Here is the story of my great-grandfather William Bond Pratt: I never heard or read of him except as Wiiliam Bond or W.B., never just William or Will, certainly not Bill.
Genealogical facts: William Bond Pratt, born 7 May 1824 in Rutland, Vermont. Died 26 Jan 1904 in Hagar Township, Berrien County, Michigan. Oldest child of Asa Pratt Jr and Alpha Bartlett. Married to Elizabeth King, daughter of John King and______Morris (born 21 March 1830) in Philadelphia 1 Oct 1850. They had seven children. Four were born in Philadelphia; Warren (1851), Horace (1853), Laura (1856) and Wilmer (1858). Three more were born in Niles; Oscar and Orson (1860), and Adelbert (1864). Elizabeth died in Hagar Township 28 Jan 1899. Both are buried in Hagar's Lakeshore Cemetery.
This account is from "Glimpses of the Past", a 1992 publication of the North Berrien Historical Society ."William Bond Pratt was born among the Green Mountains in the state of Vermont. He had removed to New York, then Philadelphia when nineteen years of age and there he learned the carpenter's trade which he followed for a time, eventually becoming a contractor. He built many houses in Germantown and had an interest in a lumber mill in South Carolina. Failing health, however caused him to seek a change and in 1860 went to Omaha but moved again to Michigan in order to have the benefit of the bracing climate occasioned by the proximity of Lake Michigan."
Pearl Pratt, daughter of Oscar Pratt and grand-daughter of William Bond wrote me a letter in 1963. Here are some of my notes from her version of the migration to Michigan: Left Philadelphia during a depression to join a brother in California (Ithamer Pratt). Learned he had died when they were in Kansas. They returned to Chicago and then to Niles where Oscar and Orson and Adelbert were born. Moved to Riverside about 1866.
Pearl said Elizabeth King spent her early life in Lancaster, Penslyvania. Pearl always took it for granted that she was born there. She wasn't. Elizabeth was born in Germantown, a part of Philadelphia. Her father, John King, was born in Germany. He is our only progenitor of German extraction so far as I know. Her mother, whose first name I have yet to discover, was born in Wales.
Back to "Glimpses": "Making his way to Benton Township, he purchased 120 acres of land but in order to be still closer to the lake he purchased 20 acres on the bluff and his summers were mostly spent on the lakeshore. He continued to engage in building and contracting for some time, meeting with an accident which pevented him from engaging in building. He however, devloped a farm of 80 acres and made a first class home, where he lived until his death, which occured on the 21st of January, 1904, when he was eighty-two years of age. The doctors of Philadelphia said he could not live if he remained in that city and he came to the middle west and was greatly benefited by the change of climate and lived to a ripe and useful old age. He was active in public affairs and the cause of education found in him a warm friend, who did effective service for the general public as a school official. He served as a member of the school board for his district for forty years,* or until about eighty years of age. During the last five years of his life he was totaly blind."
* His two daughters-in-law, Nellie and Abigail Bartram, were both teachers in that district.
I have told you the story in "Privy Trivia" about how he navigated to the outhouse out back and the mailbox out front by hooking his cane over a wire.
Continuing from "Glimpses: " He survived his wife by only three years, her death occuring when she was about seventy-four years of age. They had traveled life's jouney together as man and wife for a half century..." Despite out-living two of their children that's certainly a happier life story than his parents' with Asa dying at 41 and Alpha dying in an asylum. The children who pre-deceased them were Warren, who drowned in the Paw Paw River on the 4th of July 1869 at age 17, and Laura who died at eight months..
Here is Elizabeth's obituary in "The Dailey Palladium" 30 jan 1899:
Death of Mrs. Pratt
Mrs. W.B.Pratt, of Riverside, died at her home Saturday night at 9:30 o'clock after a long illness of diabetes. Mrs. Pratt was well known and she leaves a husband, who is blind, also five sons. Deceased was seventy years old. The funeral was held from the house this afternoon, Rev. Mr. Woods officiating.
Notice that they didn't mention her first name. I find that to be usual in old documents.
Here is a letter Elizabeth wrote to her son Wilmer on May 23, 1876:
My Dear son how much I would like to see you, we are having a pleasant time the weather is very hot, we had a pleasant journey Arrived in Philadelphia safelly friday afternoon we went to church yesterday thare was a good meney knew me took tea at Uncle Alberts had fresh strawberreys fresh tomatoes there is watermelons in Market did you go home Sunday how does the boys get a long I hope you are allwell I must close tea is ready, well we have had our Supper and a thunder Shower it is 7 O clock we intend to go out this evening if it stops raining. in time delie (?) think he would not like to live here he says their is so much stile, we have not bin to the exposition yet we will goe in a few days
if you want me to enjoy myself you must answer this right away direct to 59 hains St 22 ward Philadelphia Pa
I pray God to protect you from all dangers seen and unseen did you go to meetings last Sunday Aunt Anie sends her love to you
my love to all my boys
for my boys sake I will be glad when the time comes to come home
delie (?) say till Will not to get married until he comes home
She was visiting the King family during the Centennial Exposition.
Horace died just five years after his father. I never knew Oscar (d ?) or Orson who died in 1928 but I knew "Uncle Del" quite well. He and "Aunt Anna" lived on a little place north of Watervliet near the Bowe Farm Orchard. They had a daughter Rachel who married into the Feather family of the Hinchman area in Berrien County. Bob Feather, one of her sons, was one of my high school teachers. One of my indelible childhood memories involved Uncle Del, or I should say Uncle Del's body. I was 11 when he died. Uncle Del was laid out in the parlor of their house. For some reason that I still do not understand, I was assigned the the duty of staying with Uncle Del while all the family went to a church service (like he's going to get up and leave or something?). Anyway, I was one spooked kid by the time they returned, but I never admitted it to anyone.