1846: Stephen Hartshorn Pratt to Dr. Edward H. Pratt

What Frederic N. Pratt might have looked like

This letter was written by Stephen Hartshorn Pratt (1818-1855), the son of Loea Pratt (1782-1875) and Lucy Hartshorn (17xx-1841). Stephen wrote the letter to his brother, Dr. Edward Hartshorn Pratt (1817-1867) upon the occasion of the death of their younger brother, Frederic N. Pratt (1825-1846). Edward married to Gulina (“Julia”) Hopkinson in 1849. Stephen married Priscilla S. Johnson in 1853. Stephen was a graduate of the Kimball Union Academy (1839), Dartmouth College (1842), and the University of Maryland Medical Department (1849). Edward was a graduate of the Kimball Union Academy (1837), Dartmouth College (1841), and the Boston College Medical Department (1847).

From this letter we learn that Frederic was employed by Hayward & Co. in Baltimore, Maryland, at the time of his death in July 1846. We also learn that his benevolent employer assisted Stephen Pratt with the funeral and burial details.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Dr. E. H. Pratt, Great Falls, Somersworth, New Hampshire

Baltimore [Maryland]
July 6, 1846

Dear Brother,

As you will have learned before seeing this, all that we feared has taken place. Frederic sleeps that sleep from which none awake. But the circumstances under which he fell asleep are truly heartrending. During the last week of his illness, I was sick & unable to be with him. This was very trying to me — especially as day after day I was informed that he was continually growing weaker & more delirious. I longed to be with him, & if need be, wear out taking care of him. But a fever kept me in bed. I wept over his condition & my own & even began to think that I should go with or follow him immediately to the tomb. However, success attending the efforts of my physician, he was enabled to throw off the fever & I am now convalescent; nay more. I am able to leave my room & go out to take the open air. I hope in a day or two to be as well as usual. However, being feeble, I shall not write a long letter now as I must write also to Father.

The funeral took place at Mr. Hayward’s, July 4 at 4 o’clock P.M. Not having a relative in Baltimore able to be present, it might be expected that there would be few present & that it would be a funeral without mourners. But it was not so. A respectable gathering were in attendance at the time. Notwithstanding, it was a great gala day here. All the young men working for Hayward  Co. were present with crepe upon their arms, all showing respect & seeming to mourn the loss of one they esteemed.

Besides nearly all of Frederic’s acquaintances were present & several went to the grave. I did not invite many of my friends & chiefly because I was not able to send them a note. I invited Mr. Jarboe’s family & one other. Both went. Mr. Hayward & Mr. Jarboe had made the arrangements for the occasion. It was a very bad day — stormy. Yet many turned out. The number that went to the grave was small as must be expected. Mr. Hayward had but four hacks to convey the mourners to the grave (each held four). These were at once filled & the young men walked in procession (in the rain) showing much respect, I think, for Frederic. But the ceremony was soon over. The cold earth soon covered one we loved, & the mourners left the gloomy, dismal scene.

Thus hath gone our brother. He was decently buried — had a decent funeral (the meaning of which country people hardly know). I was told at first that the funeral would cost at least $40 if I had a decent one. I was determined Frederic should have a decent funeral & burial. But I enjoined on the managers the greatest economy. This they attended to & the whole expense amounts to about $25. The grave was to be bought — its digging paid for — the coffin, the shroud &c.&c. — the hacks &c were all to be paid for. He was buried in the Methodist burying ground, but as they bury their members by themselves, one part is called “the stranger’s ground” & here are few if any monuments to designate one grave from another. But I was pleased to learn last night that the young men associated with Frederic in the employ of Hayward & Co. have resolved to erect a respectable monument over Frederic’s grave that shall tell the traveler (where) & who lies there. This is pleasing both because it shows their respect for him & is just what I would like to have done.

Frederic’s last sickness has been very expensive. The nurse’s bill has been more than 20 dollars. More than 30 days, his Dr. called on him twice a day. The fee is usually a dollar a visit. His sickness last 40 or more days. Whether the Dr. [page torn] the circumstances will be favorable, I know not. But at any rate, these with those of the funeral will amount to a heavy bill, more than half & I may say 3/4 of which will come from my small income as Frederic’s wages, aside from what he has sent home & used for various purposes, will fall far short of meeting the demands.

I might say something about  Frederic’s last days & hours but I have chosen to defer this till I see the nurse who may acquaint me more particularly with what he said & how he was. I shall no doubt be well in a day or two.

Your brother in affliction, — S. H. Pratt

I shall take care of Frederic’s things as soon as I am able.


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