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The Chairman of the Buffalo Board of Park Commissioners from 1869 through 1879, merchant, industrialist and banker Pascal Paoli Pratt was born in Buffalo on September 15, 1819. He was educated at the Hamilton (New York) Academy, which later became Colgate University, and at the Amherst (Massachusetts) Academy.
He began his career as a clerk in the hardware business of his brother Samuel Fletcher Pratt (the firm of Pratt & Weed) in 1836, at age 16. He later became a partner in the firm along with his brother and Edward P. Beals, first as S. F. Pratt & Co., and later as Pratt & Co. The firm became one of the more prominent retail and wholesale hardware businesses in the country, dealing in hardware, bar iron, sheet iron, tools, contractors' and railroad supplies, and coach and saddlery ware.
Pascal Pratt also organized the firm of Pratt and Letchworth in 1845, with his brother Samuel and with William P. Letchworth. Pratt and Letchworth manufactured saddlery hardware, carriages, malleable iron and steel castings. That firm operated a blast furnace in the Black Rock area of Buffalo. He remained associated with the firm until 1896, when it became an incorporated business as the Pratt and Letchworth Co. In addition to these interests, he was President, until 1885, of the Buffalo Iron and Nail Company, which was formed in 1857.He founded, with tannery owner and real estate investor Bronson Rumsey, the Manufacturers' and Traders' Bank in 1856. He served first as a director and Vice President of the bank, then became President in 1885. He continued in that office until his retirement in 1901. He also served as a director for several other area banks: the Bank of Buffalo, the Third National Bank of Buffalo, and the Bank of Attica.
Mr. Pratt was selected as a Republican presidential elector in 1872, an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1884, and was appointed as a Commissioner to appraise the value of properties taken by New York State to establish the Niagara Reservation.
In his personal life, he was married to the former Phoebe Lorenz of Pittsburg from 1845. Together they had seven children.
In 1848, with Pratt & Company continuing in its old line, a new firm, Pratt & Letchworth, was organized to deal exclusively in carriages and saddles. Partners were the Pratt brothers and William P. Letchworth from Auburn, where he had used convict labor in a like enterprise. Manufacturing was conducted at 165 Main Street, with inmates of the nearby jail contracted for the work.He also helped to organize the Niagara River Iron Company in 1872. The company operated a blast furnace in North Tonawanda capable of turning out fifty tons of pig iron daily. Pratt was President of the firm, and among the other principals was S. S. Jewett. This company was succeeded by the Tonawanda Iron and Steel Company, with William A. Rogers as President.
As an interesting sidenote, the Pascal P. Pratt, a wooden freight steamer of 286 feet named for Mr. Pratt, sailed the Great Lakes until it caught fire on 11/18/1908 and ran aground at Long Point, Ontario.
Pratt died on June 18, 1905.
Copyright 2007-2010 Stanton M. Broderick
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