John (5) Patten Emmet the second son (and fourth child) born to Thomas (1) Addis Emmet (TAE) and Jane Patten, spent his early childhood in Dublin. After his father was jailed by the British and sent to prison in Scotland, John remained with his grandparents Elizabeth (Mason) & Dr Robert Emmet, and with his father's sister, Mary Anne (Emmet) Holmes. John's early years were marked by a succession of infectious diseases which permanently weakened his health. He came to America in 1805 with his two younger brothers, Tom (6) and Temple (7) rejoining his parents in New York after a five year separation. He was sent to a school in Flushing, NY, spent a year in bed with pneumonia when he was sixteen, and then was accepted as a cadet at West Point.
Within two years, his proficiency in mathematics led to his appointment as an Acting Assistant Professor and a job teaching underclassmen before he had even graduated. But his health deteriorated again and he was forced to leave the Academy at the end of his third year. He eventually was able to enter the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia, from which he graduated in January of 1822 - an event the family celebrated with a party and a whiskey punch made by his brother Robert (2). On the advice of his father, called Papa by his children, John soon sailed to Charleston, SC for the warmer temperatures, and decided to stay and set up a medical practice.
In the fall of 1824, he gave a series of public lectures on chemistry that proved enormously popular. Thomas Jefferson, who probably had heard of the lectures, invited John to come to a new university being started in Charlottesville, VA as the Professor of Natural History. Dr. Emmet accepted the position, arriving in April of 1825, and spent the next two years working hard to prepare for his classes, as he was responsible not only for chemistry but also for zoology, mineralogy and geology. On April 27, 1826, in one of his last letters, Jefferson wrote John; the opening sentence is "It is time to think of the Introdn of the school of Botany into our instn, (sic) ...." (Jefferson was writing hastily a few months beofre his death).
His younger brother Bill (11), then a student at UVA, noticed that one young lady, visiting her uncle from Bermuda, showed "a partiality for John." And John finally took the time to notice. He and Mary Byrd Tucker became engaged in June of 1827 and were married in Charlottesville in July. For the next fourteen years, the couple lived in John's house on the campus. They had three children - two boys and a girl, but were devastated by the loss of their second son, John Tucker Emmet, to a fever in 1837 when he was eight years old.
But Dr Emmet's teaching went well - he attracted ever larger numbers of students and wrote numerous papers for scientific journals. He and his wife bought a house in the country where John spent many hours experimenting with plants and animal husbandry. In the summer of 1841, Mary and John brought their eldest son, Addis (25) to New York to live with his aunt and uncle, Jane (8) and Bache McEvers so the child could go to a better school than those in Virginia. That fall, John had a series of illnesses which are referred to in Mary's letters as "fever and ague," brought on, she thought, from giving lectures in a damp room. By January he became so weak that he had to turn his UVA classes over to a colleague and leave for Florida with his wife in an effort to get well. The warmth did help John recover. Having found a house and land they liked in Palatka, near St Augustine, they made the decision to move to Florida permanently.
In April of 1842, the couple went up to Charleston, SC to see some old friends and then in May boarded a ship to New York to buy provisions for living in Florida. Their ship was struck by a hurricane off Cape Hatteras and floated for 38 days before being rescued; several passengers died. John's health once again declined. He and Mary made it to New York, but John did not get his strength back - he died six weeks later in his brother Tom's (6) house at the age of 46.