Edwin Delano Pratt

by Paul DeBry

Edwin was the first of four children of Nelson Pratt, but was the only child of Nelson’s first wife, Finetta Delano. Finetta was born in Vermont in 1818 and was only 18 years old when Edwin was born. He was born on a farm in north-central Ohio near the small town of Havana, in Huron County, about 50 miles west of Cleveland.

Havana, Huron County Ohio

Life was not easy for the baby Edwin. He was only 14 months old when his mother died at the young age of age 21. He was without a mother for over two years.

Finetta S.
Wife of N.
Pratt, Died
Sept. 5, 1839, Age 21 Yrs. 8 M.
(Edwin’s Mother)

Shortly before his fifth birthday, his father married Azuba Spaulding, a kind and loving person. Azuba was 21 years old, the same age as Edwin’s mother was when she died. She cared for Edwin for six years, until she died the day before New Years Eve in 1847, at the age of 27. Edwin was only 10 years old at the time. He was again without a mother. Azuba and Nelson had added two sisters to the family in Havana. The oldest, Hellena Orissa Pratt, was born in 1843 and his second sister, Aurilla Finetta Pratt was born in 1844. His father now had to manage a 65-acre farm and raise three small children, ages three, four, and ten.

Two years later, in 1849, when Edwin was 12 years old, his father married again. This time 34-year-old Nelson married Marietta Ensign a 24-year-old girl who was born in New York. Marietta was a kind person who brought much love, happiness and joy to the family. One child, a boy, was born July 22, 1853, to Nelson and Marietta. Nelson wrote to his brother Orson telling him that he had named the child Orson, after him. He told Orson that this child had only lived five weeks.

Son of
N & M Pratt
Aug. 27,1853
Age 1 Mo. 5 DYS
(Boughton Cemetery, Norwich Township, Huron County, Ohio)

In February 1857, three months before his uncle Parley was martyred in Arkansas, Parley visited Edwin’s family. He had never met Parley before, as it had been 21 years since his father and Parley had seen each other. They had a joyous reunion. Parley wrote that they talked, read, reasoned, etc. for several days before he left on an ill fated trip that would take him to his death. Edwin was 20 years old. Parley mentioned in his autobiography that he and Edwin had met. Parley spoke highly of Edwin, his father, stepmother and two younger sisters. They had an affectionate farewell as the entire family accompanied Parley to the train station in Hanover, Ohio. They would never meet again in this life.      

In the late 1850’s, Edwin moved his family to a town in central Iowa called Garden Grove. It was a town built by the fleeing Mormons who were being driven out of their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois. All four of Edwin’s uncles; Anson, William, Parley, and Orson had stopped in Garden Grove on their way west. Uncles Parley and Orson had, in fact, been instrumental in locating and building up this temporary, log cabin town. The “Saints” had abandoned the town a few years earlier as they moved on to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Edwin’s father was aware of the improvements left by the pioneers. Parley very likely told Nelson about Garden Grove when he visited him a couple of years earlier. Nelson probably stopped there to farm and get supplies for his planned move to join his brothers in the Salt Lake Valley. We know from Nelson’s letters that his desire was to be with them in the West. When he moved to Garden Grove he found, as expected, good farmland, wells already dug, fences in place, forests cleared, and cabins still standing. Tragedy struck again, however as Nelson’s third wife, Marietta died in 1862. She was buried with the Saints in the burial ground at Garden Grove. Edwin now had three mothers, all of whom were dead. All were good women who treated him well. Heart-broken, Edwin’s father, a three-time widower, then moved his family back to northern Ohio.

Garden Grove, Iowa

Edwin farmed with his father until Christmas Day in 1862. That was the day that 25-year-old Edwin married 20-year-old Elizabeth Slayer in Attica, Seneca County, Ohio, not far from where he grew up, and where his family now lived.

Unlike his father who had had four wives in 37 years, (and was married to them for only, four, six, thirteen, and then six years respectively), Edwin and Elizabeth were married for 49 years. They had four children.

  • Maud L. Pratt, known as “Libbie” was born October 19, 1864 in Ohio. She died September 3, 1938, at age 74. Her tombstone in the North Fairfield Cemetery in Huron County, Ohio has the Eastern Star Symbol on it. The star is the emblem of the female Masonic organization, the Order of the Eastern Star. The is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem.

Eastern Star Symbol
     (Representative of the star on Maud’s Gravestone)

She married George Atkins Barber and had only child, a son named Hugh Florian Barber. Their large posterity today is spread from the east to the west coast and from Ohio on the north to Texas on the south.

  • Effie E. Pratt, their 2nd child, born around 1866 in Ohio died of tuberculosis when she was only 18 to 20 years old. She never married or had children. She is buried in the Boughton Cemetery in Norwich Township, Huron County, Ohio, near her grandfather Nelson and her forever 21-year-old grandmother, Finetta.
  • Elmer Nelson Pratt came next. He was born the 27th of August 1869 in Norwich, Ohio. At the age of 31 he married Savina Holmes, known throughout her life as “Bina.” Elmer died 19 years after their marriage. They had five children. Four of these children were living; all were under the age of 18, which their widowed mother was left to raise. One child; named after grandpa Edwin, died in 1904 at the age of one year. Of the four children who lived to maturity, three of them married, but only one had offspring.
  • Laura Ellen Pratt, the youngest child, was born May 21, 1873 in Norwich, Ohio where they had lived all of their lives. She lived to be the oldest, dying at age 91 on March 16, 1965, in Norwalk, Ohio. She married Frank Wilbert Spencer on November 18, 1896. They were both 23 years old. She and Frank were married in a railroad town named Chicago Junction, Ohio. The name has since been changed to Willard, Ohio and is near the family homestead. Laura and Frank had no children. She is buried in the New haven Cemetery, Huron County, Ohio.

Chicago Junction, Ohio
(Later known as Willard, Ohio)

Edwin and Elizabeth also housed and took care of Edwin’s 4-time widowed father, during the last 17 years of his life. Nelson died May 18, 1889, at age 74 in Norwich Township where he had lived most of life.

Edwin and Elizabeth died 18 months apart, both of them in Attica, Seneca County, Ohio. Elizabeth died first on May 25, 1910. Edwin died December 11, 1911. They are buried next to each other on row 3, Attica Venice Cemetery, Seneca County, Ohio.

Edwin and Elizabeth have a large posterity living today. None of them have embraced the faith of his well-known uncles, but many are faithful members of various other Christian churches.

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