Written by Edith Van Cott Palmer
Caroline Pratt Vancott, wife of John Vancott, was born in Hamtramck, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, January 20, 1840 (91 years ago). She was the daughter of Anson Pratt and Sarah Barber. She was the youngest of five children, namely Marian who died at the age of twenty, Sarah Pratt Tyler, Jane Pratt Kesler, and Joseph Anson Pratt. Also a half brother, W. Pratt, who was the son of Sarah Ann Wahla a wife taken by Anson Pratt after the death of his wife Sarah Barber. Caroline Pratt died Oct. 19, 1915 (16 years ago). She had seven children who survived. Caroline Pratt Vancott was the granddaughter of Jared Pratt and the great granddaughter of Obadiah Pratt. The Pratt family has a high inheritance of American principle and tradition. The ancestors of Caroline Pratt were among the early settlers of New England. In 1833 Lieutenant William Pratt was settled at Newton, now Cambridge, Massachusetts, the seat of Harvard University. It is at Cambridge, Longfellow wrote, “Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands. The smithy a mighty man was he with strong and sinewy hands.” (This man’s name was Pratt.) His daughter singing in the village choir 3 years later Lieut. William Pratt was accompanied by the congregation of Rev. Thomas Hooker into the Connecticut valley and became one of the founders of Hartford and Saybrook in Connecticut. Saybrook became the seat and home of the Pratt family for several generations. It was here that Obadiah Pratt the great grandfather of Caroline Pratt was born. Prior to the Revolutionary War Obadiah Pratt removed with his wife from Connecticut into the hilly country east of the Hudson River on the State of New York and settled at Canaan with a neighborhood of good people from Connecticut. It was here that his children Jared Pratt and Lovinia Pratt were born. Caroline Pratt, my mother, was the granddaughter of Jared, and John Van Cott, my father, was the son of Lovinia Pratt and Losee Van Cott. The old home of Lovinia Pratt Van Cott was still standing in 1930’s. This was the home that Parley P. Pratt held dear. He had a tender affection for his Aunt Lovinia Van Cott and between his cousin John Van Cott was an attachment which lasted through his life and has come as an inheritance to their children. This home stood among the Bershire Hills. The old orchard with its astrache and harvest apples, and the well, marked by the old curb were there to freshen the memories of this happy home which have come down in the family tradition. We visited the old buried ground on the road between Canaan and Chatham and found the grave of Losee Van Cott, John Van Cott’s father. Jared Pratt settled in Central New York, married Charity Dickinson. Anson Pratt was born and the eldest of his brothers, Orson, Parley, William, and Nelson. Anson married Sarah Barber, made his way westward and settled in Detroit. It was at this home that Caroline Pratt was born in Jan. 20, 1840 and that his father Jared Pratt died at the home of his son Anson and was buried near Detroit. Anson’s mother Charity died of cholera in the house of her son Anson at St. Joseph, Missouri on May 20, 1849 and her son Anson died May 26, 1849, only 6 days after his mother’s death. Both he and his wife died of cholera which was a scourge in that part of the country and left as orphans—Caroline and her brothers and sisters. Caroline and her orphan sisters entered the family of their Uncle Orson and arrived with him in the valley Sept. 8, 1849. It was here that she became the wife of John Van Cott. Before they moved, John Van Cott, Orson Pratt, and Parley Pratt were converted to Mormonism by the Prophet Joseph Smith. So Orson Pratt was the 1st man among the pioneers to enter the Valley and Lovinia Pratt Van Cott and her son John joined the Church and disposed of their lands and home in Canaan, New York. They migrated to the west and entered Salt Lake Valley Sept. 1847. They built their home on South West corner of McCormick Block and had an orchard. Orson lived north, Parley lived east and mother lived in Orson’s family.
[courtesy of Carol J. Larson, transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Mar. 2007]