr. Rockwood, of the foregoing sketch, we add that the first six generations of his American ancestry are taken from the Genealogical Register of the descendants of the early planters of Sherborn, Holliston and Medway, Massachusetts, compiled by Rev. Abner Morse, A. M., of Sherborn, a member of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, and published in 1855.

The names Rockwood and Rocket were formerly identical, and the latter is a corruption of the former. The name Rockwood was, no doubt, local, derived from Rocky Woods in England, and once common in west England. It was probably the abode of the first person who assumed it. Nothing of their history prior to their arrival in New England had been ascertained so far as known to the compiler of the genealogy referred to; but the Rev. Abner Morse thought that in the further pursuit of their genealogy they must explore the history of their Puritan sire among the Rockwoods of England, in Dorset and Suffolk counties.

Tradition says that a page by the name of Rockwood at the court of Henry VIII, in a game of chess with his king, won a manor belonging to one of the monasteries distributed in his reign. In commemoration of the victory he received from his king six chess rooks for his arms. The above estate is still occupied by Rockwoods who are of the gentry. Richard Rockwood was a planter, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1636, having come to this country in 1627 or before. His first wife was Agnes, a daughter of Zachary Bicknell, of Weymouth, Dorsetshire, England. She died in 1643, ^t Braintree, Massachusetts, and he married a second wife, named Ann. His children were, by his first wife, Nicholas, born in 1628, and by his second wife, John, born in 1647. The latter married Johanna Ford, of Braintree, in 1662; Lydia, who married Edward Adams, a son of Henry Adams, of Braintree, now Quincy,

Nicholas Rockwood first located at Braintree, and in 1650 he and the sons of Henry Adams settled the town of Medfield. He married, first, Jane Adams, a daughter of Henry Adams, who died December 15, 1654; and, secondly, Margaret Holbrook, a daughter of John Holbrook, of Weymouth, in 1656. She died April 23, 1670; and his third wife's name was Silence. His children were: Samuel, who was born at Braintree and married Hannah Ellis; Benjamin; Josiah, who married Mary Twitchell; Elizabeth, who became the wife of John Partridge; Rev. John Rockwood was the next in order of birth; and the youngest was Nathaniel Dea, who was born February 23, 1665, and died September 24, 1721, at Wrenth.

Nathaniel Rockwood Dea (Deacon?) married Johanna Ellis, a daughter of Thomas Ellis, of Medfield, and his children were: Margaret, who married Ebner Metcalf; Nathaniel, who married Margaret Phipps; Benjamin, who married Mehetibel Thomson; Abigail; Ebenezer; Hannah, who became the wife of Thomas Lawrence; Mary; and Elisha, who was born June 11, 1716, and died December 5, 1788.

Elisha Rockwood settled in Groton. August 18, 1738, he married Elizabeth Adams, who was born September 4, 1719, and died May 16, 1799. She was the daughter of James Adams, of Sherborn, by his wife Abigail nee Hill, and granddaughter of Moses Adams, by his wife Lydia nee Whitney, and great-granddaughter of Henry Adams, of Medfield, by wife Lydia Paine, and great-great-granddaughter of Henry Adams, of Braintree; and she was distantly related to Robert Treat Paine, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His children were: Elisha, who was born November 9, 1740, and died in February, 1831; Joseph, Ebenezer, A. M., M. D., Abagail, Elizabeth, Lydia, Sarah and Sybil.

Elisha Rockwood, of the above family, married Mary Farnsworth in 1762, and she died in 1765, and he married, secondly, Abigail Stone, in 1771. He removed from Groton, Massachusetts, to Chesterfield, New Hampshire. His children were: Elisha, D. D., who married Susanna Parkman; William, who married Anna Horton; John, who married Sally Green, of Westmoreland; Otis, D. D., married Maria Johnson.

John Rockwood, of the above family, was born July 7, 1782, and died June 29, 1859. He was married June 26, 1817, to Sally Green, of Westmoreland, who was born August i, 1791. and died January 8, 1882. She was a daughter of Captain Levi Green, of Westmoreland, New Hampshire. They resided on the paternal Rockwood farm in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, until 1835, when he removed to Ottawa, Illinois, settling on a farm in South Ottawa township, where he resided till his death. His children were: Mary Abigail, who married Rev. James Dunn; Laura Maria; Loring Otis; John Adams, who married Sarah Lewis; William Henry, and Elisha Earl, who married Debora Cox.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 235-238.

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