State Historic Site
In 1982 the State of Kansas purchased approximately twenty-three acres of the original Cottonwood Ranch. Today the Kansas State Historical Society administers the property as one of the state’s best preserved historic sites.
In the late 1800s many thousands of EuroAmericans attempted to establish permanent settlements on the High Plains of northwest Kansas. Only a few were successful. Among those who survived and prospered were the Pratt’s, a family of immigrants from Yorkshire County, England. Between 1878 and 1882 Abraham Pratt and sons John Fenton and Tom settled on adjacent tracts of land in the South Solomon Valley.
John Fenton Pratt, known as “Fent,” became a very successful sheep rancher. His business ledgers indicate that in March and April 1891 he shipped 3,566 pounds of wool to markets in St. Louis and Philadelphia. In addition to selling wool and dealing in livestock trade, Fent served as the local financier. He accepted livestock, farm implements, and land as collateral against loans he made to dozens of people in the area. In the 1880s and 1890s Fent constructed a stone house and buildings. He also planted many cottonwood trees and named his home Cottonwood Ranch.rn