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American Flag.jpg Xavier Thomas PRENTIS (R), Mount Ayr. Senator of the 5th Iowa District of Ringgold, Decatur, and Union Counties; Representative of Iowa General Assemby 51, January 8, 1945 - January 12, 1947.

Born September 2, 1896, Benton, Ringgold county, Iowa, the son of Glasier and Louisa (SAMS) PRENTIS; nephew of Dr. P. L. PRENTIS, M.D. of Delphos, Iowa, who delivered him into the world. Attended Mount Ayr public schools and State University of Iowa City. Served in World War I. Married to Gladys TENNANT. Father of four children: Richard T. PRENTIS, Anne (PRENTIS) WITTMAN, Jean (PRENTIS) REGER, and Raymond E. PRENTIS. A member of the Baptist church, Masonic lodge, Farm Bureau, Mount Ayr library board, American Legion, and other civic organizations. Engaged in baby chick business, feed store and farming at Mount Ayr, Iowa.

He has served four regular sessions and one special session of the General Assembly in the House of Representatives in which he was majority floor leader during the 51st General Assembly. Elected to the Senate in 1948, re-elected in 1952, thus serving in four regular sessions. Member of appropriations and sifting committees for eight sessions, and member of budget and financial control committee and the current tax study committee, and several years as Iowa State Tax Commissioner.


photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2009

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 30, 2015, Page 10

By Mike Avitt

I got a request to cover X. T. Prentis and I had time to research a couple of side stories so this could be a long article. Thanks to Ellen Powell and Randy Gregg for help with this week's "Snapshots of History."

I wasn't able to find the obituaries of X. T.'s father or brothers and that is going to create some holes in this story, but maybe this article will help fill some other holes. X. T.'s grandparents, Xavier Thomas and Rebecca Prentis came to Delphos from Ohio or Indiana about 1880. This was the year Delphos got the railroad. Rebecca passed away in 1884 and Xavier Thomas died in 1885, at which point the couple's three children, Ada, Percy and Glasier returned to Ohio or Indiana. But they would not sty there.

Percy got an education and continues his schooling in the medical and business fields. He returned to Delphos in the early 1890s as Dr. Percy L. Prentis and would remain the town doctor until departing for Chicago in 1907. There, he would rise to the rank of Chief Immigration Inspector but I lose track of him after that. I believe he died in 19298. His sister, Ada, married Clarence Beasley at Kellerton in 1893.

Glasier married Eva Ellet in September 1888 in Ohio. They had a son, Fenton, but Eva died shortly after that. Glasier then married Louisa Sams, of the Delphos area, on March 30, 1892. Three more children would be added to the family: Myron G. "Glenn," X. T. and Florence.

X. T. Prentis was born September 2, 1896 near Benton and graduated high school at Mount Ayr in 1917. Soon after serving in the armed forces, he attended the State University at Iowa City. He started Prentis Hatchery in 1924.

The first mention I see of Prentis Hatchery is in January 23, 1924 in the Mount Ayr Record-News. The ad says, "Custom Hatching a Specialty," and was located in the basement of 105 E. Madison. This was below Randolph Beall's real estate business and other businesses would be located there later. Willis and Irene Hood had a used furniture store in this basement in the mid-1940s.

A December 17, 1924 Record-News article says X. T. Prentis bought the carpenter shop of Leonard Rusk east of Hawkeye Lumber and will convert it into a hatchery. The concrete pad for that building is still there. Another location he had was the old Shorty Davis blacksmith shop east of the old Mt. Ayr Creamery (Mt. Ayr Mill & Feed). The business grew so fast, Prentis Hatchery probably used both buildings at the same time. Brother Glenn joined the business in 1926.

In December 1937, Prentis Hatchery moved to 108 S. Taylor, the current location of Lucky Lanes. They would share this building with (Guy) Todd Hardware when he moved in about 1938. They would both be evicted in 1944 when Lee Timby, owner of the building, sold to John Freeland. Freeland would later convert the building into a department store.

Prentis Hatchery moved into their new building at 604 E. Jefferson in December 1944. The structure was built by Leonard Rusk and was 48' x 84' in size. X. T. was president of the Iowa Poultry Improvement association in 1944 and had also served as its director.

All through the years the business grew. Hatching capacity increased every year as X. T. added more and bigger incubators. Prentis Hatchery sold Purina Feeds at first but began selling Wayne Feeds in February of 1959. Bedford and Leon were Prentis Hatchery locations for several years.

Besides being an exceeding successful business man, X. T. was also a civil servant. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1939, representing Ringgold County, and served until 1947. While a State Senator he chaired many committees including the Iowa Tax Study Committee, Ways and Means Committee, State Appropriations Committee, and the Iowa Tax Commission.

I'll end on this strange note. An investigative reporter was able to obtain X. T.'s birth certificate. This certificate revealed, unbeknownst to X. T. that his real name was Xavier Thomas. X. T. had always believed his name was just the initials, X. T. In 1961 X. T. signed a waiver stating he had no knowledge his real name was Xavier Thomas. I suppose the waiver was necessary because he had served in the military and was elected to public office under a false name. Anyway, he'll always be X. T. to us.

X. T. married Gladys Tennant June 12, 1919 and they had four children: Margaret, Jean, Richard, and Raymond. X. T. left us in 1978 and Gladys passed away in 1988.

  • X. T. Prentis obituary

  • Gladys (Tennant) Prentis obituary

    Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
    Transciption by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

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