Col. Oscar E. Pratt, M.D.

Physician & Civil War Officer

Ontario NY, Webster NY

COL. OSCAR E. PRATT, M.D. The gentleman, the salient points of whose life history we shall endeavor to give below, is one of the most prominent physicians in Ypsilanti, and his experience in this way in civil life has been supplemented by the crucial one of witnessing death and the most terrible of wounds while in the late war, in which he was a brave and honored soldier. As a gentleman Dr. Pratt commends himself most pleasantly to those with whom he comes in contact. He is a man of great force of character and one whose very presence would soothe a nervous and weakened patient. He is well read and informed, not only as regards his profession, but in the current topics of the day.

Dr. Pratt was born in Ontario Township, Wayne County, N. Y., December 17, 1838. He is the son of Alva Pratt, a sturdy pioneer of Western New York, who was born in Whateley, Mass., in 1796. Our subject's grandfather was an early settler in Wayne County, N. Y., where he engaged in farming, but died soon after locating there, in 1806. [Note: year date is as stated in bio] He was in the War of 1812. He belonged to a good old English family, representatives of whom emigrated to this country during early Colonial days. Our subject's father also pursued the agricultural calling for many years. He was a most capable and upright business man, of superior intellectual attainments, being thoroughly educated and well read. He was the owner of two farms, comprising over three hundred acres, in New York. Later he removed to Monroe County. In 1867 he retired from active business life, locating in the village of Webster, N.Y., and in 1872 he died. Prior to the war he was an Abolitionist of pronounced ideas and an ardent Republican. He was among the patriots who assisted in the underground railroad and aided runaway slaves to escape to Canada. He belonged to the Free Will Baptist Church and was one of the pillars of that denomination.

Our subject's mother was in her girlhood a Miss Ann Peck. She was a native of New Haven, Conn., and was born in 1799, a daughter of Chester and Priscilla Peck. The former was a mechanic, his special branch being that of a carpenter and builder. He was a skilled workman of the old-fashioned, thorough type. He early removed to New York State and there settled. Ann Peck was a well-educated lady, previous to her marriage having been a teacher and a woman of more than ordinary literary ability. She is now past ninety-two years of age and is strong and robust and resides at the present time in Webster, N. Y. She is a large-hearted and public-spirited woman, having been associated most actively for many years with benevolent and literary societies. She is an active member of the Presbyterian Church.

The original of our sketch is one of ten children who were born to his parents and the youngest of the family. Nine of them lived to reach years of maturity and three survive to the present time. They are Chester S., Almond J. and Oscar E., of whom this sketch is written. Chester S. is a farmer residing in Berrien County, Mich.; Almond J. served in the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth New York Regiment and was a Captain of the United States Colored Troops, and is now a retired merchant in Webster, N. Y.

Oscar E. Pratt was reared on the home farm until seventeen years of age and during that time he received the advantages to be obtained at the public schools of the locality, after which he attended various schools in Wayne and Monroe Counties, N. Y. He studied the classics at Macedon Academy and at the age of eighteen began teaching during the winter, his first school being in Michigan. He came to Galesburg, this State, in 1856, and taught for one term near that town. He served an apprenticeship as pharmacist with Dr. I. J. Babcock and also began reading medicine with him. He later concluded that his education was not complete enough to pursue his profession successfully, and therefore he returned to New York State and pursued his studies in Webster and Macedon Academies, after which he taught school several terms.

In 1861 our subject resumed his medical studies, reading with Dr. J. D. Dunning, of Webster, N. Y., and remaining with him until 1862, when he enlisted in the war, joining Company C, Fourth New York Heavy Artillery. He was mustered in at Rochester, N. Y., August 13, 1862, and was immediately sent to the front in the South, most of his service as an enlisted man being in Virginia. The fall of 1862 and the following spring were spent around the capital, upon which the Union soldiers were anticipating an attack. They also made many raiding excursions in the vicinity. In 1863 our subject was commissioned Captain of the Seventh United States Colored Troops by Secretary of War Stanton. He served with his regiment in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida until July, 1864, when he was ordered to join the Army of the Potomac, and participated in the hotly contested battles around Richmond and Petersburg during the fall and winter campaigns of 1864 and the spring of 1865, and was an active participant in the closing scenes of the drama at Appomattox Court House. While in Virginia he received his commission as Major and later was advanced to the position of Lieutenant-Colonel, and then was breveted Colonel in recognition of his gallant and meritorious services in the field. He had in no wise sought or solicited the honor, hence it was doubly a compliment. He commanded his regiment in this capacity for one and a half years. After closing camp at City Point he with his regiment was ordered to Texas to look after the rebel General Kirby Smith. They were transported to Indianola and remained there until October, 1866, when they were mustered out. For several months preceding his muster out he held the trying and delicate position of Chief of the Freemen's Bureau at Austin, Texas, and was very successful in adjusting the difficult issues which arose between the ex-slaves and their old masters.

Leaving his command at Indianola, our subject went home, going by rail to Rochester, via Washington. Although he escaped being wounded, he had many narrow calls, having had bullets shot through his hats and clothing. A close student of military tactics, our subject took the utmost pride in drilling his command and was repaid for his labor by the reputation which it acquired of being the best drilled regiment in the brigade. After returning home he engaged in the drug business at Webster, N. Y., for a few years and then resumed the study of medicine under his old preceptor, Dr. Dunning, and practiced to some extent at his home. In 1874 he sold out his business and entered the Medical College at Buffalo, which is of the regular school. After spending one year there he entered the Cleveland Homoeopathic College, from which he was graduated in 1876.

Having with great patience and persistence acquired the degree of M. D., our subject returned to his home in Webster and practiced until 1876 there and at Amsterdam, N. Y., when he removed to Oneonta, N. Y., where he had nine years of successful practice, and thence removed to Chicago, locating at 796 W. Madison Street. After a year's successful practice he was obliged to leave the city on account of continued sickness in his family, and in the spring of 1886 he located in Ypsilanti, where since that time he has built up a large and lucrative practice. Our subject's interest and associations have been for a long time almost exclusively those of the medical profession.

Dr. Pratt foreswore his state of single blessedness in Webster, N. Y., and August 25, 1864, was married to Miss Amelia Holley, who was born in the same place. She is a daughter of William Holley, a farmer of that place and a man of sterling qualities, who has attained considerable prominence. Mrs. Pratt was educated in her home school and attended Walworth Academy, and after finishing there was engaged for some time as a teacher. Of six children born to this estimable couple only three are now living. They are William H., Howard E. and Ruby.

Our subject belongs to Carpenter Post, No. 180, G. A. R., and for two years held the position of Post Commander. He and all the members of his family have been connected with the Presbyterian Church and our subject has been Superintendent of the Sunday-school, and for many years has been and still is an elder of that church. Politically he casts the weight of his vote and influence with the Republican party, the first vote having been cast for Abraham Lincoln. He has been delegate to both State and county conventions. As to his profession, he is a member of the Washtenaw County Medical Society, and while in New York was President of the Otsego County Medical Society and Secretary of the Otsego and Chenango Medical Association and also a member of the New York State Medical Society.

Source: Portrait and biographical album of Washtenaw County, Michigan, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1891. Pp. 525-527.

1880 Federal Census, Oneonta, Otsego County, New York
Microfilm No. T9-0916

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
O. E. PRATT, Self, M, Male, W, 41, NY, Physician, NY, NY
Amelia PRATT, Wife, M, Female, W, 38, NY, Keeping House, NY, NY
Willie H. PRATT, Son, S, Male, W, 15, NY, Attending School, NY, NY
Howard PRATT, Son, S, Male, W, 4, NY, At Home, NY, NY
Albert C. HOLLY, Cousin, S, Male, W, 28, NY, Carpenter, NY, NY

Information from the IGI (verify through other sources!)

Oscar Eugene Pratt, born Dec. 17, 1838, Ontario, NY; married Aug. 25, 1864 at Webster NY; died Jul. 20, 1920, location not stated.

Amelia Holly, born Sep. 9, 1841, Webster NY; died Apr. 20, 1932, location not stated.

Information from the LDS Ancestral File (verify through other sources!)

Alva Pratt, born Sep. 27, 1796 Whatley, MA; died Jul. 29, 1873, Webster, NY; son of Aaron Pratt Jr. and Jerusha Smith; married Oct. 18, 1821 to Ann Peck. [Aaron and Jerusha Smith Pratt are buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Pultneyville.]

Ann Peck, born Feb. 17, 1799, New Haven, CT; died Jul. 7, 1894, Webster, NY; daughter of Chester Peck and Priscilla Spery. [Chester and Priscilla Peck are buried in Furnaceville Cemetery, Town of Ontario.]

Another son, Chester Smith Pratt, born Jul. 25, 1832, Ontario, NY; died Mar. 17, 1912, Watervliet, MI.

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