Incidents in the Life of Helaman and Emeline Victoria Billingsley Pratt
By Gladys Pratt Young, about 1951

Rough transcript by Ben Parkinson, Aug. 2000
[Brackets indicate insertion by the author.]

I, Gladys Pratt Young, daughter of Helaman Pratt and Emaline Victoria Billingsley Pratt, being the last living child of this marriage, wish to record for posterity a few historical facts as I remember them, as they were told to me by my parents while they were still living.

The details may not be entirely accurate but I shall try to preserve the spirit of this new beginning of married life between two very remarkable people.

Helaman Pratt was a young twenty-two year old boy of Salt Lake. He was tall and well built, rather handsome. His hair, especially his beard, had a reddish cast. Greyish blue eyes.

Pres. Brigham Young called him [Historian’s Office] into his office one day about 1869 or ’70 and said to the young man:-

Bro. Helaman, I want you to get married and go down to help colonize the Muddy River Colonization.

Helaman responded as all young men did and still today when called by the Pres. of the Church to perform any duty for the Church.

He was at that time keeping company [page 2] with a lovely daughter of an English convert, Mr. Dorimus, who was a private tutor to many of the young people of Salt Lake City.

The daughter’s name was Ann. She had many admirers other than Helaman, among them Willard Richards. She decided against Helaman’s proposal of marriage with its pioneering and rugged life, and remained in Salt Lake City and married Willard Richards. [(original, not a relative.)]

Helaman didn’t let this disappointment stop him but went straight to the Muddy camp and reported for duty to the presiding officer. On the first nite there was a dance and social held in the hall set aside for Church and socials. The floor of the room where the dance was held was hewn slabs of felled trees, thick end at one end next to thin end of the next slab. Flicked candle wax well ground into the floors by dancing feet make the slab floor slick and very acceptable to dance upon, even though one had to be dexterous in missing the knot holes here and there waiting to trip a heel.

The people of the settlement were all at the dance. They were there by families. It was almost as much needed in their lives as was Church and worship.

As Helaman was shaking hands around the room he saw in the opposite corner of the room someone that stopped him entirely and made him torn to someone nearby and ask, “Do you know that girl over there standing with her parents?” He was taken over immediately and introduced to Emaline Victoria Billingsley, youngest daughter of Elijah and Emaline Northcott Billingsley. She was shy with a twinkle in her violate blue eyes, raven black hair, small of stature, body spry and graceful.

Their eyes met for the first time and a certain bond was instantly born between them. He asked her to dance. She consented, and they whirled away in a polka. Helaman hardly let Emaline out of his sight for the rest of the evening. Furthermore he had the audacity to introduce her around the hall as his future bride. This embarrassed Emaline very much but not enough to make her deny [page 3] it or refuse it when the formal proposal was made. In a very short time Helaman Pratt and Emaline Victoria Billingsley were married. Mother was just 16 years old, father 22.

They began married life in a log cabin. Their first child, a boy, was born on the Muddy project. The settlement I believe was called [Overton,] Lincoln [County]. The date of his birth is March 22, 1870. [Overton, Lincoln Co., Nevada.]

Pioneering in the region was very rigorous and trying. Drought and isolation plus constant trouble with the Indians molested their lives constantly.

Some of the experiences with the Indians were amusing, others were near disastrous and finally tragic.

The incident of the Indian and the dead crow is most amusing. Helaman was very busy one morning felling trees and working them into logs. An Indian mane came along and sat on a fallen log nearby. He wanted Helaman to talk to him all the time. Helaman was too busy to talk all the time and told the Indian not to bother him but to let him alone while he was working so hard. [Group of Indians.] [page]

The Indian then said, I go but first you show me how good you can shoot. Helaman being both impulsive and impatient said, All right. I’ll show you that I really am a good shot. At that he jerked out his six-shooter from its holster which he was wearing and without taking careful aim shot at a crow sitting on the limb of a tree nearby. Much to the surprise of everyone[, especially to Helaman,] the bullet had gone through the neck of the crow and the head dropped on one side of the limb and the body on the other. The Indian was so astonished that he fell backward from the log he was sitting on, keeled a summersault, came to his feet, and started running and calling, “You good shot! You good shot!” As long as anyone could see him he was still running. He never did come back to ask Helaman. [The Indians dispersed wagging their heads and mumbling,] You shoot good!

The Indians of the locality of those early settlements were troublesome in many ways. One of the most annoying things they did was their petty thievery. They did it so consistently that at last my father Helaman’s [page] patience was gone. He caught /one/ [two] young Indian [bucks] in the act of stealing corn. He locked them up in the /granary/ school house. This Helaman knew would cause the Chief and his warriors to become very angry and perhaps attack the settlement. So leaving some men on guard [and taking others with him], Helaman rode down to the lower settlement to send some extra help of men and guns in case of emergency.

He appealed to the Presiding Elder [Stark], telling him of the situation. /The Presiding Elder/ [Elder Stark] disapproved of the arrest of the Indian and was angry with Helaman for breaking over the rules. He refused to send men and arms to help out. [Elder Stark was so angry that he threw his hat on the ground and stamped on it.] He said to him, “You have been instructed not to fight the Indians. You have brought this trouble on yourself. Now get out of it the best way you can.” Helaman [and his posse] mounted /his/ [their] horses and rode at full speed back to /his/ [their] own settlement. /He/ [They] arrived at the only moments ahead of the chief and several of his warriors who came riding into the yard.

Helaman jumped from his horse and rode over to the /granary/ [door of the schoolhouse] and stood against the door. He held his six-shooter in his hand and defied the Chief and his companions to release their prisoners. [page] The Chief came up to Helaman so close that his chest was touching the six shooter. All his braves had their arrows trained on father. [All the men of the village had their guns trained on the chief and his men.] The moment was tense. Through an interpreter father and the Chief finally argued the situation [about imprisoned braves]. The chief demanded the Indian boys’ release. Father said that would be done on one condition, that no more thieving would be done by any of the Indians. At first the chief refused to promise. However, as they talked back and forth the chief finally agreed that thieving should not be done, and father promised that if the Indians were hungry and needed food, to ask for it and they would always receive a portion of whatever was on hand. The tension and the guns were lowered. The Indian put away their bows and [their poisoned tipped arrows], turned to their horses, and rode quickly away from camp. The young Indian prisoners were unlocked from the /granary/ [school house] and rode away with the others. As father turned to look over toward the cabin there he saw mother, young 16 year old Emaline Victoria standing at the window with a big shot gun in her [page] hands aiming carefully at the chief ready to fire if anything happened.

Women of the frontiers were brave even as were men.

Things did not prosper in the Muddy [Mission]. The Indians especially became so troublesome that the prospect was finally given up as impossible. [It was deemed wise by the Pres. of the Church to recall the settlers.] They decided to abandon the project altogether. So they packed their covered wagons and prepared to trek back to wherever they could get a toehold again.

All their earthly possessions were packed in their covered wagons. There was one more in family, a little boy Helaman Teancum Pratt, a baby by was theirs as a reward of year one of their married life.

The road which they traveled rose from the valley [river bed] over some low, rolling hills. When partway up [the dugway] they stopped to look back at the settlements cabins. [Rewrite to explain that one settlement on the riverbed and one on the mesa. Father’s settlement was on the mesa. The trek would go north from the mesa through the lower settlement.] They saw them blazing and Indians dancing and yelling around them as they burned to the ground. What a heartache. All their efforts of the [page] last two years going up in flames.

Heartaches were for the pioneers.

The little baby became very ill as they traveled along in the covered wagon. I do not know with what sickness but one can imagine any number of things that could happen to a baby along a dusty trail and all its hardships. Camping out every nite on the barren ground was not easy with a sick child, neither the heat of the trail during the daytime when the child lay sick and hot with a fever.

Finally when they reached the settlements of Seveir Co. in the locality of [which is] Richfield today, a friendly settler [saint] took them in to her home and succored them for a few days. The little child had suffered too much to live and during the nite he passed away. It was a testing trial to lose your first born be he young or old, and the loss of this baby was a [climactic] blow of [to] a series of disastrous happenings in the [unsuccessful] colonization of the Muddy.

Helaman (Teancum) died Mar. 24, 1871 in or near Richfield, Seveir Co., Utah. [page] He was buried there in the Old Cemetery. His name is on a marker erected to all those buried in this old first cemetery. The plot of ground is now grassed over, no sign of graves. This one lone granite marker or monument being the only sign of their having been a burial ground there. It is just behind the high school buildings in Richfield.

After a few days rest they journeyed on back to Salt Lake City and I believe settled in Sugar House for a while, because on May 15, 1872 a girl baby, Lona May, was born to them, and in the [Church] records it names the place as Sugar House, Salt Lake, Utah.

Within 2 years time they had returned to Prattsville, Sevier Co., Utah. We have a record of a girl baby being born there Jan 24, 1874 [Aurelia (___)] and also the record of the little daughter Lona May as having died there Oct 30, 1874.

As I have stated above the record of these two children are engraved on a stone monument in the old cemetery at Richfield. However the list gives the children as two boys instead of a boy and a girl but by proof of the family records sheet they are identified as Helaman Teancum Pratt [May] 1871 and Lona May Pratt Oct 1874.

It was during the year 1874 while the family was residing in Sevier County that Helaman met and married his second wife, Dora Wilcken. (Amy supply the details her.) She returned to live in Sevier Co. with the first family. (Details from Amy). List children etc. (Write details of the 2 missions.)

Emaline Victoria was in Sugar House again by Nov 29 1875 as there a son Parley Elijah was born. From this time on they sojourned in Salt Lake City until the time of the emigration of the families to help colonize the Mexico colonies. [They had purchased property in City Creek Canyon and were living there at the time they were called to go to Mexico.]

Three more children were bore to Emaline and Helaman in Salt Lake City. Rey Lucero Oct 11 1879, Farmer’s Ward. Carl Lester Jan 28 1880, and Erastus Leon 14 Sept. 1886, [all in Salt Lake City], and one child came to them late after they had gone to Mexico, Gladys Mar. 24 1895, Colonia Juarez, Mexico.

Two more details I know between the time the families lived in Sevier Co. then in [page] Salt Lake before they moved to Mexico.

1. A home was purchased in City Creek Canyon and lived in. The home still stands to day, is lived in by the people who bought it from Helaman Pratt. Snows, descendants of Franklin Snow, bought the property and the daughters still live in it at this writing.

2. Helaman was on the police force of Salt Lake City just prior to his departure to Mexico. (Check this if possible in Historian’s Office.)

3. Several missionary expeditions were participated in by Helaman into Mexico. One was with a large party of men headed by Dan Jones. One was among the Apaqui Indians of Sonora, and one was in company with Anthony W. Ivins, the two traveling far and wide on horse back together in the saddle for about 6 months. (Research on these expeditions must be made. Historian’s office. Antoine Ivins. Romney’s book.)

Helaman was made Pres. Mexican Mission in 1885. Emaline Victoria and Carl Lester accompanied him to Mexico City to preside over the mission. (Check diaries, daughter primary lessons, Church History for details of mission activities.) [page]

Several outstanding thing were accomplished during the time father presided over the mission. [Not sure if father was presiding or just a missionary during this event.] An acting governor of Chihuahua issued a decree to eradicate the Mormon colonists banishing them altogether from the country. Helaman and his companion (Cluff) procured an audience with Pres. Profirio Diaz [Pres. of Mexico] and pled the cause of the colonists. Through this meeting the order was held in check until investigations were made. This gave time for Moses Thatcher of the Council of the Twelve to arrive in Mexico City and finish negotiations whereby the colonists were allowed to remain and in good standing to continue their sojourn in Mexico. An acting governor with a grievance against the Mormons had issued the order during the absence of the real governor. The second major event during Helaman’s presiding was an attempt to colonize all the converts of the lower part of Mexico or in other words of the Mexican Mission, its location [page][ being the nearby states surrounding the capitol or Mexico City proper. These converts were gathered together and transported to Northern Chihuahua. They were settled within the sites of the Mormon Colonists that had come in from the States. An attempt was made to integrated them into the wards and branches of the Saints.

There was entirely too much racial difference, customs, etc., to make this possible. Also the climate was a sore trial to the thinly clad immigrants. Cold winds blew through the winter and spring months and there was sleet and perhaps a little snow. These people from a semi-tropical climate were not prepared for what they were faced with, became [discontent? discouraged?]. They returned to Mexico City most of them walking all the fifteen hundred miles.

Helaman returned to the mission, presided a few more months until his successor was established. He was released from the presidency of the mission at the same time (being called to go to the colonies and take up life there. This call came as a mission call with the wording “Go to the Colonies to reside with your families and remain there until death releases you.” This he did and is buried in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Father did not return to Salt Lake City but went straight to the Colonies in Chihuahua [1887]. Aunt Dora sold the home and went with her family to the Colonies. Victoria moved back with her own people and a year or two later also went with the family to the colonies. The route was to Demming, New Mexico by train, to be met there by covered wagon and trek over the desert one hundred and fifty miles to the new location of the permanent Mormon colonies in Chihuahua. (Research for the sojourn of the Pratt families and the Romney families as they dwelt together on Cliff Ranch the 3000 acre ranch high in the Sierra Madre mountains). Search for interesting episodes of the activities of the children in their work and play) school, hikes, guns, wild grapes, starch making, [page] fishing, hunting, jerking venison, cooking a meal, yeast making, hot biscuits, candy pulls, etc.) Write a rough draft tomorrow.

Soon after arriving in Mexico the two Pratt families and Aunt Hannah Romney’s family went to the high Sierra Madres there to operate a 3000 acre ranch known as Cliff ranch. The main industry was raising cattle, fattening them up for marketing in the fall. I believe the ranch was stalked by Gov. Terrazas and father ran the cattle on shares.

Milk cows were also kept and cheese was made. Gardens were planted for green vegetables and chickens were kept for fresh eggs. Aunt Dora was cheese maker. Aunt Hannah was school teacher [and gathered the children together for school].

Aunt Victoria was an excellent cook and entertainer. She also possessed and loved to use a lovely soprano voice. She sang both Spanish and American songs. Among the favorites with the family were La Golondrina, La Paloma, Douglas, In the Gleeming. The Mexican National Anthem was sung by her at all public functions and national holidays. [page]

Hikes over the peaks, swimming in water from warm springs or in cold mountain streams, fishing for trout and bass, hunting for deer, quails grouse, even bears made life for the youngsters of the two families and adventurous and exquisite, exciting existence. Rugged and beautiful for the young people and the children, lonely perhaps for the women, strenuous and purposeful for the men.

The cooking was done over an open fire in Dutch ovens and frying pans. The hearth occupied most of one end of the room and great logs of wood from the nearby timbered area gave the cabin a feeling of security. Everything was manipulated from roast venison and wild turkey, vegetables, even hot rolls, to wild grape or elderberry pie. The fresh yeast start was brought with them in the beginning. It was worth its weight in gold, because if anything should happen to the start, no new yeast could be made and no raised fresh bread would be made. This start of yeast was made from potato water and hops and sugar and was very active and when added to a new batch of prepared potato water made very active yeast. In fact the children called [page] rolls made with this yeast puff balls and relished them very much. If they knew there were to be hot rolls for a meal they would race one another home after a swim or a hike to be first one to receive as a reward for arriving home first.

[Write an account of bronco busting and a round up with evening singing.]

From the happy associations on Cliff Ranch and its romantic environment there developed later the marriage of Anna Pratt, daughter of Dora [and Helaman Pratt] and Gaskell Romney son of Hannah and Miles R. Romney.

Tragedy hit like a bolt of lightening leaving in its wake much suffering and sorrow.

A drought hit the country all through Arizona and the borderlands of Northern Mexico. For almost three years the rains were so scarce that nearly all the water holes for the cattle dried up and the grass withered and was scarce. The cattle became thin and weak and finally died like flies around the water holes.

Ad about this period father and his families moved from Cliff Ranch down to the Mouth of the Canyon Ranch. They rented Cliff ranch to another family by the name of Thompson.

Father was running cattle for Gov. Terrazas on a share basis. The loss of so many cattle because of the heat wave and the drought brought about a condition that was insurmountable. Father lost all of his equity in the arrangement and was plunged deeply into debt. It took years of financial struggle to pay back the debt incurred through the loss of these cattle. Father vowed that it must be done at any price and at any sacrifice. Many times a diet of corn meal and molasses with a little side pork had to sustain life for his family during this crucial period. After many years of sacrifice the debt was paid in full.

At about this same period of their lives another tragedy struck. Accompanying the drought there spread a plague. The dread disease of diphtheria swept the country. It struck hard at the two families and on the Mouth of the Canyon Ranch.

Aunt Dora’s children broke out with boils and suffered much. However it seemed to divert the serious nature of disease and act as an antitoxin to their systems. Anna [page] took an infection in both her arms and very nearly lost her life as blood poisoning set in. She was spared however. All children of both families were sick in variable degrees of intensity. Mother’s daughter Aurelia became desperately ill. Within three days she had died. She was about 17 years of age. Within the next few days her brother just younger was coming in from riding the range along with his other brothers when he suddenly took with a fever and so violently ill they had to lay him across the saddle to get him home. Within a very short time the was gone also. Two beautiful children dead within five days of each other 16 and 17 years old, a brother Parley and his sister Aurelia.

No funeral could be held for fear of the spreading of the infection, so a graveside service was held with just the family present. Two beautiful markers were given by Gov. Terrazas to mark the spot on a lonely hillside above the village of Juarez. The spot was outside of a cemetery and all by itself. The markers were a completely [page] covered by earth to preserve them from vandalism and ___dentrary. They were completely lost in time. No one has ever found the spot where they were buried that lonely day. Mother tried for the rest of her life but never did locate them.

Young Rey Lucero also had the disease but was nursed through it by Aunt Dora as Mother was too shocked and grief-stricken to do anything about [nursing] for many days. Later it was he [Rey Lucero] who saved my mother’s life by being her constant companion during her vigil of grief. [Include poem about this event.] As she paced the lonely hills mourning and grieving he would follow her and gently persuade her to return to the cabin. Even in his youth he had the power to calm her and to comfort her under all circumstances. His extraordinary persuasive qualities remained with Rey Lucero until the end of his days.

The story of Apache Kid and his Renegade Apaches is a vital and vivid part of Cliff Ranch, and the Pratt family traditions and legends.

The area around Cliff Ranch was used for many, many years as an escape and a rendezvous for the Apache Indians [page] of the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. The famous leader Geronimo escaped the American Army during the long years fighting between them. I shall not tell Geronimo’s history here but that of a few stragglers who either remained in the fastness of the mountains, or the returned later to molest and annoy the white settlers. The name of this small band of Indians was Apache Kid and his band. They made petty thieving from the ranchers, made off with cattle occasionally especially were they fond of a good horse or saddle and bridle when they could steal them. All ranchers were afraid of them. They would spread the news of his proximity if possible.

While the Pratt families were living at the Mouth of the Canyon Ranch their Cliff Ranch was rented to a family by the name of Thompson. The cabins of the ranch are situated in a beautiful valley between two lovely streams which flow together through a deep gorge as the valley narrows into the mountains. On the right hand side [of the valley][ the mountains are very near and tall. On the highest peak is a huge black rock sharp at the top. The name of the rock is needle rock and is a landmark for [page] all the surrounding country. A perfect view of the valley could be had from that point.

One day all the men folks were absent from the ranch. The women and children were left alone. In a surprise attack Apaches came down from behind needle rock where they had been camped all nite, looking down upon the happenings of the family. They killed the mother and older children looting the house of its contents. One little boy about nine received a bad arrow wound in his leg. His little sister drug him to the tiny chicken coop and covered him with straw. She crawled in beside him and they both lay very quiet. The Indians missed them, but massacred the rest of the family, crushing their heads with stones as was their custom and from which custom the tribe got its name (“Apachurerros de Huesos”) “Crushers of bones.”

The little girl fixed her brother as comfortable as she could they started running for the next Ranch five miles away. She had run about as far as she could when she met a Rancher coming toward her. She told him her story. He picked [page]her up on his horse and they rode to help the little brother taking others with them. They were able to save the life of the boy but he walked with a limp all his days. As long as there is one who can remember Cliff Ranch the aura of this tragedy will linger over the cabins and they will be mysterious, adventurous, and altogether irresistible.

[Gov. Terrazas and several of his vaqueros came riding over to the Ranch to call upon Mother and Aunt Dora as soon as he had received word about the Thompson Massacre. He knew father and the boys were absent and wished to make sure Helaman Pratt family were alright and not harmed by the Indians.]

The best and most accurate account of this massacre is found in “Pioneer Stories” compiled by Preston Nibley. The story is written by Pres. Anthony W. Ivins. Hatch Colonia Juarez has a fair account in her book “Colonia Juarez.”

The move to the valley.

Soon after these events father moved his families to the village of Colonia Juarez. Mother lived in a log cabin where the Eyrings homesteaded and belonging to them. Here it was that I, Gladys, her last child and father’s last daughter was born, May 24, 1895. I was 10th daughter and 17th child. (Where did Aunt Dora have Amy?) (Research for Juarez History as concerns father ___.) [page]

Later on Father bought large farms in Colonia Dublan and moved both families there. Here they remained until the end of their days. However they spent many of their summers from June until September at Cliff Ranch. They made cheese and fattened beef cattle as main industries. These were sold on the markets in the fall. The farm lands produced grains, alfalfa mostly. Fruit trees and vineyard were planted around the adobe homes of Emaline and Dora. Vegetable gardens and berry patches were started. A herd of Jersey milk cows were maintained. Butter and whipping cream and buttermilk were abundant and the women raised roses, honey suckle, lotus trees, and lilacs and many other beautiful flowers and trees [often caring water from the well in buckets to keep them alive].

Rag rugs were woven for the floors and put down over scrubbed floors with fresh clean straw underneath the rug used as padding. New beautiful quilts were made pieced from calico scraps or other materials left over from sewing their own dresses. Wool bats were carded from virgin wool to pad the quilts and quilting bees were held [page] to stitch them together in beautiful patterns.

Write stories of the following:

A quilting bee
A carpet sewing bee
Threshers and the threshing day
A molasses candy pull
Cinco de Mayo party
16th of Sept holiday
A wedding supper
A square Dance

The Stake Presidency Helaman Pratt [1st counselor] Anthony W. Ivins [Pres] Joseph Bentley [second counselor) Look through diaries

Civic duties, Irrigation project. Often Helaman acted as translator and as counselor to help discuss on behalf of Mexican officials and Mormon Colonies. Was a great mediator. Pres. Ivins call to the twelve. Reorganization of stakes. The Thanksgiving celebration. Mother and Father dead. The final Thanksgiving Day.


A Quilting Bee

The women’s hands were always busy. From the scraps left from making dresses, shirts, or suits of clothing, they pieced quit blocks either out of cotton or out of woolen material. These tiny pieces were put together in intricate and very unique, often very beautiful patterns. Mohawk trail, Dresdon, Plato, double wedding ring, were names of some of the patterns.

When enough blocks had been pieced together to make a quilt top, and enough wool had been carded for the batten to make it fluffy and warm and a plain or extra piece was secured a quilt was put on the frame and stood ready to be quilted. Now this was a job for many hands. The job was too big and time consuming for one person alone. So all the neighbor ladies were invited to come in and spend the day “quilting” the new quilt. They would arrive around ten o’clock in the morning with their thimbles and scissors. They would stay until four or five in the afternoon.

A pattern for stitching had already been marked on the quilt, so they sat right up and began plying their needlesful of thread stitching [page] in the beautiful pattern with tiny firm stitches. The stitching was for two fold purpose, to hold the wool bat in place and to make the quilt more beautiful with a fluffy design showing on both sides of the quilt.

Always a bounteous meal was prepared by the hostess and served piping hot at noon to the guests. These meals became famous so delicious were they.

As the women broke up the party and went home, they had enjoyed companionship, had been of service to a neighbor. They were happy in a good day’s work accomplished.

A Carpet Sewing Bee

In the earliest days of pioneering it was rarely if ever that anyone could have a carpet on the floor that had been done by a factory and purchased through a store. The price was prohibitive, the shipping impossible in most cases.

Therefore the women saved their pieces of material as they did for quilt blocks and from them made very usable rag carpets, colorful and gay to cover their wood floors.


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