Thursday, December 17, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 - #50 Witness To History - Elisha Pratt and Anne (Porter) Pratt, Spencertown, NY

 Witness To History

The French and Indian War was fought in North America. 

If you fought in it, you were a witness to history. 

What if you had also participated in the “War that Started America” the Revolutionary War? You’d have really had a front-row seat to History. My husband’s 6th gr-grandfather did both.

Elisha Pratt, was the son of Joseph Pratt 4 (Sr) [B 1671, Hartford, CT D 1740 in Colchester, CT] and Sarah Collier (Collyer), his grandparents on his mother’s side were  Joseph Collier and Elizabeth Sanford of Hartford CT.

Elisha Pratt's headstone

Anne (Porter)Pratt headstone


Elisha Pratt was born 10 Aug 1707 in Colchester, New London, CT and he died 19 Sep 1791 in Spencertown, Columbia, NY.

MARRIAGE

He married Anne Porter, daughter of John Porter, on  27 Feb 1735/6 in Colchester, New London, CT. Anne Porter (B 1716 and D 1793)

MOVEMENT OUT OF HARTFORD

Three of his brothers Daniel, Azariah and Joseph Pratt Jr to Kent, CT. Whereas Elisha, David, Joshua, and Joel moved to, or are connected to the Spencertown, NY area.

Elisha settled in Spencertown and as a deacon in the church there in Spencertown. He and his wife are buried in Spencertown graveyard behind the church.

Pratt headstones are found directly behind this church

Current church was originally a Congregational Church
FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR

Elisha Pratt Served in the French and Indian War in the Connecticut Regiment under Phineas Lyman. He was a major (1762)

THE DIVIDING LINE

The Revolutionary War was a great divider. Naturally, there were colonists who had no strong opinion either way on the matter, but there were evidently plenty of colonists who felt one way or the other.
Elisha and Ann Pratt’s daughter Ann had married to John Savage. Savage was an outspoken supporter of England, called a “Loyalist”  (See this post: Ann Pratt & John Savage ).

Elisha and the other Pratts though were not Loyalists. In fact, Elisha is the first ancestor I have found evidence that he served on one of the Committees of Correspondence. What was a Committee of Correspondence? Correspondence of course is letters. The “Committee of Correspondence” was first formed in Massachusetts in 1772 to make a system of communication with assemblies throughout the other colonies. Its aim was to both educate townspeople on their political rights, and to build support for the cause of independence against British rule. 1 2

The Albany Committee of Correspondence was set up right after the first shot was fired in Massachusetts. A David Pratt (who I take to be Elisha’s brother) was very active in it. The Albany Committee was divided up into geographical sections most of which are roughly comparable to the way the area is currently divided now: Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Columbia County.  (Albany was at the advantage, as the Dutch had established it as a trading post and when the English took it over, they retained the port advantage on the Hudson River.) Albany’s port was the northernmost point where large ships could travel up the Hudson River from New York City, so it was a major city.

There was no America yet, and the area that Spencertown is in was still disputed territory between Western Mass or New York. At the time, that question or quarrel was still going on between the two colonies and not yet settled.

However, Spencertown used Albany as its closest major port, so it was attached to the Albany NY Committee of Correspondence. At the time we were under the King of England the area Spencertown was in was called, the “King’s District” (which is logical, but many places had kept Dutch names, or adopted Indian names). [Later, Spencertown became part of NYS and the county it was in was dubbed “Columbia County.”]

But you say, how did Elisha participate in the Revolutionary war? He was a member and served on the Albany (NY) Committee of Correspondence for the “Kings District.” 3  as Spencertown was called at the time.

FAMILY

I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to have his daughter Ann married to a died-in-the-wool Loyalist as John Savage was. She was wed sometime before 1770.

I think the couple, Ann and John Savage, had a rough time as they remained loyal to the King of England.  While Elisha and his wife Anne, as well as their other children all were supporters of the "rebel" (American) side.

Eventually, his daughter and husband John Savage moved (twice) to Canada after the war, and were pioneers in the settlement of the town of Bromont in Quebec.

While the family was divided for a long time, evidence suggests that the family remained connected. The daughter who married John Savage and moved to Canada also had a nephew (a Pratt) live with them for a time in Canada. 




1 American Battlefield Trust  Committees of Correspondence | American Battlefield Trust (battlefields.org)

2 Massachusetts Historical Society Coming of the American Revolution: The Committees of Correspondence (masshist.org)

3 Internet Archive Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence 1775-1778 Vol 1 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

4 Genealogical and Personal History of Northern Pennsylvania, Volume 3,  page 1342 John Woolf Jordan

5 For more on Spencertown and the Pratts, see: The Peculiar Story of Spencertown; published by The Society for the Preservation of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, Vol. 18, No. 4-6 April-June 2015   http://hmvarch.org/news/2015-04-05-06-news.pdf

6 Photos of Spencertown, Columbia County, USA; prop ACharity Johnson 2019 

1 comment:

  1. I have a letter that my great great grandfather Ezra Pratt (b. 4/1/1774) wrote to his future wife, Eunice Hollister, in August of 1795. They were married in January of 1796. Ezra was the grandson of Elisha Pratt born in 1707.

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