William Pratt

William Pratt

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As we look back to the history of Gem County, we find family names that are in the community today. The following story was originally published in the 1919 Emmett Index. It is as was written 95 years ago. The Pratt family are pioneers who entered the area in 1898. Their descendants still live in Gem County.

Helped capture Cole Younger

William Pratt, a visitor here, had part in running down desperadoes.

Emmett has a visitor one of the men who assisted in the capture of Cole Younger, the noted desperado, and his associates, following the Northfield, Minn., bank robbery. He is William Pratt, now a resident of Harrington, Wash., who arrived a few days ago to visit his son John Pratt, a former resident of the Squaw Creek country.

Mr. Hart is a gray-haired man and is well along in years, but he has a vivid recollection of the exciting events connected with the robbery of the Northfield bank, having been a resident of that city and the trailing and capture of Cole Younger and his band.

There were five men in the band, says Mr. Pratt in relating his experience. When the robbery occurred posses were organized and a large number of the citizens of that section were sworn in as deputies. Mr. Pratt was one of them. He and a companion were sent as watchers to a bridge about five miles out of Northfield. The robbers chose that route in endeavoring to make their escape. When they passed over the bridge, while his companion was hidden behind a tree on the other side of the stream.

The robbers were on horseback. As soon as the robbers had passed out of sight, Mr. Pratt hurried back to Northfield to report and posses were quickly on the trail. The running fight that followed and the capture of Cole Younger are a matter of history.

A nephew of Cole Younger, who is also his namesake, is a rancher near Meridian.

The Gem County connection

William Pratt was the great-great-grandfather of Gem County’s Dave Pratt. William and Jeanette came from Ireland to Canada in 1864 and eventually settled in Minnesota. William made trips to Gem County and stayed off and on with family. Around 1898, Dave’s great-grandfather bought a homestead between Sweet and Ola. The area on Six Mile Creek is still called the Pratt’s place. William Edgar Pratt, Dave’s grandfather, homesteaded at Soldier Creek. The place was rocky and steep. It was one of the last homesteads in the area. 

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