Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories XXV

I am going to serialize all of the article on Henry printed in the Tri-City Record on October 18, 1986. I quoted part of it in a previous message
                                By Silvia Prager
Henry Pratt was born in 1901 in Hagar Township--four miles from Benton Harbor. He is one of Watervliet's older residents having lived on M-140 since 1912. A relative had described him as a historian. He responded, "A historian writes history--I study history or is it simply that I remember a great deal."
Henry is the son of Wilmer and Abigail Pratt. He was one of seven children. He was an apple farmer just as his father before him. The family owned 75 acres and leased 80 acres in Hagar Township. They bought 130 acres in Watervliet Township from the heirs of Sebastion Smith. Sebastion Smith was a pioneer of Watervliet. He owned vast pieces of property in the area. One of Mr. Smiths holdings was all of Pamona Point.
Henry recalled, "My parents also bought a 20-acre apple orchard on Pamona Point. In 1915 a tract of 160 acres was puchased from P.O.Bowe, fronting on both Paw Paw Lake and Paw Paw River." There were 470 acres under cultivation by the Pratt family.
 Wilmer Pratt and two of his sons formed a partnership. One brother farmed, while the other brother worked in Chicago but managed and invested in the farm. These were good times for the Pratt family.
Henry remembered his home full of people. His maternal grandmother lived with them. Ten people lived in the home--it certainly was full.
"Everything was done by hand. Its hard to tell what I did. I got off easy--on a fruit farm there was lots of hired help. All I really did was go to school.
Henry walked 3/4 miles to school. "No such things as busses. They located schools  so there was only 2 miles to walk. Everone felt safe--no traffic--no crime".
He reached into his storehhouse of memories. M 140 was a gravelled township road. It had no name. This farm extended a mile on what is now Dan Smith Road--that road had not been named yet. It also extended 1/8 mile on Hennessey Road."The first pavement we had was in 1920. The paving was 12 feet long and 12 feet wide. If you met another car, you put a pair of wheels on the shoulder."
Next time: More from the Record article.
(emailed July 29)

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