Encyclopedia Titanica

Charles Natsch

Charles Natsch
Charles Natsch

Mr Charles Natsch was born in Connecticut (possibly Manchester, Hartford County) in October 1875.

He was the son of Swiss immigrant parents Heinrich “Henry” Natsch (1842-1881), a clerk, and the former Louisa Bodmer (1836-1903) who had come to the USA around 1866. He had three known siblings: Louise (b. 1868), Henry Furnald (b. 1874) and Albert (b. 1879). 

The family appear on the 1880 census living in Brooklyn, New York at 765 Atlantic Avenue which is where Charles’ father died just over a year later on 9 October 1881 aged 38 due to enteritis and asthenia. 

Charles Natsch
Charles Natsch in 1897.
(The Natsch family, courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA)

Charles was married in 1899 to Elizabeth Henderson Nicoll Machan (b. 2 October 1874), a Scottish-born woman who had come to the United States as an infant from her native Monifieth, Angus. She was the daughter of Robert Nicoll Machan and Caroline Mitchell Robertson.

The newlyweds settled in Brooklyn and appear on the 1900 census living at East 7th Street with his widowed mother Louisa, he described as a clerk. Sadly, Louisa died on 31 January 1903.

They went on to welcome four children: Helen Carolyn (b. 12 August 1900), Jean Lois (1902-1983), Evelyn Dorothy (1904-1957) and Henry Halsey (1905-1984). They lost their eldest child Helen to diphtheria when she passed away on 17 October 1907 aged 7.  

The 1910 census shows the family residing at 503 East 7th Street, Brooklyn with Natsch described as a speciality grocery merchant. By 1912 they were living at 503 East 7th Street and Natsch was well known in social and athletic circles in his community. He was also a gifted solo tenor vocalist and is frequently quoted in local media for his amateur performances. 

Natsch left for Europe on 30 March 1912 on a business trip on behalf of his employers, Lamont, Corliss  & Co., a successful food import and marketing firm. Whilst in Amsterdam he wrote to his family. He embarked Titanic at Cherbourg (ticket number 17596, costing £29, 14s) and during the voyage occupied cabin C118.

Charles Natsch died in the Titanic sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Following the disaster newspapers in New York, in error, printed that Mrs Natsch and her children were survivors of the sinking. One of the children had even become sick with pneumonia (later being attributed to exposure in the lifeboat). This was certainly not the case. A further tragedy was to strike when a  Mrs Josephine Alexander, one of the attendees to Natsch’s memorial service on 5 May 1912 at Duryea Presbyterian Church, was knocked down and killed on her way home after attendance at the service. 

Memorial Booklet
Memorial Booklet
(The Natsch family, courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA)

Having executed a will on 23 February 1905, Natsch’s estate was admitted to probate on 2 July 1912; by then his widow was residing at 450 East 16th Street in Brooklyn. Titanic survivor and lawyer Isaac G. Frauenthal submitted proof of death in the hearings.

Surrogate Ketcham in Brooklyn yesterday admitted to probate the will of Charles Natsch, one of the victims of the Titanic disaster, after his photograph had been identified by Isaac G. Frauenthal, a lawyer, of 183 Lexington avenue, who was a passenger on the ill fated steamship. Mr Frauenthal said that he saw Mr Natsch the last time about an hour before the collision and that he was not among the rescued. The will makes the widow the sole beneficiary of the estate, amounting to about $19,000. - The Sun, 28 June 1912

Mrs Natsch later filed a claim against the White Star Line for the death of her husband to the amount of $150,000. Her actions later led to legal difficulties:

Mrs Elisabeth H. Natsch. whose husband, Charles Natsch, was lost with the Titanic, must show cause to the United States District Court on October 25 why she, or her attorney A. Leonard Brougham, should not be punished for contempt for bringing suit against the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., owners of the steamship. Mrs Natsch's action to recover S7S.000 damages for the death of her husband was begun in the State Supreme Court recently in spite of the fact that the United States District Court had issued a monition temporarily enjoining claimants from bringing suit for damages or prosecuting claims against the owners of the Titanic. The Federal court's warning was issued October 14, in compliance with the request of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. who on that date instituted an action to have their liabilities in the Titanic disaster limited to approximately $93,000. - The Sun, 18 October 1912

She was later brought before the courts for contempt:

Mrs Elizabeth H. Natsch, whose husband, Charles Natsch, went down with the Titanic, had an opportunity before Judge Hough in the United states District Court yesterday to show cause why she or her attorney should not be punished for contempt for starting suit in the State Supreme Court to recover $75,000 from the owners of the Titanic. - The Sun, 5 November 1912

A worshipper Duryea Presbyterian Church at Sterling Place and Underhill Avenue in Brooklyn in his last years, Charles was commemorated there with a special service and the installation of a new set of pulpit in his memory.

Memorial Pulpit

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 October 1912

Elizabeth Natsch never remarried and continued to live in Brooklyn where she remained active with the church. In the mid-1920s when she moved to Camp Wateredge in Columbia, Connecticut.

Elizabeth died in Windham, Connecticut on 9 June 1956 and was buried in Columbia with her daughters Jean and Evalyn, her late husband is remembered on her headstone.

The last letter he had sent to his wife from his business trip abroad, and posted in the Netherlands, is still in the hands of family.

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Daily Standard Union, 4 May 1906, In the Social World
Daily Standard Union, 26 April 1912, Mrs Natsch and Child are Seriously Ill
Standard Union, 9 May 1912, Another Killing by Speeding Auto
Standard Union, 27 June 1912, Widow of Titanic Victims gets Estate
The Sun, 28 June 1912, Titanic Victim’s Will
The Sun, 18 October 1912, Titanic Survivors to Act
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 October 1912
The Sun, 5 November 1912, Titanic Widow in Court
New York Call, 18 December 1912, Titanic Widow Sues Company for $75,000
New York Herald, 16 April 1913, Ask $13,907,461 In Titanic Damages

Newspaper Articles

Brooklyn Daily Times (16 April 1912) Brooklynites are Lost as Titanic Sinks
Several Are Believed to Have Sunk With Ship
Brooklyn Daily Times (16 April 1912) MRS. NATSCH PROSTRATED BY NEWS OF DISASTER
New York Times (28 June 1912) FILE WILL OF TITANIC VICTIM
(5 November 1912) TITANIC WIDOW IN COURT
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Gregory and Kathleen Natsch

    Gregory and Kathleen Natsch

    We are direct decendants of Charles Natsch, first class passenger on board the Titanic. We'd like to know as much about him and his family as possible as to trace our geneology. If you can help us, email us at [email protected] or [email protected] Thanks for all the help! Gregory and Kathleen Natsch Jefferson City, MO

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Charles Natsch
Born: October 1875 in
Age: 36 years 6 months (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to Elizabeth Henderson Nicoll Machan
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17596, £29 14s
Cabin No. C118
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch