Huger Pratt

If there is one edition of the Olympic Games more mysterious than 1904 St. Louis, from where we covered last week’s blog subject, it is the 1900 Paris Games. Today’s subject, Huger Pratt, has less of a connection to the Olympics than Julius Schaefer, but no less mystery surrounding him.

Pratt, who was born c. 1857 in California, took part in the golf tournament at the 1900 Olympics, but only participated in the handicap event, which is not considered an official Olympic competition, and finished joint-eighth. He was entered in the Olympic contest, but did not actually take part. His wife, Abbie Pratt, had more luck, coming in third place in the women’s event. Both Pratts were among the social elite and were frequent visitors to France, even though they were American.

(Abbie Pratt in 1921, from Getty Images)

Huger was not Abbie’s first husband. She had been married previously to Herbert Wright, with some sources listing him as having died in 1880, although most noting that the two were divorced at some time in the 1890s. Her marriage to Pratt, which occurred perhaps very shortly prior to the Games, is where the Olympic mystery begins.

For a long time, Pratt was believed to have died in 1905, as he is listed as alive in the New York Social Register in 1904, but deceased in 1906. Yet according to one researcher, Pratt, who had possibly been involved in financial speculation in the 1880s, was listed as deceased in 1907 in the 1908 edition of that same publication.

(Clipping from an 1883 edition of The Weekly Underwriter)

The confusion, it seems, comes from Pratt himself. In November 1907, a scandal hit American newspapers when it was revealed that Abbie was living in Cleveland with her mother, because she had “not seen her husband for some months and [did] not know where he [was]”, and was thus planning on bringing suit for divorce. The Pratts, who according to the article had been married in 1896, had been living in Paris until he disappeared, presumably voluntarily.

(Article from the November 19, 1907 edition of The Leavenworth Times)

After that, we were unable to uncover the resolution of that situation, or even be certain whether or not Huger eventually reappeared. It is well known, however, that Abbie married Prince Alexis Karageorgevich, a claimant to the Serbian throne, in 1913, and lived the rest of her days as Princess Daria Karageorgevich. But what happened to Huger Pratt? Given his history, it is not surprising that he disappeared from the record, but we did locate one mention of him dying in 1912:

(Mention of Huger Pratt’s death in the April 4, 1919 edition of The Marion Star)

This article implies that Abbie never went through with the divorce and remained married to him until he died in 1912, which would also suggest that he did reveal himself eventually. Given how uncertain information about Pratt’s death is, however, this article cannot be presumed to be accurate. As we could not find any other confirmation of a death year of 1912, it is entirely possible that the newspaper had fallen victim to misinformation, like other publications before and after it. Until someone can locate an actual obituary or death record, it seems likely that Huger Pratt will remain an Olympic mystery.

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