APRIL 1890 - Hiram Pratt Diary
Note: These diaries were in the Waveland Public Library for decades but were disposed of by a librarian several decades ago. Luckily, another librarian's daughter (thanks sooo much Pam, at the death of her mother, Virginia Banta Sharpe found them in some belongings and gave them back for proper housing. A complete circle; however, only 14 of the 50+ diaries were saved from the library's incinerator. I'm a librarian too and thought since they'd been lost to posterity for so many years that it would be a good thing to transcribe them and give them to the world. They are currently housed in proper temperature/storage at the Crawfordsville District Public Library - typed as they were written
Note 2 : Karen Bazzani Zach (transcriber) was raised in the big 'ol town (500 people) where HA Pratt lived 5 decades before I was born. I remember the building where his little shop was and wish it was still there. What an interesting little place. ALAS! Progress !
Note 3: Some information about Pratt -- he was born in Parke County, Indiana April 20, 1840 the oldest child of eight born to Erastus & Elizabeth Allen Pratt and died October 12, 1914 in his beloved Waveland, Indiana. He was twice married, first to the love of his life (he kept a life-sized poster of her in one of his cabinets at his barber shop, even long after his second marriage) Eliza Franklin Shaw (born Oct 23, 1841 died Oct 12, 1887), and #2 to his friend, Evaline "Eva" McMains. He was very active in the community where he and Eliza chose to live. He gave generously of his time and money to the Methodist Church in Waveland. For a few years, he served as Marshall of the town. Also, he worked diligently for his Odd Fellows, Rebekah & Knights of Phythias Lodges, was for a time on the town board, and read to those who could not read from the several newspapers he was agent for. Pratt volunteered and served for three years during the Civil War (Co. B, 36th Infantry), and spent time in the dreaded Andersonville prison. He and Eliza adopted a son, Willie Franklin Stump, age two (not sure ever officially or just had permission to take him from the Poor House in Crawfordsville) and he was an amazing young boy (high grades, worked in the church, quite musicially inclined, just an ideal child) until Eliza was taken to the hospital where she was operated on for six cervical tumors (one weighing six pounds) from which she died. Willie went wild after that and he and Hiram's second wife, Eva never got along. He ended-up in Reform School (for stealing a dollar twice from Eva among other small crimes), and later sent home to die due to consumption (what we know as tuberculosis) dying in Hiram's arms on April 12, in 1894. Hiram missed Willie and Eliza more than most I do believe as he wrote about them so often in these diaries. Just wish the rest of Pratt's diaries he wrote for over 50 years as a barber in Waveland still existed :( kbz
Tuesday April 1 - Mrs. J. E. Walter now claims that the household goods are hers and that she is not responsible for her husbands debts. She was interested in eating the provision contracted for her by her husband and ought to feel interested in the payment therefore. Don't know how we will come out at the end. I do not like to be so opening swindled. Eva had Mrs. Moore to do her washing.
Wednesday April 2-Have had nothing more concerning the case with JE Walters. The Mississippi river below Cairo is ungovernable and many hundred and thousands of acres of good land is under water. Whole counties are submerged some places the water is 8' deep on the level miles away from the river. Stock has been washed away and people drowned.
Thursday April 3 - Just 30 months ago today since my little woman and I went down to Terre Haute, Ind. Each time as the day of the month occurs I call to mind everything that transpired that day. We came very near being to late for the train. I had permitted myself to be detained by customers in the shop. It was my last day with her in this town (Waveland). Eva's sister Mary Ellen is at our house tonight. She will remain perhaps until Monday.
Friday April 4 - School will be out next Thursday and then all the school children will be set adrift. I wish I could fine employment for Willie. He will graduate in the common branches of English education at the close of his school. For the next 3 years he will be entitled to the privilege of the high school. We have made no garden yet. The ground is too cold and wet. Some have planted potatoes.
Saturday April 5 - I helped Frank in the shop awhile this evening and awhile tonight. The cash sales in the grocery today were not as good as I would like to have. I have the quarterly report for our Sunday School ready for report on tomorrow evening. Great preparations are made at the Methodist Church for Easter day services. Willie was at the Baptist Sunday School last March 16 for the last time. He would rather gad about in idleness.
Sunday April 6 - I was at church this morning. Eva was at her church services. Mary Ellen, Eva's sister came over day before yesterday. Her husband came over yesterday. They returned to Alamo this evening. Eva, Willie and I were at the Easter day services tonight. Everything was real nice. I was at our Sunday School this p.m. at 3 o'clock. Willie was at the Baptist SS at 2 p.m. My little woman was operated upon 30 months ago today.
Monday April 7 - We are not blessed with as nice weather now as in the days past though fair weather for the time of season. Peace trees are out in fine colors and other small fruit trees are budding quite prominently. Willie is preparing an essay for his day of graduation. His subject is "Commerce." The exhibition will be held in the ME Church. The Mississippi River is flooding large portions of the south land.
Tuesday April 8 - Eva had her washing done by Mrs. Moore yesterday today she ironed. She is making me some white shirts. The democrats beat us republican bad yesterday in the township elections. Bro Wolfe is the Township Trustee by 76. He was elected by republican votes. He will make a good and competent trustee. We have had charming nice weather today a weather breeder perhaps.
Wednesday April 9 - Eva and Willie attended the School exhibition at the ME Church tonight. They were well pleased with the exercises. Eva stoped at the grocery for me as she went home. The wind has been rather high all day. Misted rained little. I have bought a large coffee mill for the grocery. Willie will get off his "commerce" speech on Friday night next.
Thursday April 10 - Willie attended the play of Cinderilla at Milligan's Hall. Eva did not care to attend. There was a heavy storm passed through Illinois yesterday no lives are reported lost, several more or less injured. Samuel Randall democratic senator from Pennsylvania is near to death. They will lose an able representative. We have as yet made no garden. Next week if everything is favorable we will do something at gardening.
Friday April 11 - I was at the entertainment given by the graduating class of our graded school. Willie was one of a class of 14 ranking No 4 in the order of merit. Next year if he continues to live with me will enter the high school. He will be 17 years old the 9th day of next May. Eva was not of a mind to attend the exhibition. The weather is again very nice.
Saturday April 12 - Just 30 months ago today or rather at 2.40 of the morning my little woman Eliza F. Pratt passed from out of this world. She had the right use of her mind down to the last minute. When she could not longer hear or speak when I would put a spoon filled with cold water she would pucker her lips in the act of sipping. The last word she tried to utter was that of her sister Clara. She could not pronounce the name distinctly her tongue was thick.
Sunday April 13 - Just 30 months ago today my little pet was put away forever from sight to rest until the great resurrection day. I shall never more see her except in my dreams and I am glad that I am permitted to see her and to talk with her in my dreams. I was at class this a.m. had a good meeting. We were at Wm. Kelso's for dinner. Eva had gone out there while I was at meeting. Willie was there too.
Monday April 14 - Mrs. Moore done the washing for Eva today. Were it not that the weather is rather cool and unsettled house cleaning would be the order of the day. Willie and I have done some work in the garden. Willie pulled off his nice shoes at the railroad bridge yesterday when on his way to Kelsos and hid them under the bridge as he thought someone found them.
Tuesday April 15 - We planted some early potatoes today and tomorrow will plant some onion sets. Some of our citizens have planted a good portion of their gardens. For my part I have noticed that seed are most apt to grow when planted in warm earth. It is not too late yet for frost. Willie's shoes are supposed to have been found by a strange boy a tramp through there.
Wednesday April 16 - The Methodist Christians are to have a ministered convention of two days here beginning on Tuesday the 28 of this month. I remember to have attended a meeting of this kind several years ago and was very much interested with the entertainment. A card from my sister Eliza says the folks are all well, she wants to hear from us.
Thursday April 17 - I was at prayer meeting tonight it was led by the pastor. He called on me for prayer at the close. The weather has been more spring like. The farmers are not going to have but very little wheat. The last two cold spells froze it out completely. Only in a very few instances will there be any worth the harvesting. We are well.
Friday April 18 - I have agreed to give 4 packages of Katore Coffee to assist in the making up of premium for the coming horse show which is to be here one week from tomorrow. I am to have a nice bedroom set to give to my customers on the ticket plan. One ticket is given to the one who spends 50 cts with me at one time.
Saturday April 19 - I was solicited today by our pastor Bro Henry Kindig to know how many of the visiting ministers I would lodge and am to have two. The weather is very delightful. This being pay day on the road, our cash receipt ran up to $70. I wish the credit system was done away with. It causes me to be hard run to collect bills to pay others.
Sunday April 20 - I, this day, am a semi-centenarian - just 50 years old. I write this without the use of glasses. I can read ordinary news print of a clear bright day but can see to read as good as I ever did with the aid of glasses. I am much older than I ever thought I would be. I am in good health. Bless the Lord.
Monday April 21 - Eva had her washing done today by Mrs. David M. Moore. Yesterday I was at the Methodist Christian Church and at Sunday School in the evening. At night I went with Eva to hear Bro OP Badger. He comes here twice each month and on the same days that we house services at the ME Church. Brother Badgers is quite an interesting speaker.
Tuesday April 22 - Bob McMains has an engagement with a man in the north part of the state to canvass in the interest of nursery. He left here last or yesterday morning. The good weather is with us yet. Farmers have in many instances plow'd up their wheat and sown oats. Eva commenced house cleaning today.
Wednesday April 23 - Nancy and Mary Bloomfield are helping Eva with housecleaning. They have the sitting room and parlor cleaned and the carpets down. House hold goods are in a demoralized condition. This craze of house cleaning is in order at least once every year. Our cook stove is in the summer kitchen. It will soon be time to put our gasoline stove in use.
Thursday April 24 - I hard no bell for prayer meeting consequently did not go. The meeting house is being treated to a new carpet. McCormick and Spruhan have donated the society a $5 clock and it hangs on the east wall between the two north windows. The side room has been carpeted with the old carpet from the audience room. Lamps are bronzed.
Friday April 25 - The papers daily continue to give details of the raging Mississippi River. It has broke the levees in scores of places and flooded whole counties. Tonight we have indications of rain which if it continues will interfere with the horse show of tomorrow. Eva is about done with the house cleaning for this year. She is tired.
Saturday April 26 - A slow drizzling rain set in last night and continued almost all day only a few horses were in. Some talk of postponing the show until the 18 of May. Our house is in good shape now. Everything is clean and nicely arranged. I wish that during my little Pets time I had had the rooms as nice as they are now.
Sunday April 27 - I was at the preaching service by, I was going to say, by our pastor but it was at class meeting we had a real good time. There was a good assembly and a goodly number took part in the services. Eva was at the social services of her church. I was at Sunday School at 3 p.m. Willie was out with some boys on the creek. He is not doing as he has been taught.
Monday April 28 - The weather has faired up and farm work is booming. Wheat grown and has been converted in to corn ground in many instances. The horse show has been postponed until he 10-th of this month (sic). Willie does the milking for Mr. Kritz's folks he has the care of two cows and gets 50 cts a week or $2 per month.
Tuesday April 29 - The grocery trade is not very lively. Some of those to whom I have sold on a credit have left me with bills unpaid. They got the goods under false pretense and their conduct is no better than stealing. Bob Mc is at Elkhart, Ind. The wheat up there is very good. Our cistern refuses to hold water as it should.
Wednesday April 30 - The potatoes in my store room cellar are in a bad condition - sprouting the worst way. I have more than I can get shut of. Paid for them last fall 25 cts a bushel and can buy now at 20 cts. Everybody nearly has all the want of their own raising. If I am in the business next fall I won't buy so many.