ALFRED PRATT. One of the first settlers of Hamilton County, many years active as a rancher and land owner, business man, former legislator, Alfred Pratt of Syracuse is one of the men who have made history in this part of Kansas, and his life experiences both before and after coming to the state make a record worthy to be told and perpetuated.
He was born in Scott County, Kentucky, January 30, 1839. His grandfather, James Pratt, went to Kentucky from North Carolina, was a farmer and carpenter, and reared a family of children whose names were John, James M., William, Joseph, Sanford, Mrs. Ann Moore, Mrs. Susan Hopkins and Miss Sallie Pratt. Of these children John Pratt was one of the first two Kentuckians to graduate from the West Point Military Academy. For a number of years he was in the Regular Army and at one time had command of the Department of the Ohio, stationed at Cincinnati. He finally resigned his commission, and spent his last years at Georgetown, Kentucky.
James M. Pratt, father of Alfred Pratt, spent his active life in Kentucky, but died in Franklin County, Indiana, in 1878, at the age of seventy-two. He was a Baptist, a whig in politics and before the war was the owner of slaves. He married Susan Adams. She was born in London of English parents. Her death occurred in Georgetown, Kentucky. Her children were: Scott, who died in Franklin County, Indiana; Melvina, who died unmarried; and Alfred. Mrs. Alfred Pratt secured a good education, graduating from Georgetown College in 1858. As a youth he taught school in Scott County, Kentucky, and in 1860, at the age of twenty-one, he cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. With the outbreak of the way he joined a Kentucky regiment, enlisting from Scott County. This regiment was never mustered into service. He then went to Indiana, and taught a term or two of school, but in 1862 enlisted in Company B of the Seventy-Eighth Indiana Infantry under Captain A. J. Hawn and Colonel William Farrow. He was mustered in at Indianapolis, and went with the regiment into Kentucky, patroling the Ohio River and protecting river commerce from rebel and bushwacker assaults. His term of enlistment was only for sixty days, and at the end of that time he was mustered out.
Mr. Pratt taught school a number of years after his graduation, and after leaving the army he was on a farm in Scott County, Kentucky, for a time. On February 24, 1864, he married in Putnam County, Indiana, Miss Mary L. McMurry. She was born December 24, 1844, a daughter of James and Livonia (Darnall) McMurry. Her mother was a daughter of Turpin Darnall of Bainbridge, Indiana. Mrs. Pratt was born in Putnam County, Indiana, but her father came from Allen County, Kentucky. He laid the foundation of his prosperity as a farmer and afterwards became a banker at Warsaw, Indiana, and spent his last years as a money lender in Indianapolis, where he died. Mrs. Pratt was the oldest of the children and had two brothers and one sister: Joshua B., who was a Union soldier and lives at Indianapolis; Sarah E., who died in Indianapolis, wife of John H. Lewis, of Hendricks County, Indiana; and James, of Indianapolis.
After his marriage Mr. Pratt engaged in farming in Putnam County, Indiana. In 1876 he brought his family to Kansas, settling in Shawnee County. He farmed there near Silver Lake until the fall of 1885, when he came out to Hamilton County. In Shawnee County he made the race for the nomination for the Legislature against J. B. McAfee, a well known republican of that county. He was also a delegate to the congressional convention at Emporia which nominated Tom Ryan for Congress.
In 1884 Mr. Pratt came out to Hamilton County and bought land for the purpose of ranching. He moved his family here in the next year and located on the tract of land which he had previously purchased. With the purchase of subsequent additions he developed the well known Pratt, Worden & Hardy Ranch, an enterprise with which he was actively connected and which brought him into prominent associations with the leading cattle interests of Western Kansas.
As an early settler, Mr. Pratt played a part in the history of Hamilton County. He helped settle up the country, and was also prominent in settling the county seat question as a supporter of Syracuse. When first laid out the county embraced all of Stanton, all of Hamilton, half of Kearny and half of Grant counties. Governor Martin appointed Mr. Pratt to make the enumeration of the whole territory. Kendall was made temporary county seat by the governor. By a subsequent act the Legislature restored the county lines and eliminated Kendall from the county seat possibilities and selected Syracuse instead. With every important public enterprise of consequence in the county Mr. Pratt has had a direct or indirect connection. He assisted in the construction of the old plank road south of Syracuse through the sandhills. He was a member of the Legislature and introduced the bill which gave Syracuse its present mill and elevator. He was also one of the parties who undertook to build a north and south railroad through Syracuse. A survey was made through the state and the name Montana, Kansas & Texas Railway was given the enterprise. A telegraph line was constructed from Syracuse to Richfield and maintained for several years, but no work was ever done toward the construction of the railroad.
Mr. Pratt was elected to the Legislature in 1890. During his first term he was in the House when its speaker was P. P. Elder. He served on the committee of irrigation. He supported John J. Ingalls for the United States Senate, but that great orator was defeated by Peffer. In 1892 Mr. Pratt was returned to the House as a republican. That was in the populist regime. He was by no means a passive witness of the violent proceedings which resulted in the so-called "legislature war," and which has been detailed at length on other pages of this publication. He served until Speaker Douglas of the republican house, and J. M. Dunsmore, the "bald hornet of the Neosho," claimed title to the speakership against Douglas and brought about the Douglas-Dunsmore war. Mr. Pratt was present through all the exciting weeks of the contest between the two factions of the Legislature, and was a member of the party which stormed the door of the State House and broke into the chamber after the populists had locked them out. In 1894 Mr. Pratt was reelected for a third term in the House. In the following session he participated in the election of Lucien Baker for the United States Senate, though he had supported Burton in the caucus. He has been a stanch and steadfast republican ever since he cast his vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He is a Blue Lodge and Chapter Mason and is affiliated with Post No. 381 of the Grand Army of the Republic at Syracuse.
Mr. Pratt lost his wife and the companion of nearly forty years on September 29, 1902. Mrs. Pratt died in El Paso, Texas, and is buried at Indianapolis, Indiana. Clarence D., the oldest of the children, is manager of the Pratt Paint & Paper Company at Dallas, Texas. He married Carrie B. Winants, and their children are Thelma, Mrs. Frank Brown, of Dallas, Bertha and Frank Alfred. Melvina E., the second child, married Eugene B. Welch, a business man of El Paso, Texas, and of the City of Mexico, and died February 5, 1918, in Los Angeles, California. They have children named Louise, Paul and Eugene. Thurston H., the second son of Mr. Pratt, and a capitalist of Pasadena, California, married Miss Iva Bassett, and is the father of three children, Esther, married and living in Los Angeles, and Murry and Alfred E. James B. Pratt, the youngest child of Alfred Pratt, was born in Kansas, and is now a successful rancher in Hamilton County. He married Miss Elton Cole and has three children, Elizabeth, Melvina and Erma. James B. Pratt was a famous horseman and "relay rider," and won the championship of the world at Pueblo, Colorado. He was elected treasurer of Hamilton County, about this time and served four years, after which he engaged actively in farming and ranching eighteen miles southwest of Syracuse.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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