Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    Horace J. Rollin. Among the oldest families of Ohio and Miami county is that of Horace J. Rollin. Four generations have owned and occupied the old-fashioned homestead for 106 years. It is midway between Piqua and Troy at center of county. Josiah Rollin, with his aged mother, came from New England in 1815, after service in the War of 1812. His canteen is among the interesting family relics. With him also came his son, Isaac, who, though a boy, could reap wheat. In time he became a representative farmer, being one of the first to use the primitive reaping machine. Isaac T. Rollin departed this life in 1890 aged eighty-six years. Five of his six sons were Union soldiers in the Civil war, among them being Horace, the youngest, then not grown, (October 2, 1845). He had the privilege of hearing the immortal Lincoln speak. The Rollin ancestor, Janres, came to Massachusetts in 1632, later settling in New Hampshire. The mother, Eleanor Hart Rollin, was of the old Hart family of New Jersey (to which belonged John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence) and at the age of four came with her parents, Charles and Nancy, to Miami county. She passed to the beyond in 1895, aged eighty-seven, retaining her wonderfully clear mind until the close. Among the members of the Hart family was Eleanor's cousin, Col. J. H. H. (of Piqua), Federal army, who- leading his regiment was awfully wounded at Nashville. The Rollin family is of English origin, and very old. Its ancestry is traced back to the time of Edward IV., to relationship with the Cornwall family. Certain members were knighted and had a coat-of-arms. Some genealogists believe there is kinship with the French families of Raoullin, Rawlin and Rollin. Ledrit Rollin was coadjutor with Victor Hugo for liberty, and Charles was author of a notable ancient history. In the centuries the name has varied as to spelling. Governor Frank R., of New Hampshire. was of this stock, as were U. S. Congressman Edward H. R., and U. S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (1865) Edward Ashton R. Joseph R., great grandfather of Horace, was a soldier throughout the war of the Revolution, and the book of genealogy says there were about twenty of the name in that service. Among some of the notable families in marriage alliance with this name are the old time ones of Emerson, Paine, Hale, Putnam, Lincoln, Phillips, Prescott, etc. Mrs. Rollin, formerly Miss Nancy E. Bridge - for many years a truly esteemed teacher in Cincinnati public schools was also of a very old family. Her parents were Josiah (a professional teacher) and Eleanor Harrington Bridge, both of Massachusetts, later of Ohio. Her transition to the beyond occurred in 1913, respected and loved by all who knew her. The ancestor, John Bridge, came from England in 1631, and settled at Cambridge, Mass. There is now a bronze statute of this emigrant, facing the campus of Harvard University, of which he was founder, with his friend, Shepard and others. His descendants include soldiers, statesmen, ministers, educators, and one president of the United States, Garfield. Major Bridge, Col. Ebenezer B., and other relatives, fought at Bunker Hill. Mr. Rollin worked on the farm until his army service, then attended a normal school. But his health being too delicate for strenuous work, he was moved-perhaps intuitively and began (without teacher) the quiet but practical study of art, for which, as a boy, he had peculiar liking. He presently produced some landscape paintings, which were purchased by certain persons at Cincinnati, where he entered the art school. It was then, and for many years, under Principal T. S. Noble, who had attended several great schools in Europe. He, was unable to continue steadily but was given honorable mention by faculty and trustees. With influential introductory letters he went to New York and studied independently. He had as friends Wyant, Inness and other noted painters. Later, the few pictures exhibited at the National Academy of Design were placed "on the line." He also was encouraged by critics and writers of National repute. Returning to the home farm he painted some of his most notable works, and wrote "Studio Field and Gallery," published on its merit by Appletons, New York. William A. wrote him that the reviews by leading journals were especially fine. This artist, in both theory (or interpretation of nature) and execution insists on originality. Mr. Noble, his early teacher and dear friend, sent him a rarely instructive letter regarding an out- of-door work shown at the museum, and still possessed by its creator. A few expressions are quoted for the benefit of young seekers, many of whom need such protection in the field of the fine arts.

    "That is a charming picture-so fresh, so free from conventionalism so utterly natural. I advised Rollin to go to Paris (where he is sure to become a mannerist, copying the style of others because it is the fashion of those who go there to do so). Now I reverse my opinion. Let him alone with Nature and his own nature, which is so honest and true. He will be better uninfluenced by others (let them be ever so good in their Way), for their way is not his way his being in keeping with his nature and his capacity for seeing nature, and his way of rendering it to be true to his own impressions.

    "It was thus I reasoned, believing your way will be better which I or any one can point out for you. My opinion is based upon this picture. I have concluded to let you alone."

    In showing this to the Art reporter of a great journal Mr. Rollin seemed amused and remarked. "It's a bright day for humanity when one's friend conclude to let him alone!" He has at times specially studied moonlight. One effect, "Land of the Miamis," a sheen on river rapids, is at Hotel Favorite, Piqua, a free loan to the public, framed and mounted at considerable expense by Mr. Stanhope Boal, a champion of this artist, a believer that all the fine arts, promote public good and should be free to all. It is generally declared that this painting has given unusual pleasure to thousands. Mr. Rollin not moved by commercialism-still owns a number of his works, including several of the most important; among them is "Mother's Spinning-wheel," considered a rare example. Once sold at a high price to a Cincinnati family, it was returned with thanks by the last member, an octogenarian. The subject of this account is also author of "Yetta Segal," a story with philosophic motive. It was notably reviewed. Certain able scholars have publicly indicated that he is doubtless the first to formulate and publish (1898) an exposition of race-fusion, showing the movement to be natural, universal and evolutionary (with exchange of values producing comprehensive organizations) and destined to culminate in the true cosmopolitan. This was looking forward, but even then in most countries were fine examples of the modern composite. The European philosophers of Evolution looked at the past to see what man had been. Several years after the Rollin book a few writers and speakers began to advance ideas of general fusion. Zangwill, Jewish writer, indicated that America especially, is a "melting pot." About nine years after the Miami date the famous Luther Burbank, in a lecture, introduced his own views-evidently had learned the truth from plant life. Rollin, thinking the former had not seen his book, sent a copy and a letter. The "wizard" wrote at once about the book, "which I so highly prize. Am glad to know that you see so deeply into nature, and see that the whole universe is of one piece. It takes a poet scientist and a science poet to know this and neither of them separately can fully understand it." He also sent the first copy received from the press of his first book (he had written some magazine articles): "Training of the Human Plant," it was inscribed: "With admiration and respect." A writer of the "Farm and Fireside" staff has said: "Drawn by the love of art, music and literature, many visit the place, and all pilgrims to this Mecca are cordially welcomed. Mr. and Mrs. Rollin possess none of the exclusiveness, which mars the character of many talented persons." One very close to him has the impression that Mr. Rollin, with no descendants and loving his native district, would happily add to the public welfare all that he has. It appears that certain friendly citizens know better than he that, with all held together and protected, to the community the benefit would be invaluable. Questioned as to his belief concerning the future of souls, he felt that aspiration, the longing for something higher and loftier indicates the individual right to interpret the fact of existence. "It was declared long ago," said Mr. Rollin, "that individuality, with all it may embody, is the dearest thing on earth. It is a warrant for the personal right to interpret everything, both subjective and objective intuitions, sacred writings so called, supernormal manifestations, and so on. "The, late Mrs. Rollin and her dear folks were Unitarian, in the fellowship of the liberal Quaker, Universalist, Spiritualist, and all who believe that punishment here or hereafter which is not remedial is wicked. To teach it engenders insincerity, terrorism and other evils. The progressive way is never hopelessly closed, but is always beautiful, heavenly."

    Return to the Biography Index

    Return to Main Page

    Copyright © 2000 by Computerized Heritage Association.
    All Rights Reserved.