William Dayton (Will) Rosencrantz (1852–1915)
William Dayton Rosencrantz, known to the family as Willie or Will, was the oldest son of Elijah and Killie (Dayton) Rosencrantz. In 1868, Captain John Quincy Adams helped Will gain admission to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. [Tell me more about Captain Adams.] Unfortunately, illness forced Will to withdraw. After recuperating, he traveled to England and France, then returned to Ho-Ho-Kus at his father’s request to help at the family's paper and cotton mills. During the 1880s, Will succeeded his father as manager of the cotton mill and, after a fire at The Hermitage, added a new summer kitchen wing with a billiard room on the second floor to the back of the house.
Will married Mary Caroline Warner, the daughter of a wealthy textile mill owner in Waterbury, Connecticut. They had two children: William Dayton Jr., born in 1882, and Mary Elizabeth, born in 1885. Mary fell ill shortly after giving birth to Mary Elizabeth and did not recover. When she died two years later, she left Will with a large inheritance but also with two very young children to raise.
John (II) Rosencrantz (1853–1914)
Elijah was as concerned about educating his sons as his father had been—and met with similarly limited success. In the fall of 1869, he sent John to a boarding school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but in February, Elijah's brother John wrote: “I regret that [your son] John should leave college.” Elijah wanted to send John back to Bethlehem for the following academic year. Henry Coffee, the president of the college, responded: “You speak of your son's possible return to our institution. I shall be glad to receive him if you . . . think he would make better progress than before.” Instead of returning to the school, John began working in 1870 as a clerk in a mercantile establishment and was pursuing an active social life.
John left home in the early 1870s to accompany Captain Adams as his secretary during an around-the-world cruise on the U.S.S. Iroquois. [Tell me more about this cruise.] He returned to Philadelphia in 1874, where he met and married Lavinia (Vinnie) Miller. The couple moved to Ho-Ho-Kus, and John took a job with the Metropolitan Line steamship company. His income enabled him to build a house in 1892 on property sold to him for $1 by his sister, Bess. John and Vinnie's Queen Anne-style Victorian home had 11 rooms and five fireplaces framed with tiles. Outside was a well, a carriage and horse barn, and a number of chicken coops. John and Vinnie had no children. He died in 1914, and Vinnie died in 1943.
Mary Elizabeth (Bess) Rosencrantz (1855–1943)
Bess was Elijah and Killie's only daughter and the first girl to be born to the Rosencrantz family at The Hermitage. She attended local and boarding schools and as a young woman lived in Philadelphia with her uncle John, where she helped to care for the three children of the widowed Captain Adams. After her uncle's death in 1883, she inherited his share of The Hermitage, the cotton mill, and land. Bess returned to Ho-Ho-Kus and lived in a house near The Hermitage. She took painting lessons; played lawn tennis, croquet, billiards, and golf; was an avid card player; attended the races and other events at the Ho-Ho-Kus racetrack; boated and fished; gardened; shopped for clothes; read and wrote letters; and helped to take care of Dayton and Mary Elizabeth. She also enjoyed traveling and visited New York City, Coney Island, the Poconos, Cape May, Boston, Richmond, the Catskills, and Bermuda. When Will’s wife Mary died, Bess helped to care for his children, Dayton and Mary Elizabeth.
Bess played a part in the establishment of a new Episcopal church in Ho-Ho-Kus, St. Bartholomew, that had branched off from the Ridgewood Christ Church. She sang in the church choir. In the early 20th century, she joined a suffrage organization and attended a suffrage talk in Ridgewood. At various times, she kept a diary, noting daily weather and activities without reflection or any show of emotion. She also kept a scrapbook of poems she liked; they focused on the romantic ideas of virtue and respectability.
Bess’s finances came mainly through inheritances and income from renting property. She had enough money to expand her traveling to Europe, which she visited in 1906 and 1912. There does not seem to have been any expectation, or desire on her part, to pursue a career or work outside the home. Bess lived at The Hermitage until her death in 1943.
George Suffern Rosencrantz (1865–1934)
George was two years old when his mother, Killie, died and was raised by his stepmother, Lillie. As an adult, he worked as an insurance assessor and traveled extensively. He married Katherine (Kate) Levick of Ho-Ho-Kus. The couple moved to Boston, where George started the insurance underwriting firm Rosencrantz, Huzard and Company. He was also a general agent for the National-Ben Franklin Fire Insurance Company and the Superior Fire Insurance Company. George and Kate had no children. They moved to Ridgewood in the 1920s.
Henry De Witt (Harry) Rosencrantz (1872–90)
Harry, Elijah and Lillie's only child, was born in 1872. As a teenager, he was very popular and attended many social functions in Ho-Ho-Kus and the surrounding area. His health was poor, however, and he died suddenly in 1890, at age 18, of rheumatic fever.Continue to The Hermitage in the 1890s