History of the Village of Prattsburg, Steuben County, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

THE VILLAGE OF PRATTSBURG. - In the eastern central part of the town of Prattsburg, at the northern terminus of the Kanona and Prattsburg railroad, is situated an incorporated village, named for the town, and both in honor of and allusion to the chief promoter and founder in fact of the original settlement, Capt. Joel Pratt. The village, in its hamlet character, antedates the town in name if not in history; but it is doubtful if even Joel Pratt ever contemplated the founding of a village settlement, as a part of his chief enterprise, further than to establish a convenient trading center for the accommodation of the scattered inhabitants. Joel Pratt, jr., and Ira Pratt first drew attention to the settlement by opening a store, and in 1806 or 7 Aaron Bull opened a tavern in a log house. Judge Porter also built a good mill. A public square was laid out and in 1808 three log houses were built around it. In the same year Prattsburg was designated as a postoffice station, and post riders began regular trips betwen Geneva and Bath, passing through the settlement. However, through some political maneuvering, the route was afterward changed to the east side of Lake Keuka, to the great sorrow and inconvenience of residents of the village. Still, after a time a system was reestablished and mails came regularly to Prattsburg. But the one event which, above all others, contributed to the welfare of our village was the construction and operation of the Kanona and Prattsburg railroad; a recent consummation, to be sure, yet none the less welcome or desirable. The work of construction was begun July 29, 1888, and the first train passed over the completed road October 9, 1889. Prattsburg capital made the road possible, and Prattsburg enterprise pushed it to a successful completion; and the whole of northern Steuben county reaps the benefit of its operation.

Returning again, however, to the early history of the village, we find that in 1803 the inhabitants of the locality organized a religious society, and provision was also made for a primitive school. The road to Bath was laid out in 1805, and two years later roads were built to Crooked or Keuka Lake and to West Hill. From this time Prattsburg became the principal trading point of the region and a future village was assured. A cemetery was also laid out in 1806.

From these humble elements has grown the present village of about 800 inhabitants, and we may say, as does its enterprising newspaper, The News, "it is one of the most beautiful villages of Steuben county, the northern terminus of the railroad, which, by connecting with the Erie and the D., L. & W. railways, renders the place easy of access. Daily communication is also maintained with the Northern Central, and the steamers on Lake Keuka." Still further the same paper continues: "The merchants and business men of Prattsburg are wide awake and among the most enterprising business men of the State, and are financially safe and reliable. . . . There are four regular church services -Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Catholic, while various young peoples' societies hold regular meetings."

In 1812 the most important of these four schools of the town was that maintained in the village, following which others were opened and thereafter continuously supportd. However, the necessity of a school of more advanced standard became apparent, and as its result there was founded and incorporated, on February 23, 1824, the Franklin Academy. This school at once took rank among the successful academic institutions of Western New York and for a period of nearly half a century enjoyed a prosperous existence. In 1868, under the provisions of the Union Free School law, the institution changed its character and thenceforth became known as the Franklin Academy and Union Free School; still maintaining, however, its old standard of excellence and prominence. Its management and affairs passed from the trustees to the newly constituted Board of Education. The faculty comprises a principal, preceptress, and four assistants. The members of the present board are H. J. Pinneo, president; H. G. Skinner, jr., secretary, and Frank Hall, Byron Chisom, Henry Horton, Seymour Coggswell, W. G. Dean and William Howe. Treasurer, E. K. Smith.

As the village grew in population and commercial importance the necessities of public improvement demanded that the hamlet character be laid aside and that the little berg take upon itself the more dignified title of corporation. To this end a petition was presented to the court of sessions, with result that on the 8th of November, 1848, Judge McMaster made an order of incorporation as required by law, subject to ratification by the electors of the described territory. This was done at a subsequently held election.

Still later, on the 20th of February, 1877, at an election held for that special purpose, the freemen voted to procure a village charter, according to the provisions of the law. This being done, the powers and authority of the corporation were materially enlarged, and by it Prattsburg became a municipality of the second class. The first trustees and officers under the charter were E T. Watkins, president; and Wm. S. Foster, A. H. Van Housen, Henry A. Ackerson; Wm. W. Green, clerk; A. K. Smith, treasurer.

The village officers for the year 1895 are as follows: Frank Hall, president; James Coryell, Frank Flaherty and Angelo Walker, trustees; Charles H. H. Boyd, collector; W. F. McLean, treasurer; Benjamin Castor, street commissioner; W. G. Dean, police justice; William F. Wilcox, clerk.

The business and mercantile interests of Prattsburg have advanced and kept even step with progress in other directions, although as a manufacturing village circumstances and location have prevented any prominence beyond the supply of domestic demand. In trade circles all branches appear to be well represented, with sufficient competition to prevent the possibility of monopoly and its consequent exactions.

The merchants and other business houses may be mentioned about as follows: Coggswell Bros., John Van Tuyl, W. A. Watkins and J. L. McCormick, dealers in general merchandise; G. F. Conine, mens' furnishings; Wurth & Flaherty, and Jacob T. Smith, grocers; Barnum Cole, flour and grist mill; George W. Peck & Co., and Flynn & Walker, hardware; C F. Hayes and W. G. Look, druggists; Z. J. Terry and John A. Shea, furniture dealers and undertakers; D. R. Edmond, jewelers; Charles L. Baker and Bailey & Knapp, meat dealers; F. D. Gillett, baker; Mrs. S. D. Cornell, Miss Lina C. Graves and Mahn & Stoddard, millings; M. C. Curran, restaurant and bakery; Philip Geiss, tailor; C. L. Pullar, dentist; Coryell & Clark and W. P. Dean, hay dealers; Flint H. Lewis, coal dealer; Frank Hall, general insurance; H. B. Howe, market gardener; John C. Clary, cooper; H. J. Pinneo, painter; F. H. Cook, wagonmaker; Germain Clark, saw mill; G. H. De Witt, photographer; D. R. Myers, harnessmaker; J. H. Keeler, harnessmaker; B. P. Austin, painter; George Bancroft, livery; Frank Relyea, landlord. The Prattsburg Creamery, one of the most complete of its kind in the region, was built in the spring of 1895. It is managed by Charles H. Higbee and Frank Flaherty. The attorneys of the village are James Flaherty (also postmaster), J. K. Smith and Harvey D. Waldo. The banking house of C. P. Smith was originally established in 1861, while that of W. F. McLean has been in operation since 1880.

The society organizations of the village are Prattsburg Lodge, No. 583, F. & A. M.; Prattsburg Lodge, No. 598, I. O. O. F.; Gregory Post, No. 649, G. A. R.; Prattsburg Grange, No. 112, P. of H.; K. O. T. M., Prattsburg Tent, No. 230; Banner Lodge, No. 533, I. O. of G. T., and the Prattsburg Cornet Band, F. F. Neff, leader. Of Protective Fire Company, S. D. Cornell is foreman, and G. W. Howe, secretary.

[Also see the town of Prattsburg]


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