Rockwood, Charles Green
Collection of Incoming Correspondence to Charles Green Rockwood, Banker of Newark, New Jersey and New York City, New York, written by his relatives, 1835-1840

13 letters, 42 manuscript pages, dated 30 July 1835 to 9 August 1840, plus 11 pages of manuscript papers written by the Rev. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer to "Rev. Dr. Vermilye, Pearl St," concerning Van Rensselaer's father, General Stephen Van Rensselaer (1764-1839). The Rockwood and Vermilye families were intermarried.

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Description of the Correspondence:

       1 letter written by Erskine Hazard, Esq., to Charles G. Rockwood, addressed to him "Care of Wm. M. Vermilye, Esq., Cash'r Merch't Exc. Bank, New York," informing Rockwood of the death of his brother (Erskine) in Cuba from the Yellow Fever, dated Philadelphia, 30 July 1835.

       "Philadelphia, 30 July 1835....I rec'd your letter a long time since announcing your having changed your situation in business and intended before now to have written you but have been too much occupied -- I am now compelled to adopt this course as the one that would be most likely for your mother to received with the least shock the melancholy news of the death of your brother Erskine. A young gentleman by name Israel who resides here informs me that he saw Erskine at the Havanna, for a day or two before they were both taken down with the Yellow fever of which E died after four days illness -- and through the perjury of the sexton that E was a Catholic his remains were admitted into the Campo Santo or Catholic burial ground..."

 

       7 letters written by Abigail A. Rockwood to her brother Charles G. Rockwood (one of these letters dated 1 February 1838 is co-written with T.E.V. (Thomas E. Vermilye). These letters are addressed to Charles at "71 Bleecker St, New York," "70 Bleecker St., New York," "Care W. R. Vermilye, Esq., Wall St, New York," "New York," and "Box 275, Post-Office, New York City," and dated Albany, New York, 18 March 1836 - July 1840, except one letter, dated July 1840, from "West Springfield." Most of Abigail's letters center on family news, the social history of the town, men who try to court her, household and domestic affairs, etc. One letter, co-authored with Thomas E. Vermilye, has Vermilye inquiring about church "bells" that were for sale in New York City, later letters follow up on it. And in yet another letter Abigail informs her brother of a man trying to court her who is rather full of himself:

"Albany, 3 Jan 1838,

              ...We regretted very much indeed that Marg't did not get here before the 1st -- it is very awkward to talk without any assistance to 8 or 10 men at once, & tho' Ma was not out of the room many minutes at a time, that was the case whenever she was absent --for my part, I maintained my post faithfully from before 12 till 9, & was then lame in every joint, with standing. Ma & I played the agreeable with 102 gents: the first day & 26 with some shemales the 2nd. -- I really meant to write decently to-day, but it seems as if I had not time...."

          "Albany, 1 Feb 1838

             I write, as usual, to forward a commission which, I hope, it will not be inconvenient for you to execute & speedily let me know the result. In the Commercial of Tuesday is an article headed, "Church Bells." According to your own acc't of your prowess recently among the "belles," I conclude a commission on such a subject cannot be unpleasant!! -- I wish you would read the article & make some enquiries either at the Custom House (of D.S. Lyon perhaps) or of Mess'rs Fitch & Co. 55 Exchange Place, or both, respecting the weight of the largest, the price (including every charge), on what terms it can be procured from the Custom House, whether the sellers will warrant it sound, of fine tone, etc., if it is a foreign article etc etc. I very much wish you c'd hear the tone, or get the opinion of some good judge respecting the entire character of the article etc, & let me know as soon as may be. Our poor bell does not answer & we must have a new one: & if we c'd be certified that one of these would answer our purpose, our people w'd get it. The tone is the great thing & how that is to be discovered without its being hung, I do not know: but I should like you to see ab't it...."

          "Albany, 10 Feb 1838

              ...There is another young New Yorker, in the Legislature who would be able to give you some important lessons in showing off to ladies, if you should need them in the Spring -- Mr Scholes (perhaps I don't spell it right) -- he is very much puffed in the papers for his great eloquence & is very vain of both his beauty & knowledge. He came to tea with other company; & last week did me the favor to come of his own accord quite early in the ev'g & entertain me till after 10. -- It was not out of any admiration of me, however, but merely because he was fascinated with his own conversation. It required all my faculties to understand & answer him..."

          "Albany, 7 Dec 1838,

          ...I suppose you have not heard of the almost murder of Gen: Rance V.R. in our quiet streets, one night this week. He was walking through S. Pearl St. on his way to Cherry Hill, with his little niece, about 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening; was met & attacked by 5 lawless young men, or large boys --recognized by name & beaten & stamped upon in such a way that he recollected nothing after the first attack. He was taken home senseless, & lies now with his head & body dangerously injured & the last we heard, was blind. I believe they do not know yet whether his eyes are out or not. His face & head were either pounded with paving stones or dashed against them, & his breast was violently stamped upon. That is the way the story goes here & I got it direct from Kilian K. V.R...."

1 letter written by Mrs. Elizabeth Breese Vermilye to her son Charles G. Rockwood, dated Albany, 22 March 1836.

1 letter written by John R. Thompson, Secretary, Delaware & Raritan Canal Company, to Charles G. Rockwood, addressed to him at "70 Bleecker St, New York," and dated Princeton, New Jersey, 20 February 1838, concerns tolls on the canal and the fact the prices might be rising on some articles.

1 letter written by Ebenezer Hazzard Rockwood to his brother Charles G. Rockwood, "Care of W. R. Vermilye, Broker, Wall St. op. Exchange," dated Enfield, Massachusetts, 24 October 1838, family news, plus news about how his farm is doing, money troubles, etc.

1 letter written by Lubin B. Rockwood to his cousin Charles G. Rockwood, addressed to him at "N.Y. City, NY" and dated Wilton, New Hampshire, 29 November 1838, family news.

1 letter written by Thomas E. Vermilye to Charles G. Rockwood, addressed to him at "Box 275, P. Office, N. York," and dated Enfield, [MA], 9 August 1840.

The papers concerning General Stephen Van Rennselaer were written by the Rev. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, his son, to the "Rev. Dr. Vermilye, Pearl St," New York. Rev. Dr. Vermilye is presumably the second husband of Elizabeth Breese Hazard (1786-1861), who married the Rev. Thomas Edward Vermilye (1803-1893) after the death of her first husband, Dr. Ebenezer Rockwood (1781-1815), the father of Charles Greene Rockwood (1814-1904). These papers consist of four separate documents that are not dated, but presumably were written just after the death of General Van Rennselaer, which occurred on 26 January 1839, which fits the time period of the letters of this collection. These documents are:

1) A letter of Cortlandt Van Rennselaer to Rev. Dr. Vermilye, explaining the papers he is sending about his father.

2) "Some characteristics of my dear father's last sickness."

3) "Miscellaneous Recollections" (tends to be General Van Rennselaer's religious life and beliefs

4) Political and biography history of General Stephen Van Rennselaer

 

Charles Greene Rockwood (1814-1904)

 

Charles Greene Rockwood was the son of Elizabeth Breese Hazard (1786-1861) and Dr. Ebenezer Rockwood (1781-1815). Charles' mother was the daughter of Ebenezer and Abigail Hazard and sister of Samuel Hazard. Her father was postmaster general of the United States under President Washington from 1782-1789. Charles' father was from Boston and a Harvard graduate (1802). He was considered a brilliant lawyer, but died young, at the age of thirty-four. He was the grandson of Dr. Ebenezer Rockwood, who graduated Harvard in 1773 and became Continental Army surgeon.

 

             Charles had three siblings: Abigail Arthur Rockwood, (1808-); Ebenezer Hazard Rockwood (1810-), settled at Enfield, Massachusetts; and William Erskine Rockwood (1811-1835), who died at Havana, Cuba. William's death is mentioned in this correspondence. Several of the letters are written by Charles' sister Abigail.

 

              After the death of Charles' father, his mother (Elizabeth Breese Hazard) married a second time to the Rev. Thomas Edward Vermilye (1803-1893), an eminent divine and distinguished pastor in the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, of New York City. Together they had at least five children (half siblings to Charles): Rev. Ashbel Green Vermilye; Mary Montgomery Vermilye; Elizabeth Breese Vermilye; Thomas Edward Vermilye; and William W. Vermilye.

             Charles Greene Rockwood, born at Boston 19 July 1814; studied at the academy of E. W. Morse in New York City; at the age of 15 entered as a clerk with an extensive mercantile house in New York where he remained until he was 21; in 1846 he assumed the cashier-ship of the "Orange Bank" in the city of Orange, New Jersey; in 1849 he received the appointment of cashier of "The Stamford Bank," in Stamford, Connecticut; in 1852 he left this position to establish the private banking house of Rockwood, Hazards & Co. in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania; he and cousin Risher Hazard being the active partners. In 1857 a chartered bank having been organized in Mauch Chunk he became the first cashier of the Bank of Norwalk, Connecticut, a newly established institution. The Newark Banking Company, the oldest chartered institution of the kind in New Jersey, called him as a successor to its cashier, who he replaced in February 1858, serving twenty-nine years as cashier before becoming the president on 13 January 1887, which position he held at the time of his death on 14 July 1904. Earlier cashiers at the bank were William M. Vermilye (1841-1843), then Jacob D. Vermilye (1843-1858) who Rockwood replaced. The Vermilyes were related to Rockwood through the second marriage of his mother.

Rockwood was married 23 June 1840 to Sarah Smith (1812-1893), daughter of George Bridges Rodney Smith and Joanna Vermilye. Together the couple had at least four children: William Erskine Rockwood (1841-1842); Prof. Charles Green Rockwood, Jr. (1843-1913), Princeton University; Joanna Smith Rockwood (1845-); and Elizabeth Vermilye Rockwood (1848-1853).

       Van Rensselaer Family

         General Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839) was Lieutenant Governor of New York and a member of the United States House of Representatives, as well as a soldier, businessman and landowner. The heir to one of the largest estates (Rensselaerwyck) in New York, his holdings made him the tenth richest American of all time, based on the ratio of his fortune to contemporary GDP. He founded the institution which became Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

          Van Rensselaer married Margarita Schuyler, daughter of Philip Schuyler in June 1783. His eldest son, also named Stephen (1789-1868), became the last patroon of Rensselaerwyck and inherited the manor in 1839 by his father's will. He graduated from Princeton in 1808. During the anti-rent troubles in 1839 he sold his townships, and at his death the manor passed out of the hands of his descendants. He served as major general of militia. He married Harriet Elizabeth, daughter of William Bayard, of New York.

          Another of Stephen's sons was Henry Bell Van Rensselaer, a politician and general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A third son, Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, was a noted Presbyterian clergyman. Stephen's younger brother Philip S. Van Rensselaer (1767–1824) was Mayor of Albany, New York, from 1799 to 1816 and again, in 1819 to 1820.

       Cortlandt Van Rensselaer (1808-1860)

Cortlandt Van Rensselaer (1808-1860) was a Presbyterian clergyman. He was a son of General Stephen Van Rensselaer. He graduated from Yale in 1827, and then studied at Union Theological Seminary, Prince Edward County, Virginia (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) and at Princeton Theological Seminary. He was a missionary to the slaves in Virginia 1833-1835. He was ordained in 1835, and became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington, New Jersey, in 1837, of the 2nd Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., in 1841, and agent of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1844, raising $100,000 for its endowment. He was secretary of the Presbyterian board of education 1846-1860, and founded and edited the Presbyterian Magazine and The Home, the School, and the Church.

 

        New York University gave him the degree of D.D. in 1845. Much of his large fortune was devoted to benevolent objects and to the religious enterprises of the Presbyterian Church. After his death, selections from his published writings appeared under the title of Miscellaneous Sermons, Essays, and Addresses, edited by his son, Cortlandt Van Rensselaer (Philadelphia, 1861).