J.L. Prater
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Contributed by Candace Gregory [email protected]

Letter that John Lester PRATER (b1882 OK IT, d1959 San Diego ,CA)wrote to his mother, Emory Ann COURTNEY PRATER DENT (b1859 OK IT, d1925 Davis OK) just after he married. John was the first man from Indian Territory to join the U. S. Marines.

A collection of his letters are in my possession which I recently made a book of. They refer to many Davis people from October 30, 1916 to January 4, 1923.

Candace Gregory

Letter addressed: Mrs. Emery Ann Dent, Davis. Oklahoma U.S.A. Murray Co.
Postmarked: U.S. Navy Jul 27 1919
Return address: “Passed By Censor” stamp with initials in center

U.S.S. Seattle “At Sea” typed to right (4 flags)
Care of Postmaster, N.Y.

July 21st. 1918

Mrs. Emery Ann Dent, Davis, Oklahoma

My dear mother,

I shall take the greatest of pleasure in writing you a few lines hoping that thay will find you injoying the very best of health and happiness. This letter leaves me well but I am very busy and not much time to write any one. I would have written to you long a go but I have been so very busy that I just could not find the time to write to you but I am sure that you will forgive me this time wont you? I have received all five of your nice sweet and ever welcome letters and I was indeed more than pleased to hear from you and have read all your letters over a dozen times with much interest and I find them very interesting and full of news. your letters were dated as follows Feb. 23rd Feb. 28th march 11th march 31st and April 18th and there may be more letters for me from you when I get back in new york city. If there is I will answer them when ever I can and have the chance. When I was in new york last two times I did not have the time to answer your sweet and kind letters so I told mrs Prater to write to you. And tell you that I was well and happy but that I was very busy. You see dear mother I went to France last June a year ago in 1917 and remained there until last march 26th and I got permission from the war department to come to new york city on April 2nd and recived orders to hurry my marriage so that I may return to France soon so I got married April 8th instead of April the 15th and a few days after I was married I was ordered to the frunt in France. And later on I was sent to this good old Ship Seattle for duty and this is the same ship that I was on before was ordered on shore in France last June a year ago. I like this Ship much better than the mud and water and blood soaked trenches in France and I may be sent off of it at any time to fight in France and taking all in all the ship is not easy by any means. We have very hard duty on hir and very dangerous duty. We are doing convoy duty convoying the American troops to France and hunting and chasing German Submarines and that is very dangerious business. Up to July 15th we had one million and three hundred thousand Army Soldiers and 15,000 fifteen thousand U.S. Marines over in france Fighting and the us marines are doing the most of the fighting. I seen Mrs. Tom Mortons, son Roger Morton, over in France some time ago but I did not get to speak to him. He was in the Navy Hospital Corps attached to the 6th Regiment U.S. Marines and I hear that he was in the field attening to the wounded marines when he was gased by the Germans. But I am not sure of this it was told to me by a marine at Brest France on July 15th. The marines have lost very heavely and many were killed dead in thir trenches and many were killed while making attack on the Germans. Many were wounded seriously and died later on and many were gased with poinon gase by the germans and hundreds were badly wounded that they will never be able to do any thing at all. There were so many marines killed that all the old timers that I us to be with and soldier with in the same company that I do not a single marine that is in the service now. All the company that I us to be in were all killed to the last man and I consider my selfe very luckey that I just got away at the right time and that remindes me of what the old doliered man an old new Orleans darkey told me over three years ago in Vera Cruz mexico when the marines were killed there and I was in the battle and men got killed all around me and I did not get a cratch and he told me that the reason was that the good Lord was with me so I belive what he told me was true in all cases. Well I don’t know when you will get this letter but I hope soon. I am writing it out at sea so it will be ready to leave the chip with the first mail leaving the ship. We only make port onc a month come to Norfolk VA for coal and water and go to new york for food supplys and mail and then we make a nother trip over to France then the same thing over again. We are getting Soldiers over to France very fast and if we keep this up as we have been doing we will soon have the Germans on the run to wards Berlin. We have a bout got thir Submarines in controal now and expet to have them in full control soon at least I hope so for thay have sunk many a fine ship with little children hepless woman on them with out warning to any one at all.

I was married in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church new york city on April 8th by Rev Dr. James Palmer of new york city and Paster of the Fifth avenue Presbyterian church and he was the minister that sprinkled me and that I joined the Church under and he was the minister that made out my marrage licens. I bought my State marrage licens at the city hall new york city off the County and city marrage licens clerk and it cost me one dollar. We were married Monday at high noon 12 oclock and there were many people at the church and my wife’s Father Mother and Brother and hir Father give the bride away and hir brother was best man and hir girl friend and school mate was the brides made. Miss Alice Krig and Miss Johnson and some more young ladies were flower girls. I was excited among all the swells to remember thir names. We left the house in automobiles to the church and after we were married we left the church in a big swell auto, and went to a studio and had our photographs taken and then went to hir home and hir folks and a lot more guest were present to wesh us happiness and success through life then we had a swell wedding breakfast and a fine wedding cake and by that time it was 3 three oclock and we were ready i and the happy little bride to take our honeymoone to Washington D.C. Philadelphia Pa/ and Atlantic City N.J. we had a five day honeymoone trip then we returned to new york city and I for got to tell you after we arrived to the house from the studio the bride changed hir wedding gown to a beautilul dinner gown and after the wedding breakfast was over she changed to in to a neat and pretty tan brownish travling suit. We had a very nice noneymoone trip only the weather was very wet and cold. We stayed with some friends while in Washington dc Mr and MRs John M. Horton, at 1108 8th street N.E. and thay were so nice to us while there. We recived many beautiful wedding presents from almost all over the United States. Even Dr. and MRs. H. D. Hoover of Wynniewood sent a beautiful salid fork of the best rogers silber and Mr and MRs Charles B. Ramsey, of Davis sent us a war saving Book with a five dollar war stamp in it and we have it full now. Mrs Myra Appley and hir daughter sent a beautiful linen table cover and the U.S. Marines from the U.S.S. Seattle give me and my wife the most beautiful travling bags that you ever put your two eyes on. Thay were full solid black leather with all the toilet articles in them and thay were lined weth blue and purple silk and the Chief petty Officers of the U.S.S. Seattle give us two of the most beautiful twen white anamiled Beds and thay cost 25 dollars each 50 for the two and also two fine mattresses and pillows to match and the ships Sailors and crew give me two solid white woolen blankets costing 8 dollars and 65 cents a peace total 17 dollars and 30 cents and since then I have been given two more blankets of the same kind by the warrant Officers of the ship and we got so many other little usful presents that thay are to numerious to mention.

Everybody was sending us presents so I went and seen a jewelry man and ordered 6 knives 6 forlks 6 table spoons 6 teaspoons a butter knife and a sugar spook of the very best rogers silver and had our initials puton the thay were engraved very beautifully J.L.P. and I had them put in a regular silver case lines with plush and had the man to put a card in the case with this writing on it. With best wishes to Mr. And MRs. J.L. Prater from Mrs. E.A. Dent Davis Oklahoma, thay were very pretty and cost 12 dollars. So you need not worry about not sending a present to us as we have your present. My wife will make hir home with hir Father and Mother while I am away in the war and after the war is over we will try and make a little home of our own. Thay are living at 212 west 80th Street N.Y.C. we are on our way to Norfolk Va, to take on coal and water and I expect to arrive there about July 28th and then we will go to new york city and take on food supplie and get mail and remain there about 5 or 6 days then we will be on our way across again with more Solders. I expect to arrive in new york city about August 3rd or 4th that is if all goes well and then I will see my little darling wife again. Bless hir little heart she is just as sweet as she can be. Now my dear Mother I don’t want you to think that I have forgotten you and I never will. I still love you with all my heart and just because I am married that is no sigen nor reason that I should foget you and I wish you to know that I will never do that as long as I live for I love just as much as I always did.

We have Davis Boy on the Seattle Mr G.P. Dickson son, his name is Dewey D. Dickson. He is a sailor in the ships crew. He is 18 years of age and a nice young man and is making good.

Well mother I have written to Henry, and I wrote him a nice letter. I have written to Sister Rosa, and Artie, and Hardy, and Aunt Angie Harmon, Mr. And MRs. C.B. Ramsey, and Dr. and Mrs. H.D Hoover, thanking them all for thir great kindness to me and my wife. I am glad that you got the money that I sent you for Rosa and hir children and Arties baby Girl and Hardys Baby Girl, and also for yourself, and am so thankful to you for giving it out to all of them and I sen you the other 1- dollars for Rosa Baby child and I hope that you have given it to hir by this time. I have reived both of the school Annuals, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your great kindness. I will be glad if you can visit Sister Artie this winter. I am glad that Hardy has some land now and Iwish him every success possible.

I fogot to tell you that I got the resipt that you sent me from Rosa and Hardy. I am glad that you got your little garden going all right and that you have some little chickens and that you get plenty of eggs. I am glad that you have recived the Insurance papers all ok and you should get one from Henery if he is in the marine corps. I am pleased that Sister Rosa did visit you and that you give hir the 10 dollars for the baby. I am very sorry that I and my little wife could not visit you but you know that it is so for away that I could not get that much time off to come away out there and besides it would cost a small fortune for us both to come to Davis form new york city. I am glad that you got the little package that I sent to you. The Towls are for you to use in any way that you see fit. You can give one to Rosa if you wish and you can give one of thase rubber poncho blankets to Hardy if you wish as I would like for him to have one as thay will turn the rain off. Thay are what the Soldiers use in the field to keep the rain off. You can use one your self when you are at work in the garden and yeard when it is raning and you can use one to hang up at one end of the back porch to keep the rain and sun out. The misquito net is for you to put over you to keep the flyes and mosquitos off you. The locks are for you. Use for any thing that you see fit to use them for. The balls of twine is for you to use for your flowers to clime on or any thing you wish. Any thing that I send to you is for you to use and in case that I send you any thing to keep for me I will tell you so. Well I for got to tell you that I give my little a diamond engagement ring when we were engaged that cost a hundard dollars and when we were married I plased the marrage ring of gold on the little brides finger that cost 12.50 twelve dollars and fifty cents and also give my wife a gold wrist watch and band chain for the wrist. The trip on the honeymoone cost over a hundard and twenty five dollars including Railway fair for us both. I have been married4 four August the 8th and we have bought two Liberty bonds of three 3 hundred dollars in war saving stamps so that is not so bad. The old Buzzards Egg is it. Ha ha. Well I want to thank Miss Pattie for the nice letter that she wrote to me for you and I will write to hie thanking hir when I get the time. Now my dear mother I don’t care if you show this letter to Rosa, Hardy and Artie, and I wish you would show it to them, but no one else. Well my dear mother I will have to close for this time and as I do I hope that this letter will find you enjoying the best of health and happiness and I wish you every success. I send my very best wishes to all the rest with a heart full of love and a million kisses to you. I beg to remain always your true son and soldier boy. May God bless you. I am your loving Son.

John L Prater (signed in black ink)

Submitter's  Note: This letter was typed seven 5” by 7” pieces of lined paper. The letterhead is on heach page and each page is numbered. On the back of the envelope is a US Marines colored stamp affixed.`

Henry is Thomas Henry DENT and Hardy is William Hardy DENT, John’s half brothers. Rosa is Rose Lindberg PRATER GREGORY, John’s sister. Artie is Artie Mae DENT, John’s half sister. Aunt Angie is Mary Angeline COURTNEY HARMON, Emory Ann’s sister.

The money that John send to Rosa is probably for the birth of Battelene GREGORY (b3-16-1917). Unknown the names of the children born to Hardy and Artie.

Interesting is a reference to Mrs. PRATER, who John told to write to Emory. I am unable to identify this person or the relation to Emory’s first husband, Martin Pool PRATER.

Unknown who Mrs. Tom MORTON, son Roger MORTON, Dr. and Mrs. John M. HORTON, Dr. and Mrs. H.D. HOOVER of Wynnewood, Mr. And Mrs. Charles B. RAMSEY of Davis, Mrs. Myra APPLEY and her daughter, Mr. G.P. DICKSON or his son Dewey DICKSON of Davis, or Miss PATTY are.