Ochs-Tetrick Funeral Home has been serving the Orleans area community for many years. We’re thankful to be an important part of this community and will continue our longstanding legacy of helping families honor their loved ones.
John Ochs, Sr. was a native of Bilkeim, state of Nassau, Germany. He was born December 26, 1819 and received his education in his home state. He learned the cabinet makers' trade in his father's work shop. During his apprenticeship of five years, John visited many cities of and added much to his knowledge of his craft.
John married Margaret Grauert at Glaskstadt, (now a suberb of Hamburg)Germany in 1853. In 1855, John had the opportunity to come to the United State of America. John left his wife and young daughter to go and build a new home and life for his family. John was very excited about the new opportunities awaiting them in the United States.
After seven weeks on the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat, John landed in New York City, August, 1855. From there John traveled across the country to Madison, Wisconsin, where his sister had already settled.
In May, 1856, John came to New Albany, Indiana. After many months, John had saved enough money to send for his wife and daughter.
Upon receiving the money, Margaret arranged to leave by boat the very next day. A boat sailed only every three months and she felt she had to leave as soon as possible. She was nine weeks on the Atlantic Ocean and finally landed in the Port of New Orleans. She traveled up the Mississippi River and arrived at her destination in New Albany, Indiana, at 9:00 P.M. She was unable to speak any English and only had $.50 left in her pocket, which she gave to a man to carry her sleeping daughter and take her to her husband.
John and Margaret lived in New Albany, where two more children were born. In 1860, they moved to Orleans, Indiana. They purchased a frame building on the north side of the public square for $300.00. This building had been known as the perpetual motion building. John and margaret transformed this building into a dwelling, work shop, furniture store and undertaking establishment. Here is where John made, by hand, his furniture and coffins. Margaret did the finishing and varnishing, besides raising her family on the west side of the building.
In 1873, a fire swept the building, its contents and everything they owned were destroyed. They were left nearly penniless with a family of seven children to support. Their German thrift persevered, and the same year they rebuilt the building and the business continued.
Margaret died in 1891. Their daughter, Amanda Ochs Alvis, who had been teaching school, assumed the household duties and helped her father with the furniture and funeral work.
In 1901, John again crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 82. He went back to Germany to visit his childhood home. He found his sister and the stone house where he was born. The house had been built by his father and was now occupied by a brother and his family. John returned to the United States and made plans to return one day to Germany for another visit, but died February 21, 1906 at the age of 87.
Charles Ochs, John's son, along with a brother-in-law, continued the family business. Charles had, like his father, learned the cabinet maker's trade in his father's work shop. He, as part of this work, also made the coffins. They also began a building contracting business.
Charles married Hattie Moore on June 10, 1881. They had three sons...Everett, Robert and Bonnie. They also had four daughters. Jeston M. who died at age 6, Minnie who married Ed Fields and died in 1920 at age 31, Gretchen who married Fred Jackson and died in 1955, and Margaret Ochs who never married and died in 1994 at the age of 91.
Bonnie Ochs went to Business College in Indianapolis. Upon graduation from there, he entered the U.S. Army and served in World War I for two years. One of his years of service was served in France. After the war he returned to Indianapolis where he met and married Anne Negley. He lived out his life in Indianapolis as an insurance agent and died in 1964 at the age of 67.
Everett and Robert Ochs remained in Orleans and helped with the family business. During this period of the funeral business, when someone would die, Charles and Hattie would travel by horse and buggy to the home. The embalming and preparation of the deceased for burial was done there in the home. Often they started before daylight and returned after dark in the evening. The coffins were purchased, then Hattie Ochs would "bed" them down. This meant that she would line the casket with muslin and finish them with an overlining of silk. Sometimes people would travel through at night just to purchase a casket. Hattie would trim the casket while they waited. When she finished, she would often prepare breakfast for them before sending them on their journey home in a wagon.
A great part of the success of the Ochs business was attributed to Hattie Ochs. She went on every call from first to last. She ministered to the families in any way she could. She often helped with household duties or attended to the children, all the while doing her own duties. Charles Ochs and his sons were also in construction business, and built many homes in Orleans and the surrounding area.
It was in 1922 that the businesses were moved to the present location on the corner of Lincoln and Jefferson Streets. The furniture store was built that year. Hattie Ochs died January 29, 1929. That very night, Charles Ochs received word that he had to go on another call. He summoned his daughter Margaret to go in her mother's place with him to a home. Margaret reluctantly went and settled into a life like her mother and grandmother before her.
Robert Ochs, died of Tuberculosis in 1937 at the age of 43. Everett Ochs had gone to mortuary college, but he suffered with reoccurring bouts of Tuberculosis. He had to go to California for treatment for months, and years, at a time. Margaret remained a constant in both the furniture store and the funeral home. She helped her father until his death in 1942. She continued when Everett would have to be gone and would never marry.
Everett Ochs died in 1965 at the age of 72. Margaret continued to work until she sold the business on contract in 1973 to Charles Lewis of Seymour, and his partner Frank Branam of Mitchell. Charles, originally from Mitchell, had worked for the Ochs early in his life. Soon, Mr. Lewis found the strain of being away from his wife, a long time school administrator in Seymour, was too much for him. Mr. Lewis and Mr. Branam decided to sell the business.
In November, 1975, Lewis and Georgia Wilson Tetrick of Columbus, Indiana, bought the business from Charles Lewis, Frank Branam, Margaret Ochs, Barbara Hancock and her children. Barbara Jackson Hancock was the daughter of Gretchen Ochs and Fred Jackson. She was the only grandchild of Charles and Hattie Ochs.
Lewis and Georgia moved to Orleans on Thanksgiving Day, 1975, from Columbus, Indiana. They continued to operate under the name of Ochs Funeral Home. They reopened Ochs Furniture, but were forced to close the furniture business in 1978. In 1986, Lewis and Georgia added their name to the business and it became Ochs-Tetrick Funeral Home. The white frame two story house and the red brick furniture building were combined and remodeled into one facility with more room and convenience in 1988.
Margaret Ochs died June 21, 1994 at the age of 91. Her forceful personality will long be remembered fondly by those whe came in contact with her over the years. It was her dedication, determination and unselfishness that kept the funeral home going. She realized after retiring that she no longer had a desire to travel as she had at one time. She said she had stayed too close for too long. That seemed to be her only regret for the confining life in the funeral business. She was asked, "Did you ever wish you had married?" She was quick to answer, "No man would have me!" She was witty as usual, but not completely truthful. She had admitted that in her younger days, she had been asked to wed, but she felt obligated to stay and help the family.
The funeral home has been recognized by the Indiana Funeral Directors Association, as well as the Indiana Office of the Governor, as being one of the oldest established businesses in the state continuing in operation. It has a long established history of being fair, concerned, and most of all, a respected business in the community and the state.
In December of 2013, Justin and Denelle Davis purchased the funeral home from Lewis and Georgia Tetrick. The Davis family are supportive citizens of Orleans, and Orange County, Indiana and hope to continue in keeping with the spirit of the Ochs Family traditions established and continued since 1860.