Prattsville Painting

This mid-19th century painting of Prattsville, of which only a small detail is pictured here, seems to have gone “viral” from a local historian’s point of view. The large landscape is part of the Zadock Pratt Museum’s impressive art collection and is an example of a “pictorial diary,” or, as the name suggests, a diary in pictures. Although attributed to Zadock Pratt, the painting was mostly likely created over many years and shows the hand of at least three artists. This is not unusual for Pratt, who also employed the hand of at least five itinerant stone cutters to create the historic sculptures at Pratt Rock Park.

So, what does this detail from the large “View of Prattsville” tell us?

First, we see the figure of Zadock Pratt on his favorite horse, Prince. Zadock, who commissioned the painting, has placed himself in the center of the frontier settlement of Schohary Kill, where he came in 1825 to live “with [the inhabitants], not on them.” Pratt is pictured here surrounded by the Reformed Dutch Church, the office that he built and lived in while building his tannery (red building) and part of a grist mill. This WAS the community of Schohary Kill when Pratt came to what would later be Prattsville (1833), a town named in his honor.

One of the first examples of Pratt’s generosity to the local community was his donation of one-third of the cost to build a “new church” where a “small, old, dilapidated church” belonging to the Dutch Reformed Society once stood. That church is still standing and thanks to its committed congregation and leadership, it is well on its way to restoration after sustained damage by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Carolyn Bennett

Prattsville Historian

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