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From the Enterprise and News

Wednesday, December 4, 1929

Louis Gratett

Louis Gratett of this village died in St. Peter's Hospital, Albany last Wednesday. The funeral was held Friday in Albany and interment was made in St. Agnes' cemetery, that city. Money morning at 7:30 Fr. A. A. Cunningham of St. Patrick's Church this village celebrated a requiem mass. Mr. Gratett came her from France a number of years ago and was employed a long time as a bookkeeper in the office of the Englehardt Piano Company. More recently he conducted a poultry farm on Krings Bush Hill. He was a man of culture and enjoyed the high esteem of the community.

(A neatly typed manuscript prepared and written by Louis Gratett in 1827 comes to us through the kindness of Mrs. Ira Peck in whose care it was left. It is a story of success and failure, of the heights and depths and one that in the hands of a Dumas or a Dickens would go far. It is also a story of average human life, as told by a philosopher. It is one of the strange bequests which comes at times to the desk of the editor. We give it as written and thereby fulfill the trust imposed upon us by a man whom in life we respected and admired and often longed to know better.--Editor.)

Mr. Ira Peck

Please deliver this to Mr. MacWethy at the St. Johnsville Enterprise as soon as possible after my death.

My Autobiography

I was born December 29th 1848 at Garchizy (Nievre) France. My parents were peasants, the best couple there ever was on earth, practicing honesty and self denial until sacrifice. When I was about eleven they sold their property and we came to live in Paris. There we had hard time for many years, I remember. I had my education in a Christian brothers school and I was successful enough to leave at the head of the school. I was only 13, but I had to go out and work.

After six months in a bank and one year in another clerical position, I entered as an employee in the book publishing business. That turned to be at my liking and fitting my aptitudes, for when p4 (?) I arrived to be the manager of the most important publishing house of France, for school books: "Librairie Charles Delagrave", Soufflot street, Paris.

At that time, necessarily, my acquaintances connections, relationships were very extended in Paris, especially among scholars, teachers, authors, scientists, politicians.

But not only did I attend conscientiously to my jobs, and give my employers the best services I was capable of, I had also taken to study as soon as I was out of school. I gave very little time to sleep. Studying or working, I passed sometimes two or three nights in succession without sleep at all. I tried nearly every branch of learning, in fact, too many because of want of direction.

Anyway I was able to publish at 25 a book which robbed me of many nights of sleep: "Tarifs-Grattet", railroads and postal legislation and tariffs. Afterward, I published a Guide for Paris and suburbs, and also the first popular journal of fashions: "Le petit journal de la monde." Later, I was a collaborator with famous professors, in the preparation of books for school, on different matters, especially spelling and grammar. I write myself a first Reader and a first Grammar. I helped in the making of two other grades in grammar, on Instruction civigne and one Instruction morale. My collaborators were Mr. Linient, Director of Normal School, Paris; Mr. Paul Bert, a scientist and statesmen, minister of Public Instruction with Gambetta; Mr. Emile Burdeau, president of House of Representatives and afterward Premier; Mr. Emile Cuissard, inspector general Paris school.

Now I was 30 and that was the climax of my career. I should have died then, for I accomplished nothing good or important afterwards. Of course, I could have stayed in my position and be happy; I could also have gone further, for I received at that time attractive offers of various sorts.

But somehow, was it fatigue, success blinding, family trouble, sex, may be a little of each, anyway, I slacked. Yes, after 15 years of hard labor in many directions, an enviable position, a high reputation, I lost my energies, neglected everything, and let go from my hands position, journal, offers and all.

Thereafter I got again several opportunities and attained again good stations, very good indeed. But, three times at least, I let Dame Fortune pass my door. All of my fault, I have admitted long ago.

Well in December 1888 I disembarked in New Orleans with a friend, which, before me, had planned that trip. I lost ten years of my life in Louisiana, literally: I was like a body without soul or mind. In 1899 I was in New York where I founded the "French Institute," a school of French language, 106 East 23rd street. I made nice acquaintances at that time and have had lessons paid fairly. However, rich ladies travel very much, and the season for teaching French is short. A pupil, friend of mine, died in 1903 and I took his place as bookkeeper at the office of Roth & Englehardt, manufacturers of piano actions and player pianos. I stayed there seven years in New York and afterward went at the factory in St. Johnsville where I continued two years more. Then I quit to enter in the poultry raising in the spring of 1912, another venture which brought me a job at my liking, but more losses than profits. I had to give up in 1926.

I was married in 1875. We had three boys; they are 50, 48, and 43 years old respectively this year, 1927. My wife is dead; my sons have good positions in France. When I left Paris it was not forever, I thought. After one year in Louisiana I desired my wife to come with me, and I sent her the money for the trip. But after a delay, she changed her mind and returned the money. Then, I decided we had better to stay separate.

When in New York in 1909 I married again. Two more boys; one 16, one 8 years old in 1927. LOUIS GRATTET. St. Johnsville, N. Y. August, 1927.

(Thanks to Jimmy Christman for donating this article.)


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