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Charles Nelson Pray

Charles Nelson Pray.

Charles Nelson Pray (April 6, 1868 – September 12, 1963) was a U.S. Representative from Montana.

Early life

Born in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York, Pray attended the public schools in Salisbury and Middlebury, Vermont and graduated from Middlebury High School. He attended Middlebury College from 1886–88 and graduated from the Chicago College of Law (today called the Chicago-Kent College of Law).[1]

Prosecutorial career

Pray was admitted to the bar in 1892 and commenced practice at Fort Benton, Montana, in 1896. He served as assistant prosecuting attorney of Chouteau County in 1897 and 1898. Pray was elected prosecuting attorney in 1898 and reelected in 1900, 1902, and 1904.

Congressional career

Pray was elected as a Republican to the Sixtieth, Sixty-first, and Sixty-second Congresses (March 4, 1907 – March 3, 1913). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1912 to the Sixty-third Congress. Pray resumed the practice of law in Great Falls, Montana, January 1, 1914. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1916.

Judicial career

Pray was nominated by President Calvin Coolidge to the United States District Court for the District of Montana on January 21, 1924, to a new seat created by 42 Stat. 837. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 8, 1924, and received his commission on February 8, 1924. He was elevated to Chief Judge of the court from 1948 until he assumed senior status in 1957. He died in Great Falls, Montana, September 12, 1963. He was interred in Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Cemetery.

Pray's papers 1878–1963, including diaries and correspondence, are lodged at the University of Montana in Missoula.

The town of Pray, Montana is named for him.[2]


  1. ^ Guide to the Charles N. Pray Papers at the University of Montana
  2. ^ Whithorn, Doris (2001) Images of America: Paradise Valley on the Yellowstone, p. 92. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-0805-5


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joseph M. Dixon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large congressional district

Succeeded by
John M. Evans

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