Tatch, John - Macoupin County IL
© Marianne Hale



contributed by Marianne Hale

Captain John N. Tatch


Capt. John Tatch was born Johann Nicolaus Tatsch on October 22, 1813, in Raversbeuren, a small village near the Moselle River in Germany. His parents were Johann Peter Tatsch and Dorothea Catharina Brust. In 1827, when John was 14, his family emigrated to southern Brazil and settled in São Leopoldo.

At the age of 17, John left Brazil and went to North America. When he arrived, he was fortunate to meet up with a Merchant Captain, Joshua Hitch. Not having anywhere to live, and not speaking the native language, Capt. Hitch took him in. In return for his room, board and education, John was to work as a driver for him until he reached 21 years of age. Capt. Hitch sent John to school to learn "the helmsman's trade". Since Capt. Hitch's Merchant ship frequently sailed from New York to Brazil, John was able to visit his parents in South America. In 1835, when he turned 21, John signed onto his first whaling ship. Just a few years later, he met his wife-to-be, Emeline Sweet. John and Emeline were married in Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 1837. John kept up correspondence to his parents in Brazil and also to an older brother who remained in Germany. He worked his way up through the ranks, and became "Captain" John Tatch in 1846. He was the Master for three whaling voyages.

In 1855, the whaling business was declining. John left the mariner's trade, and moved his family from Fairhaven to Macoupin County, Illinois in 1856. He bought farmland in Cahokia Township, in addition to a bit of acreage in orchards, and another few acres in forest. In a letter written in 1858, he writes the following to his brother, Jakob Tatsch, in Germany: "I now have 11 head of cattle, 4 horses, 2 mules 1½ years old, 2 mules 8 months old, 1 foal one month old and 15 pigs. We have many chickens, 100 - 120. I have here, where I live, 78 acres of land, 4 acres are planted with fruit trees. Then I have two pieces of forest, one of 10 acres and the other of 22 acres, in all 110 acres of land, which cost me $1,640. Our main food is the Welchkern [grain/corn?], which in good years brings more than 50 bushels per acre".

By the year 1858, John and Emeline Tatch had 5 children: Margaret White, Frederick Fish, Almira Catherine, Mary Elizabeth and Henry Hitch Tatch.

In 1859, John, Emeline and one of their daughters were stricken with a fever. Emeline and her daughter recovered, but John succumbed to the fever. This was a tragic time for this family. The farm tools were auctioned off and the children were put under guardianship. Emeline remarried in 1861 to John Scheffler. One child was born to this union: Emma Gertrude Scheffler. According to an affidavit filed by the oldest daughter, Margaret, John Scheffler's cruel treatment of Emeline, resulted in her mother being sent to the Jacksonville State Hospital. While she was there, two of her children died at home. Frederick, then 15, joined up to fight in the Civil War. Margaret, stepped in and petitioned the court to have the guardians removed for the surviving children, Mary and Henry, since they were grossly neglected. As a result of Margaret' efforts, the children were taken in by their Uncles, Lafayette & Andrew Sweet. Their situations were much improved after that time, and the children grew into adulthood.

John and Emeline's children grew up and were married. Margaret married Sylvester Hotchkiss and lived in Rockford, Illinois. Frederick married Lu May (my great-grandparents), and they lived in Nokomis, Illinois. Mary married William Henry Bernard and resided in Chicago. The youngest son, Henry, moved to Chicago for a couple of years, then went to E. St. Louis, Illinois, where I lost track of him.

Through my Tatch family research, I have met many descendants, in both Brazil and the U.S.A., and have also made contact with the descendants that remained in Germany. This year, through one of those descendants, I have received my very first photos of John & Emeline Tatch!

Marianne Hale




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