Colonel Samuel Rockwood (1804-1881)
Samuel Rockwood was born in Peru, Berkshire County, Massachusetts on 3 September 1804. He was the son of Daniel Rockwood (b. 1768) and Lovica Pond. His paternal grandparents were Joseph Rockwood and Alice Thomson.
On 3 September, 1832, Samuel Rockwood married Augusta Goodrich (1811- 1839) in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Augusta was the younger sister of Mary Ann Goodrich, the mother of J. Augusta Goodrich (the subject of these letters). The couple moved to Owego NY where Samuel purchased the flouring mills known locally as the "red mills" (built in 1825 by David Turner and Jonathan Platt) north of the village. Augusta was one of the organizers of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Owego in 1834.
While living in Owego during this period, Samuel Rockwood served in the state militia, which was mandatory for men his age. In 1833, town records indicate that he held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the 53rd regiment. In August of that year, he was promoted to colonel and he commanded the regiment until July 1837. The uniforms worn by the regiment at the time were the same as the regular army, but round hats with feathers and the American cockade were deemed a part of the full uniform for a captain or a subaltern, and blue pantaloons at all seasons of the year were considered a part of the full uniform.
Samuel Rockwood's first wife died 17 September 1839. Three years later, on 28 December 1842, Samuel Rockwood married his second wife, Lucy Ann Kellogg (b. 12 July 1816) of Glastonbury, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Elisha Kellogg (1763-1846) and Emily Stratton (1761-1854). A daughter, Fanny Augusta Rockwood, was born to the couple on 20 December 1842 in Owego, New York. Sometime previous to 1850, Samuel Rockwood sold his "red mill" property back to Jonathan Platt, husband of Betsy Goodrich (a sister of Silas Goodrich). Samuel Rockwood was living in Owego at the time of the 1850 Census, but soon after went to Belvidere, Illinois where he engaged in farming. His wife, poor in health, returned to Connecticut to see her family before she died on 14 October 1850.
Samuel Rockwood had an older brother named Daniel Rockwood who was born 30 January 1800 in Peru, Massachusetts. He came with other members of his family to Tioga County, New York around 1820 but in the spring of 1839, Daniel moved farther west to Livingston County, Illinois. In the 1850 census, his residence is given as Livingston County, Illinois and in 1860, it is given as Owego Township, Livingston County, Illinois. Daniel was a farmer all of his life.
Samuel and Daniel also had an older brother named Sabin Rockwood, born 31 January 1798 in Peru, Massachusetts. In the 1850 and 1860 census, Sabin appears as a blacksmith in Owego Village, Tioga County, New York.
In the 1860 census, 55 year-old Samuel Rockwood appears as a merchant grocer in Belvidere, Boone County, IL. Living with him was his 17 year-old daughter, Fanny A. Rockwood, who was employed as a teacher. In the 1860 census, Fanny Rockwood also appears as a school teacher in Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois where she lived with the Fager family.
During the Civil War, Samuel Rockwood enlisted in the 9th Illinois Cavalry. He was initially a private in Company I, but was promoted to Adjutant in the Company Headquarters early in 1862. According to service records at the Illinois State archives, the 58 year-old Samuel Rockwood stood 5'11" when he mustered in on October 23, 1861 in Chicago. Records say that his hair was black, his eyes were brown, and that he had a dark complexion.
The Company started from Chicago and traveled by rail to Benton Barracks near St. Louis, and Pilot Knob, Missouri. From there they marched to Reeve’s Station on the Big Black River and were attached to the Third Brigade of General Steele’s Division, serving in the District of Southeast Missouri. Regiment records show Samuel Rockwood resigning on April 10, 1862 after only about six months of service. His disenchantment with the service is chronicled in the letter appearing below on June 22, 1862.
On 30 December, 1862, Fanny A. Rockwood married Thomas Jefferson Hewitt. The marriage license was obtained on 25 December 1862 in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois. Thomas was born 5 December 1836 in Middleburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. His parents were George Washington Hewitt (1799-1871) and Margaret Cronkleton (1796-1858), both of Hampton, Windham County, Connecticut. After George and Margaret were married in 1820, they lived in Middleburg, Pennsylvania (50 miles north of Harrisburg), where they raised a family of at least five children. The couple came with their family to Illinois in 1848, returned East for a time, and then permanently settled in Ogle County, Illinois in 1854. For a history of the Hewitt family in Ogle County, Illinois, click here. Both Thomas and his brother Philo J. Hewitt (born 1835) served in the 15th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.
Thomas Hewitt's military service record shows that he enlisted in the federal service on 24 May 1861, the same day as his brother Philo. Thomas was a single, 24 year-old lawyer from Polo, Ogle County, Illinois. Thomas's enlistment papers record that he was 5' 10 1/2" tall (five inches tall than his brother Philo), with brown hair, blue eyes, and a light complexion. He was a Lieutenant in Company H from the time he entered the service until he resigned on 23 September 1862 -- the day after President Lincoln issued his preliminary emancipation proclamation. Many federal soldiers refused to fight for the liberation of the slaves held in bondage in the southern states. Perhaps the timing of Thomas' resignation is purely coincidental but it is likely that he held views like most of his Illinois neighbors (an anti-black state in mid 19th century). Thomas's brother Philo -- being only a Sergeant -- could not resign, however, and served out the remainder of his three year term. He mustered out in Huntsville, Alabama, prior to the Atlanta campaign.
In mid September, 1862, Samuel Rockwood married his third wife -- the former Mrs. Angeline M. Townsand, who was 19 years his junior. In 1870, they lived in Forrester, Illinois where Samuel's occupation was given as a "retired postmaster."
By 1880, Samuel Rockwood and his third wife Angeline were living at Plum Creek (later Lexington), Dawson County, Nebraska. They had migrated there during the summer of 1873 with Samuel's daughter, Fannie and her husband Thomas J. Hewitt, taking up adjoining 160 acre claims as partial payment for their military service in the Civil War. Samuel Rockwood was an ardent Episcopalian and helped to establish the first Episcopal church in Lexington in 1874. He and his son-in-law farmed but had a difficult time due to severe weather and grasshopper invasions in the late 1870's. These experiences are documented by Samuel's granddaughter, Lucy Hewitt, in the "Early Days of Dawson County" article appearing below.
Samuel Rockwood died 27 May 1881. Thomas J. Hewitt died 9 July 1886. And Fannie Hewitt died 31 January 1915. Thomas is buried in Hewitt Cemetery in Lexington, Nebraska as are Col. Samuel Rockwood and his third wife. Hewitt Cemetery is located northwest of Lexington on the south side of Road 761, about 2 miles west of Highway 21 (which is North Adams Street in Lexington).
The following gravemarker transcriptions were performed by Steve and Vicky Stephens. Submitted to the USGenWeb Nebraska Archives, October, 1998, through the courtesy of Vicky Stephens (email@example.com).
ROCKWOOD, Lieut. Sam'L.............No dates
ROCKWOOD, Mrs. A. M.................No dates
HEWITT, Lieut. T. J. ..................No Dates
(Husband of Fanny)
HEWITT, Infant daughter of P. J. & I. C.
HEWITT, Infant daughter of Philo
& Belle Died Dec. 31, 1901
The following excerpts were taken from letters on this web site:
May 25, 1850
Aunt Lucy Rockwood has gone to Connecticut to spend the summer with her children, and Uncle [Samuel] Rockwood is soon going west. Perhaps they will move to the West in the fall -- if her health is good enough, but I am afraid she will not live long -- her health is very poor.
April 24, 1852
They have received a letter from Uncle [Samuel] Rockwood within a short time. His father and son were with him then but both had spent the winter more than a hundred miles from him at his brothers so that he has been lonely. He was well and I believe likes it [where he lives]. Pa had been sick but was better so that he could be about.
June 1, 1852
Uncle [Samuel] Rockwood's father at the West was very sick...
March 18, 1853
I saw a gentleman from Belvidere [IL] who informed me that Col. [Samuel] Rockwood's family are well. He had buried his father a few days before. He has sold the most of his farm at a good bargain.
January 8, 1854
You must have enjoyed the visit with your Uncle [Samuel] Rockwood. I am glad that his pecuniary circumstances are so much better.
June 22, 1862
I had a letter from your Uncle [Samuel] Rockwood last week. He is now at Belvidere [Illinois. He] has resigned [from the army]. He says he cannot live so. He is too old a man to go into an army. He writes he is 57 years and such a set of men, officers, and all. They drink, gamble, curse and sware. He says there is no morality in the army. He did not go into Kansas [but] was in the southern part of Missouri. [He] told about being out in a thunderstorm in the night, the wind blowing, trees falling, they lying on the ground with there blankets around them and the canopy above them. It rained all night and they was wet as could be. Two of there horses were killed by the falling of trees. He took his [horse] into an open field. He must have been an officer or he could not have resigned, and he was getting over a hundred dollars a month. He thought he should come on east here and go to Massachusetts, but Government does not pay him yet and he cannot come. [His 19-year old daughter] Fanny [Augusta Rockwood] teaches 3 little girls in a Mr. Wood’s family in Chicago. He says he with Fanny spent an hour very pleasantly with Mrs. Shipman whilst they were stationed at Chicago. Mrs. Shipman told him that Mrs. Underwood spent a month or two with her last fall. Mr. Shipman was engaged in the Quartermasters department. He says Col. [Albert G.] Brackett uses profane language; otherwise he would be a gentleman. The Major is a clergyman but he had seen him playing cards. A man by the name of Reese First Lieutenant in one of the Company’s when he first went into camp was one of the leaders in conducting prayer meetings. He says he was as fervent a man in his prayers and praises to one Heavenly Father as any one he ever saw but after a while he saw him elevated with distilled spirits and finally deserted, taking his horse, saber and pistols which belonged to the Government.
He wrote two sheets full, a long letter. He says a soldier’s life as he has experienced it has been the most loathsome life as he ever wishes to experience. He has not been in any battles. I would like to send you his letter but it is bulky. He says he had been sick 2 weeks, which caused him to hand in his resignation. He had been sent out with 2 companies under command of Major [Hector J.] Humphrey on a scout with 2 days provisions and were gone 4 days. 2 days they had to live on the secesh. He says it was very amusing the different receptions they met with. Some treated them kindly. Others were gruffy and insolent. They brought back to camp 8 prisoners & some arms. The first rifle they took he found under a fence where he was looking for corn for his horse. It was covered with corn and husks. It would have given him great pleasure to have gone and seen you & your husband, but as it was, could not.
The following memoir was copied from the Dawson County GENWEB site. It was written by Col. Samuel Rockwood's grandaughter, Lucy R. Hewitt.
EARLY DAYS IN DAWSON COUNTY
BY LUCY R. HEWITT
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Hewitt, in June, 1873, journeyed from Forreston, Illinois, to Plum Creek, Nebraska. Their object was to take advantage of the offer the government was making to civil war soldiers, whereby each soldier could obtain one hundred and sixty acres of land. They stopped at Grand Island and Kearney, but at neither place could they find two adjoining quarter sections, not yet filed on. They wanted two, for my grandfather, [Samuel] Rockwood, who lived with us was also a soldier. At Plum Creek, now Lexington, they were able to obtain what they wanted but it was six miles northwest of the station.