A few years ago I came into possession of some family bible pages from the 19th century. Included with the pages was an old photo that said “John G. Rotche. Grandpa.” on the back. The gentleman in the photo is my 3x great grandfather — my father’s mother’s father’s father’s father – do you follow? The family bible pages say that he was born on October 16, 1809 and died on December 13, 1865.
When I first started researching him, I kept coming up with a schooner named John G. Rotche. Since he wasn’t a sailing vessel, I knew I needed to keep looking and I did. He was born in New York and most likely in Brooklyn. A marriage record on Ancestry.com shows that he married Marguerite Henry on March 7, 1830 in Brooklyn. His occupation is listed as a rope maker. The couple would have six children, but only two lived beyond their teenage years. Eliza Matilda Rotche died in 1831 at 9 months old. George Verplanck Rotche died in 1832 at 2 years old. Walner N. Rotche died in 1848 at 22 months old. Edward T. Rotche died in 1852 at age 11. My 2x great grandfather, John Henry Rotche, lived from 1833-1902. I find it interesting that the longest living child was Robert A. Rotche, a veteran of the Civil War. He lived from 1842 to 1934. His story will be told in a future post.
According to the Genealogy of the Vanderpoel Family: With Items of Personal, Political and Social Interest (New York: Charles Francis Press, 1912) by George B. Vanderpoel, John’s middle name was Gerard. The book also states that Margaret (Marguerite), my 3x great grandmother, was a descendant of Patrick Henry (1736-1799). If you remember your elementary school history lessons, Patrick Henry was the one that said “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” I hope this is true but so far I have not been able to make the connection.
When I learned of how John G. Rotche died, I discovered who his father-in-law was in the article. His name was John Henry (1789-1868). He made a fortune in the rope making industry in Brooklyn. It is most likely that John G. Rotche worked for him which led to his marriage to Margaret. After their marriage, John Henry (married to Mary Grant) purchased Verplanck’s Point (originally with a syndicate but later bought his partners out). He set up the first of many brick making factories in town. John G. Rotche became a brick maker too.
The article that led to the discovery of John Henry and how John G. Rotche died is below. He was helping his father-in-law out and a freak accident took place. It occurred 7 months after the end of the Civil War.
Margaret remarried after his death to a baker named James Polhill. When Margaret passed away on August 7, 1896, she was buried next to her first husband in Montrose, New York at the Cedar Hill Cemetery. When I visited the cemetery a few years ago, I discovered a repaired but sad looking headstone for John G. Rotche. Margaret’s headstone was in pretty good shape compared to the other family members that surrounded them.
In summary, my ancestors most likely had a few bucks. John Henry owned Verplanck’s Point and renamed it Verplanck. The picture of John G. Rotche was taken before his death in December 1865. Your average Joe probably didn’t have photos taken dressed like that in the 1860s. I still have to discover the parents for John G. Rotche, John Henry, and Mary Grant. I also need to learn more about the schooner named John G. Rotche. Can there be a family tie to it? Of course, I need to find out if I am related to Patrick Henry.