Captain Zephaniah J. Hatch, who has been prominently connected with steamboat building and operation in the Pacific states, was born in Monticello, Sullivan county, New York, on the 15th of June, 1846. He is a son of Cornelius and Jane (Trobridge) Hatch. The father was a native of New Bedford, Connecticut, and was reared upon the home farm. He became a sailor, but after sailing the deep sea for a short period he returned to the old homestead and removed with his parents to Sullivan county, New York, the family becoming pioneer settlers of that locality. After arriving at years of maturity he wedded Jane Trobridge, who was a native of Westchester county, New York, and whose parents were early settlers of Sullivan county. Mr. and Mrs. Hatch became the parents of seven children, four of whom reached years of maturity.
Captain Hatch was reared in the usual manner of farmer lads of the period. He early became familiar with the labors of the field and meadow, assisting his father in the operation of the home farm through the summer months. In the winter seasons he attended the public schools and later he profited by a course of study in an academy at Monticello, New York. He also benefited largely by instruction from his father, who was a very highly educated man, and thus he promoted his intellectual development until at the age of twenty-one years he became a teacher, and was principal of the public schools of Ellenville, New York, until 1871. He then retired from the profession of teaching and became a bookkeeper in the First National Bank at that place, while later he was made assistant cashier, serving in the latter capacity until August, 1872.
In that year Captain Hatch resigned and removed to the northwest, settling first in Portland, Oregon. Soon after his arrival he entered the engineering department of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company at Kalama. In June, 1873, he removed to Oldtown, Tacoma, and was bookkeeper and paymaster for the Tacoma Land Company; in 1874, owing to general business depression following the financial panic in the northwest he resigned his position and started for the mines of Nevada. While stopping at Portland, he met Captain U. B. Scott, S. H. Brown and L. B. Seeley, who were associated in the buiding of the steamer Ohio to operate on the Willamette river, between Portland and Eugene, Oregon. Mr. Hatch was engaged to act as chief clerk of the boat, and during the absence of Mr. Brown he also served as its manager, filling the position until 1875. He then retired from that position and, associated with Messrs. Scott, Brown, Seeley andM. S. Burrell, he organized the U. B. Scott Steamboat Company, which built the teamer City of Salem, which it operated in the same route between Eugene and Portland. Mr. Hatch served as purser on the City of Salem until May, 1876, when he became agent for the company at Portland, occupying an office on the Pacific wharf. In 1878 he personally leased the dock and warehouses and conducted a general wharfage business until 1879, when he sold his interests and turned his attention exclusively to the handling of wheat.
During the first winter in which he was engaged in that enterprise Captain Hatch furnished part or all of the cargoes of thirty-three ships. He also bought the steamboat A. A. McCully and operated it in connection with his wheat interests. During the fall of January, 1880, disaster overtook him, for he lost four thousand tons of wheat by a sudden rise in the river. This was a hard blow to the captain and he retired from the wheat business. He continued, however, to operated the steamer McCully with good success, and in 1881 he built the steamship Yaquina to run from Portland to the coast cities of Oregon and Washington and to ports on Puget Sound.
In the same year Captain Hatch returned to Monticello, New York, and there on the 15th of March, 1881, he married Miss Adeline Tremain. He returned with his bride to Portland and then for a time his business history was filled with disaster, for the Yaquina was destroyed by fire and later his warehouses were burned. The steamer McCully was all that was left to him, but it served to bring him out of his financial troubles. This boat, however, was finally destroyed by fire in the spring of 1885. Captain Hatch then operated the Albina warehouses for J. B. Montgomery until the fall of 1886, when in partnership with F. E. Smith he purchased the steamer Fleetwood, which they operated on Puget Sound between Olympia and Seattle. In 1890, when the Columbia River and Puget Sound Navigation Company was organized, consolidating the interests of the steamers Fleetwood, Bailey Gatzert, Telephone, City of Frankfort and the Flyer, Captain Hatch took charge of the Baily Gatzert, continuing until October 1890, when he sold his interests and retired from the company. About that time he built the Monticello, which is one hundred and twenty-six feet long, with eighteen-foot beams and nine-foot depth in the hold. This was launched on the 25th of April, 1891, and operated between Seattle, Port Townsend and Port Angeles until the fall of 1893, when he began running the Monticello to Whatcom and Olympia and continuing thus until 1895.
In that year Captain Hatch brought his boat to San Francisco and began operating between this port and Vallejo, making the first trip on the 10th of August, 1895, and continuing until 1901. In 1900 he built the steamer General Frisbee, and after retiring the Monticellow he operated the General Frisbee in her place, the boat making three round trips daily, carrying passengers, perishable and express freight, with headquarters at Vallejo city dock, foot of Virginia street, also with headquarters in San Francisco at Mission street dock, pier No. 2. Captain Hatch retired from the Pilot House in 1898 and has since devoted his time to the management of his business from his offices. He is associated with his brother, C. N. Hatch, who has the active management of the office work. The General Frisbee is one hundred and seventy feet long, with twenty-seven-foot beams and twelve foot in the hold, and a capacity of six hundred passengers and a tonnage of five hundred and fifty tons.
Captain Hatch has met with reverses that would have discouraged and disheartened many a man of a less resolute spirit, but with determined purpose he has continued actively in the line of business which he chose as his life work, and is now meeting with good success, which he certainly well deserves. To him and his wife have been born five children: Allen T., Louise T., William, Ferry and Adeline. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and he and his family occupy a residence in Oakland. This is one of the choisest suburban homes of the city and stands in the midst of beautiful grounds covering five acres.
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