Address of Samuel Russell at the Funeral of Caroline Pratt Van Cott
October 12, 1916

My friends we are assembled at this hour to perform one of the solemn duties of life and to render the last kindly offices to the earthly form of one who in life was the object of our esteem and affection.  And this duty has not come to us as a casualty with suddenness and surprise, but has come to us as in the course of nature.  And our sorrow at parting with Aunt Caroline Van Cott is tempered with the satisfaction that she approached the time of dissolution without distress and with the good conscience and serenity of a child.

Caroline Pratt Van Cott was one who helped lay the foundations of this commonwealth and to plant and establish the institutions of our beloved country in the valleys of this mountain country.  And that foundation will endure for all time.  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 1633 Lieutenant William Pratt was settled at Newton, now Cambridge, Massachusetts, the seat of Harvard University.  In 16346 Lieutenant Pratt accompanied the congregation of Rev. Thomas Hooker into the Connecticut valley and become 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 American Revolution Obadiah Pratt removed with his wife from Connecticut into the hilly country east of the Hudson river in the state of New York and settled at Canaan, Columbia County with a neighborhood of good people from Connecticut.  It was here that his children Jared Pratt and Lovina Pratt were born.  Lovina Pratt became the wife of Losee Van Cott.  The old home of Aunt Lovina Van Cott is standing to this day.  This was the home and country that Parley P. Pratt held dear.  He had a tender affection for Aunt Lovina Van Cott and between him and his cousin John Van Cott there was an attachment which lasted through life and has come down as an inheritance to their children.  I did not know Aunt Lovina Van Cott, but I do know of the esteem and affection in which she was held by the family, and it has seemed to me that this affection was transferred by the younger generation of the kindred and connection to Aunt Caroline Van Cott as she was affectionately called by all of us.

Some years ago I made a pilgrimage to the home of Aunt Lovina Van Cott at Canaan.  The house yet stands there among the hills.  The old orchard with its astrachan 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 family tradition.  I visited the old burial ground on the road between Canaan and Chatham and found there among the trees the grave of Losee Van Cott who was buried here in 1824 in the 34th year of his age.  Inscribed upon the marble slab which marks the grave are these lines:

“My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpet joyfull sound
Then break the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour’s image rise.”

This is the faith of a Christian.  It was in this faith that Caroline Van Cott lived and died and for her this faith will be realized.  It is the faith of the Christian that Christ has conquered death and the grave, and this conquest will be realized for all those who have this holy faith. 

Jared Pratt settled in central New York.  Anson Pratt was born January 9, 1801.  He was the first son of Jared Pratt, and the eldest of his brothers, Orson, Parley, William, and Nelson.  Anson made his way westward and settled at Detroit.  It was at this home here that Caroline Pratt was born in 1840, and that his father Jared spent the declining years of his life.  Jared Pratt died at the home of his son Anson and was buried near Detroit.  At the time of his death in 1849, Anson Pratt was living at St. Joseph, Missouri.  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 sister Sariah who became the wife of Dewitt Tyler, and Jane who became the wife of Bishop Frederick Kessler, and two sons who survive at this day; Dr. John W. Pratt who lives in Pennsylvania, and Joseph A. Pratt who lives in California. 

Caroline Pratt and her orphan sisters Sariah, and Jane, entered the family of their Uncle Orson and arrived with him in Salt Lake Valley on the 8th day of September 1851.  It was here that she became the wife of John Van Cott.  Her children, and grand-children and great-grand-children are among us and have the respect and esteem of all.

I will leave it to others to narrate and speak more particularly of the hardships and experiences of her life as a pioneer.  Her hardships and trials but sweetened and mollified her character.  Her life has been full of years and honor.

We are now to be separated from personal contact with the one we loved so well, but her life will remain a benediction and blessing to her children and kindred for all the time to come.

[courtesy of Carol J. Larson, transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Mar. 2007]

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