Down the Hallway

Our Family's Journey Through Time

George William Rockefeller

Sometimes it's fun to learn about who our relatives married. Athough George William Rockefeller is not a direct line ancestor, he has an interesting life. He is the father of Maude E Rockefeller who married Eddie Rains Barry. Eddie was the son of Griffith Coombe (George) and Eugenia Calhoun Barry. Eddie and Maude were married on 17 November 1909 in Santa Ana, Orange, California. This is probably about the time that his father and mother moved from Naco, Arizona to California. The whole family is found in the 1910 census of Inyo County, California.

Not too much is known of Eddie and Maude between 1909 and 1917 when Eddie's father dies. Eddie has been working for his father as a general foreman and has been living with him on the ranch. But Eddie dies a year after his father in 1918 from tuberulous.

Interesting to me is what happened to Maude E. after Eddie died? Eugenia has already remarried - a friend of the family, John Thomas Frazier in 1918. Maude is found in the 1920 census in the City of Los Angeles working in a box factory. There she meets Forrest W Hill who is a superindentent of the box factory. They are married on 21 May 1921 and live in South Gate, L.A. California. Maud E. dies at the age of 48 years on 13 December 1938.

Now on to the father of Maud E. Rockefeller Barry Hill.

George W Rockefeller

George William Rockefeller was born 11 March 1843 at Penfield, Monroe County, New York1 and there received a common school education. Rockefeller was something of a genius in his way; his early love for the banjo led him to improvise an unique instrument, home-made and crude but withal serviceable. Shooting a woodchuck, he tanned the skin for a parchment head, used his mother's wooden sieve for a rim, cut down and into shape; then a piece of black walnut from which he fashioned a neck, bridge and tail piece; the keys and strings he bought in a store. The head was tacked on with tin-headed tacks clinched with pieces of the wood sieve rim. He then bought for a dollar a book entitled, "Phil. Rice's Medthod, With or Without an Instructor," which in Georg's case was "without." This he did when but sixteen years old.2

He enlisted in Company E of the 108th New York Infantry in July 1861 as an orderly sergeant and served his time from August 1863 to June 1865.< Even when Rockefeller enlisted he did not give up the banjo, but regaled his comrades in camp with his various melodies. He was discharged from service for a disability being a pensioner at Bedloe's Island New York Harbor at the close of the war.sup>3

Floor Committee Badge

Rockefeller was one of the incorporators mentioned in the act of incorporation passed by the New York State Legislature, March 20, 1871, creating the original Grand Lodge of the Order (known as the Elks Club). He was one of the early "Jolly Corks" and was No. 32 on the membership roll (p.3.q.v.), being initiated into the first Elks lodge on May 24, 1868.

He was a member of the floor committee at the first Elks' ball, on April 16, 1868 and on that occasion wore his badge, as shown in the photo reproduction of the same, this being probably the only one in existence.4

US Minstrel Poster

Us Minstrel Poster

He joined the United States Minstrels in 1866 at Geneva, N. Y., and afterward was associated with the following well known minstrel, bands and performers at different times; Morris Brothers' Minstrels (two different engagements), with Dan Bryant for long time preforming in 230 events from 8 Febrary 1868 to January 29, 1870. Also with Cal Wagner, Sam Sharpley, and the San Francisco Minstrels, and playing seven years in New York city. He then went to California and joined Billy Emerson's Minstrels in January 1873, and with that band sailed for Australia. Emerson returned from there after a short stay, and Rockefeller reorganized the band and renamed them the United States Minstrels, and played in the various cities and towns in Australia, traveling by stage coach; visiting New Zealand at two different times. The program shown in the photo reproduction is one of Emerson's California Minstrels on the night of the visit of the governor general, Anthony Musgrave, Esq. C. M. G., and suite, March 12, 1874 in Adelaide.5

Emmerson Program

It was while in Australia that he married Caroline Herrick in 18776 and they had one son, George William Rockefeller born in Victoria, Australia possibly in 1875.7 He returned to California in 1879 and then made a visit to his native town in May, 1879 and remained in Penfield, N. Y. for two years. His daughter Maud Elizabeth Rockefeller was born in November 1881 in Penfield, N. Y.8 Rockefeller's health was declining and he decided to return to California settling in Colton, San Bernadino County.9 Again, he was involved with the Elks club. In a newspaper it reports, "Comrade George W. Rockeffer, Colton, California writes us that William H Longs Post, No 57, of San Bernadino, which was organized on the 4th of Apil last, has a live membership of fifty, and is steadily increasing.10

George W. Rockefellow dies at Colton, California on the 18th day March 1886 and was buried in the Colton California Cemetery11 by the W R Cornman Post 57 GAR of San Bernadino, California. He was mustered into that post December 5, 1884 and honorably discharged November 6, 1885.12


  1. New York, U.S., State Census, 1855 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
  2. An authentic History of the benevolet and Protective Order of Elks by Charles Edward Ellis, Published by the author in 1910.
  3. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts of New York State Volunteers, United States Sharpshooters, and United States Colored Troops [ca. 1861-1900]; Box #: 115
  4. An authentic History of the benevolet and Protective Order of Elks by Charles Edward Ellis, Published by the author in 1910.
  5. Ibid
  6. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records
  7. Ibid
  8. 1900; Census Place: Colton, San Bernardino, California; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 0237
  9. An authentic History of the benevolet and Protective Order of Elks by Charles Edward Ellis, Published by the author in 1910.
  10. National Tribune: Washington D.C. Thursday June 26th 1884 The Grand Army, Letter from Headquarters--News from the Department
  11. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  12. An authentic History of the benevolet and Protective Order of Elks by Charles Edward Ellis, Published by the author in 1910.