December 1890 - Diary of Hiram Pratt
Note: These diaries were in the Waveland Public Library for decades but were disposed of by a librarian several decades ago. Luckily, another librarian's daughter (thanks sooo much Pam, at the death of her mother, Virginia Banta Sharpe found them in some belongings and gave them back for proper housing. A complete circle; however, only 14 of the 50+ diaries were saved from the library's incinerator. I'm a librarian too and thought since they'd been lost to posterity for so many years that it would be a good thing to transcribe them and give them to the world. They are currently housed in proper temperature/storage at the Crawfordsville District Public Library - typed as they were written
Note 2 : Karen Bazzani Zach (transcriber) was raised in the big 'ol town (500 people) where HA Pratt lived 5 decades before I was born. I remember the building where his little shop was and wish it was still there. What an interesting little place. ALAS! Progress !
Note 3: Some information about Pratt -- he was born in Parke County, Indiana April 20, 1840 the oldest child of eight born to Erastus & Elizabeth Allen Pratt and died October 12, 1914 in his beloved Waveland, Indiana. He was twice married, first to the love of his life (he kept a life-sized poster of her in one of his cabinets at his barber shop, even long after his second marriage) Eliza Franklin Shaw (born Oct 23, 1841 died Oct 12, 1887), and #2 to his friend, Evaline "Eva" McMains. He was very active in the community where he and Eliza chose to live. He gave generously of his time and money to the Methodist Church in Waveland. For a few years, he served as Marshall of the town. Also, he worked diligently for his Odd Fellows, Rebekah & Knights of Phythias Lodges, was for a time on the town board, and read to those who could not read from the several newspapers he was agent for. Pratt volunteered and served for three years during the Civil War (Co. B, 36th Infantry), and spent time in the dreaded Andersonville prison. He and Eliza adopted a son, Willie Franklin Stump, age two (not sure ever officially or just had permission to take him from the Poor House in Crawfordsville) and he was an amazing young boy (high grades, worked in the church, quite musicially inclined, just an ideal child) until Eliza was taken to the hospital where she was operated on for six cervical tumors (one weighing six pounds) from which she died. Willie went wild after that and he and Hiram's second wife, Eva never got along. He ended-up in Reform School (for stealing a dollar twice from Eva among other small crimes), and later sent home to die due to consumption (what we know as tuberculosis) dying in Hiram's arms on April 12, in 1894. Hiram missed Willie and Eliza more than most I do believe as he wrote about them so often in these diaries. Just wish the rest of Pratt's diaries he wrote for over 50 years as a barber in Waveland still existed :( kbz
Monday December 1 - Yesterday I was at class in the morning and at Sunday School in the afternoon. Eva and I took dinner out at Will Kelso's. Bob Kelso brought me in for Sunday school. I went out to Kelso's for Eva. We retired early. There being no church service anywhere in town. The weather is as fine as I ever saw for the time of the year. Turning colder.
Tuesday December 2 - I helped Eva yesterday morning with the washing - we were up soon after five. Eva was the firs tone in our part of the town with the cloths out in the line. This morning ice had formed over the water in a tuba t the well and over the water in the rain water barrel. Eva has made affine lot of mince meat. We have a lot of fresh hog meat. Loyd has killed one of his hogs.
Wednesday December 3-Three years and two months ago today my little woman of precious memory and I went down to Terre Haute. It was her last day for this place. She was impressed, she would never return. As we passed by the stock pens, she looked over toward our house and threw her little hands to her face crying. She said, "Oh will I ever come back to my pretty little home.' I let her see a return ticket I had for her. She said, "I am afraid I will near need it."
Thursday December 4-Bro. Wolfe and wife after two weeks' visit in Michigan returned this a.m. Bro Kindig is holding a protracted meeting at New Market. The weather is now cold.
Mercury was 10 degrees above zero this morning. The Vandalia train from the north had snow on it. Snowed a little this morning. Mary Ellen will be at our house tomorrow evening. I am well.
Friday December 5 - 38 months ago today my little woman was operated for the removal of internal tumors. Dr. Leo J. Weinstein operator assisted by 4 others. I had a nice dream of her last night. If I could have my way, I would dream of her every night. The weather is remarkably nice for the trim of year. A rain would be acceptable.
Saturday December 6-I was not out late tonight work in the shp is very light. The new shop of Ed Cuppy's is well patronized. He has a real neat room. Eva and her sister Nancy Kelso have combined their resources for entertaining visitors on the account of the dedicatory services on tomorrow. I am at home by 10:30 tonight. Mary Ellen's sister came in tonight.
Sunday December 7-Sam McMains and his daughter Minnie and Nancy from near Morten (sic - Morton) were at our house today. We all attended the dedicatory services today. Elder Ewing of Frankfort did the preaching. A debt of 800 dollars was to be provided for $1000 was pledged and at the night services Elder Badger the pastor dedicated the beautiful house to the worship of Almighty God.
Monday December 8 - Eva done her week's washing this afternoon. I rendered her no assistance on this occasion. Elder OP Badger and wife were at our house for dinner on Saturday and remain tonight with us. The meeting is to be continued throughout the week. The nice weather is still with us. Bob Mc went to Terre haute this p.m. He came in Saturday.
Tuesday December 9 - I rec'd a letter from Willie this morning. He was well and expressed thanks for the Thanksgiving offer I sent him. Making special mention of each item. He writes a much better hand than at first. His spelling and use of capital letters are correct. His badge is 14 at the first it was 16. He said he was getting along very nicely.
Wednesday December 10 - Eva attends the meeting mornings and evenings. I have given my name for membership of the order of knights of Pythians. Every body says, "Did you ever see such nice weather for the time of year." The roads and streets are as dusty as in mid-summer. Wells in some places have failed to give the required amount of water for house use.
Thursday December 11 - Willie Butcher attended our prayer meeting tonight. I did intend going but had to stay in the store. The farmers are meet in the IOOF Hall to organize a post of the Alliance Old Uncle Sim Clore is crankery on the subject. John Woodgate gave me $2 as being my share of what he rec'd for work in the shop. There has been 6 inches of snow in the north part of the state.
Friday December 12 - Three years and two months ago this morning at 20 minutes of 3 by the clock my dear little woman passed from earth away I believe that now her spirit is by my side for she said in life that if she died and if it were possible for the spirits of the deceased to be with their friends she would be with me. "I will be by your side always. I will not leave you," are the words of her own.
Saturday December 13 - This afternoon I was at work in my shop when a young man came in whom I recognized at once as Leslie Webster. Some 8 years ago he lived here. His father TC Webster was for 3 years our pastor here. From here he went to Renssalaer and from there to Nebraska. I knew him on sight. He is 18 years old and is married. A barber by profession.
Sunday December 14 - I was at class meeting this morning. P.M. Conner lead the services we had a good meeting. After class I went to the Presbyterian Church and heard a man from Rockville, Indiana. The Lords supper was served after the preachings. Eva was at her church. They have a protracted meeting. I was with her tonight. Four were immersed.
Monday December 15 - We were up this morning a few minutes after 4. I helped Eva with the washing. By 9 she had all her mornings work done and this afternoon she ironed the cloths. She is proud of her speed today and is glad the work is done. The Midland folks had an engine and 3 cars derailed near their turn table south of town.
Tuesday December 16 - We had a little snow fall last night. Most of it disappeared today. Pennsylvania and NY have a snow 2' deep. Trains in many places are unable to pursue their trips. A good rain would be received with thanks by everyone. Many wells in town are dry. Ours at present has a good supply. Wheat is doing well.
Wednesday December 17 - The snow is about all gone. Old Sitting Bull an Indian of considerable note for his meanness was killed by Indiana police, who had put him under arrest. He ordered his follows to rescue him and he was killed also one of his sons. Give white men were also killed. The Indians were put to rout. They are in for war.
Thursday December 18 - The snow has disappeared. The weather is so warm that fire in the heating stoves are hardly necessary. The needs considered be watching to keep them from going out. Leslie Webster has gone to Crawfordsville. He left here last Monday night. William Scott, son of our old postmaster is in from Kansas.
Friday December 19 - The meetings at the New church for the present are done with. Bro. Ewing will return to Frankfort in the morning. They have two more candidates fro baptism. Three joined who had been immersed. Eva has written to her sister in Arkansas and at Rossville, Ill. It is quite a task off of her mind. She don't like to write.
Saturday December 20 - I sent Willie a few papers today. I was intending tow rite him a letter this week but find I have put it off too late. He will be disappointed in not hearing from me this week. John Woodgate has been working in my shop fro two weeks. He is on a drunk today. I will not kneed (sic) his services any longer.
Sunday December 21 - I was at church this morning. Bro Kindig gave us a good sermon. At 3 p.m. I was at Sunday school. Tonight Eva went with me to hear Kindig. It has been quite a long time since she had gone to church with me. I wrote Willie a letter this evening. I will send him a bag of Christmas goods. He will be glad to be remembered on Christmas day by me.
Monday December 22 - The washing was out before 10 this morning. I helped Eva with the hardest part. The weather is as mild as summer. We have been without fire in our large coal stove for several days. I was initiated in the Knights of Pythias last Friday night first degree. Next Friday night I will try it again.
Tuesday December 23 - I have all my Christmas goods displayed for the Christmas trade. I bought no new goods for this special trade. The tree for Christmas this year is at the Baptist Church. Apples are now $5.50 a barrel. They are very scarce. I sell 3 for 5 c or 50c a peck. Oranges sell 5 cts a piece. Lemons 2 for 5c Candy 10 c a pound.
Wednesday December 24 - I sent Willie a pair of gloves a comfort for neck wear, a pocket knife, a bag of pop corn and peanuts 4 oranges and a lot of apples. Paid 60 cts express charges to Plainfield, In. The roads are dusty. Weather a little cooler since sundown. Eva had a fire in the stove when I arrived at home tonight. The Masons have public installation of officers next Saturday night.
Thursday December 25 - I was again elected secretary for another year in the Methodist Sunday School. I have held the office for two years. Wish someone else had been elected. Bro. Conner was chosen supt again. The ground is covered with snow. Snow fell all day. We came very near a black Christmas Eva rec'd a nice present from Ella Petty. Mammouth Spring, Neb.
Friday December 26-Eva rec'd a nice present form sister Eliza of Blakesburg, Iowa. It was a chair tidy knit from 5 pound cotton. Verry pretty indeed. I was put through the second degree in the Lodge of Knights of Pythias. The membership had bushels of fun at my expense. John Spruhan and Dave Demaree took the first degree. I'll laugh at them next Friday night.
Saturday December 27 - I done about two dollars worth of work in my shop this afternoon. I have received a numerous congratulations today concerning my deportment last night in takin the second degree I the order of Knights of Pythias. Weather tolerable cool today. I didn't go home to dinner I mean supper. Wrote a letter to Willie yesterday evening. I have a cold.
Sunday December 28 - I was at class this a.m. at 3 p.m. was at Sunday school. The Sunday school board selected me for their secretary for the year 1891. The Snow that fell on Christmas day has about all disappeared. I remained at home tonight and retired at an early hour. I have a bad cold that is giving me some trouble.
Monday December 29 - I helped Eva with her washing this forenoon. The snow is all gone and we have had a real nice day. Mr. WH Fullenwider is talking of buying my grocers and store. I would only be too glad that he would do so and the sooner the better. I would then fit me at a nice barber shop and resolve to never leave it while I had my senses.
Tuesday December 30 - We have had another fair day. I have had a tolerable fair demand for holliday goods. These goods are several years old but sell as well as if new. Albert Deere is not a success as a barber I would like to get some one to work in the shop that could hold the trade. I met with the Odd Fellows test tonight.
Wednesday December 31 - The last day of the old year is numbered with the past. I am very thankful that I am in the enjoyment of reasonable good health. The thing most regretful to my mind at present is that I had to send Willie away from home. I think of him many hours daily. He aught to have been a good boy, then he could have had a good home and would now be in school with the rest of the children of town. I hope he will learn a good lesson where he is and when released will appreciate a good position when he has one. He writes me a letter regular every three weeks. He seems to be well pleased with the home. I hope to see him some time next summer. My cold is no better.
Clippings regarding Willie from
Source: Crawfordsville Journal Sept 30, 1890 -- Doc Cox took Willie Pratt to Plainfield today where Willie will remain until of age. The lad piped his eye and sent his love to Waveland residents.
Source: Crawfordsville Journal Oct 1, 1890 -- Doc Cox reports that young Pratt was highly pleased with his surroundings at Plainfield as well as with his uniform of blue jeans.