Pratt, Morris(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Although little is known of the early life of Morris Pratt, it is on record that he visited the Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Spiritualist Center in 1851 (just three years after the Fox Family’s groundbreaking experiences with spirits). As a result of this visit, he became deeply interested in psychic phenomena and in what had become the religion of Spiritualism.
Pratt was well educated to the point where he frequently got into arguments with Christian ministers who criticized Spiritualism. On a number of occasions he was even evicted from churches because of his outspokenness. At one time, he was fined for his controversial actions. But, dedicated as he was to the promotion of this new religion, he recognized the need for a large number of educated proponents to spread the word and to address the opponents.
Pratt had recognized his own spirit guide in the person of a Native American. This guide told Pratt of various mineral deposits unknown to anyone. Pratt promised, “If I am made rich, I will give part of it to Spiritualism.” On the information, he invested in a company which was later to become the very profitable Ashland Mine of Ironwood, Michigan. In just a few months, he made more than $200,000. Morris Pratt didn’t forget his promise, and he used part of his profits to advance Spiritualism. In 1889, he built and dedicated a temple in Whitewater, Wisconsin. It consisted of a number of lecture rooms, an office, chapel, and dormitories. It was deeded as the Morris Pratt Institute, though it quickly became known locally as “The Spooks’ Temple.” However, over the years the Pratt Institute earned the respect of the local citizens and even gained national fame, becoming the “Mecca of Modern Spiritualism.” In 1946, the original building was sold and a new one built. It maintains an extensive lending library, home to many rare and spiritually historical books.
The Morris Pratt Institute Association became one of the educational arms of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, offering various courses in Modern Spiritualism. The correspondence course provides the required educational information for certification in the Ministry of Spiritualism, as Ordained Minister, Spiritualist Teacher, Licentiate Minister, Commissioned Spiritualist Healer, or Certified Medium. The Institute is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.