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James L. Pratt


Posted By: Lyn Lysne - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 9/23/2013 at 17:56:23

JAMES L. PRATT, editor and publisher of the Elkton Record, at Elkton, Brookings county, is one of the able and popular newspaper men of the state and has made his paper a potent factor in local politics and an effective exponent of the interests of the section in which it is published. Mr. Pratt was born in Allamakee county, Iowa, on the 13th of September, 1856, and is the son of Azel and Mary (Hersey) Pratt, both of whom were born and reared in the state of Maine, whence they came west to Iowa in 1848, becoming pioneers of Allamakee county, where the father of our subject purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he improved and sold, moving to Waukon, the county seat, where he lived until his death, which occurred in 1881. He was a carpenter by trade and continued to work at the same to a greater or less extent after his removal to Iowa, where his services in the line were in much demand in the early days. He built the first house in the village of Waukon, Allamakee county, said village having been named in honor of a prominent Indian chief. He was a man of prominence and influence in his township and county, and held various township offices. He was an expert player of the snare drum, and in the time of the Civil war he used his abilities in this line most effectively in connection with the organizing of various companies, being past the age of service at the time. He was a most devoted member of the Baptist church, in which he served as deacon for many years, and his wife also exemplified the same faith in her beautiful and gracious character, her death occurring in 1881. They became the parents of seven children, concerning whom we offer the following brief record: William C. died in infancy; Noah H. is a resident of Waukon, Iowa, and is a carpenter and builder by vocation; Marellus H., who was a wheelwright by trade, died in Spokane, Washington, in 1892; Richmond G. died in Sheldon, Iowa, in 1890; Emery W. is a carpenter and builder of Waukon, Iowa; Ella is the wife of Altheras J. Rogers, of Chicago; and James L. is the immediate subject of this sketch.

James L. Pratt was reared to maturity in his native county and received his early education in the public schools of Waukon, where he continued his studies until he had attained the age of sixteen years. During his boyhood days he worked with his father at the carpenter trade during his vacations, receiving one cent a day in recompense for his services, while with increasing years and ability he continued to secure larger wages, until he finally commanded three and one-half dollars a day.

Upon leaving school, at the age of sixteen, he entered upon an apprenticeship at the printers’ trade, at Postville, Iowa, serving six months in the dignified and autocratic office of “printer’s devil,” and there gaining in due time a comprehensive knowledge of the “art preservative of all arts.” At the age of seventeen he became foreman in the office of the Waukon Standard, retaining this position four years, after which he had charge of the Waukon Democrat for an equal length of time. Thereafter he was for a time employed at the carpenter trade, and in 1882 he was called to accept a position on the Pipestone Republican, in Pipestone, Minnesota, where he remained about two years.

In 1885 he came to South Dakota and took charge of the Elkton Record, of which he is now editor and publisher and which he has made a most successful publication. At the time he assumed control the business was at the lowest possible ebb, the town being small and the paper eking out a precarious existence, but by good management and thorough technical ability he has gained to the paper the reputation of being one of the best local papers in the state, while he has a well-equipped job department, control a satisfactory advertising patronage and has built up a gratifying circulation. The paper is Republication in polities and thus voices the sentiments of Mr. Pratt, who is a vigorous and forceful writer.

He has been village clerk of Elkton for the past twenty years, and is at the present time justice of the peace for the town and county. He is one of the leaders in the political affairs of the county and is prominent in the councils of his party in the state. Fraternally he is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Modern Brotherhood of America, the Knights of the Maccabees and other social and beneficiary organizations. He and his family are members of the Baptist church, and he is one of the most influential workers in the church in his home town, taking an active part in forwarding it spiritual and temporal interests. He is one of the popular citizens of the village and county and commands unqualified esteem, while his aid and influence are ever cast in favor of all objects and enterprises tending to conserve the general welfare. He is also manager and drum major of the Woodmen band of Elkton, one of the best bands in the state.

On the 1st of March 1880, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Pratt to Miss Edith F. Wedgwood, of Rossville, Iowa. She was born in the state of Iowa and is a daughter of the late Rev. John M. Wedgwood, a prominent member of the clergy of the Baptist church.

Mr. and Mrs. Pratt have six children, concerning whom we enter the following brief record: Ada M., who was graduated in the Elkton high school and in the Cedar Falls Seminary, at Osage, Iowa, and the State Normal at Winona, Minnesota. She is a successful and popular teacher, and was assistant principal in the Elkton high school at the time of this writing; Jesse L., who was graduated in the Elkton high school and the seminary at Osage, Iowa, and also in the Commercial Business College at Mankato, Minnesota, is now employed as bookkeeper in the office of the Hays-Lucas Lumber Company at Watertown, South Dakota; Vern and Vera, twins, and Gladys are students in the home high school; Ruth is the youngest, not yet of school age.

~source: “History of South Dakota, Together with Personal Mention of Citizens of South Dakota”, by Deane Robinson, Vol 2, 1904; pgs 1520-1522

~transcribed by Lyn Lysne for Allamakee co. IAGenWeb


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