Death of Orson Pratt.
The Great Mormon Evangelical Gathered to the Other Shore.

Orson Pratt, senior, the great Mormon evangelist, died in this city yesterday morning, at 8:30 o’clock.  He has been ailing for a long time, with disease of the kidneys, and not having skilled medical treatment, the trouble (which was probably incurable) culminated in death sooner than it might otherwise have done.

Mr. Pratt was born in Hartford, Washington county, N.Y., Sept. 19th, 1811, he was consequently just entering his 71st year.  He took up with Mormonism before he was twenty years old, and doubtless his boyish folly in this respect grew into a monomania as he advanced in years; though it is certainly true that on at least two occasions he was very near to shaking it off.  He was actually cut off from the church in Nauvoo, in 1842, for refusing to go the full length required of him; and on another occasion he was threatened with like treatment by Brigham Young here, for preaching with zeal certain doctrines concerning the godship of Adam, which Brigham had by that time got past.  Pratt was in England at the time, and he supposed he was doing the correct thing to preach the latest vagary of Young’s, but it did not suit, and he was summoned home.  He remarked on that occasion that he wanted to preach the acceptable thing, but that Brigham changed his views so often it was hard to keep up with him.  He made his peace, however, by the usual submission to counsel, though expecting to be cut off from the Church and driven from the Territory—an eminently desirable thing to have happened to him, we should say.

Mr. Pratt was naturally an honest and just man, and … his acceptance and promulgation of Mormonism and his polygamic relations in obedience to its requirements, his natural instincts were right and proper.  He never made a speculation out of the business, as did so many others; he was kept by Brigham Young in the most abject poverty; and as he showed a willing spirit in turning over to the head of the Church everything he ever had of any value, of which no refusal is on record, he died a poor man.  He did not own a foot of land in the Territory, and he has been known to make a practice of walking form his residence in the Nineteenth ward up to the city, because he had no streetcar tickets nor money to buy them.  He has even confessed that if he had occasion to use a postage stamp, he would have to borrow the money to buy it.  He was not in favor with the Brigham Young dynasty, which, however, availed itself freely of his talents without recompense.  His life may be said to have been that of a man of ability, whose mind because perverted in youth before it gained its full strength, and whose weakness was taken advantage of by designing schemers to help them, in a huge speculation in the benefits of which they never permitted him to share.

Since the ascension of John Taylor to power, (a power which many of the people honestly thought Mr. Pratt ought to have had), he has fared much better than before.  He, in connection with other dignitaries in the Church, has enjoyed a stated salary from the Church funds, and has not been oppressed by the servility and state of want in which he was formerly kept.  His life since Brigham Young’s death has undoubtedly been happier than before.  He was much loved by the Mormon people, who saw in him the better ideal of their faith.  Where so much was grasping avarice and tricky self-seeking, he was guileless and unselfish.  So much we deem it due to the truth to say; and while deploring the result of his labors in helping so much to build up a vile fraud, and hating that work with a perfect hatred, we mournfully confess that we consider the deceased to have been misguiled only, and not intentionally wicked.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 4, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]


At Half-Mast.

On receipt of the sad news of the death of Apostle Orson Pratt, the flag at the City Hall lot, was raised at half-mast, and will remain so until after the funeral services.

[Ogden Standard Examiner, Oct. 5, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]


Death of Apostle Orson Pratt.

Last Monday morning dispatches flashed along the wires, that the venerable Orson Pratt had at 8:35 A.M. that day quietly passed to the sleep of the just.  For over a year, Brother Pratt had been suffering severely from diabetes, and although he rallied somewhat after the first attack, and was seen out occasionally attending to his business, yet he was confined to his room most of the time and became very weak and feeble.

On Sept. 18th he addressed the Tabernacle congregation for about twenty minutes, speaking in a clear and forcible manner.  Next day was his seventieth birthday and he expressed himself as feeling well.  The exertion of mind, however, consequent upon attending to some business connected with the Historian’s office, again prostrated him and he gradually sank until Monday morning, when he calmly passed away.

Orson Pratt was born in Hartford, Washington County, New York, September 19th, 1811, and was the son of Jared and Charity (Dickinson) Pratt.  His father was a descendant of William Pratt, who with his brother John came to this country from England with the pilgrim fathers and located at Hartford Connecticut, in June, 1636.

He was the last of the original council of the Twelve Apostles of this Church.  He crossed the ocean sixteen times to study the higher mathematics and in addition to his published scientific books has left an elaborate work in manuscript on the Differential Calculus, containing original principles.  He was the father of 16 sons and 16 daughters, and leaves 43 grandchildren.

Brother Orson Pratt was one of the best men the world ever saw, honest, straight forward, and sincere; he elicited the admiration of even his enemies, and was essentially and truly one of the Lord’s noblemen.  Words can hardly express the esteem with which he was held by the thousands of men and women who assumed the name of Latter Day Saints, and though prominent as a teacher and expounder he was ever of the most humble disposition, and rich as he was in knowledge and all that pertains to it, yet he never set store by the mercenary possessions of this world, his legacy to his family being little beyond the record of a well spent life.

On Monday morning, the melancholy intelligence was received by President John Taylor of the death of Elder Feramorz L. Young, son of the late President Brigham Young, while returning home from his mission in Mexico.  The telegram conveying the sad intelligence is from Apostle Moses Thatcher, is dated New York, the 2d, and simply states that “on Tuesday night, at 11 o’clock, 100 miles out from Havana, Elder Feramorz L. Young died of typhoid fever.  Having no means of preserving the body he was buried at sea Wednesday afternoon.”

[Southern Utonian, Oct. 8, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]


A Tribute of Respect.

Apostle Orson Pratt, whose body lies in the grave while his great spirit is in the paradise of God, was a man who has left his imprint not only upon the destinies of the people whom he instructed so wisely and loved so dearly, but also on the vast circle of science whose devotees will appreciate his grand achievements in astronomy and mathematics, now that they no longer run the risk to expose themselves to popular reprove by doing justice to a living “Mormon.”

Since his demise his name has also prominently figured in the public press.  Thus the Omaha Bee says of the departed Elder: “He was well educated, an unsurpassed mathematician; he has spent the whole of his life from early manhood in spreading the tenets of his faith.  His writings, which are philosophical and argumentative, are more copious than those of any other of the Apostles, to which body he belonged, being the only one of the original twelve members who were first ordained by Joseph Smith.  As a missionary, he has, perhaps, traveled further than any one of his co-religionists.  He was one of the oldest members of the Church, having been baptized more than fifty years ago, and was seventy years old on his last birthday.  His fine cut features, his long, white, flowing beard, his sonorous voice debating upon the fulfillment of prophecy will long be missed in the Tabernacle.  For a number of years he has been Speaker of the House in the Territorial Legislature.”

[Ogden Standard Examiner, Oct. 11, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]


Editorial Notes.

The Omaha Herald has this to say of the celebrated Apostle who has recently gone to his rest—“The death of Orson Pratt, which occurred a few days ago, broke another big link in the ties which bind the Mormon people to the past.  One by one the old leaders whose courage and leadership planted a great population in the deserts of the mountains more than thirty years ago, are passing away, and Orson Pratt was by no means the last of them.”

[Deseret News, Nov. 2, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]


Elder Orson Pratt and His Writings

The Grand Haven Herald publishes some lengthy extracts from an article in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Morning Democrat, on the late Elder Orson Pratt and his writings. In the death of Elder Pratt the Democrat considers the “Mormon” Church has lost one of its strongest supports. It says: “Orson Pratt was not only a strong reasoner, but he was a wonderful organizer, as well as a superior executive officer. The ‘Mormon’ organization owes more, probably, to the writings of Orson Pratt for the formulation of the theory of that Church than all others who have been connected with it.”

Elder Pratt was indeed a “strong reasoner,” an able expounder and staunch defender of the doctrines of the Church to which he so earnestly and faithfully devoted the greater part of his life to propagate. But he did not consider the success of the great work owes more to him “than all others who have been connected with it.”

The writer further says: “It is impossible to read his dissertations on the ‘Mormon Bible’ (meaning the Book of Mormon), without recognizing the hand of more than an ordinary master.”

In this statement we concur, and the Rev. Dr. Newman, as many other persons, was convinced of this fact during his discussion with Elder Pratt in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City.

The Democrat writer says: “As an authority upon ‘Mormon’ Church history he was beyond dispute, while his works formed complete text books for the church. His doctrine, as formulated in his writings, was that of a confirmed anthropomorphist, and is of a character standing entirely alone, and which has no substance in any system of religion which claims to be founded on any portion of the Christian scriptures.”

It is true that the Deity described in his writings, and worshiped by Elder Orson Pratt, and by the Church which he represented, is in the form of a human being, as how could he be otherwise? The Deity said “let us make men in our own image, after our own likeness.” “So God created man in his own image,” and endowed him with numerous attributes. But the attributes of Deity are not human, they are divine, and man was commanded to approach and embrace them. “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” This is the doctrine that Elder Orson Pratt taught in his writings, and in all his oral expoundings of the faith of the Latter-day Saints, which finds “No semblance in any other system of religion,” although they all claim to be “founded on the Scriptures.”

Again: “The ‘Mormon’ religion in all its influences and characteristics must necessarily be retrograding in its tendencies.” The exact opposite of the above statement is the truth. The religion of the “Mormons” inculcates and enjoins every principle that is pure, honorable, virtuous, chaste, “doing to others as they would have others do unto them.” The “Mormon” religion is elevating in its tendency, and would, if fallen humanity would receive it, redeem and upraise them, and introduce a universal brotherhood of man. This is its mission.

“The doctrine of anthropomorphism,” says the Democrat, “that of representing the Deity in human form, must necessarily be debasing in its tendency.” What other form could Deity possibly have, if, as Scripture declares, He made man in the same form as himself? What was the form of Jesus Christ? His form was like that of human beings who lived in the same city as Jesus did. His mother was human, and she was married to a human being named Joseph. He was a carpenter by trade. Yet Jesus, it is declared, was in the “express image of his (heavenly) Father’s person,” and when he came out of the waters of baptism, the voice of God was heard saying, “This (Jesus) is my beloved son.”

“In the dark ages,” says the Democrat, “it was not at all strange that the human mind should clothe that power which thundered in the heavens and filled the strongest hearts with dread, with some kind of form, perhaps human, and as being moved with passions more fearful than the hearts of men.”

What voice was is that thundered on Sinai? Who was it that spoke to Moses? Whose finger wrote on the tablets of stone? The voice was the Lord’s, the being that spoke to Moses was God, and it was His finger that wrote the Ten Commandments. He was the God of Abraham, who visited the old Patriarch in his domicile, at which time He ate and drank, and promised the old man a son, in whose seed the nations of the earth should be blessed. (He was in the form of a man). He was the same being who conversed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The Democrat says, “A doctrine of that kind promulgated by a strong man, would lead to a religion semi-pantheistic in its nature.”

The Latter-day Saints do not believe that the universe is God, but that God organized the universe and that He is the father of the people who dwell on it; and that He desires them to seek after Him, that they may find Him.

The same writer says: “No period in the history of the world has produced more successful propagandists than that in which the ‘Mormons’ live.”

That is a fact, and the cause is simple, viz.—“Mormonism” is truth. “Truth is mighty and will prevail.” The writer concludes by saying he cannot comprehend what sentiment it is that leads women to become members of such an organization. It is their intuition which enables them to comprehend the truth, and their love of it leads them to embrace it, and the Democrat would lose nothing but would gain much by imitating them in this matter.

[Ogden Standard Examiner, Nov. 7, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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