Martin Pritchard


Martin Pritchard was born in Pittsfield, Washtenaw County, Michigan October 29, 1835 where he resided until 1855, when he came to Iowa arriving at Belmond in October. The following winter he came to Alden and commenced the blacksmithing business, the first in the town. In August 1856 he returned to Belmond, at which place the mother and other members of the family had arrived, built a house, and returned to Alden in the early winter and taught the first term of school here in the winter of 1856 and 1857. The family removed in Alden to May 1857 since which time he has been a resident of the town.

He was married to Sophia M. Alden, daughter of the proprietor of the town in 1859. To this union several children were born, only one of which survives, viz, Mrs. James Blakeslee of Sioux City. In April 1862 he, in company with a brother, crossed the plains to Colorado remaining until November following. Early the following year he resumed the blacksmithing business which he carried on successfully for seven or eight years. In 1870 he, in company with his brother C. D. Pritchard, commenced the mercantile business in the store building adjoining the present post office. The firm prospered and the business was continued for about 10 years. Martin was elected member of the board of County Supervisors in 1867 holding the office for three years. He was appointed postmaster of Alden in 1870 continuing in the office for about seven years. The first marriage was broken up by the death of Mrs. Sophia Pritchard in April 1882. In December of the year 1886 he was married to Mis Lucy Massey. One son, Sanford, is the fruit of that marriage. Mr. Pritchard served as mayor of Alden two consecutive terms during which time the present system of waterworks was installed.

Since 1870, except a few brief intervals, Mr. Pritchard was been engaged in mercantile business. In politics he has always been a Republican casting his first vote for John C. Fremont for president in 1856 and still holds to the faith.

In his early manhood Mr. Pritchard filled the position, with considerable success, of an all-around athlete, and many of our residents still recall incidents which were of such small account in themselves that he has quite forgotten them. On one occasion, for instance, an eight year old boy rolled up his pants and undertook to wade the river from the north shore to a point near where the Charlie Tangler home is now situated, in order that be might be nearer and study the operation of some men who were quarrying rock for a lime kiln. But the river was too deep and too swift-so swift in fact that the youngster remembers his rescuer landed with him a good many rods down stream and both were considerably wet. There is no questioning the reality of the gratitude felt by the wader, even though no particular public expression of it has every been made--until now. On another occasion a young daughter of the leading hotel keeper fell into the river below the dam at a point where the water was twelve feet deep. The fact that she remained to grace one of our best homes, as wife and mother, was due to the promptness of the same skillful swimmer. The tragic death of Charlie Meyers, at nearly the same place, was due to Mr. Pritchard's inability to locate the body until the seventh dive, which of course, were made in quick succession. When the Illinois Cenral railroad was being built through the township an incident occured which left Mr. Pritchard an invalid for many months. A gang of workmen came to town on Sunday, went to the saloon, and soon became drunken and quarrelsome. Mr. Avery and other requested Mr. Pritchard to go to the saloon and endeavor to quell the riot. In attempting to do so, he was beset by a dozen or more temporary lunatics who kicked and pounded him into insensibility and left him for dead. His injuries were so severe that recovery was considered doubtful for a long time.