One of Rock Island’s most prominent and respected citizens during his life-time spent in that city, and whose memory is cherished and revered by all who knew him, was Morris Rosenfield, the subject of this sketch.
He was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, December 18, 1841, and died January 28, 1899, at Tuebingen, Germany, where he had gone in hopes that he might regain his shattered health.
The Rosenfield family was one of the most respected in the little city of our subject’s birth, his father being one of the most enterprising and prosperous citizens of Wurttemberg. As an instance of the indomitable spirit that animated the elder Rosenfield, it may be related that after he was well past three score years he came to America on a visit to his son, Morris, and other relatives located here, a very considerable undertaking for a gentleman of his years in a day when the luxuries of traveling were very far below what they are today, and when any lengthy journey was inevitably accompanied by delay, fatigue and danger. To the firm and unfaltering character of this patriarch the success of the future generations of Rosenfields can be traced.
Morris Rosenfield received his education at the high school in Megentheim, Germany. After completing his studies in that institution he decided to emigrate to America. He came to this country in 1859 when he was eighteen years of age. His uncles, J. and M. Rosenfield, were already engaged in the wholesale leather business in Rock Island, and in that business their nephew found employment, later becoming one of the partners. He sold out his interest in the leather business, however, in 1868, and one year later he became identified with parties who were operating a factory in Moline, devoted to the manufacture of farm wagons. This manufactory with which Mr. Rosenfield was connected decided to incorporate in 1872, and at that time he became the first president of what has been known ever since as The Moline Wagon Company, a position he held until the time of his death.. He was practically the founder of the company, and was always the life and inspiration of the concern, molding and guiding it through its constant and steady growth and by his business ability and foresight developing it into one of that city’s largest and most important industries, and by its progress and prosperity demonstrating that .its founder and developer possessed talent as an organizer.
On the 10th of November, 1874, Mr. Rosen-field was joined in marriage to Miss Julia E. Ottenheimer, and to this couple three children were born: Irene, wife of Samuel Strauss, and now residing in New York City; Walter A., the present head of the Moline Wagon Company, and the sketch of whose life appears elsewhere in this book, and Charles. Mr. Rosenfield was a man devoted to his home, his wife and his children, and his family circle was indeed a happy one. When in the clutches of the disease that finally caused his death his family bent every thought and every effort toward giving him the most ten-der and ministering care.
In politics Mr. Rosenfield was a staunch and loyal Republican, and occupied a prominent place in the councils of his party. He served as delegate and as alternate to several National Conventions of the Republican party, and freely gave his labor, his influence and his money to promote the success of the party of his choice.
Mr. Rosenfield was a man of high character and of broad and comprehensive view. He was thoroughly cosmopolitan in his tastes and ideas. Of a kindly and genial disposition he was always ready to help those less fortunate than himself, and to help them in such a way that they would be enabled thereby to help themselves. He had very many warm, personal friends, and by his death Rock Island lost one of her best and most progressive citizens. A man of kindly thought and generous deed he is remembered by those who knew him with sentiments of most sincere regard.