George Arthur Rockwell.The semi-centenary of Kansas statehood concludes an epoch in her history wherein were developed men who, in respect to constructive, initiative and executive talent, rank with the most forceful in the annals of her sister commonwealths. Among those who have realized a large and substantial success, one who has been prominently and intimately identified with the commercial, social and religious life of Geary county, is he whose name initiates this article. George Arthur Rockwell, president of The B. Rockwell Merchandise & Grain Company, of Junction City, is a native of Illinois, born in Warsaw, Hancock county, April 17, 1854, a son George and Catherine C. (Westlake) Rockwell. The American branch of the Rockwell family dates from John Rockwell, a native of Dorchester, England, who came to Massachusetts colony about 1640, reference to whom is found in the town records of Stamford, Conn., where he subsequently resided. He died in Rye, N. Y., in 1676. He was descended from Sir Ralph De Rocheville, a Norman Knight, who came to England in the train of Queen Maud and founded the English Rockwells of Rockwell Hall, Boroughbridge, York county. George Arthur Rockwell, the subject of this review, is the eighth in order of descent from John Rockwell, founder of the family in America, viz.: John, Jr., son of John, died at Stamford, Conn., 1673; Thomas, son of John, Jr., born in Stamford, Conn., 1667, died there June 17, 1712; Thomas, Jr., son of Thomas, born in Norwalk, Conn., Dec. 13, 1708, became one of the settlers of Ridgefield, Conn., and died there Nov. 4, 1779; Lieut. James, son of Thomas, Jr., born at Ridgefield, Conn., 1750, a soldier of the Continental line in the war of the Revolution with the rank of lieutenant, his commission having borne the signature of Jonathan Turnbull, died in Ridgefield, Nov. 25, 1808. His brother, Thaddeus Rockwell, saw similar service and bore the rank. Thomas Hawley, son of James, born in Ridgefield, May 2, 1776, learned the trade of cabinet maker, which he followed and was also a farmer, died in Ridgefield, in 1865; George, the son of Thomas Hawley and father of George Arthur Rockwell, was born in Ridgefield, Conn., Oct. 12, 1815. He received his education in the schools of his native town, subsequently becoming a teacher in the schools of Connecticut and later in Illinois. In 1840 he established a retail drug business at Warsaw, Ill., in which he was successful. On the breaking out of the Civil war a company was organized, of which he was elected captain. Owing to the quota of Illinois having been filled the company joined the Seventh Missouri cavalry, and with it served in Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana, being mustered out in 1865. He returned to Warsaw, Ill., disposed of his business interests in the fall of 1865, and joined his son, Capt. Bertrand Rockwell, in Junction City, Kan. He became a partner of B. Rockwell, general merchant, which business had been established the previous year, the firm becoming B. Rockwell & Company, and in 1892 incorporated as The B. Rockwell Merchandise & Grain Company, of which he was the vice-president until his death on Jan. 13, 1896. He was a Master Mason, a trustee and charter member of the First Presbyterian Church of Junction City, and in the support of the latter organization ever generous of his time and funds.
He married at Pittsfield, Ill., Catherine C. Westlake, a daughter of the Rev. George Westlake, formerly of Newburg, N. Y. Mr. and Mrs. Rockwell are survived by the following children: Capt. Bertrand Rockwell, a review of whose life appears elsewhere in this work; Susan M., wife of Henry Albers, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Anna Frances, wife of Lieut.-Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, C. S. A., (retired, of Los Angeles, Cal.) George Arthur, the subject of this article; Dr. Thomas H., medical director of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, 120 Broadway, New York City; and Kate R., widow of the late W. B. Clarke, president of the First National Bank of Junction City and founder of the banking firm of W. B. Clarke & Company, of which it succeeded.
George Arthur Rockwell acquired his education in the public schools of Junction City, having removed from Warsaw, Ill., in 1866, in company with his mother and family. He entered the employ of B. Rockwell & Company at an early age and quickly proved his adaptability for a mercantile career. On reaching his majority, in 1875, he was admitted to partnership and assumed full charge of a branch established the same year at Abilene, remaining in that capacity until 1893, when it was closed and he returned to Junction City. In 1892 the business was incorporated as The B. Rockwell Merchandise & Grain Company, with B. Rockwell as president, George Rockwell as first vice-president, George A. Rockwell as second vice-president, and E. A. Cormany as secretary and treasurer. George A. Rockwell became general manager in 1896 and in February, 1905, on the retirement of his brother, B. Rockwell, succeeded him as president. The business of this company, established in 1865, is one of the oldestpossibly the oldestunder the same continuous management in the state. Its first store building was erected in 1865. The finishing lumber in its construction was hauled by team from Leavenworth, a distance of 140 miles. This building was replaced, in 1880, by a brick structure 67 by 160 feet, which was destroyed by fire in 1888, and was replaced by the present building of two stories and basement, having 30,000 square feet of floor space. The company conducts a model department store, exceptionally well organized, and enjoys a well earned reputation for honorable dealing. Some fifty people are employed and in respect to value of stock carried and volume of business transacted the company ranks first in its line in the state, excepting establishments in the cities of Topeka and Wichita. For the past fifteen years Mr. Rockwell has been the managing executive and to his progressiveness, energy and resourcefulness is due in great measure the growth of the enterprise. The company deals extensively in grain and owns and operates one elevator at Junction City.
Mr. Rockwell married on Nov. 18, 1875, Miss Annie E. Clark, a daughter of the late Capt. John Clark, who served for many years in the English merchant marine, and after his retirement became a farmer near Collinsville, Ill. Mr. and Mrs. Rockwell are the parents of four childrenthree sons and one daughter. Frank Eugene, the eldest son, born April 14, 1877, was graduated at the Michigan College of Mines at Houghton, Mich., a member of the class of 1903. He married on June 10, 1909, Mary Canfield Myers, a daughter of Capt. Joseph Myers, U. S. A., and they reside in Pueblo, Col. George Clark, the second son, born May 12, 1879, attended Columbia University, New York City, in 1898-99; enlisted in Company I, Third cavalry, U. S. A., for service in the Philippine Islands and was in Manila at the time of the Boxer troubles in 1900. On Feb. 2, 1901, he was promoted from civil life to a second lieutenancy in the Ninth infantry, U. S. A., later transferred to the Tenth infantry, and in 1907 was commissioned first lieutenant, Twenty-first infantry, U. S. A. He married on June 2, 1909, Miss Myra Belle Lockhart, a daughter of Thomas G. Lockhart, of Goldfield, Nev. Walter, the third son, is a graduate of the Junction City High School and is a director in and department manager of The B. Rockwell Merchandise & Grain Company. He is a young business man of excellent promise, capable, energetic and deservedly popular. He married on April 25, 1906, Miss Cecil Fannie Raber, only child of Dr. Charles K. and Mrs. Raber, of Junction City. They are the parents of two childrenJane, born Nov. 22, 1908, and David, born Nov. 17, 1909. Miss Virginia Rockwell, born. Oct. 27, 1891, is a graduate of Bethany College. Topeka, Kan., where she received a certificate in music. In 1908 she completed a finishing course at Mrs. Hazen's School at Pelham Manor, N. Y.
Mr. Rockwell is a member of Union Lodge, No. 7, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Junction City; Chapter No. 17, Royal Arch Masons, Junction City; Commandery No. 3, Knights Templars, Topeka; Consistory No. 1, and Isis Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Salina; Junction City Lodge, No. 1037, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Modern Woodmen of America and Ancient Order of United Workmen. He has been president of the Junction City Commercial Club and took an active part in the organization of the Junction City Country Club, of which he is president. He is a member of the Protestant Episcopal church, is senior warden of the Church of the Covenant of Junction City and was for many years a member of the standing committee of the diocese. He was elected deputy to the general conventions of the church, held at Boston, Mass., and Richmond, Va. From 1892 until 1910 he served as a member of the board of trustees of St. John's Military School at Salina, resigning in the latter year. As executive head of the most important commercial enterprise in Geary county Mr. Rockwell has been a potent factor in the growth and development of Junction City, and has always been ready to assist with time and money any commendable enterprise which would add growth and betterment to the city. His reputation among his fellow citizens is that of a man broad-minded, honorable, and charitable and withal a Christian.Pages 308-311 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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