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William's History of Frederick County

Colonel John R. Rouzer

Colonel John R. Rouzer, formerly a member of the Maryland Legislature, and one of Frederick County's best known and leading citizens, was born near Apple's Church, about one mile from Thurmont, May 7, 1839. He is a son of Peter and Rachel Hope (Martin) Rouzer.

Daniel Rouzer was the first of the family to settle in Maryland. He was a native of New Jersey, where he was born in 1776, and died in Maryland, August 18, 1850. While a young man, he came to Maryland, and learned the tanner's trade at Hagerstown. In 1793, he moved upon the present Rouzer homestead, near Thurmont, Md., now owned and occupied by Mrs. Emma K. Rouzer, widow of John Ronzer. In that year he established the first tannery in this part of the State. At first the enterprise was conducted on a very small scale, but by degrees it grew in importance. Mr. Rouzer was in his time one of the most prominent citizens of Frederick County, and he was actively identified with church work. The business which he established held a high place in its own branch of trade for about a century, his son, John Rouzer, succeeding to the management of it. Mr. Rouzer was twice married. His first wife was Sophia Schover, daughter of Peter Schover, by whom he had ten children. He was married secondly to Julia Matthews, daughter of John Matthews, of Frederick County. They were the parents of two children: John,; and Sarah, born in 1819.

Peter Rouzer, son of Daniel and Sophia (Schover) Rouzer, was a native of Hagerstown, Md., in which place he was born November 1, 1792, and he died in Thurmont, Md., May 17, 1877. During much of his life, he engaged in school teaching. He also spent much time following agricultural pursuits. He was a highly respected citizen of the community in which he made his home. He was married 'May 29, 1817, in Mechanicstown, Md., to Rachel Hope Martin, daughter of John and Elizabeth Mar-tin. She was born in Albemarle County, Va., July 10, 1799, and died near Apple's Church, near Thurmont, August 16, 1840. They were the parents of the following children: 1, Sophia Margaret, was born July 18, 1818, and died in infancy; 2, Mary Elizabeth, was born March 22, 1820, married Joseph Freeze, of Thurmont, Md.; 3, James Madison, was born June 21, 1822, and died July 26, 1895, was by trade a cabinet maker, served in the First Pennsylvania Reserves for four years during the Civil War; 4, Daniel Riley, born October 20, 1824, died December 15, 1860, was a miller and farmer; 5, Catharine Jane, born April 1, 1827, died May 2, 1898, married Joel Weller, of Washington, D. C.; 6, Simon Henry, died in infancy; 7, Barbara Ann, born December 19, 1830, died in Shepherdstown, West Va., May 11, 1890, married Washington A. Bennett; 8, Uriah A., born July 20, 1833, died at Knoxville, Tenn., December 14, 1886, mill-wright by occupation, and ranked high in the Masonic Order; 9, Eliza Adeline, born January 22, 1836, married Joshua Smith, who is now deceased; 10, John R.

Colonel John R. Rouzer, son of Peter and Rachel Hope (Martin) Rouzer, spent his early life with his sister, Mrs. Joseph Freeze, his mother having died when he was but a year old. He attended the public and private schools, and the Mechanicstown Academy. At the age of eighteen he began life for himself. He learned the trade of a saddler and harness-maker with his brother-in-law, Joseph Freeze, whose shop he later bought and continued to operate for some years.

As a soldier, Colonel Rouzer has a most en-viable record. At the outbreak of the war he espoused the cause of the Union, and on August 19, 1862, enlisted in Company D, Sixth Mary-land Infantry, as first lieutenant of his company; later he was made captain and twice was brevetted for meritorious service. The Sixth was one of the regiments that became noted for their valor during the struggle. Mr. Rouzer was made first lieutenant August 23, 1862; was promoted May 1, 1863, to be captain of Company B, same regiment, and later was brevetted major, the promotion being made for gallant conduct at the battle of Mine Run, Va. He was wounded in the battle of the Wilderness. May 5, 1864. He was brevetted lieutenant-colonel for gallant service, and took part in many of the most important engagements of the war. He was once captured, at Winchester, Va., September 19, 1864, and four months he remained in Libbey, Danville and Salisbury prisons, after which he was exchanged. At the close of the war he was honorably discharged, June 20, 1865, and returned to his old home.

On returning to Thurmont, Colonel Rouzer resumed the business he had left at the time of his enlistment. He is one of the county's best known citizens and business men. He was a charter member of the Mechanicstown Water Company, of which he has been vice-president for many years. He was elected February, 1910, president of the Thurmont National Bank, one of the county's stable financial institutions. Colonel Rouzer is now living in Thurmont, which has been his residence through practically his entire life, somewhat out of active business life.

Politically, Colonel Rouzer was first a Whig and later a Republican. In 1867, he was elected a member of the Maryland Legislature. On March 19, 1869, he was appointed postmaster of Thurmont, by the postmaster-general, Hon. John A. J. Creswell. He continued in that capacity until he was elected register of wills of Frederick County, in November, 1873. After a term of six years, during which he discharged his duties with much ability, he retired from that office and turned his attention to farming and private business. In 1883, he was appointed county school commissioner, but declined the position. For a number of years he was commissioner and treasurer of the town board of Thurmont, and for forty-five years was one of the trustees of the Public Schools of Thurmont. In 1894, he was again elected as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, and re-elected in 1896 and 1898. During each term he was a leading member of the House and assisted in the work of various committees. He was one of Senator Wellington's strongest supporters for the Senatorial nomination. He is a fearless advocate of whatever he believes to be just and right. He served as a member of the committee on organization, and as chairman of the committee on militia, on manufactures, on corporations. His record as a member of the legislature is a good one, always having the best interests of his constituents at heart. In 1900, he was appointed by President McKinley as deputy register of wills for the District of Columbia, at Washington, D. C., and served in this capacity for four years. He was a stanch friend and supporter of the late Senator Lewis E. McComas.

Colonel Rouzer is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. and the present Commander of Jason Demuth Post No. 80, G. A. R., Thurmont, Md. He is a consistent member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Thurmont, in which he has served for many years as a member of the council and as superintendent of the Sunday School.

Colonel Rouzer was first married May 7, 1866, to Harriet E. Willhide, daughter of Captain Joseph Willhide. She died twenty-two months after their marriage, and her only child died when four months old. In 1871, Colonel Rouzer was married to Mrs. E. Willman, a widow, (Julia), a sister of his first wife. They were the parents of five children, three of whom are living, namely: Mary Catharine, the wife of Harry N. Brown, of Norfolk, Va.; Margaret C., the wife of Lester W. Armocost, a merchant of Thurmont, Md.; and Horace C., of Washington, D. C.

Read Anne Cissel's: Colonel John R. Rouzer - An Extraordinary Man

Return to index on Emmitsburg names in William's History of Frederick County

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