An American Family History

Mary M. Baker Rockel

Springfield, Ohio - 1846 - Henry Howe
Women played an essential role in American society as mothers and homemakers.

In the Civil War (1861 to 1865) eleven Southern states seceded from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America.

Mary M. Baker Rockel was called Polly. She was born on November 6, 1810 in the part of Rockingham County, Virginia which is now Page County. Her parents were Philip Baker and Mary Elizabeth Kessler.

When she was 18, she married Adam Rockel on February 5, 1829 in German Township, Clark County, Ohio. Adam was born in 1793 in Pennsylvania. His parents were Peter Rockel and Anna Maria Brown. According to The Centennial Celebration of Springfield, Ohio by Benjamin Prince, Adam served in the War of 1812.

Mary and Adam's children included:
Peter Rockel
(1831-1896, married Margaret Shick (1834-1864),
Harriet Rockel Shawver (about 1833, married Michael Shawver),
Henry Rockel (1835-1924 married Mary Ann Richards),
Mary E. Rockel Collins (about 1841, married Joseph H. Collins), and
William Rockel (about 1844, married Hester Ann Heller).

The family (Adam Ruckle) appeared in the 1850 census in German Township. The family consisted of Adam who was age 56 and a farmer, Mary who was 39, Peter who was 19, Hariel who was 17, Henry who was 15, Mary C. who was 9 and William age 6.

During the Civil War, they remained in German Township. They were there in 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses.

Adam died in 1884. Polly died on April 14, 1886 when she was 75 years old and was buried with her husband and sons Peter and Henry at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Tremont, Clark County, Ohio.


In 1831 Page County, Virginia was created from Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties. Originally it was part of Frederick County.

Clark County, Ohio was formed March 1, 1817, from Champaign, Madison and Greene Counties. The first settlement was in 1796. The inhabitants of German Township were German Lutherans who came from Virginia.

Children of Philip Baker
and Mary Elizabeth Kessler
  • Elizabeth Baker Branstiter
  • George B. Baker
  • Mary M. Baker Rockel
  • Sarah A. Baker Hunt Bilger
  • William Baker
  • James Baker
  • Susannah Baker Ryman
  • Jacob Baker
  • Daniel Baker
  • Jefferson Baker
  • Rockingham County, Virginia was established in 1778 from Augusta County. European settlement began in the 1740s.
    American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.



    In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.

    The indigenous population in the United States before the arrival of Europeans included many distinct tribes and languages

    Springfield Republic, Sunday, October 3, 1886
    In Memory of a Prominent Pioneer.

    On last Friday afternoon quite a large number of the people of Tremont City and its vicinity witnessed the final ceremonies attending the burial of one of their oldest pioneers, Mary M. Rockel, or as she was more commonly known within the last few years, Aunt Polly. Rockel, was the daughter of Phillip and Elizabeth Baker and the relict of Adam Rockel, who died two years ago at an advanced age of 90 years.

    She was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 1810 and was at her death in her 76th year. In 1813 with her father's and grandfather's family, she came to Clark County, where about half-mile west of Eagle City Mills, in German township, her grandfather, Phillip (sic - should be Jacob) Baker purchased several hundred acres of, at that time, wild and unbroken land.

    At that time Springfield was but a struggling hamlet with half a dozen houses an the now beautiful Mad River Valley was the vast wilderness of woods, brush and water. The pioneer's cabin was sometimes not to be seen for miles. Indians were a not uncommon sight, and wild animals of all kinds were roaming through the woods. At one time she was sent to look for the cows, and came across a she bear with two cubs, not knowing what they were she passed very close to them thinking them to be dogs, but they did her no harm. Her school facilities were very small and her education somewhat limited, but she was a considerable reader.

    In 1827, the Rev. John Pence, now dead, held a revival at Lawrenceville to which she attended, usually walking, it being some 2 or 3 miles. Here she attached herself to the German Reformed church and remained a member until her death, 59 years.

    In 1829 she married Adam Rockel, when she moved on the old Rockel homestead, one mile south of Tremont, where she resided for 55 years, until the death of her husband, since which time she has been living with her son, Peter Rockel, in Moorefield Township.

    She was a remarkable strong and jolly woman and always took great pride in visiting her neighbors and lending a helping hand whenever needed, and old age did not seem to change her in this respect, there being very few social gathering of any kind in the neighborhood within the last few years which has not had her presence. Quite a large number of relatives survive her, her family being a remarkably healthy one.

    She had but five children, Peter, Henry and William and Mary E. Collins and Harriet Shawver, all of whom survive with families and all llive within the vicinity of Tremont City except William, who lives near Bloomington, Ill. For the space of 55 years there was no death in her family, Mrs. Sheriff Baker is her cousin and William M. Rockel, Esq., of this city, her grandson. In her day and generation she was a good and useful woman, and the work of her charitable hands have often lightened other's burdens even to a self sacrifice. Although having lived, beyond the allotted age, the social circle will miss her pleasant presence.

    Shenandoah County, Virginia was established in 1772. It was originally Dunmore County.

    Historically an esquire (Esq. or Esqr.) was the title of a man who ranked below a knight in the English gentry. Later it designated a commoner with the status of gentleman and was used by attorneys.

    Buildings in Clark County, Ohio ranged from simple log cabins to sophisticated Italianate and Gothic Revival structures.

    The first Europeans settled in the Northwest Territory in 1788. Migrants came from New York and New England. Ohio was admitted to the Union as the 17th state on March 1, 1803.

    Logan County, Ohio is just north of Champaign County..
    Women played an essential role in American society as mothers and homemakers.

    Settlers often built log cabins as their first homes.

    The 1890 census materials was lost in a 1921 fire.

    From Clark County, Ohio Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 381

    William Mahlon Rockel, a native-born citizen of Clark County, is one of the prominent members of the bar in this part of Ohio, having a large practice in Springfield, where he makes his home. Though still a young man, Mr. Rockel has thus early in his professional career gained a high reputation, not only as a lawyer, the acknowledged peer of many of the ablest legal minds of the State, but is considered authority on many points as the joint author with Judge White, of one of the best works regarding a certain class of laws.

    Mr. Rockel was born in German Township, Clark County, July 18, 1855, and is a fine representative of sterling pioneer stock, his father, Peter Rockel, having been born in the same township in May, 1831.

    His grandfather, Adam Rockel, was born in Lehigh County, Pa., while his great-grandfather [Peter] Rockel was born in the same county of German parentage. Adam Rockel was a farmer, and in 1822, in early manhood, while he was still unmarried, he crossed the border line between Pennsylvania and Ohio, accompanied by five or six sisters, the removal being made with team, and cast in his lot with the early pioneers of German Township. He bought a tract of heavily timbered land, built a log cabin, and at once entered upon the hard task of clearing away the forest trees from his homestead and improving a good farm, The surrounding country was then sparsely settled, with but little indication of its present wealth and prosperity, with no railways or canals, and with scarcely any other signs of the coming civilization. In the comfortable home that he built there his long life was brought to a close, in 1884, at the ripe old age of ninety-one years. Four of his sisters survived him, and the combined age of the five was four hundred and twenty years.

    His [Adam's] wife, whose maiden name was Mary M. Baker, was a daughter of Philip Baker, well known as one of the early pioneers of Clark County; he came here in 1813, and settled one half mile west of Eagle City Mills, in German Township. There he bought several hundred acres of land, heavily timbered, of which he cleared quite a large tract before his death. The grandmother of our subject died at his father's home in 1886, aged seventy-six years.

    The grandfather [Adam Rockel] was a veteran of the War of 1812, serving under Gen. Henry Dearing, and for his good services in that conflict was a pensioner during his last years.

    The father [Peter Rockel] of the subject of this notice was reared to the life of a farmer on his father's large homestead, and was an inmate of the parental household until his marriage. He then bought land one mile east of Tremont City, where he lived until 1867. In that year he rented his farm, which he had brought to a high state of improvement, and bought another located east of his original homestead on the Urbana pike. There he still makes his home, enjoying the comforts procured by the competence that he has acquired by persistent and well-directed industry.

    He has been twice married. The maiden name of his first wife, mother of our subject, was Margaret Shick, and she was a native of Carroll County, Ohio, and a daughter of William Shick, a native of Virginia, and of German antecedents. He was a pioneer of Ohio, and in 1844 moved to Logan County and located one mile north of Bellefontaine, where he still resides, being now eighty-four years of age. His wife who is eighty-one years old, is spared to be the companion of his declining years. She was born in early pioneer times in Ohio, and her maiden name was Catherine Shawver. The mother of our subject died in 1865, leaving behind her the gracious memory of a true womanhood.

    His father married for his second wife Miss Sarah A. Ilges, who is devoted to his interests.

    William M. Rockel, of whom we write, was the only child of his parents. He laid the foundation of a solid education at the local district school in his native town, and was then given the advantages of an excellent course at the Bellefontaine High School, from which he was graduated with honor in the class of '76. He then pursued his studies in the Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, and was graduated from the commercial department. After that he took a miscellaneous course in the same institution, making a specialty of languages.

    With his mind thus thoroughly trained, after teaching one term in the Franklin School in this county, he commenced the study of law, toward which his ambition had long pointed, and for which his natural abilities peculiarly fitted him. He became a student in the law office of Keifer & White, was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1879, and in the fall of that year opened an office in Springfield, and for more than a decade has been in active practice in this city, his well-known ability and faithfulness to the interests of his patrons bringing him in a fair clientage.

    During his busy career he has been able to devote considerable time to the literature of his profession, and is the joint author with Judge White of a valuable work, entitled "Mechanics and Sub-Contractors Liens," which has been very highly commended for its erudition and the clear exposition of the laws in such cases. Our subject has also contributed to the English and American Encyclopaedia of Law, as well as a work of selected questions from the Ohio Supreme Court Reports, for the use of students, etc. On Memorial Day, 1889, he delivered the address before the Grand Army Post of Vienna, which, at their request, was published, and has been read with deep interest by Grand Army circles far and wide. He is a valued member of Clark Lodge, No.101, A. F. & A. M.; and of Red Star Lodge, No.205, K. of P. In April, 1890, Mr. Rockel was noted by the Republican party for Judge of Probate. As showing the estimation in which Mr. Rockel is held by his fellow-citizens, we will insert the following as voicing their sentiments, which we quote from two leading local papers: From the Sentinel--

    William M. Rockel, who is announced in the Sentinel this week for Probate Judge, is well known to our readers. He is a farmer's son, being a native of Moorefield Township, this county, has never held an office, has had ten years experience at the bar, is the joint author, with Judge White, of a legal work on Mechanic's Liens, and was appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio to examine applicants for admission to the bar; has served on the Clark County Republican and Executive Committees during the past seven years, one year as Secretary and two years as Vice-Chairman; was temporary and permanent Chairman of our last county convention, and is in every respect worthy and well qualified." From the Sunday News--

    William Rockel is making a strong fight for the Probate Judgeship. He is, perhaps, one of the best equipped candidates for the position. It has never been said that at any time he ever mismanaged or neglected any business entrusted to his care. As a legal author, his is a very creditable reputation. His knowledge of the German language would make his selection an accommodation to our large German population. The old soldiers will remember his very able and patriotic address made on last Memorial Day at Vienna, and printed by request of the Grand Army Post in full in the Republic-Times. While pronounced in his Republicanism, he is always a fair and honorable opponent. His long, active, efficient and unrewarded service in the committee and on the stump, in behalf of the Republican cause, with his unquestioned qualifications, appeal very strongly in his behalf for this nomination. Mr. Rockel has the advantage of a fine education as the basis of his professional knowledge, and brings to his task a well-disciplined mind. He is devoted to his profession, and is still a hard student whenever his onerous duties permit him to give attention to his books. He is an extremely easy and fluent speaker, having a fine command not only of the English, but of the German and other languages, and at the same time he is logical and concise in his statement of the facts of a case.

    Lehigh County, Pennsylvania was formed in 1812 from Northampton.
    The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. It gave an applicant 160 acres of undeveloped land outside of the original colonies. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the United States could file an application. They had to live on the land and make improvements to receive title.

    Pennsylvania is one of the 13 original states and was originally founded in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, the son of the state's namesake.

    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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