This Week in Church History
Bishop Pratt Settles Indian Dispute

by Arnold Irvine
Church News, 30 Mar. 1968

28 March 1884 — Helaman Pratt took the reins of the Mexican Mission for the second time.

His six-shooter poking the stomach of the war painted Indian Chief, Bishop Helaman Pratt glanced about the circle of the grim braves that encircled him and his hostages.

Their bows were drawn and aimed at him.

Sounding the circle of braves was a larger circle of Mormon settlers, their guns ready to blast the Indians.

A false move could have triggered a war between the two groups, possible ending the Mormon effort to settle on the Muddy River in what is now Nevada.

The trouble started when the settlers seized a pair of the chief’s men and locked them up for stealing. Knowing that there would be trouble, Bishop Pratt and others hurried to the next settlement for help.

On the way back, they were intercepted by the Indians and Bishop Pratt suddenly found himself in the middle of a full-blown crisis. Fortunately, he and his interpreter were able to work out a peaceful settlement with the chief, who agreed to discouraged stealing.

Helping to settle the Muddy was the first of many missions for the young man, who had been born in Iowa, crossed the plains in his mother’s arms and grew up herding stock along the Jordan River in the Salt Lake Valley.

His father, Elder Parley P. Pratt, of the council of the twelve, had been killed when Helaman was 10 years old.

After 3 years in the Muddy Mission, Bishop Pratt was called to the settlements in Sevier County, Utah where he presided over the Prattsville Ward and engaged in cattle raising.

When the first mission in Mexico was organize in the fall of 1875 Bishop Pratt was one of 8 men called to travel on horseback into Chihuahua to get the work started.

He continued his labors south of the border for two years, presiding over the mission for part of that time. With a companion, he attempted to proselyte in the desert town of Hermosillo. They soon wearied of being pelted with rocks every time they appeared on the streets.

They sailed from Guymas to the Yaqui River to preach to the unconquered Yaqui Indians but were ordered out of the territory without a hearing.

Returning to Utah, Bishop Pratt bought land in the mouth of City Creek Canyon and operated a dairy farm there. He also served as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Force.

In 1883, he was called again to labor in the Mexican Mission under his old friend, Anthony W. Ivins, who had been one of the first group to go into Mexico.

When Pres. Ivins left Mexico City on March 28, 1884, Elder Pratt succeeded him as the head of the mission there. During the next 3 years, the mission grew slowly but steadily under his direction. He helped in dealing with the government on matters pertaining to the establishment of Mormon Colonies in Chihuahua, and presented a copy of the Book of Mormon to President Porfirio Diaz.

When released from his mission, Pres. Pratt joined the settlers in Chihuahua, where he spent the remainder of his life.

He bought a ranch, and stocked it with beef and dairy herds and manufactured cheese for which he found a ready market.

He became counselor to Pres. Ivins when the Juarez Stake was organized in 1895 and served in that calling until a year before his death, on Nov. 26, 1909, at Colonia Dublan.

Source: Interview with Amy Pratt Romney, daughter of Helaman Pratt.


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