Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pratt Migration-Travel & Transport

When the Pratts' American migration began in 1622, the only motive forces available were wind, current, and animal or human power or combinations thereof. It would be 200 years before the steam engine would even be invented and when electricity and the internal combustion engine became available, Wilmer Pratt was already making barrels in Riverside.
Phineas Pratt arrived on this continent at Wessagausett (now Weymouth, Massachusetts) thanks to wind, on the sailing ship "Sparrow". The first leg (no pun intended) of the Pratt migration was on foot, his 20 mile wintertime run through the snow to Plymouth to warn the Pilgrims of an Indian plot to attack that struggling colony.
 When he and his family removed from Plymouth on Cape Cod Bay to Charlestown (now part of Boston) in 1648 they would have traveled by water. Charlestown is located where the Charles River and the Mystic River flow into Boston's Inner Harbor. They probably arrived there on a "shallop", which is a relatively small open boat fitted with oars and sails primarily intended for use in shallow waters. 
In 1683 our ancestors Aaron Pratt and Sarah Pratt Pratt left their parents in Charlestown and settled in Hingham ( the part that is now Cohasset, Massachusetts) they probably also traveled by water in one or more shallops, Hingham Bay being more or less a southeastern extension of Boston Harbor.. Aaron prospered in Hingham and fathered eleven children, the oldest being our ancestor Henry.
I think you would enjoy following the Pratts on their journeys on maps. I usually use Google Map but it has failed me lately so I have swiched to MapQuest. Try keying in "Weymouth MA"  then scroll a little south so that Plymouth shows up. There is Phineas' route. Then look at the route by water to Boston from Plymouth. To see which part of Boston is Charlestown you have to zoom in quite a bit. Then look a the water route back south to Hingham Bay and the land route to Cohasset that Aaron took. You can also use paper maps.
 Henry, a blacksmith by trade, next shows up in Newton where he married Hannah Learned in 1709 but starting in 1711 they had their thirteen children in nearby Needham. Both towns are in the Charles River valley west of Boston so it is possible that they could have migrated from Hingham by water via Boston Harbor and the Charles. However, since the Charles was early on being developed for hydropower by many dams and mills, it may not have been navigable at that time. Therefore I am going to assume that the Henry Pratts migrated from Hingham to Needham by land. It was about a 30 mile trip.
One might expect that their  move would have been accomplished by oxen-drawn carts and/or horse-drawn wagons with men and boys walking or on horseback.That would probably not been the case this early as horses were rare in nothern New England until after 1800. Even oxen were not plentiful and it was quite common for pioneers to carry large loads on their own backs for long distances and make multiple trips. Because of the limited capacity of the Dutch and English ships crossing the Atlantic and the heavy demand for other types of cargos, livestock was seldom carried in those early days. One would think that Henry, being a blacksmith with heavy tools and forges etc,. would have to have used ox carts.
Our ancestor Moses Pratt, the 12th of the 13 children Henry fathered in Needham, married Jemima Alden there and had four children by her before moving to nearby Natick, another Charles River valley settlemnt about six miles away. These two places are close enough together that the move could have been made by shuttling. Sometime before 1771 Moses and Jemima pulled up stakes and moved out of Massachusetts.
NEXT: Off to New Hampshire.

Emailed Oct. 28

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