Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John B. and Nancy M. Pratt to Walt Whitman, 15 March 1870

Date: March 15, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00128

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Stephanie Blalock, and Jeff Hill

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John B Pratt
Wayne Co,
March 15th 1870

Respected Friend

W. Whitman Permit me to write to you though a stranger by sight though a much Respected friend of myself and wife for the Many great Kinesses shown to us by attending to and writing to us about our Son Alfred when in the great Army hostipittal at Washington and for your many kind letters since. Alfred and his wife Ellen (for he was married to Ellen A. Phelps1 of the Town of Walworth on the 19th of Aug 1868 and I suposed he had written the same to you untill I saw your letter2 the one befor you sent those pictures in) started from here on the 25 day of Jan to go to Kansas. we have had a letter from them stating they liked the country very much and had located in the Town of Douglass, Butler, Co, Kansas they also sent me a few speers of this seasons groth of grass which measured a bout one foot tall he has his house ready to move into has a claim of 160 acres3 and in a fare way to grow up with the country. Charles my younger boy and all the child we have left lives at home with us though it seems somewhat lonesome since Alfred and wife has gone. we have had a very mild Season till a bout 3 or 4 weeks past it has snowed blowed and stormed most all the while the is very deep and badly drifted very bad getting around at any rate. We are all well and hope these lines may find you the same we are very anxious that you will not for get us and keep up a corispondence and if posible to see you some time and get better acquainted. I have Alfred and Ellens picture and will send it in this letter and Alfred let his Mother have that large picture of you for a Keep Sake we venture to send ours to you I dont think of much that I think would bee of interest to you so I will close

Yours Truly
JB and NM Pratt

John B. Pratt (1820–1906), a cooper and laborer in the wood products industry, and Nancy Pratt (1826–1912) were the parents of Alfred E. Pratt (1847–1900). Alfred Pratt was a farmer and a Union soldier; he served as a private in the 8th Regiment, New York Cavalry during the U. S. Civil War and was recovering from an illness when he met Whitman at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D. C. Whitman communicated with Pratt's parents about their son's condition. Additional information about Pratt is contained in this letter and those of June 10, 1865, August 6, 1865, August 7, 1865, August 26, 1865, September 27, 1866, January 29, 1867, July 25, 1867, September 29, 1867, October 28, 1867, July 1, 1869, January 14, 1870, and January 20, 1870.


1. Little is known about Ellen A. Phelps, of Walworth, New York, who married Alfred Pratt in 1868. [back]

2. It is uncertain which letter is being referred to here. [back]

3. Signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, the first Homestead Act granted 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River to any applicant who could improve the land and file for a deed of title. [back]


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