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The Natchers
The Natcher Family in Pennsylvania, 1790 to Present


Natcher is an unusual name, probably German in origin. There have been Natchers in the United States for over two hundred years. Michael Natcher lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the time of America's first census in 1790. Another Natcher, Balzar, also lived in Dauphin County at that time and was the only other Natcher in the state. Living in the Michael Natcher household were Michael and three females. Census information collected is pretty sparse for that first census; it was intended only to count the population and the eligible male voters. The census forms had columns for five categories of people:
1) Free White Males age 16 and upwards (including Head of Household)
2) Free White Males under age 16
3) Free White Females (including Head of Household)
4) All other free persons, except Indians, not taxed
5) Slaves

In 1800, Balzar has disappeared from Pennsylvania. I have seen a reference for "Baltas" Natcher in Ohio and am trying to track him down. Michael is still living in Harrisburg (his last name is spelled Knatcher in the census record.) His household contains 3 boys under the age of 10, 2 females under 10, one female aged 16 to 26 and one female over 45 years of age. Michael is between 26 and 45 years old. My assumption is that the household contains 5 children, his wife and his mother or mother-in-law. Michael died before December 1810, which is when his minor son Rudicil appealed to the Orphan's Court in Cumberland County for the appointment of a guardian. Rudicil declared that he was a minor above the age of 14 and in need of a guardian. The court appointed Jeremiah Miller as guardian over the "person and estates" of Rudicil Natcher. I have been unable to find any Natchers in the 1810 census. It is likely that Michael died before the census was taken that year. His sons were not old enough to be heads of households and would have been included in the count with other families. There is a Jerimiah Miller in Carlisle in Cumberland County, but Rudicil is not living in his household at the time the census was taken. Even though Jeremiah Miller was appointed Rudicil's guardian, he might have lived with one of his brothers or another family. Guardians seem to have been appointed for the purpose of guarding the child's legal and financial interests, not necessarily having physical custody of the child.

The next time we find Natchers in the Pennsylvania census is 1820. Henry Natcher is listed as head of household in Upper Paxton in Dauphin County, the county in which Harrisburg is located. Henry was between the ages of 26 and 45 and there was one other person living in the household, a female between 16 and 26 years of age. Henry was engaged in a manufacturing trade of some type (rather than farming.) It is very likely that Henry was another of Michael Natcher's sons, obviously older than Rudicil.

The other Natcher in Pennsylvania in 1820 was George Natcher. George was between 26 and 45 years old and lived in Carlisle in Cumberland County. He was a wagonmaker. His household contained two males: one aged 16 to 25 years and the other under 10 years of age. Two females between 16 and 25 years old were also part of the household. One was his wife, Nancy Kline, the daughter of George and Rebecca Kline, originally of Philadelphia. George and Nancy Natcher had seven sons and were married sometime before 1816 when their first son, Michael, was born. Michael died shortly after his third birthday in February 1819. Sons George Kline, Henry and Charles are presumed to have died before 1826 since they were not mentioned in George's will dated 27 May 1826. Two sons are mentioned, William (born 20 June 1819, possibly the younger male in the 1820 household) and Joseph (born 18 January 1823), and the will instructed that Nancy, "if she be pregnant, shall be allowed $15.00 for the lying in" expenses. George's estate was probated on June 19th 1826. George Rudisill Natcher was born to Nancy Natcher on 15 October 1826 in Carlisle and was thus the third heir to his estate. The will also stipulates that "if Elizabeth Stayman be willing", she shall take the eldest son William until he shall be of an age to be put out to a trade. If Elizabeth, possibly Nancy's sister, was not willing, Nancy was to keep both children until they were of an age "to be bound to such trade as they may be inclined to learn" until they reach the age of 21 years. Nancy remarried in 1829 to Frederick Sanno, and she died in 1836 of consumption at age 41. Since Rudicil Natcher was definitely no longer a minor in 1820, I am guessing that he may have been the 16 to 25 year old male in his older brother George's household at that time.

Rudicil's name is spelled differently in most of the documents I have seen concerning him; I will use most of the variations at some point in this document. Rudicil was born in approximately 1797. His unusual first name is actually a last name - the Rudisill family name shows up from time to time in both Dauphin and Cumberland Counties. A website for a Rudisell Family Association gives the history of that family, declaring that the name is Swiss in origin, with German connections.

"The Rudisill surname and family originated in the hamlet of Frumsen, Switzerland in the Middle Ages. Originally a contraction of "Rudolph's Ulrich" it was familiarized as Rudy's Uli, then Rudisuli, and the current Swiss spelling is Rudisuhli. One descendant, Hans Rudisuli, moved to Michelfeld Germany about 1661 and started a family there and the name was Germanized to "Rudisile". In the early 1700s, several of Hans' grandchildren migrated to America, where the name was changed again to "Rudisill". Since then there have been over 40 spelling variations on the name."

There were a lot of Swiss settlers in central Pennsylvania, in addition to the Pennsylvania Dutch, so our Rudisell connection is probably Swiss or German. The 1840 census shows Jacob Rudicel, age 60-70, as the head of a household in Carlisle. In 1851, a number of Rudisells were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Carlisle to which Rudicil's son and his family also belonged.

Before we continue with Rudicil, note that there is mention of two other Natchers in Carlisle before we find Rudicil in the 1830 census. The records of the First Presbyterian Church show a list of names of persons admitted to the church. In 1816, "Mary Natcher, wife of William Brant" was admitted to the church, When George Natcher's minor son William appeared before the Orphan's Court in 1830 seeking a guardian, William Brant was appointed. Elizabeth Natcher, the wife of Hendrichs Wise, was admitted to the church in 1823. Are these the two daughters of Michael? Very likely.

Rudisill Natcher appears in the 1830 census as head of a household. He is listed as being between 30 and 40 years of age, living in Carlisle in Cumberland County. Another male, aged 40 to 50 years, lives in the household. There is one female age 15 to 20 and one male age 5 to 10 years. Later census returns show that Rudisill's wife was about his age, so the female in this census is either his wife Elizabeth with an incorrect age recorded or a mystery woman. If she is not Elizabeth, where is she? I am inclined to think it was an error in recording. The boy is the right age to be Rudisil's son John Rudisil. The First Presbyterian Church shows records of the baptism in 1832 of George Henderson Natcher, son of "R. and Elizabeth Natcher." In 1834, a William Irvine was born to "Randolph" and Elizabeth Natcher. Three boys are listed in the 1840 census in the Rudicil Natcher household.

In 1850 the census finally begins to list the names of the other members of the households. Rudisel is now 55 years old and his wife Elizabeth and 16 year old William also live in the household. Rudisel's occupation is identified as shoemaker. The Carlisle Shoe Company was established in 1859 and one of the officers of the new company was named John Irvine. The Natchers may have had a relationship of some kind with the Irvine family. I have found no further mention of George Henderson Natcher who would have been 18 in 1850. He is not mentioned in his father's will written in 1863 and does not appear in the 1850 or 1860 census in Pennsylvania. I suspect that we lost poor George sometime after his eighth birthday, but I will keep watching for him. Rudicil's eldest son, John, is now out on his own. He is a carpenter and married with three children.

John Rudisill Natcher was born in 1826, the eldest son of Rudisill and Elizabeth Natcher. I was unable to find a record of John's baptism or birth; the year is from census records. Both of his younger brothers were baptized by Dr. George Duffield in the First Presbyterian Church of Carlisle. In 1830, Rudisill petitioned the Orphan's Court to appoint a guardian for John in relation to John's interest in the estate of his grandmother Elizabeth Correll of Chester County. I have not researched this thoroughly yet, but it apparently was the practice to appoint a guardian for children under 14 years of age to protect a child's property interests. The nearest relative with no claim to the property himself was usually appointed. Jacob Carl was nominated and appointed by the court. John was a member of a men's class at the Methodist Church in 1840 and was admitted to the congregation as a probationer in 1840. D. Turner was another member of the men's class led by Brother E. Spottswood. James Spottswood led a women's class which met at Sister Lyon's home on Wednesday evenings. This class was attended by several members of the Turner family including: Rebecca and Margaret. Sarah and Susan Turner attended other classes.

Why are we suddenly interested in Turners? Because in 1846 the Methodist church records show the baptism of William, son of John and Margaret Turner Natcher. Let us assume they got married sometime before 1846. William may have been baptized by the Methodists, but their next child definitely was not. The records of the Alison Methodist Church show that on February 22, 1847 Margaret Turner Natcher was expelled from the church "for immorality." No further sordid details were in the records about Margaret, but a number of other people were expelled over the years. One fellow was thrown out for "breaking the Sabbath", so it is possible that Margaret could have been asked to leave for playing cards or hanging her wash out on Sunday. Whatever it was, the Natchers were not shunned by the town of Carlisle &endash; they joined the First United Church of Christ (which was probably called the First Reformed Church in those days.) In addition to William, John and Margaret had the following children: John, Sarah, Charles D., Mary. Elizabeth J., Stephen K., Henry/Harry, Ida Jane, and Alverda M. Sarah does not appear in the 1860 census with the rest of the children, so I am presuming she died.

Other names of interest in the 1850 census in Cumberland County include William and Emaline Natcher; Gabriel and Mary A. Natcher; a 60 year old Elizabeth Natcher living with the Joseph Morrett family; and the widow Rebecca Turner with her daughters Elizabeth, Sarah, Caroline and Elmira. I believe that Rebecca's husband was probably David Turner, whom we find in the 1840 census as head of a household with seven females in it. Also, remember there was a D. Turner involved with the Methodist Church at the same time as Rebecca and her daughters. In 1855, William Natcher, a student at Dickinson College, died. He was probably Rudicil's son William.

I have discovered other Natchers in the United States during this period, although the earliest mention I have found outside of Pennsylvania is a marriage in 1841 of George Natcher and Sylvia Emerson in Indiana. There is a John Natcher in the 1850 census living in New York City. In 1852, Joseph Natcher in Tennessee married Caroline Lawrence and by 1860 they had four children: William, Joseph, Ada and Martha. In 1860, Natchers living outside Pennsylvania include James in Georgia, W. R. and Mary in Mississippi, and Lewis and Hatley Natcher in Maryland.

I have not researched the out-of-state Natchers yet, but there is a chance that some of them may have fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. We do know that there were Natchers with the Union forces. John A., Michael H. and Charles B. Natcher all fought for the Union. These were all sons of William and Emaline Natcher. I am not sure if this William is George's son; his census data shows his birth year as 1815 and the church records show George's son born in 1819. Another William Natcher served with the US 5th Cavalry and died in July 1863. At first I thought perhaps he had been at Gettysburg since the date was close, but it turns out he was killed by friendly fire while stationed in Washington. Still, his name was included in the Carlisle memorial honoring those who died in service to their country during the Civil War.

Rudisill, being "aged and infirm" and "enfeebled of body" made his will in July of 1863. He left his whole estate to his beloved wife Elizabeth and at her death all real estate to the children of his son John Natcher in equal shares to them and their heirs. Rudicil died on September 30, 1866. His estate consisted of a two story frame and plaster house situated on West North Street on a lot forty by thirty feet. The house was sold by the administrator of Rudicil's will on October 23, 1869 for $960. Note the three years until the sale. Perhaps Elizabeth died in 1869 and therefore the property passed to the grandchildren at that time.

John Natcher's occupation is listed as "carpenter" in the 1850 and 1860 census returns. His wife's maiden name was Turner. The town market-house was erected from a design by John Turner, a builder. Coincidentally, in 1857 a firm named Turner and Natcher was contracted to begin construction on the main building of the Pennsylvania State University.

Construction began on Old Main in June of 1857, two-and-a-half years before students were admitted. It was meant to be the only building on campus, housing everything from living quarters to labs. The five-story building was designed by trustee Hugh McAllister and contracted to Turner and Natcher Construction Company, after they submitted a bid of $55,000. Just a year into the project, a financial panic struck the area and construction was forced to a halt in July of 1858. At this point, only the west wing and the foundation had been completed.

In 1868, John and his family moved to Pittsburgh and transferred their membership to the First Reformed Church there. The index to the 1880 census contains only households that had children under the age of eleven, so I have been unable to find John and Margaret in Pittsburgh thus far. Their son Charles Dale, a 26 year old carpenter, was married and living at 86 Fifteenth Street in Pittsburgh. His wife Anna Amelia Christina Schuchman was born in Ohio. They had two sons, Charles Edson, born 30 November 1875, and John Herbert. Also at this address were John and Mary Schuchman and their 9 month old son Chester. Stephen married Rosa Junker in 1882. They had four children: George, Irene, Irvin and Robert. Also in 1882, Ida Jane Natcher married George A. Beyner, a clerk for the Lake Erie Railroad. Alverda married William Kirchenbower and had three children, Florence, William and Margaret. I have not traced Mary, Elizabeth, John and Henry yet.

In 1881 Charles and Annie and family moved to Homestead where Charles worked for Schuchman and Co. for a number of years. I plan to research the Schuchman family one of these days.

On December 12, 1905, Charles Edson Natcher married Bessie Helene Godfrey of Wheeling, West Virginia. They were married by Reverend Chas. A. Bragdon. According to the 1902 city directory, Rev. Bragdon was the rector of St. Mathew's Episcopal Church on the corner of McClure and 10th Avenue. Bessie was born 21 November 1881, the daughter of Andrew James and Fanny Fern (Merkle) Godfrey. Andrew was born on the 4th of July in 1858 to William and Mary H. Godfrey. William was a coal miner and then a carter. He and Mary were born in Ireland, as was their eldest child, Thomas, in 1845. The next child, Mary, was born in West Virginia in 1848. Nancy, Henry, Isabelle, Andrew James, and Joseph were also born in West Virginia. Actually they were born in Virginia since West Virginia did not become a state until 1863.

Fanny was born 24 Oct 1860, the daughter of Albert Mericle, plasterer, and his wife Anna. According to the US Census, in 1900 Andrew and Fanny were living at 105 Fortieth Street, Pittsburgh (17th Ward) with daughter Bessie. Andrew worked as a fitter for the Bridge Works and Bessie was a clerk for a dry goods store. In 1908 they lived at 138 E. 3d Avenue, near Charles D. Natcher. After their son-in-law died in 1920, they lived in the home of daughter Bessie Natcher on Alberta in Homestead Park.

The 1910 Homestead directory lists Charles E. and Charles D. Natcher at 112 Main Street. Charles E. was a clerk for Carnegie Steel and became the assistant to the assistant paymaster. Bessie served as tax collector for Mifflin Township for thirty years. Charles and Bessie had five children: Kathryn, who died in infancy; Bernice Elizabeth; Margaret Vivian; William Corbett and Ann Christine.

John Herbert Natcher, Charles' brother, was born 28 Nov 1878. On December 30, 1902 he married Eva Mae Roberts of Brownsville, PA. They had the following children: Charles Dale; Anna Virginia (died in infancy); Leah Mae; Mary Virginia; Alma "Peg" Elizabeth; and Natalie Elanor.

The Social Security Death Index and various web searches I have made have turned up Natchers from coast to coast. There are Natchers in Kentucky, including the late Representative William Natcher of Bowling Green. I have found Natchers studying at the University of Alberta, UCLA, Penn State (with a nice photo of Bill) and the University of Alaska; athletes competing in marathons and water polo; buying property in Tucson, Arizona; and, of course, still living and working in Pennsylvania in Munhall, Ebensburg, Erie, and Carlisle. It is an extremely unusual name, so if you are a Natcher and you meet another Natcher, say hello to our cousin for me.

Updated on Saturday, 01-Jul-2000 18:10:32 MDT