Belinda Marden Pratt

Belinda Marden Pratt was the mother of Isabella Eleanor Pratt Robison, who was the mother of Parker Pratt Robison.

The information contained hereunder was copied by Parker Pratt Robison from a copy written in the hand-writing of his mother, Isabella Eleanor Pratt Robison, and which was found among her effects after her death.

Belinda Marden Pratt was born in Chichester, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, U.S.A., on Dec. 24th, 1820. She was the seventh daughter and fourteenth child of her parents John Marden and Rachel Shaw Marden.

Her parents were strictly moral and members of the Congregrational Church. Her father died just before she reached the age of fourteen, aged sixty one years. Her mother lived to the age of eighty three years.

Her father had a large farm, orchard and garden, a large and roomy house, and several barns. He was Selectman of the town, and looked after the poor, bringing some of them to live in a part of his house during the winter season.

Being of a bright and cheerful disposition and the pet of the family Belinda spent a happy childhood. Her brothers and sisters married one by one, until she was left the only child at home, except an invalid brother. One sister married a Potter, Eunice married a Proctor and Lydia a minister by the name of Kimball.

After her father’s death she was lonely and desiring more education than she could get in her native town, she went to live with her sister Lydia Kimball in Nashua, New Hampshire, where she attended school. Later she moved to Boston. She was continually seeking to know which religious creed was right, never feeling assured that those denominations with which she was acquainted were right.

The following is from a letter written by herself:

“In the winter of 1843 my husband and myself were attracted by a hand bill stating that a Mormon Preacher would hold three meetings in the Boylston Hall, not having anything to hinder us, we went in to hear him.

"The Elder was at prayer and such a remarkable prayer. We stood in the aisle until he finished. I think the light of Heaven rested down upon me, for the joy and peace I experienced were inexpressible. We attended the three meetings, morning, afternoon and evening. I had an overwhelming testimony that what he preached was true, and was so rejoiced that I seemed to myself as light as air, as though my feet scarcely touched the ground. This scripture came to my mind, “My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow.

"I wrote to my sisters. They thought I must be crazy. All opposed me. All that I could do was to continually cry to the Lord. I was baptized in Boston one day in March. It was so cold that the ice had to be broken and was held back with poles while I went in. I think it was near the last of March 1843. I do not know the exact date.
I was so conversant with the scriptures that with the testimony of the Spirit I knew the doctrine preached by the Elders was true. I very much wished I could gather with the Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois.
In the Spring of 1844 there were quite a number of the Elders from Nauvoo, and the Branch there in Boston was quite large. Parley P. Pratt, Erastus Snow, George J. Adams and others were there. I did not mingle much with the Saints because of the opposition I had to encounter.

"In the month of June eight of the twelve Apostles came East to electioneer for Joseph Smith for President of the United States. They were Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Lyman Wight, and the others I cannot remember.

"An elder invited Brigham Young to come to see me. He came and I told him I was about to go on a visit for some weeks in the country to see relatives. He said, “When you go, go to the clerk of the Branch and get a letter of recommendation, and I will call and see you again.” This was in July. He did not call again for the Twelve got news of the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and they made immediate arrangements to go home to Nauvoo.

"I went according to the counsel of President Young fearing and trembling. I did not know what I was going to do, or how I could live under the pressure, for all my relatives were so bitter (including her husband). All I could do was to pray continually to the Lord, and He surely heard my prayers.

"I went to the clerk for a letter of recommendation although I could not see what good it would do to get it when I was just going on a visit, but to be obedient to counsel I went. Now see God’s hand. While the clerk was writing Lyman Wight who stood by said privately, “Why don’t you go to Nauvoo?” I said, “How can I?” “He said, “We, that is the twelve, start in the morning. You could go with us.” I said, “I could not start for the Country till the next day after.” “I said too, “I should not have money to go so long a journey.” Lyman Wight finally told me In the Name of the Lord, God of Israel, if I would go I would never see the day I would be sorry. I said I would go. He told me there was a Sister in Utica, New York he thought would help me to money for my journey. He would go there if he could, if not he would write to her. He gave me her address. I got my letter of recommendation and went home and began my preparations to go. I sent for my eldest brother, thinking to confide in him, but when he came I made some other reason for wishing to see him, for the Spirit whispered that if I told a living soul that I would be hindered. I had to start north instead of west to visit my relatives, as some accompanied me to the depot and waited until the train started. When I found myself alone at the first station, I ordered my trunk and told the conductor I would have to go back to Boston. I took the next train starting west.

"I had not the least compunction of conscience of one thought that I was doing wrong. My heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving, I never doubted for one moment, but what I should get along all right, and that God would bless me.

"July 22nd 1844 at five o’clock P.M. I started in a second class train thinking to save money by it, but a drunken man was so insulting I was obliged to call the conductor and get on a first class car and pay full price. I reached Springville, Mass. and stayed over night at a hotel. At seven in the morning I started for Utica, arriving about seven in the evening when I took a carriage and drove to Sister Monroe’s as Brother Wight had directed. He had written to her asking her to help me to means to pursue my journey to Nauvoo. I found her and her daughters and sisters a very agreeable family and we had a night of rejoicing.

"Sister Monroe was a widow and had no immediate means. I told her I was dressmaker and she found me plenty of work. I made dresses and satchels for two months and then her sister, Miss Reece, afterwards Ruth Kimball and I started on our journey alone about fifteen hundred miles to Nauvoo. I need not say we had many adventures traveling, as we were alone, without a protector and some people traveling alone were not very pleasant ones, but the Great Father protected us and we accomplished our journey in safety arriving in Nauvoo the last of September. It was midnight when the boat on which we were traveling touched the landing at Nauvoo.

"James Monroe, a brother to Ruth Reese, came for us and escorted us to Sister Clawson’s who was a sister to Ruth.

"I soon found employment at dressmaking and many kind friends. President Young welcomed me and blessed me.

"In my mind I had accepted all the revelations of God, Plural marriage included, but on account of the saying and doings of some of the brethren and sisters I suffered the temptations of Satan to nearly overcome me so far that I thought I would have nothing to do with it; I mean Celestial Marriage. A good sister where I was staying called in President Young to talk to me. He instructed e in the principle and desiring with all my heart to understand the truth, I testify that the Holy Spirit of God rested down upon me and it was made plain to my understanding that it was a divine principle, and with great joy of heart I accepted it and never from that time to this, 1889, has there been a doubt in my mind concerning it.

"I was sealed to Parley P. Pratt on or about the twentieth of November 1844, in one of the rooms of the house of Erastus Snow. I was sealed to a good man of the first apostles of this dispensation by President Brigham Young for time and all Eternity. There was but one witness, Elder Erastus Snow.

"On or about the first of December Mr. Pratt was appointed and set apart for a mission to the Eastern States to take charge of the Churches in the Atlantic States, as I was without home or relatives in this part of the Country he wished me to follow him. I will not attempt to tell the joy that filled my heart. I had never expected so great a privilege. He gave me means to go, and accordingly I started a day or two after he did. After arriving in St. Louis I went on the same boat with him, to Pittsburg and Wheeling, Virginia. From there we crossed the Alleghany Mountains by stage to Wilmington, from there by rail to Philadelphia. Here we were obliged to wait a few days for money and then we went onto the city of New York by rail, and arrived Christmas Eve. He visited some of the Saints while I found a boarding place among strangers, for it was not known, except by a few of the Saints, that the sealing power was practiced.

"I found a boarding place and paid my expenses by sewing. After a short time I rented a house and Mr. Pratt boarded with me. I commenced dressmaking and knitting socks which I sold by the dozen, earning from fifty cents to a dollar a day nearly all the time I was there, besides doing my house work.

"Mr. Pratt was called home to Nauvoo on August 18, 1845. We traveled by the Erie Canal, and Lakes, journeying from Chicago to Nauvoo by land. I went to Mr. Beache’s tavern to board while Mr. Pratt went to his home.

"After awhile it was arranged for his wife Mary and I to commence keeping house in rooms in Mr. Pratt’s house.

"The Temple was completed so far as to give endowments therein. Sometime in December I received my endowments and blessings therein and was again sealed over the Altar.

"On January 1st, 1846, I had a son born who was named Nephi by his father.

"The persecution of the Saints became so great that the Authorities of the Church and many of the Saints had to bid farewell to their homes in February and we crossed the Mississippi River about the 14th of the month. It was extremely cold and my babe only six weeks old. I had not recovered my strength but a merciful Providence sustained me, and by degrees, I gained strength.

"It was a terrible journey from Nauvoo to Missouri River. It stormed almost continuously snow and rain and the earth was so soaked that the poor horses and cattle could drag us out a few miles each day. We reached the Missouri River in July, near Council Bluffs and camped for several weeks.”

“Nephi will you, if you can, fill it in from here?”

Sister Belinda Pratt came to Utah in 1847, immediately following the first pioneers. She suffered all the trials, exposures and privations incident to pioneer life.

Parley P. Pratt made his families comfortable homes and started a good farm and orchard which was a help to them long after he was gone. Belinda passed through the unspeakable grief of losing her husband by assassination while he was on a mission in 1857. Left with a family of little children unprovided and unprotected, she struggled through years of more than ordinary hardships and privations. She was an educated, refined and gentle woman, full of sympathy, generosity and kindness.

She taught school, made dresses, took boarders. The struggle was a brave one. She gave her children what education she could. When the Relief Society was organized in the wards in Salt Lake City, she was a teacher there therein and maintained that position until she moved to Fillmore in the Autumn of 1870.

While living in the fourteenth ward in Salt Lake City she paid her tithing and fifty cents in cash each month for a fast offering. Bishop Hoagland asked her why she did it, and if she thought a poor widow should do so. She reminded him of the widow’s mite, and told him that she wanted the blessing and approval of God.

She was for years an active, intelligent and persistent worker for the public good. While she was President of the Fillmore Ward2 Relief Society, there was a poor woman who was aided by the Society. The woman was a great gossip and talked a great deal. Some of the Ward Relief Society teachers came to Sister Pratt with the report that woman had said quite bad things about the society and also about Sister Pratt, and they did not think it right to help her anymore. Sister Pratt said, “You must not let her suffer no matter how she talks. Give her what she needs and relieve her wants.”

She was the first Stake President of the Relief Society of Millard County, from its organization until her removal to Salt Lake City.

She delighted in associating with her sisters. On one occasion arriving at the door of a room where a sewing meeting was convened, pausing a moment to listen to the hum of voices from within. She said, “The sound of their voices is like sweet music to my ears.”

A Phrenologist said of her, “She has a man’s ability for business and great executive talent with a woman’s love of the fine and beautiful.”

It was a long time after leaving her home before her former husband and relatives knew where she was. They mourned her as dead. When they learned that she was in Salt Lake they were so ashamed and shocked to think that she had joined “that low degraded people” as they styled them. They wrote to her that if she would leave that church and people and come home that they would share all they had with her; if she did not, she would see the day that she would be hungry. She replied that she had suffered hunger, having nursed twins for several months without bread, but that so strong was her testimony that this is the true restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that she had never for one moment been sorry for having cast her lot with the Saints of God. Her sacrifice she counted as nothing, for the Gospel and the hope which she had in eternal life, and eternal family ties more than repaid her for all and she felt to claim the fulfillment of the promise of the Savior, and felt that it included women as well as men, “There is no man that has left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my sake, and the Gospel’s but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters and children and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.”

Her mother believing all the misrepresentations and untruths of our enemies against the Saints said of her, “Belinda has always been my little White Pet Lamb, and now she is the Black Sheep of the family.”

Some of her relatives distinguished themselves by their bravery and became officers in the army. Some were fine musicians and composers of music, some were renowned for their oratory and literature, some held important positions in the Government of the United States. Not one received the Glad message of Good Tidings, besides herself, so she despised of all her race became a Savior to her father’s household, spent much of her hard earnings to gather genealogy, did what work she could in the Temples for them and laid a foundation for her children to build upon.

Signed I. E. R. (Isabella Eleanor Pratt Robison)

Belinda Marden Pratt died at Salt Lake City, Utah on February 19th, 1894. Her funeral was held in the Seventeenth Ward Meeting House and her remains are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

May all her descendants that read this praise the Almighty God of Israel for so noble an ancestor and may they never think lightly of the Gospel, but remember the sacrifice of Belinda and Parley in establishing them among the saints. May God Bless their Memories.

Parker Pratt Robison

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Dec. 2005]


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