Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Austin Wellington Pratt -AKA Hobo Kelly

One of the six known children of James M. and Ruth (Chickering) Pratt was Austin Wellington Pratt, a tramp known as "Hobo Kelly." He traveled across the county by rail and was arrested many times for vagrancy and/or intoxication.  He was sometimes considered to be insane and was committed to state hospitals in Northampton and Bridgewater a number of times. He claimed to have traveled in other countries throughout the world, and to have made the acquaintance of many powerful political figures, An article published on page 4 of the Springfield Daily Republican of December 2 , 1925  after an arrest at Union Station,  describes this character as possessing a "colorful flow of oratory" and an adeptness at clog dancing.

Austin Wellington Pratt, was born May 4, 1861 in West Brookfield, MA.  He married Elizabeth McArdell in Ware, MA in 1881 and the couple had a son James who died before his fifth birthday, and a daughter Mary Elizabeth, who grew up to marry Walter Potter.  Records also show that a second wife Lizzie Hickie died in 1889 on the same day she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. It is likely that Austin is the Austin W. Pratt who died in Bridgewater in 1934 according to the Massachusetts Death Index, 1901-1980 found on Ancestry.com