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W. S. Prettyman
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from
"The Prettyman Family, in England and America"
by Reverend Edgar Cannon Prettyman


William Seldon Prettyman, son of Henry Robertson Prettyman, born in Princess Ann County, Maryland, on November 12, 1858, and died February 11, 1933. Buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, California. Children: Raymond, Donald and Ross. Marta and Jean (daughters of first wife).

Married Lettica (?), about 1877, and two daughters, Marta and Jean were issue of this marriage. Marta died at the age of twelve, and Jean married D. Austin Lebo, M.D. She was born about 1879 and died about 1920. Dr. and Mrs. Lebo has two daughters, who married Lutheran ministers. (Lettica and William S. Prettyman separated in about 1882 and divorced in 1884).

William married his second wife, Mary Emma Lamb, in 1885. She was born October 27, 1886 and died March 27, 1917 in Ontario, California. They has three sons: Raymond Thomas Prettyman, born December 6, 1885 in Osage City, Kansas; Donald Harry Prettyman, born April 27, 1887 in Arkansas City, Kansas; Ross William Prettyman, born January 31, 1894 on "claim" four miles south of Blackwell, Oklahoma Territory.

William S. Prettyman's mother died when he was twelve years old, leaving a family of five sons and two daughters. His father never re-married after the second wife's death.

William's oldest sister, Ida, cared for the older children John, William, Harry and Sallie. the younger brothers, Charles and Raymond were raised by relatives in Maryland. John at the age of sixteen, and William, at the age of fourteen, left home and were on there own the rest of there lives. William S. Prettyman married when he was eighteen, his wife was older. They lived together for about five years, then separated by mutual consent. Her family, who were in good circumstances, agreed to take care of their two daughters. His wife obtained a divorce.

William S. Prettyman went "West" in 1882 or 1883, completely cutting himself off from his entire family; they never heard from him, or he from them, until about three years before his death. He said he came out "West" to start a new life and forget the past.

In Arizona, he prospected for silver for a short time. Geronimo and his band of renegade Indians killed one of Prettyman's party. He then left for Mexico after that experience, where he contracted and built stations for a new railroad. From there, he went to Emporia, Kansas; where he was quite a successful as a contractor and builder. From Emporia he moved on to Asage City, Kansas, where he owned and operated a Roller Skating Ring.

In Blackwell, he built the first brick building in the town and occupied the upper floor for his photograph gallery (Studio) which was one of the finest in Oklahoma. Prettyman was quite active in the development of Blackwell, and served three years as its Mayor. He was President of the Board of Trade, President of the School Board and trustee of the Baptist State College. Since Blackwell was a frontier town there were many fist and gun fights due, no doubt, to the fact that the town permitted gambling. While Mayor, Prettyman was responsible for closing the gambling houses and "red light" districts. Also, during his administration an Ordinance was passed requiring all business building to be constructed of brick or stone. (It also applied to all buildings to be moved within the district).

William Seldon's life's work was in photographing Indains and early settlement in the middle west. His photographs of the early Oklahoma Land Rush formed the basis for the motion picture "Cimarron". "Indian Territory, A Frontier Photographic Record by W.S. Prettyman - Selected and edited by Robert E. Cunningham" published by the University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma. Speaking of W. S. Prettyman,

"This exciting wilderness was too much for the young photographer, William S. Prettyman of Arkansas City, Kansas, who, with wagon and oxen or mules to transport himself and his photographic equipment, went among the tribesmen. He had normal curiosity and something more, for like Huffman in Montana and Jackson in the Rockies, he sensed history in the making and was determined to record it. Between 1880 and 1909 he made some ten thousand plates, mostly on glass, of Indians, early white ranchers, the pressing land seekers, the land rushes, settlement itself, and the coming of comparative affluence.*** No one who sees Prettyman's pictures of a land rush can fail to share in the intense excitement of eager settlers, nor fail to detect the hostility in an Indain woman's eyes as sod houses rose near by on this last American frontier."

Prettyman made the race into the Cherokee Strip on September 16th, 1893. He had special knowledge of the country, which he gained as a photographer for the U.S. Army, and had several destinations in mind. During the race his horse stumbled into a badger hole, breaking one stirrup, and throwing him over his head. However, cowboy friends "picketed" the horse and he was able to re-enter the competition. He and his partner, Charles Hunt, each staked claims four miles south of Blackwell. ( The claims were 160 acres each, and an estimated 100,000 people participated in the race for 50,000 claims). They made the distance of approximately 20 miles over prairie land, in one hour, five minutes. Prettyman succeeded in keeping contestants and "claim jumpers" off his property, which he occupied for one year, then sold to Dr. Padon.

From Blackwell he moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1905. He and his son, Raymond, purchased the Highland Park Pharmacy in February, 1906. He sold his interest in the Pharmacy in 1910 on account of his health, and purchased an orange grove on Ontario, California. He lived there until the death of his wife, Mary Emma, in 1917. After this he returned to Los Angeles and lived in retirement until his death in 1933.

excerpt from
"The Prettyman Family, in England and America"
by Reverend Edgar Cannon Prettyman



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