Missing Years

D

espite my best efforts to approach my genealogical research in an organized and efficient manner, there are files I still haven't sorted through. Many of these contain tangential information that doesn't really move my research forward as much as deepen my understanding of an individual or the times they lived in. Sometimes, though, one of those files contains a forgotten document or notes from some unfinished search that sets me back on the trail and keeps me up until four in the morning ... like a marriage license.

My second great-grandfather, George Pratt, was 46 when he married my second great-grandmother, Ollie Powers (she was 22). He was a Civil War veteran from Illinois who settled down in Nebraska and farmed whatever they farmed in the late 1800s. Some time ago, I ordered their marriage certificate - I like having those kinds of things - and it came with their license (bonus material ... cool). Like most marriage licenses, it asks the usual questions to establish identity and allow the government to reasonably verify your eligibility for marriage. The question that caught my attention on this license was Number 8: "Number of Groom's marriage" to which George answered: "Second."

Second marriages are pretty common these days - and they certainly weren't unheard of in 1887.  But I hadn't heard of this one, and it reminded me that I was still missing a chunk of George's life.  So, I looked over my records ...1

1841 (March) - George Pratt is born in England.23

185? - Immigrates to the United States.4
When I was little, my grandfather told me that George came to America with an aunt and uncle who had "joined up with the Mormons."  Assuming that is correct, the closest record I've been able to find in the Mormon Immigration Index is from 27 February 1855, when an eleven-year-old George Pratt boarded the ship Siddons in Liverpool with John & Esther Pratt and traveled to Philadelphia, disembarking on 20 April.  From there, they took the railway to Pittsburg and a steamship to St. Louis, Missouri.  For some reason, they did not continue on from there.

1860 (August) - Enumerated in the U.S. Census: Central Township, St. Louis County, Missouri.
Assuming the account referenced above is actually my George, he was still living with John & Esther (Hester) in 1860.

1861 (September) - Joins Company K of the 10th Missouri Infantry (Union).5

1862 (April) - Transfers to Company B of the 10th Missouri Infantry.6
A volunteer regiment of soldiers primarily from Illinois, Company B was involved in the battle of Champion's Hill (Mississippi) .

1863 (September) - Transferred to Company D of the 5th Invalid Corps.7
I like to think that George was injured during close combat with Confederate soldiers at Champion's Hill - it was the most recent battle his unit was involved in.  Of course, it's also possible that he got a nasty case of dysentery.  The records don't say.

1864 (October) - Discharged from military service.8

1883 (December) - Files for an Invalid Pension while living in Illinois.9

1887 (July) - Marries Ollie C. Powers in Virginia, Cass County, Illinois.10
Their marriage license indicates that they are both from Arenzville, Illinois.

1890 (June) - Enumerated in the U.S. Census: David City, Butler County, Nebraska.11
George's household record from the 1890 US Census was destroyed, however the U.S. Veterans Schedule survived.

1893 (April) - Birth of daughter, Sadie E. Pratt, in Nebraska.12

1896 (June) - Birth of son, Joseph Pratt, in David City, Butler County, Nebraska.13

1898 (May) - Birth of son, Francis "Frank" Pratt, in Nebraska.14

1900 (June) - Enumerated in the U.S. Census: David City, Butler County, Nebraska.15
According to the census, George was working as a janitor and owned his home, although he could neither read nor write.

1902 - Birth of daughter, Phyllis, in Nebraska.16

1904 - Birth of son, Robert, in Nebraska.17

1906 - Birth of daughter, Ethel, in Nebraska.18

1910 (May) - Enumerated in the U.S. Census: David City, Butler County, Nebraska.19
According to the census, George immigrated in 185? (last digit unreadable) but was not naturalized.  He was working as a janitor and owned his home.

1913 (April) - Dies in Milford, Seward County, Nebraska.20

You'll notice that there's a very large gap up there between 1864 (when he was discharged) and 1883 (when he filed for his pension).  I had tried several times to fill in those missing years without success - which is what made Question 8 so exciting.  I had been looking for a single man.  If George was married during those years, I would most likely find him with a family.  So, that's what I looked for.  And, thus far, I've only been able to identify one George Pratt who fits the bill.

In November 1866, George Pratt married Mariah Howell in Cass County, Illinois.  He and Mariah were enumerated in Arenzville during the 1870 Census, and in Summit Precinct, Butler County, Nebraska (less than 10 miles from David City) during the 1880 Census ... and then George disappears.  There's no death record, no probate, no divorce, nothing.  To make matters worse, the 20-year gap between 1880 and the next U.S. Census is only compounded by the fact that Nebraska has only a few vital records during that time period, which means I have been unable to track down Mariah or any of their six children.  In the end, I can't prove that this is my George Pratt - but I can't disprove it either.

If you're find yourself up late at night and have nothing else to do, feel free to have a go at it ... I won't mind.

  1. I'm sorry about the long list of repeated footnotes down here, but I'm still trying to figure out how to reuse a source citation []
  2. Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City Township); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 12A, Dwelling 237/233, Family 237/234, Microfilm Publication T623, Roll 918, Page 176, National Archives, Washington. []
  3. Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 17A, Dwelling 359, Family 370, Microfilm Publication T624, Roll 839, Page 105, National Archives, Washington. []
  4. http://mormonmigration.lib.byu.edu/ []
  5. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Index to Compiled Service Records (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1997). []
  6. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Index to Compiled Service Records (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1997). []
  7. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Index to Compiled Service Records (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1997). []
  8. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Index to Compiled Service Records (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1997). []
  9. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans who Served Between 1861 and 1900 (: Microfilm Publication T289,). []
  10. George Pratt & Ollie Powers, marriage license & record no. 4588 (1887), Cass County Clerk, Virginia, Cass, Illinois, Volume/Page 056. []
  11. Special Schedule to the Eleventh Census of the United States (1890), Butler County, Nebraska, (Olive Township); ED 7, SD 1, Page 1, House 43, Family 43, Micofilm Publication M123, National Archives, Washington. []
  12. Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City Township); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 12A, Dwelling 237/233, Family 237/234, Microfilm Publication T623, Roll 918, Page 176, National Archives, Washington. []
  13. Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City Township); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 12A, Dwelling 237/233, Family 237/234, Microfilm Publication T623, Roll 918, Page 176, National Archives, Washington. []
  14. Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City Township); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 12A, Dwelling 237/233, Family 237/234, Microfilm Publication T623, Roll 918, Page 176, National Archives, Washington. []
  15. Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City Township); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 12A, Dwelling 237/233, Family 237/234, Microfilm Publication T623, Roll 918, Page 176, National Archives, Washington. []
  16. Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 17A, Dwelling 359, Family 370, Microfilm Publication T624, Roll 839, Page 105, National Archives, Washington. []
  17. Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 17A, Dwelling 359, Family 370, Microfilm Publication T624, Roll 839, Page 105, National Archives, Washington. []
  18. Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 17A, Dwelling 359, Family 370, Microfilm Publication T624, Roll 839, Page 105, National Archives, Washington. []
  19. Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910), Butler County, Nebraska, (David City); ED 4, SD 4, Sheet 17A, Dwelling 359, Family 370, Microfilm Publication T624, Roll 839, Page 105, National Archives, Washington. []
  20. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans who Served Between 1861 and 1900 (: Microfilm Publication T289,). []
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