William Dickinson Pratt in Nauvoo

By Rick J. Fish

Prepared under the direction of Robert Grow,
President of the Jared Pratt Association

April 1993


Sept 1, While travelling on their way to England, Parley and his family arrived at the home of his brother William Dickinson Pratt. Here Orson Pratt and Hyrum Clark were waiting for them having gone ahead to do some preaching a few days earlier. William lived approx. 72 miles from Nauvoo travelling by roads in the 1840s in an easterly direction would place William’s home probably at or near Bryant, Fulton Co., Illinois.1



1840 William D. Pratt’s name appears on the census records of Fulton Co. Illinois.2

August William moves from Fulton Co. to Hancock Co. (Nauvoo) Illinois, a few weeks before Hannah’s death.3

Sept 20, Hannah Ward Pratt, William’s wife, dies. They had one child which lived only eight months (Sarah Jane, born in Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 19, 1838 and died in October the same year.)4



March 1 William marries his second wife, a widow named Wealthy Eddy Shumway.5

June 3 William’s name is listed on the roster as a QuarterMaster Sergeant in the Second Company of the Nauvoo Legion Infantry. His responsibilities include seeing that his company has food, clothing, and all the necessary equipment. He also assists the QuarterMaster General.6

Nov. William’s mother, Charity, moves in with William and his family.7

Dec. 13, Martha M. Pratt is born in Nauvoo. She is the first child of William and Wealthy.8

The 1841 Nauvoo land records show that William had purchased 2.5 acres in the south half of the north part of the Kimball Addition Lot 8.9 It also appears that in this same year William rented out portions of his property to: Philo Dibble (south half of the north half), John Pierce (1/16th acre of the north part), and Samuel Brown (1/16th acre of the north part). In addition, the records show that William’s 1841 tax assessment included $12 for cattle (probably two cows), $8 for clocks, $18 for other personal property, and $35.00 of land.10


During this year William sells portions of his 2.5 acres on Lot 8 of the Kimball Addition.11 The Nauvoo and Hancock County tax records seem to indicate that Samuel Brown purchased 1/16th of an acre in the north part of the north half of this lot, and that Samuel Moore also obtained one acre in the north half.12 In addition, John Pierce secured 1/16th of an acre on the north part, and William Porter may also have acquired 3/4ths of an acre in the middle of the acre in the south part.13 All indications reveal that William was living on 3/4ths of an acre in the middle of the original 2.5 acres. It also seems that his home faced or was closely adjacent to Woodruff Street. William’s 1842 Nauvoo tax assessment was $9 for cattle, $5 for clocks, $5 of watches, $12 of other personal property, and $100 of land. However, the Hancock Co. tax assessment recorded $20 for cattle, $5 for clocks, and $30 of other personal property.14

Feb., William is listed on the Nauvoo LDS census. At this time his family consists of William, his wife Wealthy, daughter Martha M., and mother Charity.15

Feb. 12, William lost a petition regarding swine. He probably objected to pigs and hogs running wild in the streets and not being penned up.16

Feb. 17, William succeeds in his petition to open Bluff/Woodruff Street from Mulholland Street to Munson Street. He probably had his house facing Woodruff and may have been using a temporary or makeshift road before this petition carried.17

May 29, William writes from Nauvoo to Parley in Liverpool, England. William informs Parley that their mother arrived in Nauvoo at William’s home last November. He also states that their brother Anson wanted to come to Nauvoo, but was too poor. William thanks Parley for a copy of the BofM Parley had sent to William’s wife. William also says he moved from Fulton Co. the middle of August 1840 and that his wife was taken sick the next month [September]. He also explains that he was too sick from September 1840 to Spring 1841 to accompany Parley on his mission to England as Parley had requested.18



February, Parley leaves his family in Chester, Illinois (Jan. 27), and travels on horseback to Nauvoo arriving probably on Feb 7. For the next two weeks he visits with his two brothers Orson & William and their two families plus his aged mother.19

March 11, William’s petition is granted by the Nauvoo City Council to open Ripley Street from the New York Store east for one mile.20

May 7, “. . . the unsettled state of my [Parley’s] large family (consisting of wife and her sister, 5 children, hired girl, and hundreds of goers and comers) all huddled into one small room (cabin on the south west corner of Wells & Young street, Block 8 Lot 1) which we use for kitchen, parlour [sp. parlor], dining room, bedroom and publick [sp. public] office. . . . Myself, family, Br. Orson and family and bro. Wm and family are all well and living [torn page, ? Near] each other. Mother is here with us and is [torn page, ? Doing] well. [torn page,] on and family will be here soon. I wish the rest of my kindred world gather here. . . . I am now building a two story store and dwelling house 32 ft. by 56 near the Temple. I hope to complete it in three months and then I am ready for another mission. . . .21

May 12 William has his petition read again in the city council regarding hogs.22

Oct 7 John R. Randolph owes William $15 (probably for carpentry work).23

1843 The Nauvoo tax records for William’s property on Kimball Lot 8 suggests that Samuel Brown, Samuel Moore, John Pierce, William Porter, and William Pratt were all still living in the same locations as in 1842, with the exception of John Worthen who was not living on 1/3 of an acre which came from a portion in the south half.24 William’s 1843 tax assessment showed that he had $4 of clocks, $4 of watches, $12 of other personal property, and $100 of land.25



Feb 16, William witnesses the legal transaction between Zerah Pulsipher who sells a piece of property to Phebe Woodruff (wife of Wilford Woodruff).26

April 15, William is one of nearly fifty men called on a mission to New York.27

June 10, William’s petition to open Knight Street is rejected by the Nauvoo City Council.28

June 22, William Jared Pratt is born in Nauvoo to Wealthy & William Pratt. He is their second child.29

June 26–7, ”A day or two previous to this circumstance [the death of Joseph and Hyrum] I [Parley] had been constrained by the Spirit to start prematurely for home, without knowing why or wherefore; and on the same afternoon I was passing on a canal boat near Utica, New York, on my way to Nauvoo. My brother, William Pratt, being then on a mission in the same state (New York), happened providentially, to take passage on the same boat. As we conversed together on the deck, a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell were let loose. I was so over-whelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak; and after pacing the deck for some time in silence, I turned to my brother William and exclaimed—“Brother William, this is a dark hour; the powers of darkness seem to triumph, and the spirit of murder is abroad in the land, and it controls the hearts of the American people, and a vast majority of them sanction the killing of the innocent.”. . . “This was June 27, 1844, in the afternoon, and as near as I can judge, it was the same hour that the Carthage mob were shedding the blood of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. . . .” “My brother [William] bid me farewell somewhere in Wester New York, he being on his way to a conference in that quarter, and passing on to Buffalo I took steamer for Chicago, Illinois. The steamer touched at a landing in Wisconsin, some fifty or sixty miles from Chicago, and here some new passengers came on board and brought the news of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.”30

June-Jan William returns to Nauvoo sometime between June of 1844 and January of 1854. It is likely that he went home after he received news of the martyrdom, or maybe he returned for the October General Conference. For what ever reason, he had journeyed home for a period of time and will return to his missionary field of labor (New York) in January of 1845.

Oct. Conf William is selected along with over sixty other men to be High Priests.31

1844 The Nauvoo tax and land records show that William Pratt’s original 2.5 acres of property still had Samuel Brown, Samuel Moore, John Pierce’s widow Mary Pierce, William Porter, John Worthen, and William Pratt all living on the same locations as the year 1843.32



Jan. 27, William returns from Nauvoo to his mission in New York.33

April 6, William presides at a Church conference in the Greenwood Branch in New York.34

May, William returns to Nauvoo from his mission in New York.35

Spring, Richard Bentley and his family were apparent friends of the Pratt family. However, it is uncertain which Pratt family Richard speaks of when he says, “In the spring of 1845, we went to live on a farm three miles north of Nauvoo, belonging to a Mr. Pratt, who had moved up from New Orleans for the benefit of his health. He could be speaking of Parley P., Orson, William D., or wealthy land owner and non LDS resident of Nauvoo named William M. Pratt. Richard Bentley continues to say, “He engaged me to do his farming so we stayed with him that summer and the next winter. In the fall of 1845, wagon-making companies were formed in the city to make wagons, etc., with which to cross the plains. I joined one under Captain Cox. There was a fine lot of timber suitable for wagon-making on Mr. Pratt’s farm. And he gave me permission to cut and use what timber I wanted for the wagon shop.”36



February Parley’s family leave Nauvoo, and find a vacant log house not far from Sugar Creek, Iowa where they spend a portion of the winter. Mary Ann Stearns Winter recalls, “After three days we moved on a mile and a half and camped in a large new log granary with a bin of corn in one end, and a nice lot of potatoes in the cellar, of which the owner told us to help ourselves, so we feasted on parched corn and hulled corn and roasted potatoes, as only people camping out could do. There were besides my mother, six other wives and two babies, Brother Rogers, wife and two children, Uncle William Pratt and Brother Whitaker as teamsters, Parley, Jr., Olivia, Moroni and myself, making quite a patriarchal family to be looked after.37”

Summer Apparently, William returns to Nauvoo, because his name is listed as a carpenter working on the Nauvoo Temple during the summer of 1846.38

Sept. 10, William enlists as a private in the 1st Company of the Nauvoo “Battalion” during the Battle of Nauvoo, Sept. 12—17. Apparently, his wages for his military service were 1 1/3 lb of beef which he collects on Sept. 14.39

Sept 18,? ”During the day Brothers Anson and William Pratt, with grandmother Pratt and their families, arrived and took up quarters with us in the tent for the time being.40

September ”The sojourn on the bank of the river was only temporary, and all those whose wagons and teams were nearly ready, soon yoked up their teams and started westward. Of the others, some went down the river to St. Louis, others up the river to Burlington, and intermediate points, and there were some not willing to turn to the right or the left, but wanted someone to haul them a few miles out in the country where they could get work and obtain means to take them still farther on their westward march.

Brother Anson Pratt had helped with the distribution of the relief supply, and when the boat returned, he and family took passage for St. Louis. He hired two skiffs at Montrose to come up for his family, in which they soon embarked and were floating down the river amid waving of handkerchiefs, and goodbys [byes] from those on the shore. As grandmother Pratt went with them, that took seven from our company, and while we were glad to know they were going to a place of plenty, as well as peace, their going left a lonely feeling in our hearts. And thus the end of the first week found us, and the second was a sorrowful one in our little camp.

Little Martha Pratt [William’s daughter], four years old, had suffered with chills for a number of weeks and though her condition did not seem alarming, still she did not get better, and one morning her mother noticed a change—she continued to grow worse all day, and when Sister Pratt took her in her arms to prepare her for the night she could see that the end was near, and in a short time she passed peacefully away. But of, the agony of that loving mother’s heart, to lose her beautiful, blue-eyed darling, in such a place and at such a times, and she cried out, “Oh, I can never leave her in this lonely place.” But mother tried to comfort her by telling her that perhaps we could take her over to Nauvoo and lay her by the side of our loved ones and then it would not seem so terrible. So in the morning Brother Pratt went over to see if it could be accomplished, and found there was nothing to hinder—the city was as still as death, and the few persons seen on the streets moved around as if at a funeral. A little red pine coffin was procured at Montrose, and about one o’clock we started on our mournful journey. Mother could not leave her sick baby, so I was sent to tell them where the graves were, and show them the place mother thought best for their little one to be buried.

During the summer, mother had, in anticipation of our leaving the home, obtained stones from the Temple yard and now she had initials cut on them, and then after making a chart of the graves from the corner of the house, Brother Silcox dug down at the head of each grave and placed the stones down almost to the coffins, then covered all over and dug up the rose trees we had planted there, and smoothed off the ground, and no stranger could tell where they were.

We did not go by ferry, but had a large skiff and landed in a secluded place on the other side where a team was waiting and we were soon conveyed to our destination. Three of the brethren accompanied Brother Pratt across the river, and with the driver, the little pilgrim was laid to rest till the Resurrection Morn. This made six graves in all, as Brother Orson Pratt had lost an infant daughter, though she was buried on their side of the fence, but she lay in a line with ours. Requiescat in pace! [Rest in Peace]41



Stephen Pratt is born to Wealthy & William Pratt. Stephen dies as an infant.42



April 24, Orson Pratt writes a letter to Parley from Winter Quarters, [Nebraska]. Orson informs Parley that Anson and his family, and their mother Charity are all well and living in Winter Quarters. Orson also apprises Parley that “Wm. [William] has obtained a bill of divorce from his wife, he is in St. Joseph, Mo. the last information [where Orson had received was that] he [William] had sold 1 yoke of your [Parley’s] oxen for a shingle machine and of course must be getting rich very fast.43

Orson gives some insights on the resolution of Parley’s property in Nauvoo. “The High Council decided that [Ezra] Bickford should give 1/2 of your [Parley’s] property to Anson the other to Mary Ann [Pratt].”44



Mirza Lyona Pratt is born to Wealthy & William Pratt. This child was probably born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and may have either died at Council Bluffs or on the trail to Utah.45



Oct. 7, William and his family arrives in Utah. He was a member of Orson Pratt’s company.46



1. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 295, Also see Appendix 1.

2. This information was supplied by Glenn Rowe of the LDS Church Historical Department and a William Pratt descendent. Also see the NRI (Nauvoo Restoration Incorporated) Collection in the LDS Church Historical Department.

3. See LDS Church Archives, Parley P. Pratt Collection, Correspondence 1842-1855, Ms d 897 fd. 1. Letter from William D. Pratt to Parley P. Pratt, May 29th, 1842.

4. NRI Collection & Frank Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Company, 1913, 1114.

5. William and Wealthy will have four children, two of which will be born in Nauvoo. Wealthy will leave William after they arrive in Utah in 1851, and will return to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where she will live until her death in 1892. Arthur Donald Coleman, The Pioneer Pratts of Utah, 34. The NRI Collection records the date of their marriage as Feb. 27, 1841 in Nauvoo. In addition, this information indicates that the marriage was solemnized by Elder William Neiswanger. Also see the marriage records in the Times & Seasons index.

6. Information supplied by Glenn Rowe, and also in the NRI Collection of Nauvoo Legion Records. Also see John Sweeney, Jr., A History of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois, Brigham Young University Masters Thesis, 1974, 30, 202.

7. See LDS Church Archives, Parley P. Pratt Collection, Correspondence 1842-1855, Ms d 897 fd. 1. Letter form William D. Pratt to Parley P. Pratt, May 29, 1842

8. Esshom, 1114.

9. See Map Number 1, (red rectangle).

10. NRI Collection, Rowena J. Miller’s Study of Property Ownership, Nauvoo, Kimball’s Additions to Nauvoo, 1839-1850, 1965.

11. The 2.5 acres may have been closer to 3 acres. It is very difficult to translate rods, chains, feet, and fractions of acres into exact lengths or dimensions. Some land recorders and surveyors used different measurements for rods and chains etc.

12. Samuel Moore purchased this acre on Dec. 27th, 1842, for $300 on consignment. See the NRI Collection, Miller, Kimball 8.

13. NRI Collection, Miller, Kimball 8.

14. Ibid.

15. NRI Collection, LDS Census records.

16. NRI Collection.

17. NRI Collection.

18. Information, supplied by Glenn Rowe. Also see LDS Church Archives, Parley P. Pratt Collection, Correspondence 1842-1855, Ms d 897 fd. 1.

19. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 328-329; & DHC, vol. 5, 265.

20. NRI Collection.

21. Letter from Parley P. Pratt to John Van Cott in Columbia Co., New York, May 7, 1843.

22. NRI Collection.

23. NRI Collection.

24. NRI Collection, Miller, Kimball, 8.

25. Ibid.

26. NRI Collection.

27. DHC, vol. 6, 336.

28. NRI Collection.

29. Esshom, 1114.

30. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 331, & DHC, vol. 7, 147.

31. DHC, vol. 7, 306.

32. NRI Collection, Miller, Kimball, 8. In addition, the NRI records do not provide any information on Kimball Lot 8, for the years 1845-1849. John Pierce’s property was put into his window’s name (Mary) on Dec. 27, 1843, and also again on June 5, 1846. It also appears that for some reason (maybe to facilitate Mary’s purchase) William purchased the Pierce property on June 5, 1846 and then sold it back to Mary on the same day.

33. Information supplied by Glenn Rowe.

34. NRI Collection. It also appears that William may have attended or presided at a conference at the Ossian West Branch in New York on April 2, 1845.

35. Information supplied by Glenn Rowe.

36. I believe that the Pratt referred to by Richard Bentley is William M. Pratt the only non LDS Pratt living in Nauvoo in 1840-1846. My reasons for this is 1) None of the Pratt brothers came to Nauvoo from New Orleans because of their health, however, my research has found a reference where William M. Pratt came to Nauvoo from New Orleans. 2) This reference was found with William Pratt information in the NRI Collection, but it didn’t specify a middle initial. 3) Why would Richard refer to “Mr.” Pratt unless the Pratt he was referring to was a non Mormon? If he was referring to one of the Pratt brothers, then he probably would have said Elder or Brother. 4) William D. Pratt is not known to have had a farm three miles from Nauvoo. However, Parley did have at least one farm “forty miles from Ottawa, Illinois. In addition, it is very possible that PPP could have had a farm on the outskirts of Nauvoo since he says that when he left Nauvoo that he left several homes, lots, and a farm (see PPP in Nauvoo, Feb. 1846). Unfortunately, I’m sure that this farm Richard Bentley is referring to is not PPP’s farm.

37. Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 15. Underline added.

38. NRI Collection.

39. Information supplied by Glenn Rowe. Also see the NRI Collection.

40. Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 18.

41. Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 19-20.

42. Esshom, 1114.

43. Letter from Orson Pratt to Parley P. Pratt, April 24, 1848. This letter is in the private collection of Robert Grow, Folder 2 Item 2.

44. Ibid.

45. NRI Collection, & Esshom, 1114.

46. Esshom, 1114.


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