Biography of Joseph Pratt

Though still relatively young, Joseph Pratt, city clerk of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, has demonstrated an independence of spirit and native ability which qualifies him among the important men of affairs in this city. Mr. Pratt has been connected with many enterprises in his business career, all of them successfully, and his services to the city in his present office have been of genuine value.

Born at Webster, Massachusetts, on June 26, 1889, Mr. Pratt is a son of Nelson and Mary (Labonte) Pratt, the former born at Milton, Vermont, and the latter a native of Webster. Both now reside in Woonsocket, where the father is deputy sheriff.

When he was only one year old, Joseph Pratt came with his parents to Woonsocket, and grew up in the city, attending public and parochial schools. When he had finished his education he began the business of life in the employ of the Colwell Paper Box Company, where he worked for about a year, and then became connected with the Woonsocket Rubber Company. After another period of a year, he went to work for the Woonsocket Electric Machine and Power Company, the local electric light company, and later, until 1917, was associated with Stone and Webster, who absorbed the Electric Machine and Power Company. With this firm he was employed in every department and position from stock room boy to superintendent of distribution, winning merited advancement through loyal service and consistent effort, and overseeing everything from the switch board to contacts with the ultimate consumer. Still later, Mr. Pratt was connected with the Boss Electric Supply Company, of Providence, as traveling salesman, and resigned this position to enter the Rhode Island National Guard Coast Artillery Corps.

These troops went out in the middle of July, 1917. and until the end of that year served at all forts down the bay, except Fort Adams. On January 1, 1918, Mr. Pratt left Fort Kearney for Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, to enter the Officers’ Training School; he was there commissioned second lieutenant, and in the last of March, 1918, was assigned to the Tank Corps, leaving Fort Oglethorpe for the Tank Corps base at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Pratt remained at Gettysburg from April 1 to about August 1, 1918, and proceeded overseas with the American Expeditionary Forces, sailing about August 25. He remained in France until April, 1919, returning to the United States at that time, and spending short periods at Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and Camp Meade, Maryland.

On his return to civil life, after his discharge on May 10, 1919, he resumed his duties with the Boss Electric Supply Company, while laying plans for an independent venture. Shortly afterwards he was able to put them into effective execution starting in business for himself, and establishing electric maintenance and engineering works in Woonsocket. When this enterprise was well developed he sold his interests to Albert J. and Arthur Dauray, who are still operating the plant. At this time Mr. Pratt became a salesman for the Star Electric Company, and was associated with them from August, 1919, to March, 1920. Then he established a new venture under his own name, J. Pratt, electric appliances and supplies, which he ran with every success for six years. At the end of this period he liquidated the business, and when J. Hector Paquin resigned as city clerk, Mr. Pratt succeeded him in this office, August 1, 1925.

This is the first and only city position he has ever filled, but he brought to it proved ability and a long experience in business methods which ideally qualified him for the post. He has remained in this office until the present time, 1930, and his successful administration is a matter of record. Mr. Pratt is a member of the Republican party in politics, active in party work and a consistent supporter of worthy civic causes. He is affiliated fraternally with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, and other organizations, while he is also a member of the Woonsocket Sportsmen’s Club. He is a member of the Society of St. Jean Baptiste, while with his family he worships in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

On June 11, 1927, at Woonsocket, Joseph Pratt married Edna Viola Dickey, daughter of E. Howard and Mary (Archibald) Dickey of this city. Mr. and Mrs. Pratt are the parents of two children : Robert Joseph, and Shirley. The family maintain their residence in Woonsocket, at No. 378 Summer Street.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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