ROUSE, BENJAMIN (23 Mar. 1795-5 July 1871), a pioneer philanthropist, was born in Boston, Mass., son of Joseph and Mahitable Corbet Rouse. He lost both parents at age 6, and, unable to secure a formal education, compensated through common sense and fanatical determination. At 17 he served in the WAR OF 1812, after the war becoming a building contractor. On 12 Aug. 1821, he married Rebecca Elliott Cromwell (see REBECCA ROUSE); they moved to New York in 1824. A strong devotion to Christianity characterized Rouse's new career as a real estate developer, and he became deeply interested in the establishment of Sunday schools for the city's poor. He was so successful in this task that the American Sunday School Union asked him to become their agent in Cleveland, commissioning him to open a depository and organize Sunday schools in the WESTERN RESERVE. Rouse accepted this appointment and moved to Cleveland with his wife in Oct. 1830.
In the village of about 1,000, Rouse opened a depository of Sunday school books in his home at the corner of PUBLIC SQUARE, and spent many years spreading the Gospel both literally and figuratively throughout northern Ohio. In addition, he founded a Tract Society, a Seamen's Friend Society, and several other organizations. He was active in organizing FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of Cleveland in 1833, and for nearly 40 years was a leading member and deacon. In 1852 he erected the Rouse Bldg. at the corner of Public Square.
Rouse had four children: Benjamin Franklin, Edwin Cooleridge, Ellen Rebecca, and George W. He and his wife were buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.