Rodney M. Stocking

 Page 605-608 - Rodney D. Stocking, who has long been the owner of a well ordered music and jewelry business in the fine little city of Lowell, is now to be given precedence as having here been continuously engaged in one line of business enterprise for a longer period than any business man of Lowell. There are many interesting phases to be noted in his personal career and ancestral history, especially on the maternal side, and the subject matter of this brief sketch will reveal much of this information. Mr. Stocking was born at Elk Rapids, Antrim county, Michigan, October 23, 1863, and is a son of Fidius and Clarinda (Robinson) Stocking, both representatives of families that early made settlement in the Lowell district of Kent county. Fidius Stocking was a son of Gerard Stocking, who was born in Ontario, Canada, of English ancestry, and who became a skilled workman at the trade of cabinet maker. Gerard Stocking lived in Michigan in the pioneer days, and within the course of his active life he resided at various places in this and other states. In the pioneer days he became a successful builder of mills to be operated by water-wheels, belts for the machinery having been made of ropes. This sterling and versatile pioneer was a resident of Chicago at the time of his death. Fidius Stocking had exceptional skill as an old-time violinist, and in the pioneer days in Michigan his services as a fiddler at dances and on other occasions were widely in demand. He was familiarly and affectionately known as "Fid" Stocking, this title having been an abbreviation of his personal name, though many persons took it to be significant of his skill as a "fiddler." Mr. Stocking was called to many different places through western Michigan in connection with his musical interpretations, and it is a matter of record that he even made horseback trips to Lansing to appear as a fiddler at popular assemblies in the capital city in the early days. He made a journey from Detroit to Grand Rapids with wagon and ox team, and at times had to cut a way through the forest. Mr. Stocking developed a farm near Elk Rapids, and later he erected a house at Lowell and here established the family home. This sterling pioneer and popular musician had no dearth of adventure in the earlier period of his residence in Michigan, and in this connection it may be recorded that on one occasion he made a trip on snowshoes from the straits of Mackinac to Grand Rapids. He sailed an open boat from Elk Rapids to distant points, and after establishing his home at Lowell he became successfully engaged in the fire insurance business, in which he was succeeded by his son, Rodney D., immediate subject of this review. Fidius Stocking had several brothers and sisters, and his brothers became Indian fighters on the western frontier. His brother Winfield, gained fame as one of the cattle kings of the west, and on one occasion sold 35,000 cattle in one lot – the largest sale recorded in the cattle industry up to that time. Fidius Stocking was a resident of Lowell at the time of his death, which occurred when he was about seventy –four years of age, and here his wife died at the age of about seventy-six years. Mrs. Clarinda (Robinson) Stocking was a child of five years when she accompanied her parents on a voyage by boat from Detroit, via Lake Huron, the straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan, to Grand Haven, and thence they came on into Kent county as now constituted and made Lowell their destination. On the vessel that made this voyage of the early pioneer days were seventy-two persons named Robinson, and thus the passenger list was in large degree made up of Robinsons. In making the trip up the Grand river from Grand Haven, Indians aided the pioneers in poling the boat. Hiram Robinson, a brother of Clarinda, later located near Spoonville, and finally he removed to Lowell, where his death occurred. Rodney Robinson, paternal grandfather of Rodney D. Stocking, of this sketch, became postmaster in the little village of Fallsburg, and he gained sufficient knowledge of law to become locally prominent as a law practitioner in minor cases. He and his brother, Luke, were the big men of the Flat river district, and gained wide repute for their physical prowess. Worthy of preservation in this connection is the following narrative relative to the appearance of the Robinson family in Michigan about two years prior to the admission of the territory to statehood, this story having originally appeared in a publication issued many years ago: "In the spring of 1835, a family by the name of Robinson, numbering in all, forty-four persons, set out from New York and upon arriving in Detroit embarked on small vessel for Grand Haven, via Mackinac. On June 7 of that year they reached the mouth of the Grand river, and putting their household goods, etc., on rafts, they made their way up the river and settled in Kent and Ottawa counties, principally in the vicinity of Blendon, in the latter county. These were only part of the Robinsons. Rix Robinson had been trading with the Indians at Thornapple, now called Ada, for several years prior to this, and had one son by the Indian squaw whom he had taken for a wife soon after he came there. In 1836 another brother, Lewis Robinson, came with his family and settled on the west bank of Flat river, in the south part of what is now the village of Lowell. He was soon followed by his brother, Rodney, who came from the Blendon settlement and who, after remaining one year with Lewis, removed up the river into the present township of Vergennes, where he and another brother, Lucas, made good farms. Rodney Robinson is said to have stated that the Indians were usually good neighbors." The Rodney Robinson mentioned in the foregoing narrative was the maternal grandfather of Rodney D. Stocking, who was named in his honor. Rodney D. Stocking gained his early education in the public schools of Lowell, and he inherited much of his father’s natural musical talent, which he was able to cultivate effectively with the result that he has long been a prominent figure in musical circles in Kent county. About the year 1883 he and another young man, Bert Quick, formed a partnership and opened a music store in their home town of Lowell, each having had about $150.00 to invest in the enterprise, and Mr. Stocking having acquired his share of this capital largely by giving music lessons. Mr. Stocking later acquired his partner’s interest, and he has since continued the business in an individual way, he being now the one who can claim priority over all others in having continuously been engaged in business in Lowell during a period of more than forty years. He has been for nearly half a century the organist of the Congregational church at Lowell, of which his wife was an active member. It is altogether probable that Mr. Stocking has played at a greater number of funerals than has any other one musician in Kent county, if not in the state, and he has been a leader in advancing musical interests in his home community. His political allegiance is given to the Republican party and he is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity. Mr. Stocking was married December 8, 1886, to Miss Lillie O’Heron, and the supreme loss and bereavement of his life came when his devoted wife passed to eternal rest, her death having occurred November 19, 1924. Mrs. Stocking was a young woman when she and her widowed mother, Mrs. Jane O’Heron, came from the province of Ontario, Canada, and established a millinery business in Lowell. Mrs. Stocking was still conducting this business at the time of her final illness, and as administrator, her husband has since kept the business going. Mrs. Stocking, a woman of most gracious personality, was a popular figure in the social, church and cultural circles of her home village, and here served as worthy matron of the chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. In conclusion is entered brief record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Stocking: Charles D. is a successful business man in Detroit, where he is vice-president of the Oil Burning Engineering Company. He early enlisted in the United States aviation service during the World war and became an expert in this field of activity, being an instructor in both Texas and Florida, and served in this capacity until the close of the war. He was associated with Eddie Stinson, and gained an international reputation as one of the most skilled and daring aviators in the United States service during the war. Bruce L. attended the Northwestern University, Chicago, and also the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, and after thus fitting himself for his chosen profession he engaged in the practice of dentistry. Dr. Stocking now owns and conducts a well equipped dental office in the city of Chicago. Hazel A., the only daughter, was afforded the advantages of the Michigan Normal College, Ypsilanti, and prior to her marriage had been a successful and popular teacher in the Michigan public schools. She is now the wife of Walter J. Kropf, who is associated with her father’s music business in Lowell. Mr. Kropf has received the thirty-second degree of Scottish Rite Masonry.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002