Eunice Morse Pratt

Documents & Text Courtesy of Karen Chambliss

In 1836 Eunice Morse Pratt, at the age of forty-six, after the death of her husband, Dr. James Pratt, left her home and friends, and once again started the pioneer life; leaving behind the relative comforts of civilization. Hitching a team of horses to a covered wagon, she picked up the lines and started her journey westward to Palmyra, Missouri, taking her family with her; making the entire trip by wagon.

After completing her trip to Missouri Eunice Pratt sent back to her brother Ellis Morse in Eaton, New York the following letter:

October 26
Palmyra Marion Co 1836

Dear brother,

We arrived safe at Palmyra in five weeks and one day from the hour we left home had a very pleasant journey most of the way. We had some difficulty to get through the mud which we should not have had if we had started sooner. When we came to the first bad road we had to walk some and ride some. We found a man with a four horse waggon without a load. We hired him to carry us and our load to Indianapolis 36 mi then we found roads very good until we came to the first prairies in Illinoise here these roads were very good a few roads then a slough so deep it was almost impassible. It was nearly dark and we were nine miles from a tavern. David was sick with the headache. We began to be afraid of being stalled in the sloughs. We soon saw two horsemen a coming towards us one of them rode forward to show us the way. He offered to put in his horse and rive and let David ride our smallest horse which was very tired. We got along very well untill a little after dark. The horses then mired in a slough and after making many unsuccessful attempts to extricate the waggons the horses fell and they had to hold their heads out of the muddy water till they could clear them from the waggon and as a last resort we left our waggon and rode two on a horse near three miles. We then arrived at this young mans house that helped us. We had every attention that poverty joined with kindness could bestow. They went with James in the morning and got the waggon. We hired one of them to go with us with his horses ninety miles. We then came to the stage road which was very good. We did not like Ohio nor Indiana as well as Illinoise the land is good and very handsome but unhealthy. They can raise grain with very little labor. When we arrived Galen was absent. Two Mr. Wrights his wives brethern were a boarding at his house. They received us with as much pleasure as if they were brothers. They took every pains to render us happy, sent to Marion City for Virgil, he arrived in the evening completely overpowered with joy of seeing us he could say no more than oh Mother, Mother God Bless you Mother and so on with his brothers and sisters. With regard to the news respecting my Dear husband there is no doubt of the truth of it, the reason of not receiving the news sooner, there is no mails from that place to this. The crowd of business has prevented them from going, Virgil intended to go this fall if possible. Galen came home friday in the afternoon, he received us with great joy but with calmness. We found him in prosperous circumstances, business extensive and profitable and a disposition to help us to everything we want. He has black women to do his work, he wants me to do no more than see that they do their work, as they ought. He has placed the boys in the business for the winter and intends to enter land for them and let it remain for the present for they can make money much faster than in tilling land for the present. He lives on a very pleasant farm about a quarter of a mile from the village. He has a good brick house well furnished and finished and a smaller one for the blacks. He has between eight and nine hundred acres of land as it lies near Palmyra and Marion City, it is worth a good price but he will not sell it. I should be glad to see all my friends in New York but I should not be willing to live there. I feel as if I have a good home. I cannot tell that the scene will not change. I expect that Galen will marry soon I hope by the description of the lady that I shall enjoy myself better than I now do.

Palmyra is a better place to for a man to make money than any village within my acquaintance in New York. The land requires but little work for corn, to plough the land is all that is necessary, it is easy to raise anything they sow. There is meadows and pasture land on the prairie for cattle and horses. This would be a good place for a man to keep cows. They make no cheese here but if any is bought here it is sold for twenty-five cents a pound. Produce is very high and will be on the account of the water communication. Virgil has received a letter from Warner, he has been very sick, but is now better, he thinks he shall be here next year. Dear brothers and sisters remember an absent sister to all her friends and acquaintances. I remain your affectionate Sister Eunice Pratt.

Please to write to me.

OBITUARY OF EUNICE MORSE PRATT

Mrs. Eunice Pratt, widow of the late Dr. James Pratt and mother of Colonel Warner Pratt, died on December 30, 1869 at the residence of her daughter, Mary Shotton, who is the wife of Judge William N. Shotton.

The deceased was born in Sherborn, Mass, December 10, 1790 and emigrated with her father, the late Joseph Morse, Esq. to the Burchard farm in Madison County, New York, in 1796. Here, her father built one of the first frame houses erected in that region. It was near the Indian trial from the Susque hanna to Stockbridge and thus at a remarkably early period in life she made an acquaintance with the red skins and began an extraordinary life of pioneer service. In 1802, four years before the town of Eaton was set off from Hamilton, her father moved to Eaton, which is now the seat of the family homestead and erected one of the first grist mills south of Whitestown. Here in company with the late Ellis Morse, Esq. and her other brothers and sisters, she spent her youth, became familiar with every phase of pioneer life, its perils, its hardships and its attractions, and here supplied with such books as Dilworth's Spelling book, Dabolls Arithmetic, the Columbian Orater and the Bible, she began her education which she concluded at the old Academy at Clinton where she graduated two years prior to its institution as Hamilton College.

In 1814 she was married to Dr. James Pratt, a brother of the father of the Hon. Daniel D. Pratt, United States Senator from Indiana and raised a numerous family. After his death she again, in 1836, entered upon the pioneer life and removed, with her family, to Palmyra, Missouri, making the entire distance in a wagon. Shortly afterwords a family homestead was purchased within what is now part of Knox County and she located thereon. She was certainly a woman possessed of indomitable resolution and energy or at the age of 46, when a widow, she would have hesitated long ere removing from a home among friends surrounded with the refinements of civilization into a comparatively unknown section to again endure the trials, privations and hardships incident to pioneer life. She was, as it were, a connecting link between the centuries and had, in her youth, seen the wilderness of New York transformed into a center of civilization. She had seen towns and cities spring up on every hand and institutions of learning, now justly celebrated through out the country, established. In middle life she had again contributed her energy to subdue the wilderness. She had again seen the form of the savage recede from the rushing tide of civilization and once more had seen towns and cities rise phoenix like from mother earth. Her memory was richly stored with narratives of the War of Independence and she had lived through two important conflicts through which this country had passed. What an unusual experience was hers.

(Author's note: This obituary originally appeared in a newspaper in Knox Co., Missouri. The name of the newspaper is not currently known.)

Further Notes from Karen Chambliss

As a child in Eaton, Eunice's playmates were mostly Indian children from nearby tribes. During the cold winters in New York, Eunice would bring her Indian friends into Stone House (her parents' home) to sleep by one of the fireplaces each night.

Eunice had a huge wedding in Eaton at Stone House. It was referred to as the social event of the season. Dr. Pratt was previously married to Laurancy Eaton, daughter of the founder of the town. He married Eunice a year after Laurancy died. Eunice was considered the best "catch" around for a widower. Her father and uncles owned most of the town by the time they were married. Joseph Morse, her father, also employed everyone at his grist mill and other businesses. Joseph and a group of his business friends built the first toll road to Albany, NY.

Eunice not only had all of her and James' children, but raised some of the younger children from his first marriage, too. James set out for Missouri to buy property for them to settle on and find a place to set up his medical practice. He died on a return trip to Palmyra, Missouri. No one has ever found where he is buried. Eunice was never officially notified of his death, but just heard he had died from his son (some of the children from his first marriage were about Eunice's age) who had gone to Missouri ahead of his father. I think part of the motivation for the move to Missouri was the hope she could find her missing husband. In Eaton she had servants to do everything for her, but she gave that all up to drive a wagon to Missouri.

DIRECT DESCENDANCY OF KAREN CHAMBLISS

FROM EUNICE MORSE

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welcomed by Karen Chambliss.

Visit the Bigelow Home Page to learn more about Eunice's mother, Eunice Bigelow.
See's Karen's interesting home page in the Women's Army Corp.
Visit Karen's son, Michael's Home Page

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