Captain Philip W. Rockefeller, a former Sheriff of this county, died at his home at Germantown yesterday afternoon about 5:30 o'clock. He was 86 years of age, and had been in very poor health since spring, in fact he had been failing for several years. He was the father of former County Clerk Isaac P. Rockefeller, who died while on a visit south in March of this year. While both had been elected to important county offices, it might be remarked that they were of opposite political faith.
The funeral of Mr. Rockefeller will be held on Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock from his late home. Philip W. Rockefeller, the oldest living representative of this numerous family, was born in the house that stood on the site of the present Central Hotel in Germantown, on May 10, 1824, son of Philip W. and Hannah-Fitz-RockefeIler. Mr. Rockefeller began his life's labor at the age of 7 years, employed by the river fishermen, and later worked on a farm until he was 13 years of age. For his services he received the sum of $1.50 per month, and a limited amount of schooling in the district schools. Weary of this laborious life and unpromising recompense, he secured a position as cook upon a sailing vessel. Keeping his eyes open and his wits active, he gradually learned the duties, and was promoted to higher positions until he became pilot, the responsible duties of this office he performed successfully.
In 1852 he, with John S. Ray, of this city, became the owner of the tugboat Peter Crary and for fifteen years owned and operated this and several other tugs in the New York city harbor. In 1867, at the age of 43 years, tired of the exacting and wearing life of a waterman, he returned to Germantown, where he purchased the George Rockefeller farm, and erected an addition to the Mountain View hotel.
He started a school, called the Riverside Seminary, in 1864, which existed four years, when the building was converted into a summer boarding house. Mr. Rockefeller was a Democrat. He had served his town as Highway Commissioner four years, Supervisor five years, and was Revenue Collector for one years. He was appointed Sheriff by Governor Hill for one year, and in 1891, he was elected to that office for a full term.
Mr. Rockefeller resided in the mansion which he erected in 1863, a beautiful home, finely located, commanding an extensive view of the Hudson river and the distant Catskill mountains, with a broad field of less prominent but nevertheless fascinating scenery, surrounding on all sides. He was a striking example of a successful American. Beginning with nothing when almost a child, he had, by his own hands, will and foresight, wrought out a successful life - successful not only in a pecuniary sense, but in culture of those qualities which go in making up the good citizen. His probity, honorable business methods, liberality and enterprise have merited and won the unstinted approval of his town folks and business associates and, in the ripeness of a life well spent, he enjoyed the rewards due to a life of industry and good works.
Mr. Rockefeller married Harriet, the daughter of George Rockefeller, and six children were born to them, three of whom are living: Philip W., of Germantown Mrs. Charles Colby, of Buffalo, and Mrs. Curtis Fingar, of Germantown. His wife died in May, 1899, in her 72d year. - Hudson Register July 15, 1910