Dudley Pratt. Unusual qualities of manhood and character accompanied the successful career of the late Dudley Pratt, who for many years was one of the largest stock buyers in and about Topeka. In many ways Dudley Pratt stood apart and above the average type of stock dealer. He had none of the unscrupulous methods which have so frequently brought that vocation into disfavor. He was fair, he lived the life of the Golden Rule, and in every way he was a fitting representative of the best element of Kansas pioneer citizenship.
Born at St. Mary’s, Ohio, January 27, 1832, he was a son of Dr. Seth Pratt. His father was a successful physician in Ohio and of English ancestry.
Spending his early life in his native state, Dudley Pratt received only a practical education in the public schools. He was married in Ohio to Mary Emily Noble. The year following the close of the Civil war he brought his wife and his two oldest sons to Kansas. It was his expectation at the time of making this state his future home. Topeka was then on the western line of civilization, and the terminus of the Union Pacific Railway.
Buying 140 acres of land on the Burlingame road about one mile south of the present site of Washburn College, Dudley Pratt gave $1,100 for that land, which is now worth many times its original purchase price. That was the family home for nineteen years. There the three sons grew to manhood and began the careers which reflect additional honor upon this name. The names of these sons are Henry Fuller, Orange Albion and John Dudley. John Dudley was born on the old homestead near Topeka.
While Mr. Pratt with the aid of his sons operated his farm he was more generally known as a stock man. In time he built up the largest business as a stock dealer in that locality. He transacted business in a period when a dollar meant more to the average man than $5.00 at the present time. In all his dealings he was never known to take advantage of a patron. He never gambled on the rise or fall in the price of livestock. He shared the benefits of an advance with his patrons, and men came to trust implicitly in his word. He acted on the principle that he was entitled to a fair profit and no more. Inherent honesty was his chief characteristic. If a grower asked the price that grower knew that the quotation made by Mr. Pratt was all the market permitted. Long before he died his word was accepted as worth as much as a bond. If for no other reason he deserved to be honored and respected for this splendid quality alone.
Successful in business, he never neglected the welfare of his community. He engaged in every meritorious undertaking, and he was also a man of charity, but acting so that his charity was completely unostentatious and no record was made thereof except in the hearts of the recipients. He was invariably courteous and considerate. For sixty years he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Dudley Pratt passed away May 23, 1914, when eighty-two years of age. His wife had died in 1902.
Their oldest son Henry Fuller is one of the well known physicians of Shawnee County, living at Rossville. He is father of two children namely Dudley James, professor of Leland Stanford University of California and Esther. The two younger sons are prominent hardware merchants at North Topeka, where they have built up a large trade by exercising the same sterling qualities of character that were so prominent in the life of their father. Orange Albion, the second son, married Anna Ekel, a daughter of William Ekel. William Ekel at one time operated a lumber yard upon which the Union Pacific Park is now located. Orange A. is an active member of the Christian Church, is a member of the Masonic Order and he and his wife have five children: Leila May, Laura Mayce, Chester Warren, Virgil Thelma and Vivian Mildred.
John Dudley Pratt, the youngest of the three sons of Dudley Pratt, represents the younger generation of Topeka business men who are a credit to that city. He is a Presbyterian, and is a member of the Masonic Order. To his marriage with Miss Anna Allen was born one daughter named Gladys.
To Dudley Pratt in his declining years came the knowledge and satisfaction of having lived a life creditable alike to himself and his state. It was also a matter of gratification to him that his three sons were well settled in honorable careers and living worthy lives.