Celestia Larissa Pratt

May 10, 1842 – January 6, 1905

by Paul Debry

Celestia Larissa Pratt was born in May 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois. Her father, Orson Pratt was an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There was no other person in the church who walked more miles or preached more than Orson. He crossed the Atlantic sixteen times in his proselyting efforts. Young Celestia was Orson’s third child. She grew up fast. Not many young people before or after her had the kinds of experiences that she had.

  • January, 1846, a baby brother named Vanson Pratt was born, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
  • February 1846, one month later, at age 4, as the result of religious persecution, she was driven by angry mobs, with her family, out of their comfortable home in Nauvoo. Without adequate food or warm clothing she huddled in the freezing winter weather on the banks of Sugar Creek, Iowa. The family, with a one-month-old baby, had no shelter other than what a wagon could provide. Celestia survived, though her baby brother Vanson did not. Thousands of others also died from cold, hunger and exposure during this exodus.
  • April 1847 to September 1847, After settling in temporary and inadequate quarters in Eastern Nebraska, Celestia’s father was asked to leave the family for 6 months and go with Brigham Young and others to scout out the way to the Great Basin in the west, where no one, they hoped, would drive them out again because of their beliefs. Orson and Sarah and their family, had been driven from their homes four times in less than 10 years. Orson and Erastus Snow went ahead of Brigham and the rest of the party and entered and explored the Salt Lake Valley 3 days before the others arrived. The day after Orson entered the valley, on July 22, 1847, his 18 month old son, Vanson died in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, where Celestia was camped out with her mother, a brother and a sister. This was the 3rd child that Sarah had buried. All were less than a year old. Celestia was still only 4 years old.
  • July 10, 1847 – Two weeks before little Vanson died, Sarah had her sixth child. Sarah went through both the birth of a child and the death of a child during the 6 months her husband was gone. Only 10-year-old Orson, Jr. and 5-year-old Celestia were with their mother to comfort and help her during these difficult times.
  • 1848, age 6 – Celestia’s father was asked by Brigham Young to go to England on another mission for the Church.  The family went along this time.  Crossing the Atlantic was not an easy task in those days of cramped quarters and inadequate food on board ship.  The ships were small and were easily tossed about by the wind and the waves as the powerful storms of the North Atlantic lashed the ships over and over again.  Many young children and older people died on these voyages because of the hardships and diseases that spread rapidly among the passengers in such tight quarters.
  • October 1848, age 6 – another brother of Celestia was born. This baby, named Marlon, was born in Liverpool, England. Marlon lived only 11 months. Like three of the others, he died before his first birthday. What heartbreak for Celestia and her family. They would have to bury Marlon on foreign soil that they would soon leave and never return to visit again.
  • December 1849 – Marintha Althera Pratt was born 4 days before Christmas, their second child born in Liverpool, England. Sarah now had given birth to eight children. Marintha was the 5th of those eight who would not live beyond her infant years. She died March 24,1951 on board ship during the return voyage to America. It was usually the young and the old who were not able to stand the rigors of the storms, stench, and malnutrition of the voyages. The bodies of the dead would be sewn into a canvas with a weight, like a canon ball, at their feet, to sink them to the depths of the sea where the sharks would not eat them. The body would be placed on a plank on the side of the ship, feet facing the expansive ocean. There would be a religious service performed for the deceased and then, to the broken hearts of their loved ones, the board was raised up on one end to allow the body to slide into its final resting place in a cold watery grave at the bottom of the immense ocean. And so it was with little Marintha.
  • 1851 – Celestia was 9 years old when her family crossed the plains from Winter Quarters, Nebraska to the desolate wastelands of what would soon be known as Great Salt Lake City, Deseret Territory with the western colonizer and governor of Deseret Territory, Brigham Young at the head. At only 9 years old, Celestia had walked the 1,000 miles across the Great Plains, up over the continental divide through South Pass, over the Rockies, and down into the Salt Lake Valley. On the way, in the middle of the vast plains, north of the Platt River in what is now Wyoming, just east of Fort Laramie, a ninth child of Orson and Sarah was born. Surprisingly, among all the hardship and rigor of that 3-month trip, this child, Harmel Pratt lived through it all.

And so, by the time Celestia was 9 years old she had lived on two continents, crossed the Atlantic Ocean by ship, and the Great Plains by foot. She had seen 2 sisters and 4 brothers born and four of them die. One was left buried eight thousand miles away in England and one buried at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. She had experienced the vengeance of murderous mobbers, near starvation, freezing cold, deep sorrow, great empathy for her mother and father, and every other type of physical hardship that a young girl could endure.

When she was only 16 years old, she fell in love with and married Albert Peter Tyler, a cooper by trade, on January 4, 1858. Albert, twice Celestia’s age at 32, was a widower having lost his first wife, Abigail Abbott four years earlier. Albert and Abigail were married the day after Christmas in 1850, in Salt Lake City. Abigail died just before Christmas, four years later in 1854.

We can speculate that either Celestia or Albert was sensitive about the age difference between them because whoever reported their ages to the census taker gave incorrect information. For example, in the 1860 census taken two years after their marriage, Celestia’s reported as being 38 years old. She was in fact, only 18. Albert was listed as age 32. (He was in fact 33). In the 1870 census, taken 10 years later, Albert is again listed as age 32. This time he was 44. Celestia was listed as age 28, which was correct.

Celestia had seven children in 15 years. Albert and Celestia moved around the Utah Territory during their marriage. This is evidenced by where their children were born.

  • Their first two children, Marinda Althera Tyler and Lula Bell Tyler, were born in Salt Lake City. Marinda on January 22, 1859 and Lula on October 8, 1860.
  • The third child, Orson Pratt Tyler, named after grandfather Pratt, was born July 17, 1863 in St. George, Utah, nearly 300 miles to the south.
  • Then it was back to Salt Lake City for their 4th child, Florence May Tyler. She was born July 25, 1865, just 3 months after Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant and the Union Army at Appomattox, Virginia, thus ending the Civil War.
  • Their 5th child, Grace Herma Tyler, was born in Fillmore, 150 miles south of SLC on November 29, 1867. Fillmore was the capital of the Territory for a few years because it is pretty much in the middle of the State of Utah.
  • Then it was back to the north, bypassing Salt Lake City and settling in Farmington, Utah, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City. This is where Hermoine Celestia Tyler, their 6th child, was born on October 15, 1871.
  • The 7th and last child was born back where it all started in Salt Lake City. This child was a boy named Frank Stanley Tyler, born July 13, 1874.

Like her mother, Celestia lost several young children in death. Lula was 3 years old when she died, Orson was one. Grace scraped her knee roller-skating and died of blood poisoning when she was 10 years old. Frank, their last child died when he was one year and 3 months old. What a lot of heartbreaks that would have been for Albert and Celestia. They would never forget those children as long as they lived.

Marinda, the oldest child, never had children of her own. That meant that of the seven children of Albert and Celestia, only 2 had posterity. Florence May Tyler married Ether Russell in about 1884 in Salt Lake City. They had four children, two of which had posterity. A baby girl name Blanche Russell was born and died in 1888. Margret Russell married an MIT educated oil man named Clarance Justheim. They were married in Guadalaiara, Mexico in 1922. They had no children. Florence and Ether’s oldest child, Grace L. Russell, married Walter Smith Hull, a newspaper photographer. They had two children. Their first child, Shirley M. Hull is 90 years old and is very well considering her age. She is living in California. Their other child, Walter Russell Hull passed away in 1998, having never married.

The other child with posterity living today was Hermoine Celestia Tyler (named after her mother). She married Andrew Fridthof Jacobson on September 17, 1902. Hermoine sang in the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. Hermoine and Andrew had three children. The first child, Harold Jacobson lived 90 years, never married and never had children. The second child, Heremoine Jacobson, named after her mother, and known as "Bea" married Lester Herbert Cope in 1927. They have several children and grandchildren, most of which are living in California.

The third child, Marjorie Dean Jacobson married Francis Chester Miller in September 1933 in Salt Lake City. Marjorie and Francis had five children and many grand and great-grand children. Their family moved to Washington State and their posterity resides there today.

Celestia Larissa Pratt Tyler lived to be 62 years old. She died in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 6, 1905. She is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. And so ended her event filled and difficult life. She is now at peace, looking over her descendants with pride in their accomplishments and sorrowing with them in their challenges. She understands those challenges. She lived through many of them herself. She has left a great legacy.



  • Jared Pratt Family Association records
  • Ancestral File
  • 1900-1930 US Census for Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Social Security Death Index
  • Utah death and cemetery records.
  • Oregon death index 1903-1998
  • Salt Lake City Cemetery records
  • Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1830-1850.
  • Newspaper obituary notices for Marjorie Dean Jacobson, Andrew F. Jacobson, Eugene W. Hilton, Walter Smith Hull, Grace L. Russell Hull, Clarence I. Justheim, Hermoine Celestia Tyler Jacobson, Harold Glen Jacobson and Francis Miller.
  • Ancestry.com records; family data collection
  • First hand family interviews with Shirley M. Hull, Gene Hilton Nicodemus and Kath Miller Kogan, all descendants of Celestia Larissa Pratt.
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