History of Helaman Pratt
Pioneer of 1847
Born in Mount Pisgah, Iowa
31 May 1846

Prepared by Amy Pratt Romney, daughter

Helaman Pratt, the subject of this little sketch, was the oldest child of Parley P. and Mary Wood Pratt. He first beheld the light of day May 31, 1846 at Mount Pisgah, Iowa while the Mormons were on the march. Records state that the company halted one half hour for his advent and then resumed its westward march.

The tiny wife of a patriarch, who frequented our home, often entertained us children by stories of how she had carried our father across the plains. She was one of the young girls in Parley P. Pratt’s company and in the mornings when the company was ready to start, she with several of the other girls collected a baby or so and started on ahead. Thus, according to her story, she had carried our father most of the way across the plains.

Helaman Pratt with his pioneer parents reached the Valley in 1847, at the age of sixteen months. He experienced the pleasures and privations alike of pioneer life in a frontier country. Food was very scarce in early days and children were rationed as well as gown ups. The child well remembered when one half slice of bread at a meal was all that he was allowed. Wild roots and bulbs were used extensively. The child was so fed upon beets that the man never ate them.

It was the duty of this small boy in company with other boys of his age to herd the cattle. Their pasture grounds were out towards the warm springs and west. As they were expected to remain all day, a mid-day lunch was sent with them. As soon as their destination was reached, their lunches were cashed, to protect it from the Indians. Some days the Indians would pass in such constant processions that the little herdsmen would not have a chance to eat their scanty lunches.

These youngsters were thrifty little men, organizing themselves into squads, some looked after the cattle and rounded them up while others fished. When they were successful fishermen of course the fish gave a real addition to the family menu. Fisherman’s luck had been this Pratt lad’s one day. When it came time for him to take his turn in rounding up the cattle he had a lovely string of fish all strung on a stick. To keep his fish nice and fresh he stuck his fish in the mud of the nearest pool so that the fish might keep fresh in the water. Imagine his dismay, upon returning to reclaim his catch, when he saw his fish prematurely cooked by the warm sulfur water, all but the heads floating out on the pond.

Fruit trees were planted as soon as possible after entering the valley. It took some time however for these tiny trees to bear fruit. The eager child watched the apple trees blossom and the blossoms change into small green marbles. Of course, he was impatient, however he had been warned not to pick the green fruit. One day as he was watering the trees, he found a green apple on the ground. He could not resist and tasted it. Imagine his dismay and disappointment at the insipid, puckery green thing. It was surely a shock to his anticipation of what the fruit would taste like.

Helaman Pratt received what schooling he had in the public schools of Salt Lake City. He was reared in the 14th Ward. At the death of his father he was only ten years. He then began to take an active part in the maintaining of the family.

At the age of twenty-two, he, with fifteen other young Latter-day Saints, was called to settle the Muddy. Here he took quite a prominent part in the settlement affairs and especially in dealing with the Indians.

As the men of the colony were in the woods getting logs with which to build their houses, the Indians kept bothering them to shoot. Guns among the Indians were very rare then. There was a crow sitting on a stump some distance away. This crow was the target at which the Indians wanted them to shoot. To frighten the crow away more than anything else, young Pratt snatched his pistol from his side, and scarcely aiming, fired. More to his surprise than anyone else’s, the Indians ran away and soon returned with the crow. He had just taken the top of its head off. Thus he established his marksmanship; he would not shoot before an Indian again.

The settlers were bothered so with Indians stealing. One night they caught two Indians and locked them up in their schoolhouse. Early the next morning Helaman Pratt and a posse of his men went down to the valley settlement to ask for help. Brother Stark who was a much older man and in charge of the valley settlement was so angry that he snatched his hat from his head and stomped upon it. He absolutely refused to send any men to help out. The posse returned to the little upland settlement just in time to procure more ammunition and return to the schoolhouse to act as a reception committee for the enraged Indians.

Just a roadway separated the schoolhouse from the Pratt home. Mr. Pratt stationed himself in front of the schoolhouse door, pistol in his hand and his wife stood in the doorway of their home armed with a shot fun. As the Indians chief jumped from horse, he grabbed young Pratt by the coat collar and his warriors pointed their poisoned arrows at him. The white men picked out an Indian too, and pointed their guns at him. Pratt’s finger was on the trigger of his gun, which was in the pit of the chief’s stomach, but he was careful that he did not pull it. He remarked that thoughts have never run through his mind so fast before or since. He sized the situation up and was firm in his policy. The Indian chief jabbered on in an excited manner and the interpreter talked just as fast as he could. Finally things were fixed up satisfactorily and the Indians in a better mood rode back to their homes. This settlement had no more trouble with Indians stealing.

Helaman Pratt served also in the Black Hawk War.

Upon one visit to Salt Lake the subject of this sketch stayed at a friend’s place. He had come in unexpectedly and there was not bread enough in the house for supper. There were no corner stores or bakeries for convenience those days, hence mush was to be made for the evening meal. Dora Wilcken, a young school marm was boarding in the home and as she was an expert corn meal mush maker she was prevailed upon to prepare the dish. It happened that she did not dine at the table that night. The guest of the house commented upon the excellency of the mush and complimented his hostess upon it, where upon she disclosed the fact that it was not made by her but by a young lady boarding with them. The young gallant insisted upon meeting the young lady. He had fallen in love with her mush first and later he fell in love with her.

Helaman Pratt, in connection with A.W. Ivins, Dan Jones, Ammon Tenney, J.C. Stewart and others, was called on a mission to Old Mexico. They traveled on horse back from Salt Lake into old Mexico. This was the beginning of his mission to the Lamanites in the Southland. He had the opportunity to present the Book of Mormon to President Proferio Diaz. President Diaz wept and said, ” I accept this Book as a history of my people.” While presiding over the mission in the interior he intercede with President Diaz for a tract of land for the colonists in Mexico to settle on.

After being released from the presidency of the Mission, he was called on a life mission to colonize in the northern part of Old Mexico. He sent word to his family who were residing in Salt Lake to dispose of the property and join him as pioneers in colonizing a new country. He was resolute and determined to live true to his life’s mission call; determined to succeed in the face of difficulties and to help to do the same.

Due to the hot foods that as a missionary he had had to eat and other complication, he contracted a bad case of stomach trouble. This condition affected his heart until he was in a very serious physical condition. He was finally stricken to his bed, very ill. It looked as though his time had come. The older members of the family were called and he gave them his parting wishes. The elders were called in. Apparently he died, for his body was cold, his eyes glassy and his chin set. The whole family thought him gone. While in that condition he saw a missionary companion, Erastus Snow, enter the room and stand at the foot of his bed. Brother Snow told him that he should arise and be made whole again. That he should be entirely healed; that he had a great work yet to perform. He was made better from that moment. His stomach and heart were made strong and he lived sixteen years.

When the colonies were made into a stake and taken away from the mission, brother A. W. Ivins was called to be the Stake President. He chose Helaman Pratt as one of his counselors, which position he held until President Ivins was called to the apostleship. He then acted as advisor to the new stake presidency in their dealings with the Mexican authorities.

He was the husband of three wives and had twenty children, ten boy and ten girls.

He died at Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico, after an illness of four hours, November 26, 1909, greatly mourned by many Mexicans as well as white friend.


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