ROUSE, REBECCA CROMWELL (30 Oct. 1799-23 Dec. 1887), leading social-services organizer and reformer, was born in Salem, Mass., to John and Rebecca Elliot Cromwell. Rouse was educated in religion and the classics and acquired worldly knowledge through her extensive travels abroad. In 1821 she married BENJAMIN ROUSE; they lived in Boston and New York before moving to Cleveland in 1830. As a member of the LADIES TRACT SOCIETY, Rouse made personal visits to every home in the village. She was an original member of the FIRST BAPTIST Society. In 1842, she founded and became president of the MARTHA WASHINGTON & DORCAS SOCIETY, one of the first benevolent organizations in the city, from which originated the Protestant Orphan Asylum, which she served for many years as director. Dedicated to reforming the baneful effects of alcohol, she helped organize the CLEVELAND LADIES TEMPERANCE UNION in June 1850.
Rouse's organized the Ladies' Aid Society on 20 Apr. 1861, 5 days after Pres. Lincoln's first call for troops. Later to become the SOLDIERS' AID SOCIETY of Cleveland, U.S. Sanitary Commission, a precursor to the AMERICAN RED CROSS, Rouse served as its president and personally responsible for raising vast amounts of money through sanitary fairs. The society collected and distributed supplies of inestimable value and offered nursing to military men and their families throughout northern Ohio during the CIVIL WAR. In her honor, Rouse's figure is reproduced in one of the bronze panels on the SOLDIERS & SAILORS MONUMENT in Cleveland's PUBLIC SQUARE.
Rouse outlived her husband, Benjamin, by 16 years. They had four children: Benjamin Franklin, Edwin Cooleridge, Ellen Rebecca, and George W. Three other children died in infancy. Rouse, along with her husband, was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Adella Hughes Family Papers, WRHS.
World's History of Cleveland (1896).