Roswell Fenner Cottrell, brother of John Harvey, was born in Brookfield, N.Y., Jan. 17, 1814, When 19 years of age, he accompanied his parents to Mill Grove, N.Y. They travelled much of the way on the then newly constructed Erie Canal, Roswell taking his shift in driving the team of horses along the towpath. At Mill Grove, he was married and taught in the public schools for ten years. Soon after arriving at Mill Grove, he was one of those who witnessed the notable meteoric shower of Oct. 13, 1833, With his father and other members of the family, Roswell was deeply interested in the message of William Miller, but did not identify himself with it, believing that when God would herald His second coming, the messengers would be observers of the seventh-day Sabbath.
In 1851, Roswell with other members of his family became Seventh-Day Adventists, and from that time until his death in 1892, a period of 41 years, was a constant contributor to the "Review & Herald." Soon after accepting the message of Christ's imminent return, he entered the gospel ministry, devoting his full time to preaching and writing, and for a time serving as president of the New York Conference. At the ripe age of 78 years, he passed to his rest, and the funeral services were conducted by Eld. S.H. Lane. Among other things, he said: "That faith (of S.D.A.'s) became precious to him, and he has been as true to it as the needle to the pole. As a writer, both in prose and poetry, he had but few equals. The entire denomination has become familiar with the initials 'R.F.C.' His poetry has been read and sung with delight everywhere:'
Elder W.A. Spicer, writing in the "Review & Herald" of 1951, paid this tribute to the memory of "our pio¬neer, Eld. Cottrell. He had been a tireless evangelist. He had served a period as president of the N.Y. Conference. He endeared himself to us young people at the old headquarters in Michigan as chaplain of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He gave us hymns we loved to sing. The first hymn our missionaries translated for China's non-Christian people was Elder Cottrell's hymn of creation; "The God that made the earth, and all the worlds on high."