FRANKLIN F. PRATT, an enterprising and progressive farmer of Homer Township, is a son of David and Electa (Alexander) Pratt, and was born in the town of Homer, Cortland County, July 17, 1835.

His grandfather, Joshua Pratt, was born in the State of Connecticut, whence he moved to the State of New York, settling in Truxton, Cortland County, where he resided and labored until the time of his death. He followed farming all his life, and was a pioneer in his district.

David Pratt was a native of Pomfret, Windham County, Connecticut; in company with Samuel Gregg, he moved to the town of Homer, where he was engaged to work on Mr. Gregg's farm in East River Valley (East Homer). He remained with his employer until after his marriage, at which important period of his life he purchased a tract of land, consisting of one hundred acres, one and one-half miles north of Mr. Gregg's farm. Finally, he sold this property and purchased another farm in Homer township in the little valley, lying between the East and West River Valleys, which farm he later traded for 160 acres of primeval forest land in the State of Michigan. This was in 1839. 

For about fourteen years thereafter he followed the trade of a mason in the town of Homer; later he removed to a small farm in the eastern part of Scott township, where he remained but a short time, selling his farm there and purchasing another farm of fifty acres near Little York, Homer township. There he spent his declining years, dying in September, 1864. He was originally a Whig, but upon the organization of the Republican party, he joined the ranks of the latter organization, and was fully identified with that party until the time of his death. Religiously, he was a member of the Presbyterian Church. 

He married Electa Alexander, daughter of Leonard Alexander, a native of Vermont, who in 1816 came to East Homer and engaged in general farming. Mr. and Mrs. Pratt brought up a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters. Caroline E., the eldest of the family, married John Davenport of Cayuga County, later a resident of Du Page County, Illinois, and bore him one child, Homer A. DeWitt Clinton, the oldest son, and second child, is a veteran photographer of Aurora, Ill.; he married Mary Burdick of Scott, Cortland County, and reared four children, ?Flora, Eva, Fannie and Edmund. Francis Nelson, the second son, is a real estate dealer of Lake Forest, Lake County, Ill.; he married Emma U. Cowles of Otisco, N. Y., and has three children,? Dora, Fannie and Charles. Washington B., who died in Napa County, California, in 1879, followed farming; he lived in Illinois and Missouri before going to California; before settling down to agricultural pursuits, he went to Australia in search of gold, and later made a tour around the world. He chose as his helpmeet Miss Alzina M. Page, a native of Du Page County, Illinois, and they reared two children, Eugene and Ella. Sarah A. died at the age of nineteen years. Augusta M. became the wife of Collins S. White of Homer, N. Y., and they have the following children: Emma A.; Lottie S.; G. Frank; and Burdette H. Franklin F. is the subject of this sketch. Celina J. died when aged ten years. The ninth member of this family was an adopted daughter, Amelia, who married John Doubleday, a farmer of Scott, N. Y., who died in 1860.

Franklin F. Pratt received his education in the district schools and in Homer Academy, Homer, N. Y. At the age of eighteen years he commenced to teach in the district schools, teaching during the winter months, and working on the farm the remainder of the time.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, being inspired by a patriotic desire to perform his part in the preservation of the Union, our subject enlisted as a private in Co. A, 76th Reg. N. Y. Vol. Inf., then being recruited at Cortland, N. Y., and was sworn into the United States service at that place October 4, 1861. This regiment afterwards became one of the best drilled and most efficient regimental organizations in the service. It was in the First Army Corps when it first took the field, but later it was transferred to the Fifth Army Corps. 

Mr. Pratt participated with his regiment in the battles of Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Cold Harbor, and the assault on Petersburg. He was recovering from malarial fever, contracted while in camp near Fredericksburg, Va., at the time of the battle of Gettysburg, and was unable to go into that fight with his regiment, but after the battle he was detailed to care for the wounded until he was able to again take the field, which he did in November following. On the 20th day of December, 1863, he was promoted to the position of corporal of his company. He re-enlisted in 1864, and was granted a thirty-day furlough, which period he spent in visiting his relatives and friends. On his return to the scene of hostilities, he rejoined his regiment at Spottsylvania Court House, Va., and after taking part in the battle at that place, marched on towards Richmond and Petersburg, and was skirmishing or fighting more or less every day for the following month. 

In August, 1864, while in camp near Petersburg, Va., he, with a comrade, was transferred from the army to the Marine Corps, at their own request, by an order from the Secretary of War, and was ordered to report to the commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The order was obeyed with alacrity, for they thought a change of service would be more agreeable. 

Soon after arriving at Brooklyn Navy Yard, and after being put through the marine drill for a while, he was made a corporal of a company of marines, with a sergeant in charge, and ordered on board the U. S. Steamer and Gunboat Patuxet, which soon joined the Blockading Squadron along the Atlantic coast. On the route south they put into port at Norfolk, Va., to make some necessary repairs, and while at that place Mr. Pratt received a letter from his sister, which told the sad news of his father's death, which occurred September 24, 1864. His brothers all being married and living in the Western States, and there being no one to care for his aged and widowed mother, who was alone with a farm on her hands, a petition was drawn up and was signed by many of the leading citizens of his native town, praying for his discharge from the navy. The petition was sent to President Lincoln, with a letter by F. B. Carpenter, the artist, who won national fame by his great painting representing Lincoln presenting his Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. President Lincoln at once granted the prayer of the petitioners, and gave the order, through the Secretary of the Navy, for his discharge. Mr. Pratt received the order December 1, 1864, while in port at Beaufort, N. C. He was put on board the prize steamer Emma Henry (which was loaded with 500 bales of cotton, captured from the Rebels while attempting to run the blockade). On this boat, on which there were several other passengers in the persons of Confederate prisoners, he made his way to New York, where he arrived December 10, 1864. He immediately went to the headquarters of the U. S. Marine Corps, Washington, D. C., received his discharge, and then returned home, where he arrived December 21, 1864.

Mr. Pratt was engaged in general farming on the homestead until his mother's death, which occurred in April, 1866. On October 25, 1866, he was united in marriage with Mrs. Sarah Brayton Wilson, and soon after purchased the home farm of fifty acres, running heavily in debt to pay off the other heirs. After nine years' hard labor, with the aid of his wife, who was an expert butter maker, he nearly wiped out the debt. In 1875, by sale and purchase, he exchanged his hill farm for another property of 125 acres in the valley on the main road from Homer to Little York, running in debt about $6,000.00. He continued in the dairy business, and after twelve years' hard labor and close economy he finished paying off the mortgage. Since then he has built a horse barn, also a large basement dairy barn, with cement stable floors and driveway. In the fall of 1892 he discontinued making butter, and has sold his milk for shipment to New York City.

Mr. and Mrs. Pratt have reared a family of five children, namely: Lillian E., wife of Seward E. Hollenbeck of Tully, N. Y.; Rosella A., wife of F. L. Burnham of East Homer, N. Y.; Nellie M., wife of Oren P. Gallup of Homer, N. Y.; Grace E., and Charles F.; the last two living at home. In religious views Mr. Pratt is independent. He believes in getting his inspiration, not alone from inspired volumes, but also in " looking through Nature up to Nature's God." He believes in the gradual elimination of error and sin from all mankind, that not one human soul will be forever lost, but at some period in the ages that are to come all human souls will become the true children of God, and that the people of the world as a whole are slowly but surely growing wiser and better. In politics Mr. Pratt is and always has been since he became a voter a Republican, his first vote being cast for Col. John C. Fremont for president. In social matters Mr. Pratt is not a society man as it is generally understood; for him the center of attraction is in his home and family. As a neighbor he is kind and obliging, and always willing to lend a helping hand; in short, he has led an active and energetic life, and his enterprising spirit has been felt in all movements to advance the welfare of his countrymen. Mr. Pratt is entitled to the fullest recognition in this biographical work as a representative and leading citizen of Homer township, and as a patriot who has performed his whole duty for the country of his birth, and it is with pleasure that we present his portrait on a preceding page, accompanied by that of his wife, a noble?minded woman, who has never failed him in the hour of need.

From the 1899 “Grip’s” Historical Souvenir of Cortland

Larger version of picture is available. 

A Letter From Franklin Pratt

Gettysburg, Adams Co., Pa.

July 4th, 1863

My Dear Parents: - 

Thanking High Heaven for my protection thus far, while dangers have been thick around me, with great pleasure, I write you this glorious fourth of July - made more glorious by the scenes which have just been passing in this place.

I have very, very sad news to write you.  Cousin Charley was mortally wound in the battle near this village on the lst day of July and died the same day. I was not in the battle, as I was unable to do duty & march with the Regiment, so all the information of Charley which I write, I got from the boys in our Company who were in the battle with him and saw him shot.

The boys differ a little in their statements about him. One says that he was shot first through the leg and was crawling away from the field when he was struck by another bullet, killing him almost instantly and that he was left on the field (as the Rebels drove our men back).  Another of the boys says that he was brought from the field to some place in the village and died soon after.

This is sad news to write, but the worst must be known.  He has died in a glorious cause. Our Company suffered severely. One of the boys stated that out of 30 men in our Company, but six remained who werent either killed, wounded or taken prison, and the whole Regiment was almost annihilated.

Major Grover was killed and the Adjutant of the Regiment wounded. The boys say that Dan Carpenter was unhurt. The boys say they were took and marched right up to a superior force of Rebels and they (the Rebs) flanked them on the right and left getting a crossfire at them which cut them up awfully before they got out.

Our whole Division was cut up very badly. I was very sorry indeed that I couldn’t be with Charley, but it was impossible. It would have been a great consolation to his Parents and myself, if I could have seen him decently buried, but I was not allowed that privilege, for the Rebels drove our men back through Gettysburg, occupying the village and taking a great many prisoners.

My Dear Parents. I have been in this village surrounded by thousands of Rebels for more than two days and nights and yet, thank heaven, never been their prisoner. I will explain. I came on foot from Middletown, Md. to this place were we arrive July 1st, and our company immediately engaged the Rebels, who were in force about two miles northwest of the village.

I went to the Hospital in the village as soon as it was established and helped all I could carrying in the wounded and administering to their wants. While I was getting some of the wounded something to eat, I noticed that our troops were coming back through town very fast, but some said they were only changing their position and so I thought no more of it, but while I was at a private residents after eatables for the men, I saw the troops commence to run and the Artillery wagons were going pell mell through the streets on the run and in a moment more, i saw the Rebel Cavalry and Infantry coming around a corner and the bullets flew in every direction through the streets. I went into the house for protection, but as several other soldiers came in also, I thought my chance would not be very good there, so I leaped through an open window at the back side of the house, jumped a high board fence into the next yard and went into a large brick house owned by Mr. Samuel Forney, who has a Drug Store in the same building.

His family reside there too  - consisting of only his wife and granddaughter - a young lady some 24 or 25 years of age. They were very kind to me, rigging me out with a citizens dress so as to avoid being taken prisoner - and it proved the means of saving me from being taken, for the Rebels searched every house for Yankee prisoners, but they passed by me, thinking me a citizen.

Mr. Forney & family have treated me as some of their own family while with them, looking to all my needs and I am very thankful for their kindness - and to the Father of all good for His watchful care over me while in the midst of the Enemies of my country.

The town today is once more occupied by our troops. The Rebels retreated in the night. The report is that we took 8,000 prisoners in the night and that the Rebel Generals - Longstreet and Hill are killed. The fight raged fearfully for three days - the 1st, 2d & 3d of July. Our troops, when they retreated, fell back to a very strong position and the Rebels could not drive them an inch.

You will probably get the particulars of this great battle as soon as I shall and perhaps sooner. My health is pretty good, but am not very strong yet. The march from Middletown made me very lame. My limbs appear to be weak. I shall try and get into some Hospital to take care of the wounded, which will be lighter duty than marching.

I wrote you a letter from Middletown, which I hope you have recd.

July 5th.

I haven t heard anything further in regard to Charley except that he was shot through the abdomen last, and was carried off the field by 2 men not from our Regiment. I cannot find out who carried him off. If I could, I could, no doubt, get more information concerning him.

July 6th.

I am a nurse in the Hospital in Gettysburg.  I was detailed yesterday. This place is literally filled with the wounded.

Direct your letters to Gettysburg, Adams Co., Pa., in care of S.S. Forney, Esq.

Father & Mother
With much love, I remain,
Your affectionate Son,

                                        (Signed)F.F. Pratt

I dont hear anything further from Charley; and it is impossible to, for I don t know who carried him off the field. I shall write soon to John and Rhoda.

There are about 250 wounded  men here in the Hospital that I am in. It is in the Court House - a very large brick building.

July 7th

All well - At work in the hospital 6 hours on & 6 off, caring for the wounded.


Dan Carpenter was a brother of Frank Carpenter, the famous painter from Homer, who painted The President s First Introduction of the Emancipation Proclamation to His Cabinet.

The famous “Iverson’s Pits” are on the Forney Farm, no doubt the same family as that with which Pratt stayed during the battle.

Longstreet and A.P. Hill were not, as Pratt had heard, killed at Gettysburg. Hill was killed just a few days before Appomatox, and Longstreet survived the war. 

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- Last Updated February 20, 2000