Biography of Walter R. Pratt
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Walter R. Pratt. In 1899 Mr. Pratt established himself in business in the City of Independence, Montgomery County, and he had not only continued as one of the representative factors in the business activities of this community, but had also so shown his civic loyalty and progressiveness as to be called upon to serve as mayor of the city, of which office he was the incumbent one term and in which he gave a most effective administration.
Mr. Pratt is of Scotch and English lineage and the first representatives of the family in America settled in Virginia, in the colonial era of our national history. Mr. Pratt was born at Madisonville, judicial center of Hopkins County, Kentucky, on the 16th of May, 1871, and is a son of Judge Clifton J. Pratt, who was born in Woodford County, Illinois, in 1845, but who was reared to manhood at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to which state his parents returned after a comparatively brief pioneer experience in Illinois. At Madisonville, Kentucky, was solemnized the marriage of Judge Pratt to Miss Sallie M. Waddill, who was born at that place in 1852, and there they still maintain their home. Judge Pratt had long been numbered among the representative lawyers and influcntial citizens of Hopkins County, Kentucky, and had been called upon to serve in various offices of distinctive public trust. He represented his distriet in the State Senate for one term of four years, was judge of the Circuit Court five years, and at the time of the famous Taylor-Goebel gubernatorial campaign in Kentucky he was the republican nominee for attorney-general of the state, an office to which he was elected for the regular term of four years. Such were the exigencies of the political situation that, under protest, he yielded his claims to this office, and later filed suit for reinstatement, with the result that he was enabled to serve as attorneygeneral during the last two years of the term for which he had been elected, he having effected a friendly adjustment of the contest. He is a stalwart republican in a strong democratic district and state, and that he was elected attorney-general indicates the strong place he had in popular confidence and esteem. He had served as a member of the municipal council of Madisonville and also as a member of the board of edncation. The judge was a gallant soldier of the Union during the entire course of the Civil war, took part in many important battles and was with General Sherman in the historic march from Atlante to the sea. Of the children of Judge Clifton J. and Sallie M. (Waddill) Pratt, Walter R., of this review, is the eldest; Otway died in infancy; Lawrence W., forrnerly a merchant, is now virtually an invalid and resided at Madisonville, Kentucky; and Virgil died at the age of five years.
The early education of Walter R. Pratt was acquired in well-ordered private schools in his native town and was supplemented by a course of higher study in Eureka College, at Eureka, Illinois, where he completed the work of the sophomore year, besides taking a supplemental conrse at a later period. He left college in 1891 and for a time thereafter was associated with the newspaper business in his native city. Thereafter he was similarly engaged with the Earlington Bee, at Earlington, in the same county, for one year. He then engaged in the book and stationery business at Madisonville, where he remained until 1899, when he came to Independence, Kansas, and established himself in the same line of enterprise. He built up a business but in 1914 he sold all except the department devoted to office supplies, art supplies and productions, to which he had since given his attention, with a large and representative supporting patronage, his well appointed offices being at 112 West Laurel Street, and his residence, a property owned by him, being at 201 South Second Street.
Reared in the faith of the republican party, Mr. Pratt had not faltered in his allegiance thereto, and he had been influential in its councils in Montgomery County. He served as a member of the eity council from 1901 to 1903, was renominated without opposition but declined to become a candidate for another term. In 1904 he was secretary of the Republican Campaign Committee of Montgomery County, and in this connection did effective service in furthering the interests of the national, state, congressional and county tickets of his party. In the absonce of the chairman of the committee he virtually had the management of the campaign in Montgomery County. In 1905 he was elested mayor of Independence on a platform designating one term as the limit of service in this office, and he lived up to this plank of the platform, so that he did not appear as a candidate for reelection at the expiration of his term. He gave a signiflcantly progressive and satisfactory administration, during which he put forth splendid efforts in behalf of good municipal government in all departments. He issned the first proclamation for a general “clean-up day” in Independence, and gave strong support to the movement for the paving of intersecting streets and alleys, to the establishing of a city hospital and the public library, both of which are a credit and source of pride to the city. Within his administration the city also gained control of its waterworks plant, which had since been operated under direct municipal control. He recommended and effected the removal of unsightly wooden and metal awnings along the business streets, and otherwise did much to make Independence a model city. He is a member of the Christian Church and his wife of the Baptist at Independence and he is serving on the official board of his church.
Mr. Pratt is affiliated with Dan Grass Camp, No. 8, Sons of Veterans, of which he is secretary; he is an active and valued member of the Commercial Club and a member of the Country Club.
At Madisonville, Kentucky, on the 26th of June, 1893, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Pratt to Miss Helen W. Whittinghill, daughter of John S. and Genoa Whittinghill, the latter of whom is now deceased. Mr. Whittinghill now resided at St. Joseph, Missouri, and is an independent adjuster for wholesale houses. In conclusion is given brief record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Pratt:
Florence E., who was born August 1, 1894, remains at the parental home and is a popular factor in the social life of the community. She was graduated in the Independence High School, later attended the University of Kansas, and she had given effective service as a cadet or substitute teacher in the public schools. Clifton J., who was born April 16, 1896, is a commercial artist and traveling saleman in the lithographing and printing trade and had his business headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Walter Abner, who was born August 31, 1901, is a member of the senior class in the junior high school of Independence, and will become a student in the regular high school in 1917. He is specially interested in school athleties and had won a number of track victories in amateur events. Dexter, who was born October 5, 1904, is attending the public schools.