John Bratt, 1842-1918 [RG4157.AM]


RG4157.AM:  John Bratt, 1842-1918

Papers (microfilm):  1870-1925

North Platte, Lincoln County, Neb.:  Rancher, Livestock dealer, Mayor, Real Estate agent

Size:  Approx. 5.0 cu.ft.


John Bratt was born on August 9, 1842, in Leek, Staffordshire, England.  The son of a minister, he was apprenticed to a merchant in his twelfth year.  At age eighteen, Bratt opened his own general store in Manchester. When he reached the age of twenty-one, John Bratt decided to immigrate to America.  He left for New York in June 1864 and moved on to Chicago in August, going into business on South Water Street.  That same year, Bratt lost everything but his life in a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1865, Bratt traveled to Nebraska City where he accepted employment as a bull whacker with a firm that operated an ox-team freighting service.  Four years later, he was hired as a bookkeeper by the Coe and Carter Cattle Company which at that time ran immense herds in the Lincoln County area.  Bratt’s headquarters were at Ft. McPherson.  He later became general foreman of the outfit.  In 1870, he formed John Bratt and Company with Isaac Coe and Levi Carter as his partners. John Bratt and Company ranged between ten and fifteen thousand head of cattle between the Platte River, Medicine and Red Willow Creeks, west of Ft. McPherson and east of O’Fallon’s Bluffs.  The home ranch was located four miles southeast of North Platte.

As homesteaders moved into the area and took up open range land, Bratt decided to retire from ranching and acquired stock yards in North Platte where he bought and sold cattle and operated a meat market.  In the early 1900’s he entered the real estate and insurance business with a son-in-law, E. R. Goodman. Bratt served two terms as mayor of North Platte and had been a commissioner of newly-formed Frontier County (1872).  He died in North Platte on June 15, 1918, and was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their four daughters.  (Bratt’s autobiography, Trails of Yesterday, is available in the Society’s Library.)


This collection consists of four boxes, three oversize volumes, and one oversize map arranged in eight series:  1) Financial Records, 1870-1912; 2) Correspondence, 1890-1925; 3) Land Records, 1894-1918; 4) Time Books, 1883-1896; 6) North Platte Materials, 1887-1909; 7) Manuscripts, 1917-1918; and 8) Miscellany.  This material relates primarily to the business conducted by John Bratt as rancher, livestock dealer, real estate agent, and mayor of North Platte.

Note: Additional materials (box 4) were added to the collection in 1997.

The materials in box 4 were added to the Bratt collection in 1997, but have not been inter-filed with the existing portion of the collection; they are only partially processed.  The 1997 addition is boxed separately, but has been arranged in the same Series as the existing collection. The 1997 addition contains correspondence, minutes, agreements, and reports relating to the Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co.; early agreements and information about Bratt’s partnership with Levi Coe, and Frank and Isaac Coe; school lands; and specifications about a proposed Osh Kosh Canal.

The Financial Records of Series 1 include a ledger, 1872-1874; Day Books, 1872-1895; Cash Books, 1898-1912; and Expense Book, 1886-1892; and Bank Account Books, 1870-1882 and 1899.  The Ledger is a stock account book which shows date, name of customer and amount of purchase.  Day Books provide a daily accounting of products sold and list date, purchaser, item, and cost.  The Expense Book provides information on expenses in building, improving, and stocking Bratt’s store.  The Bank Account Books record Bratt’s various bank transactions.  The Ledger and three of the Day Books are Oversize volumes and are shelved next to the collection. Series 2 contains Bratt’s incoming and outgoing Correspondence, 1890-1925.  Letters from the early years pertain to concerns such as cattle rustling, land sales, business loans, appointment of agents to look after the herd, and property rental and improvements.  Other letters relate to issues from his terms as mayor of North Platte, such as the city’s financial status and the construction of an electric light plant.  The correspondence also includes material on the real estate transactions of Bratt’s companies, the Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Company and Bratt and Goodman.  Some of the outgoing correspondence, originally from letterpress books, apparently, is difficult to read because of ink deterioration.

The Land Records of Series 3, 1894-1918 includes volumes of Field Books, Real Estate Holdings, Real Estate Transfers, as well as maps and land contracts.  The Field Books provide information on the elevation, grade, cut, and fill of the land.  Presumably facts and figures of this sort were taken when irrigation was considered.  The Real Estate Holdings volume shows lands for sale by Bratt and Goodman around 1906.  The Real Estate Transfers are indexed by name and show land transfers, building improvements, expenses and profits.  Maps and land contracts indicate land and property owned by Bratt’s companies. Series 4 consists of Time Books of John Bratt and Company and the Equitable Farm and Livestock Improvement Company, 1883-1896.  These records provide name of employee, a tally mark by each date worked, total work time per month, and, sometimes, the rate of pay per day and the total amount paid. The Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Company papers of Series 5 include tax records, 1892-1893; court case records involving the company, 1896-1897; and contracts, 1894-1896.

Series 6 contains materials relating to North Platte, primarily during Bratt’s terms as Mayor.  Among these are records pertaining to the actions of the Mayor and City Council, 1898; city ordinances, 1887-1909; court case of the North Platte Water Works Company vs. City of North Platte in 1909; papers regarding the failure of the North Platte National Bank, 1895-1900; a scrapbook containing clippings relating to Bratt’s mayoral campaign; and a map of North Platte which shows may of the finest house and public buildings in the city, 1888. The Manuscripts of Series 7 include John Bratt’s handwritten autobiography which appears on microfilm.  Bratt worked on this manuscript up until the time of his death in 1918 and it was published in 1921 under the title, Trails of Yesterday.  (This book can be found in the Society’s Library.)  A short manuscript, unfilmed, which describes Bratt’s freighting experiences of 1866 and a sketch of the life of John Burke, pioneer settler of Lincoln County, are also included in this series. The Miscellany of Series 8 includes an address book, horse and cattle memorandum books, hay stack records, legal agreements, membership cards and certificates, irrigation materials, financial notes, Elizabeth (Burke) Bratt’s story of marauding Jayhawkers at the John Burke home in Tecumseh, insurance policies, newspaper clippings, and depositions.


Series 1 – Financial Records, 1870-1912

Box 1


    1. Ledger – Stock Account Book, June 1872-June 1873 (see oversize)

    1. Day Book, June 1872-July 22, 1874 (see oversize)

    1. Day Book, March-August 1879

    1. Day Book, December 1882-February 1887 (see oversize)

    1. Day Book, December 1894-May 1895 (see oversize)

    1. Cash Book, January 1898-March 1900

    1. Cash Book, April 1900-December 1905

    1. Cash Book, January 1905-December 1909

    1. Cash Book, April 1909-August 1912

    1. Expense Book, July 1886-1892


    1. Bank Account Books:

Omaha National Bank, 1870-1871

State Bank of Nebraska, 1872-January 1878

Nebraska Commercial Bank, n.d.

    1. Bank Account Books:  Walker Brothers, 1877-1879

    1. Bank Account Books:  Charles McDonald, Banker, 1880-1882; 1899

Series 2 – Correspondence, 1890-1925

    1. 1890-1892

    1. 1893-1895, January

    1. 1895, February-December

    1. 1896

    1. 1897, January-April

    1. 1897, May-June

    1. 1897, July

    1. 1897, August-October

    1. 1897, November-1898

    1. 1899-1901

    1. 1903

Box 2


    1. 1904-1905, April

    1. 1905, May-1907

    1. 1908

    1. 1909-1915, August

    1. 1915, September-December

    1. 1916-1917, May

    1. 1917, June-1918; 1922; 1925

Series 3 – Land Records, 1883-1918


    1. Field Book, January 1894

    1. Field Book, February 1894

    1. Field Book, February-March 1894

    1. Field Book, December 1894-July 1895

    1. Field Book, January 1896

    1. Real Estate Holdings, Bratt and Goodman, c.1906

    1. Real Estate Transfers, 1916-1918

    1. Maps

    1. Land Contracts

Series 4 – Time Books, 1883-1896


    1. 1883, April-1885, April

    1. 1885, May-October

    1. 1886, May-1887, September

    1. 1887, September-1888, May

    1. 1888, June-1889, September

    1. 1888, December-1890, July

    1. 1889, October-1890, August

    1. 1890, August-1891, July

    1. 1891, August-1892, May

    1. 1892, May-1894, August

    1. 1894, January-1895, January

    1. 1894, September-1896, November

Series 5 – Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Company, 1892-1897


    1. Tax Records, 1892-1893

    1. State Board of Irrigation:  Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co. vs. D. C. Hooper, 1896

    1. State Board of Irrigation:  Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co. vs. D. C. Hooper, 1896

    1. State Board of Irrigation:  Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co. vs. D. C. Hooper, 1896

Box 3


    1. Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co. vs. Winterer, 1896

    1. Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Co. vs. Iowa Irrigation and Improvement Co., 1896-1897

    1. Contracts, 1894-1896

Series 6 – North Platte materials, 1887-1909

    1. Mayor and City Council Actions, 1898

    1. Ordinances, 1887-1909

    1. North Platte Water Works Co. vs. City of North Platte, 1909

    1. North Platte National Bank failure, 1895-1897

    1. North Platte National Bank failure, 1897-1900

    1. Financial notes, written opinions, electric light and gas franchises

    1. Scrapbook

    1. Map of North Platte, 1888 (see oversize)

Series 7 – Manuscripts by John Bratt, 1917-1918

    1. Pioneer Freighting Days with Ox Teams in 1866, 1917; Sketch of the life of John Burke, 1918

    1. Microfilm reel – Autobiography (see Reference Room)

Series 8 – Miscellany


    1. Address Book

    1. Horse and Cattle Memorandum, 1885-1887

    1. Horse and Cattle Memorandum, 1888

    1. Horse Memorandum, 1891-1892

    1. Hay Stack Record, 1895

    1. Eureka Stock Food Company


    1. Legal Agreements

    1. Membership Cards and Certificates

    1. Irrigation

    1. Financial Notes

    1. Story of Marauding Jayhawkers at John Burke Home in Tecumseh, 1864 – as told by Elizabeth (Burke) Bratt

    1. Insurance policies, newspaper clippings, depositions


AIP/pmc   04-03-1987



Series 2 – Correspondence

Box 4

Correspondence, 1889-1901

Series 3 – Land Records

Keith County land list (Coe & Carter)

Lincoln County school land leases, 1883-1887

School land materials, 1898-1901 [includes map and correspondence]

School land materials [includes correspondence]

Series 5 – Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Company

Stock book with Articles of Incorporation, 1888

Minutes, Annual Stockholders meeting, 1892, 1894

Annual Statement, 1896

Agreements, 1889, 1897

Osk Kosh Canal [includes correspondence]

Series 8 – Miscellany

Agreements with Coe and Carter

Proposal for Supplies for Indians, 1894-1894

Miscellaneous materials


KFK   06-28-2000


Subject headings:

Bratt, John, 1842-1918

Burke, John, 1823-1872

Carter, Levi, 1830-1903

Cattle industry and trade — Nebraska

Coe, Isaac

Equitable Farm and Stock Improvement Company (North Platte, Neb.)



Land — Lincoln County (Neb.)

Lincoln County (Neb.) — History

Livestock trade — Nebraska

Real estate business

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