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John G. Pratt Papers



This microfilm contains the correspondence and papers of John Gill Pratt, Baptist missionary, teacher, printer, and Indian agent, and records of the Fort Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Kansas, and Delaware Indian agencies.


John G. Pratt was born September 9, 1814, at Hingham, Mass. He was educated at the Wakefield Academy, Reading Mass., and at Andover Seminary where he graduated in 1836. In addition to a his regular studies he spent some time at the University Press, Cambridge, where he learned the printing trade. At Andover he was licensed to preach and after graduation was employed by the Baptist Missionary Society for work in the Indian country first as a printer and later as a missionary.

On March 29, 1837, he married Olivia Evans in Reading and two weeks later they left Boston for the Shawnee Baptist Mission near present Merriam, Kansas, where Pratt replaced Jotham Meeker as printer.

Mrs. Pratt was as much the zealot as her husband. On December 21, 1836, she had written him about their future: "I feel it to be a glorious privilege to labour for God. I know that if we would labour among the Indians we must forego the enjoyment of friends and home, and deny ourselves -- take up the cross daily."

For the next seven years they lived a Spartan existence ministering to the Indians under primitive conditions at the mission. In 1844, Pratt, who had been ordained on November 19, 1843, was placed in charge of the Stockbridge Baptist Mission situated near present Wadsworth, Kansas. In 1848 the Stockbridge mission discontinued and he assumed charge of the Delaware Baptist Mission which had been founded in 1837 on the future site of Edwardsville, Kansas. Pratt was appointed physician to the Delawares in 1861 and three years later was appointed United States agent to the same tribe, succeeding Fielding Johnson.

In 1870, after the Delawares had moved to the Indian territory, Pratt retired and turned to farming and livestock raising. He remained the friend of the Delawares, however, and acted as attorney for the tribe, representing their interests in Kansas. He was also active in establishing schools and missions for them in the Indian territory. All the while he remained an active Baptist minister, filling various pulpits in the area. He died at his home near Piper, Kansas, on April 23, 1900.

The Indian Agencies

The Pratt collection provides a thread of continuity through several Indian agencies located in what is now Kansas. Though Pratt was not involved with all, their records apparently were stored in the Delaware agency house, the last resident of which was Pratt, and they became intermixed with his personal and mission papers.

During the period covered in the early portion of the Pratt collection the Delaware Indians were under the care of the Fort Leavenworth agency which also included the Shawnees, Kickapoos, Munsee, and Christian Indians, the Stockbridges, and the Kansas. In July, 1843, the Wyandottes arrived in the West and the Delawares invited them to purchase a small tract of land from their reserve on the Kansas river. This the Wyandottes did and when their subagency was set up a few months later the Delawares inevitably became involved in its business although they still technically were under the care of the Fort Leavenworth agency.

In 1851 the Wyandotte subagency was closed and the Kansas agency created. To make matters confusing, the Kansas agency did not include the Kansas Indians but only the Wyandottes and the Delawares. The agency has at times been called the Kansas river agency, but this title never appeared on official reports.

In the spring of 1855 the Delaware agency was created and the agent of the old Kansas agency, B.F. Robinson, became its head. About the same time the Wyandottes were placed in the Shawnee and Wyandotte agency. Thus, for a few years, the Wyandotte and Delaware records are not concurrent in the collection.

Beginning in 1863, Fielding Johnson, agent of the Delawares, included the Wyandottes in his reports though the name of the agency did not change. This condition existed through the report of 1869 which was written from the Cherokee Nation, 75 miles northwest of Fort Gibson. Reports for 1870 do not include any for either the Delawares or Wyandottes.

This almost continual intercrossing of agencies, subagencies, and Indians partially explains the intermittent appearance of records within the Pratt collection.

Scope and Content

The Pratt collection of manuscripts and documents was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1907 by Mrs. Rosamond Burt, Pratt's daughter. At the time of the acquisition the papers still lay in the attic of the Delaware mission building occupied by Pratt and had presumably been untouched since the day they were placed there by the missionary.

There are an estimated 10,000 papers in the collection, including letters, land grants, allotments, deeds, contracts, government papers, and miscellany, covering a period of 65 years. The bulk of the material is dated between 1837 and 1870.

The letters for the first few years are personal; even those from officers of the missionary board in Boston are often full of items about mutual acquaintances and interests. The families of both John and Olivia Pratt are well represented in the correspondence. The letters that passed between them before their marriage are religious in tone and could serve as models of propriety. They are deeply serious in contemplation of their coming separation from home and family and the spiritual importance of their Western undertaking.

Pratt's reports to the secretary of the missionary society are almost painful in their detail of expenditures of funds placed in his hands and of his recital of the hardships and privations of the wilderness.

With the removal of the Pratts from Shawnee mission to Stockbridge the character of the correspondence changes from family and friends to official mission business. The bookkeeping is involved and irregular, as the accounts are almost invariably included with letters, and often on the same page with personal matters.

After Stockbridge was abandoned and the Delaware mission reopened, the letters of various Indian agents increase. After 1864, when Pratt became government agent to the Delawares, the official papers expand rapidly, running into thousands of printed forms and correspondence. Treaties, land allotments, reports of the agent to the government and letters to and from politicians form the mass of the papers during the six-year period of his service.

After Pratt's retirement from the agency, his letters dwindle in number and relate to personal and real estate matters until the time of his death in 1900. The miscellanies of the collection include some irregular records of the Delaware and Stockbridge church, beginning in 1841 and ending in 1848.

The collection is arranged chronologically within the following series: Pratt's personal correspondence, his business papers, his account books, the Indian agencies' correspondence and papers, the agencies' fiscal records, and agency miscellaneous materials. Each series is not pure, by any means. Items which logically should appear in a series sometimes appear someplace else because of multiplicity of subjects in a single item. This is the nature of the collection, however, and cannot be rectified without creating further complications.

Partially undated letters and items have been placed at the end of the appropriate month or year while totally undated material falls at the end of the applicable series. Dates supplied by the editors have been penciled in brackets in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the applicable material. Question marks denote some dissatisfaction with the reliability of supplied dates.

Microfilm targets have been kept to a minimum and are used only when necessary to indicate retakes, corrections, enclosures, etc. Targets containing editorial information, except for the introduction, have not been included.

Contents List


MS 628

Correspondence of John G. Pratt, 1834-1899.

Issues of the Christian Watchman and the Watchman and Reflector containing articles written by John G. Pratt and articles on Indians and missions.

MS 629

Business papers of John G. Pratt, 1834-1864.

MS 630

Business papers of John G. Pratt, 1865-1899, undated.

Account books:

Delaware, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Shawnee missions account book, 1842-1854. One volume.

Personal miscellaneous account and memoranda books of John G. Pratt, 1845-1875. Twelve volumes, arranged by beginning dates.

John G. Pratt in account with Elijah Cody and others, 1848-1860. Two volumes.

Clark and Company, Leavenworth, Kansas, in account with John G. Pratt, 1864-1869. One volume.

Second National Bank, Leavenworth, Kansas, in account with John G. Pratt, 1865-1869. One volume.

J. G. Pratt Pass Book, Leavenworth, December 9, 1865-1866. One volume.

Mrs. L. B. Pratt in account with Schely Brothers, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1866-1867. One volume.

John G. Pratt in account with Hamilton & Company, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1866-1867. Two volumes.

John G. Pratt in account with Simpson & Company, 1866- 1868. One volume.

John G. Pratt in account with M. Franke & Brother, 1867-1869, 1872-1875. Two volumes.

"First National Bank of Leavenworth in Account With John G. Pratt, U. S. Indian Agent." One volume.

"Cash Accounts Cherokee County Indian Territory," 1868. One volume.

John G. Pratt in account with Berry White and others, 1869-1874. One volume.

Na-Kus-Kund in account with J. C. Burnett, undated. One volume.

MS 631

Sermons of John G. Pratt.

MS 632

Wyandotte subagency correspondence and papers, 1843-1851.

Kansas agency correspondence and papers, 1851-1855.

Delaware agency correspondence and papers, 1855- 1862.

MS 633

Delaware agency correspondence and papers, 1863- October, 1866.

MS 634

Delaware agency correspondence and papers, November, 1866-1869.

MS 635

Delaware agency letter book, 1867-1870.

Wyandotte subagency fiscal records, 1845-1854.

Kansas agency fiscal records, 1853-1854.

Delaware agency fiscal records, 1855-1869.

Undated miscellaneous Delaware agency records:

Unidentified lists of names containing miscellaneous information.

List of Delaware Indians who have elected to become U. S. citizens.

MS 636

Map of the Delaware diminished reserve.

Field notes taken during subdivision of the Delaware diminished reserve, 1861.

Allotment assignments of 80 acres of land to individual Delaware Indians under terms of the treaty of May 30, 1860; 1861, 1862.

Census of Delaware Indians within the Delaware agency, 1862.

Abstracts of testimony concerning property of Delawares stolen by white men, October-December, 1862.

Record of purchase orders on Carney and Stevens, Leavenworth, Kansas, for goods delivered to individual Delawares, 1863-1865.

Lumber orders on the Delaware Saw Mill, 1865, 1866.

Record of Delaware reservation timber sold, 1866.

Check stubs reflecting Delaware agency business, 1867. 1868.

MS 637

Allotment certificates for 80 acres of land to individual Delaware Indians under terms of the treaty of May 30, 1860; 1865.

MS 638

Index to "Registry, Allotment, Valuation, &c., Delaware Diminished Reserve, Treaty, July 4, 1866."

"Registry, Allotment, Valuation, &c., Delaware Diminished Reserve, Treaty, July 4, 1866."

Record of allottees showing amounts due and paid apparently for money received on sale of lands to the Missouri River Railroad Company.

Vouchers for money received on the sale of lands to the Missouri River Railroad Company under the provisions of the treaty of July 4, 1866, with the Delaware Indians; allotment numbers 1-700.

MS 639

Vouchers for money received on the sale of land to the Missouri River Railroad Company under the provisions of the treaty of July 4, 1866, with the Delaware Indians; allotment numbers 701-1182 (end).

Wyandotte Indian records:

Guardianship bonds, 1855-1857; issued by probate judges.

Appointments as guardians, 1860-1861; issued by Wyandotte chiefs and councillors.

Certificates of appointment as administrators of estates, 1858-1861; issued by probate judges.

Appointments as administrators of estates, 1860; issued by Wyandotte chiefs and councillors.

Receipts for land patents issued to individual Wyandotte Indians according to the treaty of January 31, 1859; 1860, 1861, 1863.

Miscellaneous material.

Related Records and Collections

Secondary Sources

Clara Gowing, "Life Among the Delaware Indians," Kansas Historical Collections, v. 12, pp.183-193.

"High Waters in Kansas," Kansas Historical Collections, v. 8, pp. 472-481.

Esther Clark Hill, "The Pratt Collection," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 1, pp. 83-88.

Esther Clark Hill, "Some Background of Early Baptist Missions in Kansas, Based on Letters in the Pratt Collection of Manuscripts and Documents," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 1, pp. 89-103.

Jack W. Manning, "John Gill Pratt, Missionary, Printer, Physician, Teacher, Statesman," unpublished doctoral dissertation, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Kansas., 1951.

Robert E. Starburg, "Baptists on the Kansas Frontier," unpublished master's thesis, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Ill., 1960.

Related Manuscript Collections

MS 94 - MS 99 - Records of the St. Louis Superintendency of Indian Affairs (the "Clark Papers"), 1807-1855

MS 604 - MS 616 - Isaac McCoy Collection

MS 617 & MS 618 - Jotham Meeker Collection

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions on Use

These papers of John G. Pratt, the Wyandotte subagency, and the Kansas and Delaware agencies are the property of the Kansas State Historical Society. Brief quotations are authorized without restrictions but publication of any major portion of the material on this film must be approved in writing by an officer of the Society. Literary property rights are not owned by the Society and cannot be conveyed.

It is suggested that the following citation be made to this microfilm publication: "The John G. Pratt Papers" (microfilm edition), manuscript division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

The microfilm of the John G. Pratt papers may be used in the research room of the Kansas State Historical Society, borrowed through interlibrary loan, or purchased.

This guide and the microfilm it describes were made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications &