As many of you may recall, when I lived in Istanbul I discovered a Protestant Cemetery with lots of Americans buried in it. Burials began around 1856. Many of the people were missionaries. Some were connected to the American Consulate and other were educators, servicemen, Near East Relief workers, some who had married Turks and a few tourists. I spent my nearly two years in Istanbul documenting these burials and ultimately in 1995 published a book of my findings.
I am not related to any of these people, except that once you have them touch your life in a way these did, it is hard to let go of them. Here’s an example:
1992 – Researching in Istanbul:
In the cemetery there is a large tombstone upon which is written the name of
Rev. Andrew T. Pratt, M.D.
Died 5 Dec 1872
Afer 20 years of labor in Turkey
Aged 46 years
This stone also had on it “In Memory of his children” and then showed the following:
An infant son
Died Aintab April 2, 1852
3 days old
Died Aintab 23 July 1856
11 years 8 months
D Killis 3 August 1858
Died Aintab 27 Oct 1867
8 years 9 months
Died Constantinople 20 October 1868
1 year 11 months
Died Constatinople 22 Nov 1871
3 years 6 months
My goal in this research was to find 1) who these people were, 2) where in the United States were they from, and 3) what were they doing in Turkey. My intent was to get this information into a book first. Later I put them on the internet.
While I was in Istanbul I was lucky enough to meet and become friends with the Secretaries of the American Board of Missions and from old files they held in their headquarters I learned that after Rev. Pratt’s death, his wife Sara left Istanbul with her three children and returned home to America.
1995 – Researching in Maryland, still trying to identify some of the people buried in Istanbul:
In the College Park, Maryland Branch of the National Archives, in Record Group 59, Microfilm #T194 Roll 10 in the Consular Dispatches there is a “List of Citizens of the US Residing in Constantinople on July 1, 1871” showing the family composition to be Andrew and wife Sarah, children Albert-9, Fanny-7, Andrew-3, and Eliza-2. From the tombstone I knew that Andrew died. But in that same Consular Dispatch collection there was also a form indicated William Tully Pratt’s birth in June of 1871, six months after the census was taken.
So then I knew that one of these four children died before Sarah Pratt took them back to the US. But I didn’t know which one it was.
Getting into the Consular Dispatches was an exceptionally fruitful time. I was there for 5 days and I could have used more time, but I had to be back to work on Monday!
All during this period of time after returning from Istanbul I had focused on adding to my knowledge of the people in the cemetery. It was amazing how much information I had found in the Los Angeles Public Library! But after coming home from Maryland, I decided it was time to publish what I had and then get back to researching my own family.
I did, but Istanbul wasn’t ready to let go of me.
2002 – Researching in San Bernardino, California
I the early 2000s I became the editor of the San Bernardino Valley Genealogical Quarterly, and for inclusion in some issues I transcribed some of the San Bernardino County marriage records. One day I came across this entry:
Albert H. Pratt, age 26, born in Turkey, resident of Utsalady, Washington Territory, and E. Madeline Sloan, age 24, born in Illinois, resident of Redlands [California] were married in Redlands on 13 June 1889.
I was shocked. Surely this had to be the same Albert Pratt that I knew of in Istanbul. How many Albert Pratts born in Turkey could there have been? Of course the first thing I did was to look on the 1880 census for a Pratt family. Sara could have remarried but surely some of her children were still single. And sure enough, there she was in Amhurst, Massachusetts, still a Pratt and with children Albert aged 17, Fanny aged 15 and Eliza aged 10. So then I knew that it was little William Tully Pratt who was the last Pratt to die in Istanbul.
And now what I found was that nine years later, this same Albert appeared in San Bernardino County, California and married a local girl, Madeline Sloan of Redlands.
To Be Continued