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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Pratt

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 815-816 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The name Pratt is variously spelled in more ancient writings thus: Pratt, Prat, Pratte, Pradt, Praed, Prate, also Praer and Prayers.

The English home of the Pratts is chiefly in eastern and southern parts of England, in the contiguous counties of Leicester, Huntington, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Devon, Lincoln and Hartford. Nine distinct armorial bearings granted by the Herald's College are now extant among as many families of this name. One is borne by the Earl of Camden and another, the only one out of England, by the family of Pratt of Cabra Castle, County Cavan, Ireland. The name Pratt appears in France and in the south of Europe, one family possessing the barony of Pratella near Rouen in Normandy, whose lord in 1066 is in the roll of Battle Abbey, which proves his presence at the battle of Hastings with William the Conqueror. The name Pratt occurs among the earliest of English surnames, and the family in many of its branches held stations of influence and power in the British Empire. The earliest notice of Pratts in England is prior to the year 1200 A. D. and shows that they probably came to England from Normandy. The name then was Pratellis or de Pralettis. Rev. John de Pralettis was a favorite minister of King Richard (Coeur de Lion) and others of the name accompanied him in his crusades to the Holy Land. It was not until about 1300 A. D. that the name is commonly written Pratt. In America the name first appears in 1633. Lieutenant William Pratt is supposed to have come with Rev. Thomas Hooker to Newtown, now Cambridge, Massachusetts, in that year. He was of Hartford, Connecticut, 1636, and of Saybrook, 1645. He represented Saybrook in the general court for twenty-three sessions, was lieutenant of the train band and of local importance. The family herein recorded descend from the Pratts of Devonshire, England, and are of the third generation in the state of New York.

(I) John Pratt was born in Devonshire, England, where he lived and died near the town of Penrhyn. He owned and operated a bakery which after his death was continued by his widow, Bridget Pratt, until her death at the age of seventy years. They reared a large family, consisting of John and William Thomas (twins), and several daughters. The children, with one exception, remained in England, married and reared families.

(II) William Thomas, twin son of John and Bridget Pratt, was born in 1800, learned in England the trade of wheelwright. He received an uncommonly good education and all his life was occupied in positions of trust and some authority. He was the only member of the family to emigrate to America. He married in England and sailed for Canada in 1822 with his wife and son William. His second son, John, was born on the voyage to America, which occupied eleven weeks. He settled in Quebec, Canada, where his thorough knowledge of his trade and superior qualifications secured him an appointment as millwright at the military post and also some official rank. The mills were situated along the Lachine river near the rapids and there also was the family home. During their residence there his son John, born on the high seas, met his death by drowning, at the age of nine years. The family continued their Canadian residence until 1838, all the children having been born there except the youngest, Captain Henry C. Pratt. In that year the family removed to the United States, settling at Brandon, Vermont, where Captain Henry was born in 1840. In 1844 they again moved, settling at Watervliet, New York, where William Thomas Pratt was appointed to a position in the United States arsenal. The commandant was General Baker, and between these two men existed a warm friendship. Mr. Pratt held official rank and performed the duties required of him so well that he received the warm commendation of the general. He remained at the arsenal several years, then removed to Schenectady, where he died April 8, 1852. He was a skillful mechanic and possessed of rare executive ability that insured him proper recognition and reward. He was a member of the Episcopal Church. He married Mary Ann Hodges, born 1796, died 1884. During one of the absences of Mr. Pratt from home his wife was attacked by cholera, which was then epidemic in Quebec. There was such a demand for nurses, doctors and undertakers that, with but scant ceremony, the dead and often the living were thrown into coffins and buried. The husband returned home and found the undertakers about to remove his wife's body. He dismissed them with scant courtesy and succeeded in reviving his wife and she was eventually restored to health, living to a good old age. Children:

  1. William, born in England in 1819, died at St. Johns, Newfoundland, 1909. He married (first) Margaret Moyeson, who bore him six children; all married and became residents of New York state. He married a second and a third wife, having issue by the last.
  2. John, born during the voyage from England to Canada in 1822; met his death by drowning in the Lachine river at the age of nine years.
  3. Elizabeth, the firstborn in Canada, in 1823, died February, 1878; she married Mark Mold, of Rensselaer, New York. Mark Mold was a noted market and truck gardener of Rensselaer, who had one of the most beautiful and fertile market garden farms in the whole section. Their children were:
    1. Horatio D., of New York City, now deceased.
    2. Louisa, married Dr. H. C. Miller, of Rensselaer, and has a daughter, Helen Miller.
    3. William Pratt, married and left three children.
    4. Frederick, of Rensselaer.
    5. Frank, a truck grower of Rensselaer. Mark Mold by a second marriage had sons Robert and Lawrence.
  4. James A., born 1827, died in Brooklyn, New York, in 1903. He married in Schenectady, which was his home for many years, Alice Lapham, who survives him, a resident of New York City, and has children: Helen, William and Robert, all married; Emma and Delevan, unmarried; two children died in youth. James A. Pratt was connected for many years with the New York Central Railroad. He was the inventor of several patents pertaining to railroads, the best known being a water crane for filling the tanks of locomotives.
  5. Mary, born 1830, married Aaron Van Guysling, an engineer, now living retired in California. Children:
    1. Willam, died young.
    2. Walter F., married.
    3. Anna, deceased.
    4. Bertha, unmarried.
    5. Myndert, married.
    6. George, unmarried.
    7. Archibald, married.
  6. John (2), born 1832, killed in 1857. He was an engineer on the New York Central Railroad; married Margaret Wolfe, and had a son Frank, a machinist, who married and has children: Harry, Viola and Charlotte.
  7. Harriet, born 1834, died May 1, 1900; married John H. Adams, also deceased. Children:
    1. William.
    2. George, died young.
    3. Minnie.
    4. Jessie.
    5. Mary.
    6. Hattie.
    7. Harry.
    8. Frank.
    9. The sons and one daughter, Minnie, are married.
  8. Joseph H., born 1837, of Watervliet, New York. He was for forty years a marine engineer and steamboat captain. He married Mary Rosecrans, and has:
    1. Ada, married.
    2. Captain William, steamboat owner and captain, of Brooklyn, New York; married and has two sons.
    3. Mary, married and has one son.
    4. Grace, unmarried.
    5. Henry, married and has two daughters.
    6. Joseph, unmarried.
  9. Henry C., see forward.

(III) Henry Coombe, youngest son and child of William Thomas and Mary A. (Hodges) Pratt, and their only child of United States birth, was born in Brandon, Vermont, in 1840. The family residing at Watervliet and Schenectady during his youth, he was educated in the schools of those cities. He was early attracted by life on the river, and beginning at the lowest round of service, by successive promotion he reached the top, requiring a special permit to hold a captain's license before he was twenty-one years of age. He is the oldest commissioned captain on the Hudson river, although he is practically retired. He has filled all grades of river service from the least to the highest and for many years was master of the steamer "Oswego," of the Cornell Line. He invested his earnings ins tugs and steamboats, becoming the owner of several of the former. He has been a successful man and has earned his years of retirement. He is a member of the Episcopal church, the Masonic order, and is a supporter of Democratic principles. He married, January 5, 1863, in St. George's Episcopal Church, Marcella E. Soles, born in Schenectady, July 22, 1844, educated in the Union School, where she was among the first students graduated. She is a daughter of Benjamin and Maria (Fuller) Soles, both natives of New York state. Benjamin Soles, born in Fonda, 1817, died in Schenectady, September 13, 1864, son of Joseph Soles, a native of France; came to the United States when a young man; married Catherine Veeder of Montgomery county, and both lived to be considered old residents of the Mohawk Valley. Maria (Fuller) Soles died November 29, 1847, at the age of twenty-nine years, leaving an only child, Marcella, who married Captain Henry C. Pratt. They have no children.

Benjamin Soles married, July 10, 1849, for his second wife, Harriett G. Fuller, a half-sister of his first wife, and had issue, one child, Alice Fuller Soles, unmarried. Harriet G. (Fuller) Soles died July, 1865.

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