John Holmes Prentiss

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John Holmes Prentiss, Congressman from New York

John Holmes Prentiss (April 17, 1784 – June 26, 1861) was a United States Representative from New York.


Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, he attended local and private schools. He completed an apprenticeship as a printer, and then went into the newspaper business.

Prentiss became foreman of the New York Evening Post before moving to Cooperstown, New York in October, 1808. He became the printer of The Impartial Observer, which had been founded by Judge William Cooper. In 1809, the paper's name was changed to The Cooperstown Federalist to reflect its political affiliation. When Cooper died Prentiss became the paper's owner and editor. In 1818, the name was changed to The Freeman's Journal dropping the Federalist label as Prentiss's shifted his political support to the Democratic-Republican Party. He operated the newspaper until his retirement in 1849.

In addition to operating the newspaper, Prentiss served in the New York Militia, appointed by Governor DeWitt Clinton as inspector of the 16th Division with the rank of colonel. He was postmaster of Cooperstown from April 24, 1833 to February 17, 1837 and was vice president of the 1837 New York State Democratic convention in Albany.

Prentiss was elected as the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses as a Democrat, serving from March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1841. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1840 and returned to his newspaper, in addition serving as president of the Bank of Cooperstown.

Death and burial[edit]

Prentiss retired in 1849 and continued to reside in Cooperstown. He died there on June 26, 1861, and was buried at Cooperstown's Lakewood Cemetery.


In 1815 Prentiss married Catherine Cox Morris (1795-1818), the daughter of General Jacob Morris and granddaughter of Lewis Morris. In 1828 he married Urilla Shankland (1799-1890). His children with his first wife included Mary Martha (1817-1854) and Catharine Lucretia (1817-1901). With his second wife his children included Alexander Shankland (1829-1854), John Holmes, Jr. (1832-1923), Rachel Ann (1834-1874), and Charlotte Darbyshire (1837-1935).

John Holmes Prentiss' brother, Samuel Prentiss, was a U.S. Senator and United States District Court judge from Vermont. His nephew, Theodore Prentiss, was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sherman Page
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th congressional district

March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1841
Succeeded by
Samuel S. Bowne