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» History » The People » The Rosencrantz Family » Elijah and Cornelia Raise a Family

Elijah and Cornelia Raise a Family

Elijah LetterAlthough they married relatively late, Elijah and Cornelia had four sons. John was born in 1809; George Suffern, in 1812; Elijah (II), in 1814; and Andrew, in 1817. Andrew died in 1819, at age 2, which was not unusual at the time even in the family of a doctor. The boys received a classical education at home, and and from 1824t to 1827, John attended classical academy and Rutgers School of Medicine in New York City. This required an outlay of money by Elijah, not only for his tuition, but also for his room, board, and other expenses.

Letters from Elijah to John while he was studying in New York give us some idea of Elijah's values. He constantly urged John to put sustained efforts into his study and to read. He thought highly of a classical education, and when this was no longer possible for John, he accepted a medical education as second best but still valuable. While Elijah recognized the need for exercise and recreation, he strongly warned that the diversions of the city should not interfere with his primary task of study. The father frequently reminded his son that knowledge of the world was indispensable in becoming useful to society. The cardinal virtues that Elijah urged on his son were honesty, justice, temperance, and prudence. [Show me excerpts from these letters.]

Little is known about Cornelia at this time except that had three sons to raise and a household to run. She had help from both slaves and servants. [Tell me more about slaves and servants in the Rosencrantz household.]

Letters mention that Cornelia went to Paterson, but a promised trip to visit her John and George in New York City was continually postponed. She seemed increasingly unwilling to leave her home.

In 1831, Elijah began to suffer from poor health. He died in 1832. He left a will showing an inventory of his assets, most of them farm equipment and produce, as well as the cotton mill. The total value of his property (excluding the house, outbuildings, and land) was $1,048. [Tell me more about the will inventory.] In the will, Elijah directed that $500 in rental income be set aside for the payment of his debts. He designated one-third of the property for Cornelia, together with $100 a year from the mill rent, for the rest of her life if she remained unmarried. John and George received land. Elijah II received the house, mill, barn, outbuildings, and orchard, as well as Cornelia’s share when she died.

Cornelia scrapbookAfter her husband died in 1832, Cornelia, who had already begun to show reluctance to leave her home, developed symptoms of melancholy and, perhaps, depression. Elijah lived at The Hermitage with his mother until she died in 1859. In February 1834, Elijah wrote to his brother George in New York, “Ma . . . ha[s] got so much in the habit of staying home that it is with the most extreme difficulty we can get her outside the door.” One of her leisure pursuits involved copying poems she wished to keep into a scrapbook; the poems dealt mainly with loss, loneliness and death
















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