Helaman Pratt Correspondence 1875, 1887
Tampe Nov 28, 1875 Salt River Maricopa County Arizonia
Dear Wives, Victoria & Dora
Since writing to you before we have traveled about 100 miles, the country from the vVerdy to this place is not very inviting, although some part would make good grasing, The Salt River Valley is will average about 10 miles wide & it is 90 miles long, the land is of the best quality & watter enough to erigate every inch of it, the climate is very fine there being little or no winters, no snow, & ice only freases to the thickness of a windo paine There are is now about 1500 people located on the River, moslely meseicans The leading men escpress a desier to have the mormons come settle with in this Valley. It is the opinion of the [page break] Brothren that there is sufficient land & watter to sustain at least 10,000 inhabiting There is about 5000, Pemo’s & Maricopa indians, in this section of country, who are very peaceable & industrious people they farm esctensive on the GHela river 18 miles from hear,
I have not herd a word from you since I left Toquer, but I trust all is well with you. We will be at Tuson in about 1 week where I hope to receive letter from you, We have not made much head way in spanish yet, but we are now getting among the people who speak that language & we are in hopes to make more rapid progress, I wish you would Take lessons from Uncal August & learn to read & seak the language, enclosed you will find too of our favorite songs pleas learn to sing them, The boys are wating for me to go to the Post ofice so I will close with Love to all in haste H Pratt
[Transcribed by Nora Fowers and Doratha Young, March 2011]
Helaman Pratt to Wives Victoria and Dora [Emeline Victoria Billingsly and Anna Johanna Dorothy Wilcken], 28 November 1875; MS 5263, file 1, pages1-2, Church Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
A Gathering of Friends
A Sadly Enjoyable Evening Spent at the Home of M.L. Pratt.
A gathering of friends and relatives such as seldom meets and under circumstances most painfully sad and at the same time enjoyable beyond description met last night. The social was at the home of M.L. Pratt of the First ward, this city, and given in honor of his brother and wife of Mexico, Mr. and Mrs. Helaman Pratt. These are actually loved by their relatives for their many good deeds, amicable dispositions, noble characters and devotion to principle and the cause of truth. They were about to depart for their home in our sister republic and they would not been seen again for an indefinite period and partings such as these always give pain. The late R. G. W. East-bound train bore them away.
The dread of this parting cast a shadow, not to say gloom, over the assemblage that only made the association and mutual greeting all the more keenly relishable. There were present in the house besides the family and the two in whose honor the social was given, Nephi Pratt of Salt Lake city; a third brother, and his wife; Mrs. Driggs of Pleasant Grove, a sister of the Messrs. Pratt; Mrs. Wm. Holdaway of this city, another sister; Mrs. Martha Fenn of this city, a sister of Mrs. Pratt of Mexico; her four daughter, Mrs. John S. Rollo, Mrs. William Twelves, and the Misses Vina and Effie Fenn; Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Stewart, Jr. and daughter, Miss Ida, old timed neighbors in Mexico of the honored visitors from that country, and Mr. and Mrs. William Strong of this city, who were married on the same day and at the same time with Mr. and Mrs. Helaman Pratt. Besides these there were also present Messrs. John S. Rollo, William Twelves, William Holdaway, Fred Graham and W. M. Warner. It is ten years since Mr. and Mrs. Pratt were greeted by these friends and relatives.
The evening was spent in singing, feasting and social chat. Little groups would be living over again happy incidents of the life of years agone by recalling and talking over them, when all of a sudden they would be most pleasantly reminded that they were living in these the very latest day by a sally of the most original, bright and sparkling wit from Mrs. M. L. Pratt, a natural humorist. The singing was enchanting. Mrs. Helaman Pratt when she was Miss Billingsley was the favorite songster of “the crowd,” and last evening many of the old songs were sung by her with all their old time simplicity; beauty and sweetness. The fine lady speaks Spanish as fluently as do the natives of Mexico, and several songs were sung by her in this musical language. Other singers and artists on the piano also entertained the people.
The supper was superb and the bright flow of genial conversation and keen sallies of wit that were bandied about by those at the table made the time of eating fairly fly on wings, and when it was all ended the whole company wended their way to the depot, where with many a wet eye, choking throat and fond embrace of good byes were said.
During the evening the following poem written by Mrs. M. L. Pratt for Mrs. Helaman Pratt was read. It was suggested to the lady’s mind after hearing her friend sing “the old songs,” particularly the two whose title are used in the lines.
I love to hear the old songs,
Which you, dear friend, have sung:
They take me back to other days
When you and I were young.
“Departed Days” seem once more near
And friends of youth to me so dear.
I love to hear the old songs,
Sweet visions of the past;
Their words and music bring to me
Of days that could not last.
Those happy days! Then sorrow’s cloud,
Had not our hearts with anguish bow’d.
I love to hear the old songs,
They speak unto my heart,
And bring back all our dear ones
With whom we had to part.
“Sweet Voices From the Spirit Land”
Bring back the absent of our band.
I love to hear the old songs,
There music fills my heart,
And while we still will linger long
Years after, we much part.
The sacred songs of Auld Land Syre
Will ever thrill this heart of mine.
Monument Ranch, Arizona
60 miles south the Tucson
Pres. B. Young,
Since writing to you, Bros. Trejo & Garff have joined us in Hermosillo where we held some few meetings in small houses, the houses were well filled each time but with a different audiance, who seemed to come more out of currosity than anything else. The Yaqui’s that I wrote you were so much interested, through the influence of the priests were so much preddesed that they refused to come togeather, upon Bro. Trejo’s arive the Priests ar verry bitter and ar doing all they can to stur the people up against us, and have suceeded so much so that we have been stoned all most every time we went out up on the street. The last 4 weeks of our stay in hermosillo, not getting any word from you, Bro. Terry and I resolved to make a trip to Guimas and river Yaqui, we acordingly took the Coach on 28 May & reached Guimas the same evening. Guimas is a very pritty little Spanish town of 5 of 6 thousand inhabitance. The next day we visited Mr. Willard the American counsel & were well received, in about an hour after leaving him we were sailing up on the mighty deep for the first time in our lives, and headed for the river Yaqui. Upon arriving there we were not alowed to have an interview with the head Chief (Jose Maria) but he sent and got one of our books of mormon and after reading it for some hours he returned it with granting us the privilage of an interview. we saw some of the other leading men, and visited one of there principal towns & one our arival we found that the priest and his atendance where there from Guimas & the Indians gethered from all parts of the country to the number of thousands, having meeting, confessing and having a big fiesta. they have an old adobe church & a little to one side thy have all the rocks of torture similar to those that were used in ancient days, & to see these dark people arayed in the gayest of atier with feathers and plumes formed in line of persecion & marching to the measure of there strange musick formes a very striking picture & one not easely erased from the memory. the Indians were greatly excited at our presents & called a counsel & decided we wer to be conducted back to our boat again which we under the circumstances were verry glad to do. We imediately returned to Guimas & Hermosillo, found that Bro. Trejo and Garff had started for Arizona & as we were out of funds and not suficient friends to suport us and no posible chance for work, we resolved also to turn our faces northward. we traveled up the Sonora river by Urace & on up to Arispa on foot and from there across a trail to Santa Cruse & from there here where we arrived yesterday in good health & spirits the other Brotheren have not yet left Sonora. I think they must be wating for us at Magdalena and as we have sent them word as to our being here, we look for them in a few days. They have baptized 4 men and 1 woman at or near, San Magill four of hoom are very aged people & very poor and helpless the other is a midel aged man & a school teacher. he is ordained to the office of elder & at last acounts was doing all he could to spread the truth. The Bros. Stuart and I have not hurd from since they were at Apache Pass on their way to Rio Grandy, they were detaned there a few days on acount of indian troubles. Desiring to hear from you soon and for an interest in your prairs and a prair to God for you will fair as well as that of all Israel. I will close.
My address will be Tucson.
I remain your brother in the Gospel of Christ.
Church of Jesus Christ of
Salt Lake City, U.T. 188_
P.O. Box 5
[Pages 3 & 4]
Affairs here are still unchanged so far as persecution is concerned, though there is evidently less vigor manifested by the officials than they exhibited some time since. It appears as though a change had taken place in public feeling in the east. The papers have less to say against us, and there is not that hostility manifested which we witnessed sometime ago. The removal of Dickson and his assistant Varian from Office has thus far had a good effect. A more bitter and unrelenting enemy than Dickson was probably never figured in our history. He and all those who have been connected with him in this cruel persecution will yet be covered with ____ for their conduct.
The general news you get by the newspapers doubtless. Our adices from all parts of the Territory are the Latter-day Saints are feeling well and are determined to live their religion.
We trust yourself and family are in the enjoyment of good health. With love to you and all the Saints, and all the Elders with whom you may be associated.
Geo. Q. Cannon
Tempe Nov 28 1875
Salt River Maricopa County, Arizona
Dear Wives, Victoria and Dora;
Since writing to you before we have traveled about 100 miles, the country from the Verdy to this place is not very inviting all though some part would make good grasing.
The Salt River Valley will average about 10 miles wide and it is 20 miles long, the land is of the best quality and water enough to erigate every inch of it, the climate is very fine there being little or no winters, no snow, & ice only freezes to the thickness of a windo pain. There is now about 1500 people located on the River, mostely Mexicans.
The leading men express a desier to have the Mormons come settle in this Valley. It is the opinion of the Brothren that there as sufficient land & water ___ to sustain at least 10,000 inhabitants.
There is about 5,000 Pima and maricopa indians in this section of country, who are very peaceable & industrious people, they farm extensive on the Hela River 18 miles from hear.
I have not heard a word from you since I left Toquer, but I trust all is well with you. We will be at Tucson in about 1 week where I hope to receive letter from you. We have not made much headway in Spaish yet, but we are now getting among the people who speak that language & we are in hopes to make more rapid progres.
I wish you would Take lessons from Uncal August & learn to read and speak the language, enclosed you will find two of our favorite songs pleas learn to sing them. The boys are waiting for me to go to the Post ofice. So I will close with Love to all in haste. H. Pratt
Hermosillo, April 11, 1877
Pres. B. Young
My Self & Bro. Geo. Terry arived here on friday last, all well, we think of remaining here for a few months for the purpos of learning the language. This is the largest city in Sonora, & now has about 6,000 inhabitants. 2,000 of which ar said to be Yaqui Indians the later do all the manual labor that is performed here. This is a beautiful City surounded with green fields & fruit trees, the lemons and oringes are still hanging on the trees, while other varieties ar just coming into blossom. water is very scarce and it is the same with all other parts of Sonora that we have seen. Thousands of head of stock are wattered from wells in this country.
Living is very cheap here & I think we will be able to learn very rapedly as there ar very few Americans here & if we talk at all we must necesarely speak Spanish. We are in hopes to get acquanted with the people & through example and the influence of the spirit of God we hope to do some good even with the little Spanish we now have. The American Vice Counsel received us very kindly & asured us we should have his protection. The people seam to be very much bound down in Catholicism & it is my opinion that nothing short of the power of God can ever break the bonds that bind them. The Bros. Stewart, Trejo and Garff were intending to come down on another road by Ures & no doubt will be able to hold meetings. I have not hurd of them since leaving Arizona, we ar now about 90 miles from Guavmas, and I hope will have no trouble in getting our mail as there ar coaches rining regularly between here and there. I will close praying God to bless you & all asociated with you in counsel & all so all the interests his kingdom with all blessings neadfull to roal forth his mighty purpocies upon the earth, & allso desier an interest in you prears.
If time will permit we would be very greatful to hear from you as a few words of councel and incouragement would be of great worth to us in this far off country.
As ever I remain you brother in the Gospel.
Hermosillo, Apr. 22, 1877
We have hust recived a letter from Bro. Stuart, dated at Tubac, to the efect that you favor the idea of our party joining a Mr. Campbell & going into the state of Chihuahua, & the forming a colony.
Bro. Geo. Terry and my self took leave of the other brethren on the 20 of march, & stated for Hermosillo, where we arived on the 6 of April, all well, we had thought if the lord opned they way, we would continue our journey to Guimas, and from thence to the Yaqui river, as soon as we had sufficient of the language to make our selves understood and as we could live very cheap here we thought it a good place to remain a weeks to study, there are about 2000 Yaquis in & around this city. We have visited some of them and talked with them and find some that can read, & they ar reading the book of mormon, & ar greatly interested with its contence, & have expresed them selves verry anxious to have us go on and visit there country and explane theas things to there leading men, in fact there has been mor inters shone by the Yaquis we have talked with than by all the Mexicans we have seen in Sonora. We learn that the head Chief of the Yauqis is a young man about 30 years old who has been educated in the City of Mexico by the formor Govenor of Sonora. (Pesqusira) & is sed to be a verry intelegent man he has established schools among the Indians, allready, and is doing all he can to elevate them, it is my opinion that he has been rased up by the lord to recive the gosple & the histry of his forfathers & do a great work among his people.
The Yaquis have intier controle of the Yaqui river not allowing any Mexicans to settle among them, they ar a very industrious people partly sivilised , having some towns & ar sed to number about 12 thousnad ar pesable, but do not beleave in having there right in fringed upon, in fact it is admitted by all that they ar the boan & sinue of Sonora, we have been verry anxious to go among this people & still ar but if you wish us, or think best for us to retrac our steps and go into Chihuahua, we ar on hand to do so, we have been obliged to sell our out fit in order to live and thinking we would have verry little use for it as were so near such a large field of labor.
We will reain here until we here from you, Bro. Trejo and & one of the other Brethren ar some where in Sonora but we have not hurd from them since leving Tubec.
I will close disiering an intrest in your prearse & all so praying God to bless & preserve you in helth & strength to see Zion redeamed, & the house of isrial gethered & all the words of the holy prophets fullfilled, in the name of Jesus. Amen
We remain as ever your Brethern in the Gos. Helaman Pratt & Geo. Terry
Tucson July 30, 1877
President Brigham Young,
Your letters of May 15th and July 13th were received by me yesterday, I was
thankful to hear that your health was so good and that your lungs had been strengthoned to inable you to speak to the people again without sufering there from, & that all things ware so prosterous in Zion.
Bros. Terry Garff and myself will start for the Rio Grandy in a few days, as there is little or no intrest shone in by the people in this place. There is many cases of smalll pox here, & allso in nearly every large town in Sonora, Bro. Trejo has gon to the Salt River and we have not recd any word from him since. We ar in good health and spirits allthough the weather is very warm and we have to moove causiously in the heat of the day. We ar not at all dishartened & can realise that Lord has been with us and opened the way before us
from day to day.
Praying to God to bless you and all that ar asociated with you in this great latter day work.
I remain as ever your brother in the Gospel.
Our adress will be San Elizario, El Paso Co, Texas