Suffragist of the Month – October

Helen Deming Sherman Pratt, Birthday, October 21

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If you live in Glen Cove or its surrounding towns it is hard not to know about the Pratt family; Charles Pratt was a partner in Standard Oil with John D. Rockefeller, and settled in Glen Cove with his wife and eight children where he built a complex of mansions, one for each child, and one for himself. Down the road lived Charles Dana, editor of the New York Sun, and just across the small bay linked by a causeway was the home of J. P. Morgan Jr., son of the banker and a banker himself.  Seven of the children eventually settled there; a daughter, Helen settled in Brookline, MA.

Charles Pratt and his family lived there throughout the summer months, returning to the hectic life in Manhattan at summer’s end. Like many wealthy women, the Pratt wives were involved in philanthropy and good works both in Manhattan and on Long Island, and at least two of them were active in the suffrage movement.

Helen Deming Sherman Pratt was married to George DuPont Pratt, whose mansion, Killenworth was located on Dosoris Lane. (It is now the home of the Russian Embassy.) Helen was born in Brooklyn, and attended the Packer Collegiate Institute. Her father was a descendant of Roger Sherman, who helped draft the US Constitution.

Helen became involved with philanthropic causes soon after her marriage; she was instrumental in founding the Lincoln Settlement House in Glen Cove, which catered to the needs of African-Americans. She was also a member of the Woman’s Trade Union League, and worked to better working conditions for young women. She and her sister-in-law, Florence Gibb Pratt (married to Herbert Lee Pratt) worked diligently for suffrage; Helen and George opened their house frequently to suffrage meetings and rallies. After suffrage was won, the first convention of the League of Women Voters was held at Killenworth.

For more abut the Pratt family and their involvement with the suffrage movement, check out Chapter 13, “Others Who Dared.”

Photo courtesy of the Robert R. Coles LI History Collection, Glen Cove Public Library

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