Samuel Atherton Hatch

Samuel Atherton Hatch was (after Longfellow) the most important story-teller in the history of Minnehaha Falls, and pretty much no one has heard of him. He died in 1904, just a few months after the publication of his obscure little tract.

Even in the years before antibiotics and vaccinations, when most people had been to funerals for small children, being “cut down in the prime of life” was a cause for shocked remorse and sadness. Death was more prevalent, but it did not matter less.

Possibly Samuel A. Hatch, who died at age 25, was just as great a guy as his obituaries suggested.

a young man with a full jawline and sort of goofy hair.
Pictured here in 1903, Samuel A. Hatch was a senior at the University of Minnesota. –from ancestry.com on-line yearbooks.

He played coronet in the University of Minnesota band, and was band leader in his senior year. He was assistant manager for track and baseball teams. He joined things. He participated. He wrote a perfectly dreadful prize-winning song about the U. [1]

He got a teaching degree, and went off to Royalton, Minnesota to be their superintendent of schools. It seems likely that his interest in teaching came from his four-years-older brother Erwin, who spent decades as the superintendent of schools in St. Louis Park, MN. Perhaps Erwin helped him land the Royalton job.

They’d come to the Cities come from Pipestone, MN, Sam the youngest of 6 children, and the only Minnesota-born. There might have an early marriage out in Pipestone: one census indicates a wife of 19 when Sam was just 22. Right after, he was a student at the University of Minnesota, living in rented rooms at addresses that today are gone, and are mostly parking lots. Perhaps his wife had died. Perhaps there was a mistake in the census.

He graduated in 1903, got that Royalton job, and a few weeks into 1904, he died of peritonitis. Of course it was a terrible shock.

Sam Hatch, in that last summer before he died, wrote a nifty little booklet called The Life and Deeds of William Herrick, Hermit of Minnehaha Falls.  A Tale of The Wild West in the Early Days.  And Sam Hatch took the extra important step of sending two copies to the Library of Congress, thereby insuring that his souvenir booklet would be copyright.  And that it survives to this today.

The story of the hermit is of course a grand tale to be told in detail. But it is the other material in Sam Hatch’s publication that made his work so incredibly valuable. So, more on all that to come.


[1] Hatch’s Gopher Prize 1903 winning song was called “Our Alma Mater” and these were the lyrics:

We hail thee Minnesota And thy honor and glory acclaim
We Join in mighty chorus, Our pride, our joy, thy name.
Thy Sons may ever love thee
Not alone for thy glorious name,
Thou Give’st us freedom’s blessings,
our alma mater, Thy fame
Thy wondrous Fame, Thy won-drous Fame
Praise to thee Minn-e-so-ta. Thy fame,………….
Thy wonderous Fame…….. Thy Won-drous fame, ………….
Praise to Thee, Al-ma Al-ma Mater.

Per request, the music to Our Alma Mater.  Page 1:

page 1 of the sheet music to "Our Alma Mater"

And, page 2:

page 2 of the sheet music to "Our Alma Mater"

4 thoughts on “Samuel Atherton Hatch”

  1. “But it is the other material in Sam Hatch’s publication that made his work so incredibly valuable.” AAARRGGHHH! You can’t leave us hanging like that!

    And yes, the lyrics are awful, but what about the melody? Is there a recording? Sheet music?

    1. Ah, OK. It doesn’t seem possible to add pictures to comments, but the music is posted at the end of the main article. Thoughts on that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *