Zadock Pratt Museum - "Millennium History Feature of the Month" 

Throughout the year 2000, we highlight interesting items from Prattsville history.  

... in the early 1900's, the postcard was the e-mail of the day.  For a green penny stamp, a Ben Franklin - either full face or side view, one could send off a message in the morning: "Let's eat at the hotel tonight".  A confirmation by return mail could arrive in the afternoon, provided the distance was short enough.

The picture postcard might cost five cents or less, but to really trim the budget, one could use a government postcard at a total of one cent, card and postage.  Naturally, all first class mail went this fast, speeding up business transactions in downtown New York City, where the mail was actually delivered three times a day.  In Prattsville, it came twice a day.

The popular Prattsville postcards start at the east end of the village with The Big Rock and continue on to Devasego Falls at the county line to the west end where drivers of infrequent cars were happy to see a country gas station. 

Printing of the postcards was done in Germany before World War One and locally after that. All postcards are from collection of Milton Ballard, owner of Shirley�s Restaurant on Main Street in Prattsville.   This article was written by Muriel Pons, Prattsville Town Historian, with the help of Perry Chatfield, Betty O'Hara and Theresa Schaefer.

SIGN.gif (153383 bytes)

Snapshots in time - Remembering the Town of Prattsville through postcards ... Part 1  ...  go to Part 2 or Part 3

The Big Roack in Prattsville - click to return back to the poctcard collection

Big Rock Of Prattsville, N.Y.  
This unused black and white card, printed in Germany, was distributed by B.F. and W.C. Platner. Under the Platners� names also were the village water company and a village store. One of the Platners stands before the huge stone, which sat at the Junction where Routes 23 and 23A met until it was finally blasted and removed. At the time, before World War One, a card required a one-cent stamp (domestic) or a two cent stamp (foreign). This copy bears as the publisher�s logo, the profile of a Native American full headdress. From the Big Rock, it was 40 miles to the Oneonta Fair where you could �be happy�.
   Go to the Top

Fair Ground, Prattsville - click to return to postcard collection
Fairground, Prattsville, N.Y.  
Identified on the reverse side only by �postcard� in curlicue printing, this aerial view of the local fair grounds includes a curve of the Schoharie Creek in the background. Occupying some of our present day ball field are two permanent buildings, a large circular tent, and several small pavilions. Big crowds flocked to this summer excitement in their horse-drawn carriages that were lined up by the dozens � not a car on sight! The next nearest fair, the Greene County Fair in Cairo, was a long trip, or otherwise even longer to Cobleskill or Walton, making the Prattsville Fair the only one on the mountaintop. Who could resist a look at the first aero planes and balloon ascensions, the thrill of a lifetime. To the right of the photo someone recorded the chant of the ticket sellers: �Five a ride and away we go!� 
Go to the Top

The Prattsville Racetrack - click to return to postcard collection

The Racetrack, Prattsville, N.Y.
This PCK Series postcard carries the peacock logo without further identification. 
A Mr. Wilbur Meeker of Fishkill on Hudson c/o Rev. Sheldon, N.Y. received this card in 1907. Apparently, you did not need a more exact address if you were connected to the Reverend, who no doubt, was well known. The writer uses the picture side only for his message and omits any signature. When Wilbur Meeker received the card, he probably wished he could be cheering with the men crowding either side of the racetrack as the two sulkies flashed by the judges� stand. On the left side in the grandstand only one lady among the men can be spotted, identified by her large black umbrella against the summer sun. Tans were not in vogue. All this excitement by postcard for one cent Ben Franklin in full face.  Go to the Top

Foot Bridge leading to Pratt Farm - click to return to postcard collection

Bridge leading to Pratt Farm, Prattsville, N.Y.  
Toward the east end of the village; opposite the Rocks, was the 365-acre farm, identified as the Pratt Farm even after it was sold in the 1920s. The footbridge of wood and cables (286 feet long) shortened the walk to town and especially to school. It avoided wading to Schoharie or using a small rowboat. At least three successive bridges were taken out by high water, as was the teahouse, just east of it.  Though referred as a �footbridge� it often became a �swinging bridge� when exuberant youngsters charged across it to set it in motion. At times, to curb these hijinks, someone set a very heavy stone against the door. 
A copy of this card, dates August 18, 1910, invites John Sharp of South Kortright, N.Y. to the Prattsville Fair: �30-31 of August and the 1st of September. We would like you to come out and go to it.� Signed E.A.L. Most picture cards seem to be sent in summer, but on January 25, 1912, �Ida� used a bridge postcard to ask her uncle, Mr. Hiram Platner of Middleton, N.Y. in Orange County, if he was sick from the intense cold of the winter. A third copy of the Bridge card went to Edith Fowler: �Carrie has just been over and told us about you last night. Ha! Ha! That�s right, go ahead. S.M.� What�s this mystery about? 
Go to the Top

Prattsville House - click to return to postcard collection

Prattsville House, later known as Miller�s Hotel
Prattsville House, later known as Miller's Hotel, owned by Dwight Miller, card unused. 
The three men, one in apron stood for their picture rather than use the captain�s chairs. After the camera clicked, maybe they sat or disappeared into the Barber Shop on the right. 
The Hotel is remembered as a gathering place before other larger rooms were available. (Not counting the churches.) A full, deep cellar allowed for storage of even sides of beef on hooks that still bristle from the beams. In case of fire, patrons on the second floor under the low roof could uncoil a heavy rope attached to the metal loop inside below the �eyebrow� windows to let themselves down to safely on the ground. Later known as Prattsville Hotel.
Go to the Top

O'Hara's Service Staion - click to return to postcard collection
Tom O�Hara�s  
Card produced by Brown�s Service, Prattsville, N.Y. 
To the several passerby this is a new phenomenon � a gas station in those new-fangled cars that frighten men and beast. But to some keen observers, the tremendous elm tree to the right of the station is the focal point. Turn over the card and the statistics tell the story:

 �New York State�s Largest Roadside tree � 300 years old, 150�*130� shade spread � 20�3� in circumstance breast high.� And though perhaps only a legend, the story persists that a local treaty was signed beneath the shade of this tree during the war of Revolution. The Prattsville Elm Tree was inspected, found hollow and officially removed in September of 1955. 
Other huge elms live in Main Street until they were destroyed by disease. One of the hotels, now gone, was named The Elm Tree Inn (and was later used as an office for the New York City reservoir employees.) Nature magazine published an article that revealed an even larger elm tree growing on the Prattsville Flats. Coming back to present reality, you can still drive into O�Hara�s and choose to gas up from one of the four modern pumps.
Go to the Top

ZPM.gif (1428 bytes)  HOME                                                                                            Go to the Top

dot.gif (61 bytes)
| 2000 Schedule of Events | Exhibits | Membership | Museum Dinners | How to get Here |
Dining, Lodging, Shopping| Activities & Recreation |Town of Prattsville | Mountaintop Towns | Contact Us

dot.gif (61 bytes)

Updated on:
21 February, 2019

Comments about the website ?
Please email us at