Markham Hill Moment of History                                                       2019-11-04

The Pratt Boys

Compiled by Lisa Orton

Community Radio show
aired on KPSQ 97.3 FM:

The Pratt boys’ father, Cassius Lot Pratt, was born in 1846 in Kentucky. His first wife, Maggie W. Phillips, died in 1871 at 22 years old, along with their infant daughter, Mary Elizia Pratt.  In 1875 Cassius moved to Texas. He married Mary Magdalene “Maggie” Egele in 1880. Their first child, Cassius Lot Pratt Jr., was born in 1881 when Maggie was 19 years old. Their second child, Fletcher Howard Pratt, was born in 1883. Their third child, Darwin H. Pratt, was born in 1885.  Their fourth child, Gladstone Camden Pratt, was born around 1887.  He was named after the nineteenth century British Prime Minister. The four Pratt sons were nicknamed Cash, Fletch, Coots, and Twink. The family moved to Springdale, Arkansas in 1890. Cassius’ and Maggie’s two daughters Margaret Joy Pratt and Evangeline Pratt were born in 1894 and 1898. The family moved to Fayetteville and settled on what is now called Markham Hill in 1900 when the Pratt boys were 19, 17, 15, and 13 years old, and Joy and Evangeline were 6 and 2 years old.

This paragraph is from a Pratt family descendant’s writings:

In 1906, Cassius Pratt Sr. put all his capital into a real estate speculation for his four sons. It was their Salina, Oklahoma project.  The Pratts were the dominant family, the directors of the town’s destiny. The Pratt Land Company bought all the land around the original settlement, laid out the streets and lots, built a bank building to be the town’s bankers, and built an electric generator to provide the “new” Salina with lighting. The reborn Salina was launched with a huge cookout and brass band concert to which all the surrounding population was invited. The launching of Salina was a classic model of the dream of the old west, building a town or city from scratch. For Cassius Pratt it must have been the culmination of all his years trading in real estate and now he could keep up the tradition with his sons.  The Salina project was based on blind optimism and not any profound business sense. One piece of evidence for this is the Pratts’ refusal to give land for a railroad depot to the rail line running near the town. Within five years it was clear the Salina project had failed. It was not listed as an incorporated town in the 1910 census and the 1920 census listed 411 inhabitants. The four boys then had to make their own way in the world. They drifted through minor jobs in small Oklahoma towns over the next twenty or so years until three of them settled in Tulsa. Twink became an FHA loan inspector; Coots was elected Commissioner of Finance and Revenue for the City of Tulsa for five terms; and Fletch became a small developer with a modest success. Cash was so ashamed of holding down a job as a small-town bank teller that he eventually left Oklahoma. He later became a successful dealer in precious metals in Detroit.

After the failure of the Salina project, Cassius Pratt Sr.’s family on Markham Hill had few resources. Their family residence, Pratt Place, had to double as a rooming house by the end of the 1910s. There still were enough family resources to send both daughters to the University of Arkansas. Since the family money had been wasted on the four sons, the Pratt family home and surrounding land were given to the two daughters as their inheritance.

I found two stories of interest in about two of the Pratt boys. The first story is a short article and photo in the Northwest Arkansas Times, April 14, 1965. It says,

Leverett School Class of ‘01 – There were 30 students in the 1901 class at the old, four-room Leverett School located on the corner of Maple Street and Garland Avenue. Many familiar names appear on the roster.
(Gladstone) Camden Pratt is number 27, the boy dressed in black in the upper right of the photo.

Leverett School Class of 1901 (click to enlarge)

The second story involves the eldest Pratt boy, Cash, when he was 29 years old. Below are three articles about the incident.

Fayetteville Daily, Fayetteville, Arkansas, July 1, 1910: “Cash Pratt Kills His Man”

Tahlequah, Okla., June 30. As a result of an old feud, Richard Terry, a former Deputy United States Marshal, was shot and killed here at … o’clock this morning by C. L. Pratt, cashier of the Bank of Kansas, of Kansas, Okla. Terry lived an hour after the shooting. He was shot three times. Pratt fired five times.

The shooting occurred in the rear of the Cherokee capitol building where the Cherokee payment is being made. Pratt was one of the many bill collectors on the ground and was located in his booth at the time of the shooting. The only eyewitness of the killing was the janitor of the building.

He says that Terry was walking down the aisle and when he reached opposite Pratt’s booth five shots rang out. Terry reeled and fell. Pratt had a .38 automatic revolver and a shotgun in his booth. He used the former.

In a statement to some friends Terry declared that he was unarmed and that his visit through the booths had no connection with Pratt. He denied that he was looking for him. Pratt became hysterical after the shooting. He was lodged in jail. He said he thought Terry was armed.

Terry formerly conducted a pool hall at Kansas and gave some notes for furniture to a Kansas City furniture firm. The Bank of Kansas, of which Pratt was cashier, purchased the notes. It is said that the notes caused some difficulty between Pratt and Terry and that today’s shooting was the outcome.

In 1906 Terry was wounded in a fight with the notorious Wycliffes, during which Ike Gilstrap was killed.

Pratt was reared in Springdale and Fayetteville and left some four years ago for Oklahoma. He was a student in the University for several years and was highly regarded by teachers and students. His father owns and resides at the old Norman place west of town, just north of the Fulbright place.

Muskogee Times Democrat, Muskogee, Oklahoma, September 17, 1910: “Pratt – Acquitted Bank Cashier, Arrives in Muskogee – Takes Vacation”

Cash L. Pratt, cashier of a bank at Kansas, Okla., who was acquitted by a jury of the murder of Dick Terry at Tahlequah yesterday morning, arrived in Muskogee last evening, accompanied by his brother and two armed deputy sheriffs of Cherokee county. Pratt spent the night here as the guest of Murray Haskell and according to his friends, departed for Texas this morning for a few weeks, after which he will return to Kansas, Okla., and resume his duties at the bank. After a man spends 75 days in jail he is entitled to a little fresh air, according to Pratt’s friends.

Fearing violence from friends of Terry and hearing rumors of threats, Pratt decided to leave Tahlequah early in the morning and drove overland. The sheriff of Cherokee county offered him protection which he took advantage of. Pratt drove to Fort Gibson and waited near the depot until the Frisco train came roaring in. On the platform stood a deputy sheriff who reached to his head, took off his big white hat, and ran his hand over his head. This was the signal that the “coast was clear” and none of Terry’s friends were on the train. Pratt discharged his driver and took the train and rode into Muskogee last evening. He left the city this morning.

Stilwell Standard, Stilwell, Oklahoma, September 22, 1910: “Pratt Acquitted”

Cash Pratt was acquitted at Tahlequah last week of the murder of Dick Terry during the Cherokee payment. The theory of Pratt was self-defense. Terry was living here at the time he was killed, and had lived here formerly, at one time having been city marshal. He was shot in the famous Wycliffe battle a few years ago.

Following are the obituaries of Fletch, Coots, and Cash. I was unable to find Twink’s obituary, but I know he died after his three brothers and two sisters because he attended all their funerals.

Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, August 13, 1960

Fletcher Howard Pratt, 77, real estate owner, dealer, and builder, died Friday at his home in Tulsa, Okla., where he had lived for many years. He was a native of Henryetta, Texas, the son of Cassius Lot and Maggie Egele Pratt, and was a former resident of Fayetteville where he attended schools. He was a bachelor and a frequent visitor to Fayetteville where his mother and two sisters reside.  Survivors are his mother, Mrs. C. L. Pratt, who observed her 98th birthday today; two sisters, Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham and Mrs. Evangeline Archer; and three brothers, C. L. Pratt, Detroit, G. C. and D. H. Pratt of Tulsa. Funeral services are to be conducted this afternoon at 3:30 o‘clock at The Watson Mortuary. Burial will be in Fairview cemetery.

Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, August 22, 1962

Tulsa – D. H. Pratt, 77, a former executive of the First National Bank of Tulsa, died at his home there last night. Born in Clay County, Tex. March 17, 1885, the son of Cassius L. and Maggie Pratt, he spent his early youth in Springdale and Fayetteville and was a graduate of the University. Pratt served five terms as finance commissioner for the city of Tulsa during which time municipal actions for public welfare and progress were initiated. Survivors include two sisters, Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham and Mrs. Evangeline Waterman Archer, both of this city and two brothers, G. C. Pratt of Tulsa and C. L. Pratt Jr. of Detroit. Funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon in Tulsa.

Northwest Arkansas Times, August 12, 1963

Cassius L. Pratt Jr., 82, who grew up in Fayetteville, was found dead last night in the bathroom of his home in Detroit where he was a well-known metals refiner. Two sisters, Mrs. Laird Archer and Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham, reside in Fayetteville. Mrs. Archer had gone to Detroit to be with him in response to a phone call several days ago.

Cash Pratt, as he was known, was a student at the University here but entered the early development of Oklahoma without graduating. With the financial backing of his father, who was a landowner and judge in Texas before retiring to Washington County, he became head of townsite developments at Salina, Oklahoma and elsewhere in the surrounding territory, then a banker for years at Picher, active in city developments. He had retired from his metals refinery in Detroit but still handled the output of a Mexican mercury mining corporation. He was the son of the late Cassius L. Pratt and Maggie Pratt of Markham Road but was born in Texas, moving here when a boy. Mrs. Markham has accompanied her Tulsa brother G. C. Pratt and wife to Detroit for the funeral.

After the funeral services at Detroit Wednesday afternoon, the cremated remains of Cassius L. Pratt Jr. will be brought to Fayetteville for burial beside the grave of his mother, Maggie Pratt, who died at 99 in 1961. His widow, Nina, his sisters, Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham and Mrs. Laird Archer of Fayetteville, and a brother, G. C. Pratt, with wife Mrs. Pratt will return together from Detroit.