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Second Generation

Elijah and Cornelia’s three surviving sons—John, George, and Elijah (II)—received some aspects of a classical education at home and in schools. Their later letters show knowledge of Greek mythology and other classical and literary subjects. In terms of careers, the three men moved in different directions, although all showed a spirit of entrepreneurship and an interest in the nation’s rapidly growing industrialization. They were flexible in adapting to new opportunities in the first half of the 19th century and moved markedly away from the agrarian roots of their American forebears.

While John and George pursued career paths that would take them away from Ho-Ho-Kus for long periods of time, Elijah II remained at The Hermitage. He appears to have had some classical education, likely at home. With his father’s funds going toward the construction of the mill and supporting dams in the late 1820s, and then with his father’s death when Elijah was 18, it appears that little money was available to send him to a boarding school.

John Rosencrantz (1809–83)

At 15, John went to New York City to work in a retail establishment owned by his second-cousin Tom Suffern. Shortly thereafter, however, he enrolled in an academy for classical studies, where he studied Latin, Greek, French, geography, and history. In 1826, he changed his studies to the applied field of medicine. His father was not happy about the decision, writing: “I have met with no disappointment in the course of my life which has hurt me so terribly and acutely as that which compels me to give up the idea of giving you a liberal education.” John was less disappointed by the change. He wrote to a friend: “I soon intend to quite Xenophon and go to study physick.”

Medical degreeJohn studied for a year at a newly formed new medical school in New York City that arranged to offer degrees through Rutgers College. He may have attended for a second year, but no letters survive from that time. [Tell me more about John's medical education.] When he returned home, he most likely apprenticed with his father. In 1830, the Board of Trustees of Rutgers College awarded him his degree as a doctor of medicine. In the same year, John took his father’s place as the physician for the Bergen County Militia.

Beyond the militia appointment, the extent to which John practiced medicine in Ho-Ho-Kus is not clear. He was also focusing increasing attention on the cotton warp mill built by his father. The Prall brothers, who had rented the mill from Elijah, appeared willing to sell their interest in it. In 1934, John borrowed capital to buy their machinery so he could run the cotton warp mill.

John's position as a leading businessman in New Prospect (as Ho-Ho-Kus was then called) enabled him to gain the position of local postmaster in 1835. [Tell me more about the name change from New Prospect to Ho-Ho-Kus.] He probably ran the Post Office out of The Hermitage. However, the cotton mill also brought John into contact with a wider world. He found buyers for the the mill’s manufactured cotton warp in Philadelphia, were he met Joseph Ripka and his family. By the mid-1830s, Ripka was well on his way to becoming the leading textile manufacturer in that city. His largest mills were located in Manayunk, in the western part of Philadelphia. [Tell more more about Joseph Ripka.] John not only became involved with Ripka in business. He also impressed the family and, particularly, Ripka’s daughter Caroline, whom he married in September 1838. They had a daughter, Mary, in September 1839, but she died in childhood.

John relocated to Philadelphia to manage one of the large Ripka mills. He became highly knowledgeable about the most advanced developments in textile production and shared some of this knowledge with his brother Elijah, who took over The Hermitage cotton warp mill.

George Suffern Rosencrantz (1812–64)

George Horse ArtilleryElijah and Cornelia’s second son, George, also left home at 15 to work for Tom Suffern and stayed with him until the early 1830s. He then developed a strong interest in joining the military (another Suffern cousin attended West Point) and enlisted in the First Regiment of the New-York Horse Artillery. He appears to have remained in the military for three years, during which time he transferred to the 59th Brigade of the New York State Infantry. However, he seems to gotten into some kind of trouble, as he was court-martialed in 1838 and fined $14.75.

By 1839, George had begun working for the firm of Crook and Watts in New York City and eventually became a partner in the renamed Rosencrantz and Watts, which bought and sold cotton. In the late 1840s, George left New York for Philadelphia, where he worked as a bookkeeper for his brother John and for John's brother-in-law, Captain John Quincy Adams. By the 1850s, George was again having problems. He overdrew $150 from Adams’s account, was frequently absent from work, and was accused of being in no condition to attend to business. It is not clear whether he was ill, and it is possible that he had developed a drinking problem. By 1860, George had moved back to Ho-Ho-Kus. He lived near The Hermitage and continued to work as a bookkeeper until he died in 1864, at age 52.

Continue to The Rosencrantz Cotton Warp Mill

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