Sunday, December 21, 2008

The old family place is sold

I have received an Email from Linda that Vince has sold the house and what is left of the old family place to the landfill company located about a mile to the west. This means that the last of the W.M.Pratt & Sons fruit growing properties will be gone when Vince vacates next month. Pratts have been living in that house since 1912, that's 96 years. Vince has been wanting to sell it for years (Linda calls it "that barn of a place" and says it is falling down around his ears). Only six acres are left from what at its peak consisted of 470 acres under cultivation, four orchards and a cottage on Paw Paw Lake. Vince has purchased a home in Coloma.
Here are some excerpts from a 1986 article in the Watervliet Record about Henry to put into context what to me is a sad ending to a long family story, recognizing that to Vince and Linda it is a happy ending.
 "The Pratts bought 130 acres in Watervliet Township from the heirs of Sebastion Smith, a pioneer of Watervliet (1912)...' My  parents also bought a 20-acre apple orchard on Pamona Point (and the cottage on Paw Paw Lake). In 1915 a traict of 160 acres was purchased from P.O.Bowe fronting both Paw Paw Lake and the Paw Paw River.'...Wilmer Pratt and two of his sons formed a partnership. One brother farmed (Charlie) while the other brother worked in Chicago but managed and invested in the farms (Burr).. These were good times for the family. Henry remembered his home full of people..Then tragedy struck the Pratt family. The two bothers who made up the partnership died two months apart, one in October---the other in December during the devastating 1918 influenza epidemic. The Hagar farm was turned over to one widowed daughter-in-law and Wilmer Pratt went into debt to buy out the other daughter-in-law. Henry was 17 when his brothers died...He attended Michigan Agricultural College from 1919-1922. He did not complete his last year because of his father's failing health...Wilmer's health continued to fail. He died in 1926. During the 1920's farming had gone into a slump---then there was the Depression. Land was sold to meet debts. By 1955 Henry had only 28 acres left".
And finally only six acres
(July 22)

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