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Pratt Family Papers

An inventory of their papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Pratt family
Title: Pratt Family Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1821-1868
Quantity: .25 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of three members of a New York State family: Jonathan Pratt of Rushville, New York; his son, Dr. Jonathan Pratt, Jr.; Dr. Pratt's son Andrew Smith Pratt. Dr. Pratt resided in Hopewell, New York. Letters comment on issues of the period from 1821 to 1868 and family news about friends and relatives.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Jonathan Pratt came to Gorham Township in New York State between 1800 and 1810. The Federal Census of 1810 showed six members in his household at that time; by 1820 this had increased to ten. One brother, Elisha Pratt, lived nearby and was one of the first hunters and teachers in that area; another brother, James, was a doctor in Madison County, New York.

Jonathan Pratt, Jr. suffered ill health in his early years. He became a doctor after studying with relatives in Madison County and in Pawlet, Vermont. Dr. Pratt's first wife was Julia Ann Smith, daughter of Andrew and Rebecca Smith, with whom he had two children, Andrew and Eugene. After Julia's death the two children were raised by an elderly aunt and uncle. Dr. Pratt's second wife was Minerva Webb; the census of 1850 listed their two children as Charles Carlton and Cornelia. Only Carlton outlived his father and mother.

Dr. Jonathan Pratt tried several lines of work, including merchant and postmaster, with little success; his time as a postmaster was marked with political unrest. However, he did well as a physician and as a farmer.

Andrew Smith Pratt attended Lima Seminary and traveled as a lecturer on the Lyceum circuit. His brother Eugene worked for a gunpowder company in Xenia, Ohio and traveled extensively.

Dr. Jonathan Pratt's brother Amos moved out west; his two sisters Mary and Julia never married.

An abbreviated Pratt family tree appears at the end of this finding aid.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

Biographical material consists of notes, photocopies, and other material about the Pratt family. This material was gathered by University staff while processing the collection.

Correspondence (1821-1863) spans three generations of the Pratt family. The letters of Jonathan Pratt, the elder, mention prominent persons and early settlers of the Phelps and Gorham purchase.

The letters from Amos Pratt tell about the relentless urge to move westward, and outline his various attempts at business from harness making to running a tavern. His nephew Eugene Pratt often wrote to urge his brother Andrew Pratt to join him on the road selling gunpowder.

In 1841 Jonathan Pratt, Jr. ran for postmaster of Rushville. There are numerous copies of letters drafted but never sent to Francis Granger, the postmaster General. When Harrison died after one month as President many political appointments were reassigned to members of John Tyler's party. Jonathan's letters are drafted to both the old and new postmaster generals.

Memorabilia consists of a photocopy of Jonathan Pratt, Jr.'s journal of an 1833 trip to Florida. The original resides in the Canandaigua Historical Society. A personal note written at the bottom by a cousin, Candice Birdseye Hobart, gives information about Pratt's second wife and surviving son Carlton, and mentions that few family records are left because the family home burned to the ground

The Andrew Smith Pratt papers consist of clippings, drafts of school compositions, copies of Lyceum speeches (for example, concerning William Morgan and in defense of the Anti-Masonic Party), and a few legal documents concerning Andrew's estate.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Pratt family.
Pratt, Andrew Smith.
Pratt, Eugene A.
Pratt, Jonathan, Jr.
Pratt, Jonathan.


New York (State) -- Social life and customs.
Physicians -- New York (State)


Hopewell Junction (N.Y.) -- History.
Rushville (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Letters (correspondence)
Speeches (documents)
Travel diaries.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Pratt Family Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Transferred from Gerrit Smith Papers.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: JAB
Date: 1985
Revision history: Jul 2009 - converted to EAD (MRC)

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Biographical material
Box 1 Researcher's file - material gathered by Syracuse University Library staff while processing collection
Box 1 1821-1824, 1826-1842, 1850-1869 - 1842 folder includes business agreement of Jonathan Pratt, Jr. (11 folders)
Box 1 Journal of trip to Florida, Jonathan Pratt, Jr. 1833 - photocopy
Andrew Smith Pratt Papers
Box 1 Legal papers - regarding Andrew's estate
Box 1 Papers, miscellaneous (3 folders)
Box 1 School papers (3 folders)
Box 1 Unsigned letters and clippings

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