William Otis Rockwood
The ancestry of Mr. Rockwood in both lines of descent was English. His father, the Rev. Dr. Elisha Rockwood, a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1802, was for twenty seven years minister of the Westboro Parish. His mother, Susannah Brigham Parkman, was the daughter of Breck Parkman, Esq., and granddaughter of Rev. Ebenezer Parkman, the first minister of Westboro, and a clergyman of wide influence. The childhood of Mr. Rockwood was passed in his native town. He later studied at Leicester and Amherst Academies, and finally entered Yale College to complete a classical course. Having a passion for the sea, after two years at Yale an opportunity was obtained for him as a common sailor on a cotton vessel bound for Savannah, and from thence to Liverpool. This voyage satisfied him, and returning home he engaged in teaching. In August following the death of his mother, which occurred June 4, 1836, he came to Warsaw, and later resided at Quincy and St. Louis. In the latter city he was largely engaged in the business of wholesale groceries, with a partner who desired to enlarge their mercantile ventures by embarking in the liquor traffic and slave trade.
This being repugnant to Mr. Lockwood, the partnership was dissolved, and Madison, Ind., became his home, where he was for seven years connected with the firm of Polleys & Butler, after which he removed to Shelbyville. There he engaged in milling enterprises and as superintendent of the new Shelbyville Lateral Branch Railroad. Ultimately came to Indianapolis, where
he continued to reside until his death on the 13th of November, 1879. The enterprise in which he was first engaged at Indianapolis, the manufacture of railroad cars, was too extensive for the place and time, and met with but partial success. Soon, however, he received the appointment of treasurer of the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad, and found at last a pursuit congenial to his talents and tastes. For seven years he discharged the onerous and difficult duties of the railway treasurership, resigning the place in 1868 that he might bestow needed attention upon his own accumulated affairs. He was prominent in the inception of various iron industries, particularly the Indianapolis Rolling-Mill and the Roane Iron Company at Rockwood and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Of the former he became treasurer in 1872, having previously been an influential director. The growth of the latter organization, originating largely in his sagacity and perseverance, was to the last a source of pleasure and an occasion of reasonable pride. Mr. Rockwood possessed unusual capacity for the dispatch of business. Beside his duties at the rolling-mill, quite sufficient to occupy the attention of one man, he was a director of the Roane Iron Company, Tennessee, of the First National Bank and Bank of Commerce, of lndianapolis, of the Franklin Fire Insurance Company and the Bedford Railroad Company, president of the Industrial Life Association, and treasurer of the Indianapolis Telephone Company and the Hecla Mining Company. He was also associated with several other complicated business concerns in different States, each of which required a considerable correspondence. In the direction of his latest and largest employments his facility was greatly enhanced by his mechanical insight. Few men without formal training in such matters looked farther or more quickly than he into cranks and wheels. He also had a useful faculty of resting. This came partly from the composure of his nerves, and partly from his enjoyment of humor. He rarely failed to be diverted by a gleam of wit,—a backgammon-board untangled thought. He enjoyed good talkers, and his frequent journeys were occasions of amusement and rest. Doubtless the quality and quantity of his work was affected by a certain calmness of judgment, a judicial temper of mind.
He was not easily jostled by excitements around him. While feeling the deepest interest in questions of public policy, he evinced both calmness and judgment in the regular exercise of his franchise. More important is it, however, to observe Mr. Rockwood's moral traits. He was marked by a conspicuous integrity. Nothing was so sure to stir the last drop of blood in him as the raising of a question regarding his probity. His capacity for friendship was also remarkable. In the midst of the most urgent engagements he was capable of writing every day to a man he loved, and for months and years each day looking for the reply. For humanity in general he had a kindly side, trusting men too readily for safety out of mere good nature or genuine pity. It was seldom that in ordinary conversation he could be betrayed into saying a word in disparagement of any one. Mr. Rockwood was republican in the simplicity of all his tastes ; and class distinctions be thoroughly disliked. An intelligent and firm believer in Christianity, he was at the time of his death a member of Memorial Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis. Beside his widow, who wasMiss Helen Mar Moore, of Auburn, N. Y., three children survive him,—Helen Mar (wife of Rev. Hanford A. Edson, D.D.), William E., and Charles B. The death of William Otis Rockwood occurred on November 13, 1879 and he was laid to rest in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.