The Pratt family was instrumental in settling the young St. Louis Park, and Park’s first school was named after them. These are a few of the Pratts of St. Louis Park:
James Pratt was born in 1794, and his wife Sarah Spearin in 1798. They married in 1817. They moved from Maine to the Midway district of St. Paul in 1850, and by 1860 they were living in St. Louis Park. Their children were:
1. David Spearin Pratt
David was born in 1820. His wife Rebecca was born in 1826 Their children were:
- Delphine B., born 1849
- Isabelle A., born 1851
- Hammond Kossuth, born 1853
In 1854 David was deeded 120 acres of land from the Federal Government that encompassed both sides of France Avenue, bounded by present-day Randall Ave. on the north and 38th Street on the south. This plot included both sides of Excelsior Blvd. between Joppa and into Minneapolis. Pratt seemingly sold the land to H.B. and Sarah Wright in 1858.
Rebecca and died before 1860. When Pratt died in 1864 his land reverted to his estate, the proceeds to be sold and distributed to his children. Executors were brothers Miles G. Pratt, Nelson J. Pratt, and neighbor Alonzo Sawtell. The land was sold to Christopher Hanke for $1,500 in 1864. In 1865 the Census shows the children living with their grandparents, James and Sarah.
2. Miles G. Pratt
Miles was born in 1821 and married Ruth Nye in 1847. Their children were:
- Clara E.
- Charles L.
- Albert A.
- George A.
- Ady B.
For some reason, at age 42, with the Civil War in its third year, Miles enlisted in the 1st Regiment Minnesota Infantry on March 30, 1864, for a bounty of $60. Whether he made it to battle is unknown to us – he died on April 23, 1864. Ruth is shown living in St. Louis Park in 1865.
Although Hopkins has taken on the raspberry as its symbol, it turns out that the origin of this cash crop came from St. Louis Park – specifically from George Pratt. The following is an excerpt from a memoir kindly provided by the Hopkins Historical Society:
In the spring of 1879-1880 Joe and John Empanger went to Minneapolis with their supply of eggs and butter which they had to sell. On their way home [along Excelsior Road] they stopped to visit with George Pratt while they rested their oxen. the Pratt farm was located where Engel’s Dairy and Sandpit in St. Louis Park is now. Naturally the conversation turned to the condition of the markets and the prices of farm produce.
After prices had been discussed, Mr. Pratt laughed and said, “I have something that will bring twice that much.” When Joe and John asked what that could be, they were shown a small patch of Philadelphia raspberries. Mr. Pratt gave them some plants which they planted on their farm. At about this same time or a little later, Mr. Jackson, who was also an early experimenter, had a patch of Turner raspberries.
From this modest beginning, the neighbors began to establish plantings on their farms. The farmers experimented with these plantings. Usually the berries were tied in the hill and it was found that the canes were so high that they were whipped and damaged by the wind. The next step for John Empanger and his father was to go to the nearby tamarack swamps and find stakes to which they tied their berries. Joseph Smetana and John Feltl also adopted this idea. Here was the beginning of a practice which is now accepted as standard.
3. Nelson J. Pratt
Nelson was born in 1829 and married to Lydia. Their children were:
- Cora E., born 1856
- Irene, born 1865
4. Martin Van Buren Pratt
Martin Van Buren Pratt was born in Clinton, Maine on November 10, 1833, and moved to the Midway district of St. Paul with his parents James and Sarah at age 17. Pratt began buying land in Section 6 as early as 1855. Most of the 240 acres later became the Belt Line Industrial Park. He married Harriet Hawkes (born 1842 in England), who had come to Hennepin County as a child, on May 15, 1858 – described as the first “authentic” marriage in the township. Living for a time on a farm in Richfield and in Colorado, in 1860 they settled on 210 acres in Section 6, with a farmhouse on Excelsior Road. Pratt was a member of Brackett’s Battalion during the Civil War, serving from December 11, 1861, to October 28, 1864. He was a member of the Patriotic Order Sons of America.
Martin and Harriet had four children:
- Amy, born 1868
- Frank, born 1871
- Abbie, born 1874
- Lillian “Lillie,” born 1879
MVB Pratt died on March 19, 1891.
There were two Job Pratts. One may be the son of the other, but online Census records don’t go back that far.
Job Pratt was born in 1800 in Maine. Job married Mary Chesley, who died while they were still in Maine.
Job and Mary’s children were:
- Olivia Pratt, who married Joseph Hamilton. Olivia gave birth to son Chesley on November 24, 1857 – perhaps the first white child born in the area that would become St. Louis Park. Chesley’s marriage to Rebecca Hunter on October 17, 1888 in Union Church was also said to be the first in the incorporated village. Olivia died in April 1864.
- Jay Pratt, born 1841. Served in the Cavalry in the Civil War.
- James Pratt, born 1844. Served in Company D, 6th Regiment (presumably 1st Minnesota) in the Civil War.
- Chesley Pratt, born 1837 – Served in Company D, 6th Regiment (presumably 1st Minnesota) in the Civil War.
The family moved to St. Louis Park in 1855, filing for a 45-acre lot in section 21 on September 7. He apparently had a second wife Polly, who was said to be the “first to be taken to her long home,” passing away in 1856 or ’57. Job married Ann (born 1813), as indicated in the 1860 Census. In 1865 the household included Job and Ann, Jay and James, Job’s son-in-law Joseph Hamilton, his new wife, son, and wife’s siblings. By 1870 Job had moved to Minneapolis. He died in 1879.
Job J. Pratt was born in Maine in 1830. He married Missouri “Rose” on November 21, 1852. Rose was born in Illinois in 1836 and died in 1915. Job Pratt served in the 1st Battalion of the Minnesota Infantry, mustered in March 1, 1864 and mustered out July 14, 1865. Job and Rose’s children were:
- Mary Caroline, born 1853
- Rose Ellen, born 1856
- John F., born 1859
- Ida Florence, born 1859
- Emeline Loana “Emma,” born 1864
In 1857 they were listed on the Census as living at the “Old Military Reserve.”
Standing: Rose, Emma, & Ida Pratt ( daughters of Job & Missouri (Rose) Pratt). Sitting: Manley ( perhaps a nephew of Job), Job & Missouri. 14×11 picture at the Hennepin County Historical Society. Donor: Edith Morton
The family was in St. Louis Park in 1865. Job J. died on November 16, 1897 at the age of 67. By 1900 mother Missouri and daughter Ida were living together in Minneapolis.
An 1881 directory lists an R. L. Pratt with 40 acres in Section 17 (site of the future Creosote Plant and environs). This is probably Rufus/Ruphus L. Pratt, who farmed with Stephen (below) going back to 1857. In 1870 Rufus was a dairyman in Minneapolis Township, which could have been St. Louis Park. He was born in 1831 in Maine, and his parents were both born in Maine as well. In 1869 he married Lydia A. “Annie” who was born in 1849. Their children were:
- Rufus Irving, born in 1872. In 1895 he was a law student.
- Alvah B, born in 1873
- Ann, born in 1875
- Bertha Maud, born in 1877
By 1895 they were living at 2700 Plymouth Ave. in Minneapolis and his occupation was listed as real estate.
Stephen Pratt is listed in the 1881 directory in Section 17 but with no acreage. The 1880 census reveals that he was born in Maine in 1828 and his wife’s name was Jennie M. Curtis. They had a son Herrick C., born in 1861. Stephen enlisted in the Minnesota Cavalry Mounted Rangers on October 9, 1862, listing his home town as Industriana, which was part of Brooklyn Township. He was mustered out as a Corporal on October 20, 1863. He died on March 14, 1886 in Minneapolis.