March 12, 1853 – March 20, 1919
by Paul Debry
Arthur was the 10th child of Orson and Sarah Pratt, but only the fifth one to live more than 18 months. Arthur was the first child to be born in Salt Lake City…. finally. His nine older brothers and sisters had been born in six different places on two continents. Orson and Sarah were always on the move, sometimes as Orson was doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church in which Orson was one of the 12 Apostles, and sometimes because of being driven out of their homes by ruthless mobs because of their desire to live their religion.
Arthur’s oldest brother, Orson, Jr. was born in Kirtland, Ohio; Lydia in St. Louis, Missouri; Celestia Larissa, Sarah Marinda and Vanson, in Nauvoo, Illinois; Laron in Florence, Nebraska; Marlon and Marintha Althera in Liverpool, England; Harmel in a wagon box on the Wyoming plains east of Fort Laramie on the Platt River, en route to the Salt Lake valley.
By the time Arthur was born five of his older brothers and sisters were dead and had to be left behind. Lydia died in Montrose, Iowa at age 8 months; Sarah Marinda had died at age 9 months and had been buried in the old pioneer cemetery in Nauvoo; Vanson, age 18 months was buried in what is now an unmarked grave in Winter Quarters, Nebraska; eleven month old Marlon was a continent away, buried in the land of his birth, Liverpool, England, and Marintha Althera who was also born in Liverpool died at sea on the family’s return voyage to America. She was buried in Jackson County, Missouri while the family was traveling to Winter Quarters, Nebraska.
Orson and Sarah would have two more children after Arthur was born. These two children would both be born in what was then called Great Salt Lake City. That would give Orson and Sarah an even dozen. Six grew to maturity and six died young. The two additional children, born in Salt Lake City after Arthur, were Herma Ethna, married at age 17, who died at age 21, after having 3 children in less than 3 years, and Liola Menella who lived only 1 year, 10 months and 29 days.
Arthur was one of the more colorful members of the Pratt family. He served as a US Marshal, warden of the Salt Lake City prison and Police chief of the Salt Lake City police force. He was born in March 1853, only 6 years after Brigham Young brought the first pioneers into the Salt Lake valley. Interestingly enough, the first person in Brigham Young’s party of 143 men, 3 women and 2 children to enter Salt Lake Valley was none other than Arthur’s father, Orson Pratt. Orson and another scout for the party, Erastus Snow, were 3 days ahead of Brigham on the trail. Erastus was delayed a bit and so it was Orson who first entered the valley. Sarah and the children were in Florence, Nebraska at the time. Sarah was expecting her sixth child, Laron, who was born 100 days after Orson left and 11 days before Orson would enter the Salt Lake valley, 1,000 miles away. Sarah had to endure the pain, joy and sorrow with that birth and also the death of her 18-month-old son Vanson while Orson was gone. Vanson died the day after Orson entered the valley. In those days, news could travel no faster than a horse could go and so Orson would not know of the birth or the death of his sons until he returned, crossing the 1,000 mile plains again, this time going east.
Arthur married Agnes Ellen Caine on Christmas Day, 1872, the year Ulysses S. Grant was elected President of the United States. Arthur was 19 years old. Agnes, born in St. Louis, Missouri, was 2 years older than Arthur at age 21. Together they had 9 children in twenty-one years. Mabel Claire Pratt was the oldest, being born November 6, 1873. The most significant thing that happened in 1873, other than Mabel’s birth was that that was the year barbed wire was invented. Three years later twins were born, Ormas and Ellen. They each lived for only one day, dying January 31, 1877. Arthur, Jr. was born next. He married Elise Sutton Cohen in 1902 but only lived 8 years thereafter, dying in 1910 at age 32. They had no children. I was not able to find an obituary on Arthur, Jr. and do not know how he died. Chester Caine Pratt came next in 1882. He married Lucille Case in about 1907. Chester worked for the telephone company and was the person who connected the wires for the first transcontinental telephone call. He personally talked to Thomas Edison about it. Chester also built a cabin on the Weber River in a place called Holiday Park, in the mountains of Utah. It has since become a wonderful family retreat for his posterity. Fly-fishing and hiking are favorites for all of his posterity. The next two children died young. Agnes Dean Pratt was only 5 years old when she died and Rayford Grissom Pratt died at age 2. The last child, James Blaine Pratt was born in 1894. He has a large posterity that are living mostly in the western United States.
Arthur had been educated in the city school system and graduated from the University of Deseret. In early 1870 he served as foreman of the Nineteenth Utah Territorial Legislature of which his father, Orson Pratt was Speaker. After a stint as director of a stage line from Salt Lake City to Pioche, Nevada, Arthur married Agnes E. Caine, on Christmas Day, 1872, moved in with his father, and began new employment as an agent with the Salt Lake Furniture Company.
Arthur moved his family to Beaver, Utah, for a few years while he was a US Marshal there. As a marshal some of his work dealt with mining problems. In 1880 he arrested 36 miners who protested a reduction in wages from $4.00 per day to $3.50 per day. Silver prices had declined and the company reduced wages accordingly. Arthur took them by surprise in an early morning raid. The jail was too small for the miners so he incarcerated them in the large stone dance hall.
He was the warden of the Utah State Prison when the state decided to use convict labor to build roads. Even the prisoners liked it. Many applied for the work. It got them outside the iron bars and brick walls. They were given 10-day reduction in their sentence for every 30 days they worked on the road. Not a bad idea for either party. They were fed well, worked only 8 hours a day and were on the honor system to not try to escape. Arthur provided guards to make sure they kept the honor system. A few promised to not try to escape and then fulfilled their word by not “trying” to escape, but “did” escape. All but one were caught
He was well known for making the prisoners work to earn their keep. He had them can their own fruit, plant a garden and provide food for themselves.
In the summer of 1889 Arthur Pratt was appointed deputy marshal in charge of the First Judicial District (Ogden). Abraham H. Cannon noted in his journal on July 29 that Pratt had "won for himself many friends because of his firm yet kind discipline while in charge of the ‘Pen,’ and many will be sorry at his removal."
The February 19, 1892, Deseret Evening News reported assault charges brought against Arthur Pratt by D. A. Sullivan. The incident was the result of an Election Day fracas when Sullivan, a unregistered voter, was refused voting rights by election judge Rulon S. Wells. In his anger Sullivan struck Wells. Pratt, who was in the vicinity, immediately came to Wells’s aid and "dealt Sullivan a blow over the head with a walking stick." Pratt’s acquittal was noted in the February 24 Deseret Evening News.
Despite satisfaction with his territorial position, Pratt’s heart was in law enforcement work. In late 1893 he was elected Salt Lake City chief of police. Prior to taking command of his new position on January 1, 1894, he visited the San Francisco police department. Speculation ran high that Pratt would make significant changes to lessen the frequent charges of police brutality. "A good many members of the police force will stop twirling their ebony, cherry and mahogany clubs early in January," the December 28, 1893, Deseret Evening News editorialized; "others will also be retired to private life as soon as the new men become initiated."
Chief Pratt’s first year on the job was rife with difficulties. California was rampant with unemployment and hundreds of men unable to find jobs were given free passage to Ogden, Utah, by Southern Pacific Railroad. As the first group of the "Industrial Army" arrived in Utah, they began to drift south looking for food, shelter, work, or a passage elsewhere. Within a three-day period in late May, more than two hundred of these "wealers," as they were popularly called, had reached Salt Lake City. City officials, viewing the drifters as a "menace to the peace and quietude" of the city, desired to keep them under close scrutiny. Pratt was assigned responsibility to "feed and watch this indigent horde." Leaders of the Industrialists informed Pratt that not only had they been given free passage on the railroad to Ogden but that there were 15,000 more men in California waiting to catch Southern Pacific freight trains. If matters were not complicated enough for Chief Pratt, on May 24, 1894, Davis County officials telephoned Salt Lake City Mayor Robert Baskin requesting his assistance in combating the depredations of Industrialists in that part of the state.
Baskin, perhaps recognizing that it was best to keep the unemployed men further north, where they would be more likely to catch a train out of the state, ordered Pratt and a force of policemen to "proceed to any point which the Davis County authorities might designate in order to check the pillage." On May 25 Pratt and twenty-two Salt Lake policemen, armed with a court injunction to prevent the Industrialists from crossing the Davis-Weber County line, arrived in Davis County.
Arthur was proud of his heritage. He was a Charter member of Utah Historical Society and an Officer in Pratt family organization, which gathered family genealogy information and held family reunions. He was also active in the law enforcement community. He served as President of the American Prison Congress from 1916 to 1917
In early 1919 he fell ill and traveled to California to see if a climate change would improve his health. After a short vacation he returned to Salt Lake City. Though his condition was not considered serious, he died on March 20, 1919, bringing to close one of the most remarkable law enforcement careers in the history of Utah. Arthur was 66 years old. He is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery with his wife and children. Agnes was a widow for 7 years before joining her spouse of 47 years beyond the veil.
- Jared Pratt Family Association records
- Ancestral File
- 1880 – 1930 US Census for Salt Lake City, Utah
- Social Security Death Index
- Utah death and cemetery records.
- Salt Lake City Cemetery records
- Newspaper obituary notices for Chester Case Pratt, Robert Case Pratt, Elsie Sutton Pratt, Mabel Claire Pratt Lennon, Harry E. Lennon, and a death notice for grandson, Arthur Pratt in 1956.
- Ancestry.com records; family data collection
- Utah Historical Quarterly Magazine
- First hand family interviews with Douglas Pratt, Marilyn Pratt, Joel Pratt, all descendants of Arthur Pratt and Shirley Hull and Joyce Brown.