Mrs. Katharine Pratt, 313 East Chestnut street, yesterday observed her eighty-ninth birthday.  She is the mother of Dr. J. S. M. Pratt, well-known Coatesville physician.

[Daily Local, Nov. 6, 1948]


A white-haired, blue-eyed little woman, who has made her home at 313 E. Chestnut St. since she came to Coatesville almost 80 years ago as the bride of a local doctor, is observing her 97th birthday today.

Although now a widow, she is still strongly attached to the medical profession, being the mother of two of this city’s physicians, and the grandmother of a local surgeon and a local dentist.  Two of her brothers, now deceased, were also physicians.

Katherine Mullin Pratt spends most of her time these days reading the Bible in the quiet of her apartment but her memory book is a full one.  The major interests in her life were and still are her home, her family and her church.

Mrs. Pratt was born in 1859, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John S. Mullin, of Downingtown.  Her father was a businessman, who once served Chester county as a commissioner.

She does not concern herself too much with politics nowadays, but as a staunch Democrat in other years, she read up on all the county, state and national candidates and took a great deal of pleasure in discussing the issues at hand.

When she was “almost eighteen” the former Miss Mullin became the wife of Dr. John Wesley Pratt, who practiced medicine for 50 years before his death in 1919.  In those days, Mrs. Pratt recalls, there were no telephones and she spent a good part of each day answering the door bell and taking down the calls her husband was asked to make.

Mrs. Pratt came to this city from West Chester, but at that time she served as organist for the Downingtown Methodist church.  Today she is the oldest member of Olivet Methodist church, both in the number of years she has belonged and the extent of her age.

The Pratts had four children.  A daughter, Anna Pratt is deceased.  The others, who survive and have families in this city are Mrs. Abram Tuck, Dr. John S. M. Pratt and Dr. C. Ira Pratt.

There are six grandchildren, among them Dr. Charles I. Pratt, Jr., a dentist, and Dr. John W. Pratt, 2nd, surgeon, and ten grandchildren.

Mrs. Pratt always looks forward to her birthday and is always pleased when her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren “make a little fuss about it.”

Yesterday, for the first time in a year, she came downstairs to welcome about 50 members of the family who came to extend their best wishes during a birthday party held in her honor.

As she sat in the living room greeting one after another her eyes were ever alert to changes and her conversation was peppery and amusing.

When asking how she felt on the eve of her 97th birthday she smiled rather mischievously and answered, “pretty old.”  Her general appearance and attitude belied this however.  Members of the family have always marveled at the well-being of their mother and grandmother.  They cannot remember Mrs. Pratt ever being seriously ill in her 97 years.

Mrs. John W. Pratt, 2nd, and Mrs. Charles I. Pratt, Jr., of Coatesville, and Mrs. George Tuck, of Bridgeville, Del., were on hand to pour at the refreshment table, which was adorned with candles, flowers and the traditional birthday cake.

When this reporter extended congratulations to the celebrant and reminded her to read the account of her birthday in the newspaper, Mrs. Pratt promised she would.  Her parting remark, which was typical of her, was, “just don’t print any gossip.”

[Coatesville Record, Nov. 5, 1956]


Katherine M. Pratt

By Dorothy Hager

Not only is this a Centennial year for Downingtown, but it is also the year which marks the 100th birthday of a well-known Coatesville resident, born in Downingtown.

Today, Mrs. John Wesley Pratt (former Katherine Mullin) is celebrating her status as a centenarian.  Born Nov. 5, 1859 in Downingtown, she came to Coatesville in 1878 at the age of 18, the bride of the late Dr. J. W. Pratt who died in 1919.

The daughter of the late John Stanford Mullin and Sarah Ayers Mullin, her roots are steeped in the history of the neighboring borough.  Her maternal grandfather, Sheperd Ayers, served as a lay minister of early Methodism in that area, and helped to build the First Methodist Church in Downingtown.

Her early associations included attending school in the building which now serves as the Downingtown Public Library.  When she was 16, she was the church organist.  In her possession is the maple cane seated chair which she was asked to purchase for use in the choir loft.

Other nostalgic memories of her early life include stories she heard her father tell of his work at the toll gate, just east of the outskirts of Downingtown, located on the Lancaster Turnpike which opened in 1833.  Weighing and taxing of all vehicles, carriages and produce wagons as the pioneers traveled toward the West, were part of her father’s duties.

Her father also served two terms as Burgess of Downingtown and was a former County Commissioner.  In her early days, Mrs. Pratt was a staunch Democrat and took a lively interest in political activities.  In 1898, her husband was selected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

An association with the medical profession has touched Mrs. Pratt’s life with more than casual emphasis.  Not only was she the wife of a physician, but the mother of two Coatesville physicians, and the grandmother of another as well as the sister of two medical doctors.  She is also the grandmother of a local dentist.

Without the aid of telephones in the early years of her married life, she would answer the door when people sought her husband’s skill, noting calls for him to make.  In later years, she enjoyed sitting in the office to answer the telephone and perform the same service.

She enjoyed reading medical books, and two books which have always remained on her bedside table are the Bible and a Materia-Medica.  With her extensive reading of medical information, she gained knowledge enough to occasionally prescribe for minor illnesses of her children and grandchildren.

Also highlighting Mrs. Pratt’s life, has been a deep interest in the church.  Not only is she the oldest member of Olivet Methodist Church in age, but also the oldest in membership standing.

When she came to Coatesville in 1878, Mrs. Pratt attended the Methodist Church in West Coastesville.  While living in Coatesville, she had resided at 313 E. Chestnut St., and in 1885, the present Olivet Methodist Church was dedicated, just opposite the Pratt residence.  With the parsonage also located next to the church, a close relationship between Mrs. Pratt and parsonage families was established.

Never seriously ill, Mrs. Pratt has been at home to her friends every year on her birthday.  However, this year she will not be able to greet them at the Chestnut Street address since she is staying at the Tel-Hai Rest Home, near Honey Brook, and is not strong enough to receive callers other than the immediate family.

Her birthdays, however, have been highlights in her life, and on her 97th birthday, she greeted approximately 50 relatives and friends who called to extend best wishes.

Until very recently, she had maintained an avid interest in clothing, jewelry, home equipment and decoration.  She had also maintained an interest in reading, but today is more interested in talking with members of her family about their particular activities.

Although her two daughters, Miss Anna Pratt and Mrs. Maude Pratt Tuck, have died, both sons, Dr. J. S. M. Pratt and Dr. C. Ira Pratt, are practicing physicians in Coatesville.

A grandson, Dr. John Wesley Pratt, 2nd, is also a Coatesville physician and surgeon.  He is presently Chief of Staff at Coatesville Hospital.  Another grandson, Dr. Charles I. Pratt, is a local dentist.

Mrs. Pratt also has four other grandchildren including Mrs. Cornelus deVlaming, Plainfield, N.J.; Mrs. Guy B. Griswold, Jr., Thorndale; George Tuck, Bridgeville, Del.; and John Pratt Tuck, Coatesville.  There are 11 great grandchildren.

Living to see the town in which she was born celebrate its Centennial year, this remarkable woman has also seen tremendous strides in medicine, and an equally outstanding rebirth of interest in church attendance.  She has felt the anxiety of having a son, Dr. C. Ira Pratt, serve in World War I, and equal anxiety for a grandson, Dr. J.W. Pratt, 2nd, who served in World War II.

Yes, a lot of progress and accomplishment goes into a hundred years of living.

[Coatesville Record, Nov. 5, 1959]

[transcribed by David Grow, Feb. 2007]

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