Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pratt Stories - The Bartram Family XIV

While Elaine and I were in East Aurora in 1976 (we also found the graves of some of her New York ancestors on that trip) I tried without success to find out where the Bartrams had lived and the location of the fatal bridge project. Back in Michigan in the good old State Library, as it was called then, I found a copy of the "New Topographical Atlas of Erie County, New York" published in 1866. It was a treasure. On the map of Aurora Township I found the house of "Mrs.Bartram" on what is now called Lapham Road, about 3 miles southeast of the main corners of East Aurora. The next place to the east was identified as "Mrs. Davis". Running nearby is a stream named the East Branch of Cazenovia Creek.
Henry's second wife, Keturah Hogland died probably in 1856. Freelove McIntyre's husband Perry Davis would have died before 1857. In Henry's household there would have been five children, two of Hannah Baird's and three of Keturah's. In Freelove's household there would have been Perry Davis' two children.
It doesn't take much imagination to figure that the widower Henry and the widow Freelove, who lived just down the road, would get together and blend these families by getting married, which they did in 1857. I figure that at that wedding were the Bartram kids, Mary 15, Hannah 13, Burr 4, Flora 3, and Isaac 1; and the Davis kids, Hannah 13 and Mary 10. Henry and Freelove then had two children of their own, our ancestors Nellie, in 1858, and Abigail, in 1861. Henry was killed but three years later. 
He was building a bridge under contract when he was fatally injured. I speculate that it was to span the East Branch of Cazenovia creek at some road crossing nearby, perhaps to replace a ford. His diary for that day says: "It rained this morning but cleared off so that we went to work on the bridge raising the braics (braces?). It was fare untill just at night then it rained a little we get along slo for the want of help". The next day's entry is in a different hand, presumably Freelove's: "He went to the bridge and was hurt in the afternoon" He died that day.
I am not going to give up on the bridge-building accident. His diary entries are difficult to read but usually comment on the weather and describe the day's progress on the bridge. There are mentions of his son Burr, but he would only have been 10 years old so not a helper. I know I am not going to learn any more about the accident but I would like fo figure out where the bridge was and what kind. He uses terms like "bents" and "stringers" which are familiar to me as I was trained as an Army Engineer back in the days when they still taught us how to build wooden bridges. It is interesting to reflect that the Civil War was raging at the time.
In 1867 Freelove removed to Hagar Township with five young children; Flora Adell and Isaac Bartram; Mary Davis, and our ancestors Nellie and Abigail Bartram. Hannah Davis had already come to Berrien County to teach school. She met and married Joseph Dickinson who had the farm on Maple Lane that eventually became the Pratt farm and orchards. Freelove aquired a small place at the corner of Dickinson's land and finished raising the family there. When we had the Pratt reunion in 1989 the old foundation stones were still mostly in place (gone now). Grandma Bartram spent her final years living with the Wilmer Pratt family both in Hagar and Watervliet Township. She died 10 April 1913 aged 88 years, 3 months and 17 days.
Here's a scary thought: If Keturah Hogland and Perry Davis had not died prematurely, there would have been no Bartram sisters for Wilmer Pratt to marry and impregnate. Then where would we all be???
Emailed Oct. 8

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