Special Acts Chapter 0417

Accession Number



PRATT, Subgroup Coppers


On June 26, 1927, Massachusetts State Patrolman William H Pratt was thrown from his motorcycle while pursuing a violator of the West Barnstable speed limit. Rounding the Jones corner curve, Pratt met an oncoming auto traveling towards him. While the swift culprit escaped,* the collision left Pratt with his right leg pinned between the vehicle and his motorcycle. The accident resulted in a severe compound fracture** from which he never fully recovered. Reportedly, the injury was the source of chronic pain that plagued him at least until 1936 when he cited ill health as one reason for resigning as Barnstable Chief of Police (see PRATT.1.1938/.GOODWIN). It appears that Pratt was unemployed for nearly a year before being hired as the chief of the Marshfield Police Department. These were likely lean times for Pratt and his young family, giving him every reason to pursue compensation for the leg injury incurred on the job in 1927. In May of 1937 the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives passed the act awarding Pratt a five year annuity of $750 (the equivalent of $12,670.98 in 2016), overriding the objections of Governor James Michael Curley*** who vetoed the line item in the state budget. By this time Pratt was starting to make a name for himself as the Chief of Police in Marshfield (see PRATT.5.1937/SCARPA) but the additional income would have been a bonanza at a time when the average annual income in the US was $1,780.

* While not as stringent about speed as Frank Goodwin (see PRATT.1.1938/GOODWIN), there is some research that indicates the accident caused Pratt to develop an uncanny awareness of speeding vehicles. In 1932, while accompanying Governor Ely’s motorcade from Osterville to Hyannis, he observed the dignitary’s’ relatively slow rate of speed as compared with other politicians.
** He was rushed to Carney Hospital in Boston where he likely met his future fishing buddy Dr. Black (see PRATT.2.1930/ANGLER).
*** The cause of Governor Curley’s veto is not clear. Further research could lead to important to discoveries that would advance the mission of ICS


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“Special Acts Chapter 0417,” Institute for Clew Studies, accessed March 24, 2019, http://instituteforclewstudies.com/items/show/31.