Helaman Pratt Notes

by Ben Parkinson
gathered while researching Elijah Billingsley and Family
mostly Muddy Misson-related begun 26 Sep 2001
printed 28 Apr 2002

Muddy Mission record, by Andrew Jenson, LDS CA MS 4029 reel 8 box 13 fd 4

This is probably 30 pages mostly typewritten with articles inserted. Much of it is verbatim reports of official records, etc. I scanned it for references to Elijah Billingsley and Helaman Pratt:

Aug 19, 1868, Alma Bennet to E. Snow & Joseph W. Young, fire at St. Joseph on 18th. Various people lost much. “Brothers Thomas and Billingsley lost all with the exception of their beds.” Meeting house burned down. “Brothers Wilber, Pratt, Clayton, Rydalch, and others have lost everything. Cause of fire: some small boys went out to make a fire to roast potatoes back of Brother Miles’ and Streepers houses.”

At Utah Leg. 15 Feb 1869 Rio Virgen county created from Washington Co. Joseph Young appointed probate judge. On 3 Apr 1869 Young appointed Royal J. Cutler clerk of probate & county crt and Elijah Billingsly and Benjamin K. Bullock and George Leavitt selectmen for the new county. He got paid $3/day for his services.

Saints at Overton organized into branch, 20 families, in fall of 1869, Helaman Pratt presiding Elder (Des News 10 Jun 1869)

James Leithead, St. Thomas, 20 Jun 1869, to Pres. Erastus Snow:

“The Indians are very troublesme more so, I think than they have been for years. They have stolen considerable wheat, both here and at St. Joseph. The brethren at St. Joseph think they have stolen to the amount of one hundred bushels; this I think an exaggeration, still, I believe they have appropriated very largely. They resist and rescue any of their number caught in the act and are unwilling they should be punished in any manner.

“I am a little fearful that some of the brethren may become so excited as to commit some rash act and cause much trouble and perhaps loss of life and property.”

23 Nov [1869] “On motion of Elijah Billingsley all that part of Rio Virgen Co., lying south of a east west line running past the north-east corner of the old fort be declared Overton precinct for election and judiucial purposes, to be known also as the fourth school district.”

26 Nov 1870, letter from James Leithead to Erastus Snow, can’t sell cotton anywhere else, please buy, Indian killed a cow, 45 settlers confronted 100 Indians, Indians paid, whites said not so easy next time. “I immediately started with 10 men from each of the three settlements of the lower valley and reached West Point the same night. With the West Point boys we numbered next morning about 45 men, well armed. The Indians numbering about 100 or over; who came in well armed with guns, bows and arrows, etc. I told them that, if they would produce the thieves, we would take pay for the cow, either in money or a good gun, but in future we could not and would not submit so easily. They immediately paid for the cow, but during the talk of conference I thought several times, that open hostilities would commence. We carried our point, never backed an inch.

“I promised them, that in future would would not take guns nor money for our stock, but would kill the thieves if we could catch them. I told them that I had never failed to fulfill all the promises I had ever made to them and I would not fail to fulfill this. I mean to do it without fail, with the help of God and my good brethren.”

Another letter Dec 1, 1870, says they’ll trade their cotton for clothes and good, have no way of getting anything else, and in desperate nead, many nearly naked. Indians quiet.

“In February, 1871, most of the settlers on the Muddy left their homes returning to Utah because of the oppressive gold tax of Nevada. At the time of their leaving their wheat was in the “boot” most of the people went in a body to Long valley under the leadership of Bishop James Leithead and Daniel Stark, arriving there on the first of March. They at once set about sowing wheat which, however, subsequently was destroyed by grasshoppers. Elder Wm. H. Seegmiller states that of the 150 called at the October conference, 1867, to strengthen the Muddy settlemens only 9 remained to this time of vacating. Very soon after the vacating by the saints a number of miners flocked into the valley and appropriated lands and improvements.”



1860 US Census Utah FHL 0805314

Free Inhabitants of Provo in the County of Utah State of Utah enumerated by me, on the 11th day of Sept 1860. Jesse Bishop Ass’t Marshal Post Office Provo

page 290 crossed out 317 on left, 908 on right

No. 28 on page, “Dwelling place numbered in the order of visitation” 2798 “Families numbered in the order of visitation” 2185

The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June, 1860, was in this family. / Age / Sex / Color / Proffession, Occupation, or Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age / Value of Real Estate / Value of Personal Estate / Place of Birth, Naming the State, Territory, or Country / Married within the year / Attending School within the year / Persons over 20 years of age who cannot read or write

Elijah Billingsly 53 M F [Farmer prob.] 600 725 Tenn
Emeline 53 F ”
Archibd 20 M Mippi 1 [school]
Martha C 16 F ” 1 [school]
Elijah M 12 M Iowa 1 [school]
Emaline V. 7 F U.T.
Jessie V 9/12 M U.T.
Mary 16 F Ill.

Note that the cursive “ly” in Billingsly looks almost like “by”
Note that Emaline not in school.
His property is in the neighborhood of what his neighbors have.


1870 US Census FHL 0553110
Rio Virgin County, Utah (Muddy Mission)
Enumerated 30 June 1870

#4 (page 1/439)
Pratt, Helaman 24 M W Farmer 250 500 Iowa 1 [male US cit 25+]
Emeline 18 F W Keeping house Utah
Helaman 9/12 M W Utah Feb

#25 (page 3/440)
Bilingsly, Elijah 64 M W day Labor ___ 300 Tennessee 1 [male US cit]
Emeline 64 F W Keeping house Tennessee

#26 (same page)
Mary 26 F W Keeping house Illinois
Jesse E 10 M W Utah
Elizabeth 8 F W Utah
Mary E. 6 F W Utah
Marie 3 F W Utah
Alta 9/12 F W Utah Sept.

Notes: 26 total families in Overton. Billingslys count as two, but they don’t give last name on second. The wives lived next door? Everyone in town is Farmer, Farm laborer, day laborer, keeping house, or at school. Theo___ Cutler, 41, f, teaching school (not Elijah). Some in town are “at school,” others there’s a talley mark for those who attended school within last year. Why aren’t Billingsley kids at school? enumerator got lazy?


St Thomas ward records
14924 items 1-3
(has St. Joseph Branch also)
cabinet 286

St Thomas Record

8 Jan 1865 Thos S Smith & 11 brethren and 3 sisters arrived. (Doesn’t list them) Thos Smith appt by BY to build settlement. Soon numbered 45 families, St. Thomas laid out. relocated. Pres Erastus Snow had them move town a mile and a half, surveyed Feb 1866, moved April. None of our people listed among leaders or settlers or St Thomas members.
St. Joseph (Branch of St. Thomas)
St. Joseph Record for One Year (1865-66)

“The Settlement was organized ^ [W. Foote was elected Pres. May 28th & organization completed the 11th of June] abot the first of June by Thos S Smith with Warren Foote Presiding Elder. The City was laid out and a water ditch furnished within ten days and the Brethren proceeded to plant corn, sugar cane & some cotton and garden produce. Considerable corn, molasses, mellons and some cotton was raised the first year, but the brethren who came without families mostly returning weakened the settlement so much that the Indians took most of the corn.” Then list of first settlers, about 60 households. Last on list:

“Elijah Billingsley & Family”

Then four marriages, four baptisms, 3 births, 5 deaths. Last paragraph of record:

“At a meeting held Oct 1865 Elijah Billingsley Presiding Jas Farmer & P. K Smith Teachers Sister Catharin Hunter was cut off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints for unchristian like conduct.

“Nov 5th 1865 Sister Catharine Hunter having made satisfaction to the Branch was Rebaptized by Elder Jeremiah Murray and confirmed by James Farmer.”

No mention of Helaman Pratt.

An earlier note says:

“Overton was organized in the Fall of 1869 with Helaman Pratt Presiding Elder. The settlement numbering about twenty families.

“St. Joseph was surveyed in June 1865 located & organized by Thomas S. Smith with Warren Foote Presiding Elder and consisted of forty families. During the Summer and Fall of the same year the settlement was reduced to about twenty five families and much sickness prevailed mostly Fever & Ague & Flux [Fluse?].” Record of 5 deaths in 1865, two in 40s, two babies, and 67 year old. “The Settlement was abandoned in July 1866”

Vote to abandon the Muddy gives a roster for St. Thomas, listing neither Billingsleys or Pratts. “Overton Ward reported 28 in favor and 1 against abandoning the Muddy.” Other branches similar: 1 against from each of the several wards.



1865, May 28–June 11, St. Joseph Organized, Billingsleys listed. Ditch, what they planted, problems with brethren returning home and Indians taking the rest. –More description of troubles further down: 40 families, disease. (Muddy ward record)

1865, June?, murder while laying out town, they try him and send him to St. George, but he escapes. Pres Smith temporary JP (Corbett)

1865, 24 July, celebration in St. Joseph, salute at daybreak, Judge Billingsby oration at 10:00, then two others, songs, toasts, then at 2:00 feast with St. Thomas guests with native grapes & other goodies, races, dancing, songs till past midnight. (Des News 24 Jul 1865)

1865, Oct __ Elijah presided at a church court, Sister Catharine Hunter excommunicated for “unchristian like conduct,” “made satisfaction to the branch” and rebaptized Nov 5.

1866, Mar 30, Indians drove off 32 horses cows, mules, from St Joseph & Simondsville. 25 men went for them but couldn’t catch them (Jenson)

1866, May 12, letter from St. Joseph, tropical fruits (oranges, lemons, figs), swamp, Authrities of Pah Ute (Arizona, formed from Mohave) on way to Callville–no names. (Semi-Weekly Telegraph, 4 Jun 1866)

1866, May 21, letter from Millersburg (from Henry W. Miller) getting cuttings of lemons, figs, grapes from Calif. (Semi-Weekly Telegraph)

1866, May 24, letter from Simonsville (grist mill 3 1/2 miles south of original St. Joseph), cane 6 inches high, corn 18 inches high, wheat harvest end of this month, cotton planted end of April. (Semi-Weekly Telegraph)

1866, 30 May big meeting with 7 chiefs, 64 men, good feelings. (Jenson)

1866, June 21, Judge Billingsley and other “county officers” from St. Joseph & St. Thomas at Callville, Pah-ute Co., Arizona, organizing new county divided from Mohave County. Goal of making Callville “_the_ reachable point” of Colorado navigation. (Des News 21 June 1866)

1866, meeting over Black Hawk War, saints counceled to group up. Regarding Mill Point, Pres. Snow asked Warren Foote and he said hard to make ditch. Asked Bro. Billingsley, and he said same. They voted to go but had freedom. Foote went to St. Thomas, most others (including Billingsleys apparently) to Mill Point and bench. (Foote, 198)

1866, July, most of St. Joseph moves to Mill Point or Simonsville, which they rename St. Joseph. Sand. (Ellsworth, 8).

1866, Oct 8, letter from St. Thomas, poor crops, Indians working, great cotton (10 years experience, hardship from many leaving, rest have to do public works. Steamer Esmeralda on way.

1867, Jan 26, Mariah Louisa Billingsley born in “Overton”

1867 — 14,600 pounds cotton other crops (article on St. Joseph from Encyclopedic History of the Church)

1867, Oct, Helaman and the other missionaries called

1867, Nov 22, letter from St Thomas, Arizona, the few who’ve remained planted wheat, glad for call by leaders to send more (Semi-Weekly Telegraph, 16 Dec 1867).

1868, Jan 2, saw 30 of missionaries, poor wood but less need, so burn greasewood, musquite, sell grain to freighters (Semi-Weekly Telegraph)

1868, Jan 20, most the missionaries settled in St. Joseph, busy. (Semi-Weekly Telegraph I think)

1868, Mar, Brigham Young appoints nephew Joseph W. Young to recruit older men who would stay (Ellsworth, 11)

1868, May 15, long dispatch from St. Joseph, Pah-Ute, Arizona, describes cottoon, grapes, wheat harvested in May, swamps, Muddy River not roily, Indians gambling and working (Semi-Weekly Telegraph, 28 May 1868)

1868, June 4, guy from St. Thomas brought wheat in. (Semi-Weekly Telegraph)

1868, July 25, Victoria endowed

1868, July 27, dispatch from St Thomas from a missionary, all but 3 went home, cane, mellons, squash, seed experiments, Indians growing a lot, 24th of July (Semi-Weekly Telegraph, 13 Aug 1868)

1868, Aug 18, fire destroyed 19 homes. (Encyclopedic History of Church; Ellsworth, 18->)

1868, Aug 19, letter from Alma Bennet to E. Snow & Joseph W. Young, describing fire: Elijah lost all but his bed, and Pratts lost everything. (Jenson)

1868, fall, Joseph W. Young mission president (Ellsworth, 11)

1868, Sep 14, report of fire, entire houses and clothes of many, strong wind during fire, people expecting good time yet (Semi-Weekly Telegraph)

1868, Sep 24, people expecting good time yet. donations for fire victims.

1869, Feb 15, Rio Virgen County organized (Utah) from Washington County, Joseph W. Young probate judge. (Encyclopedic History of Church, Jenson history)

1869, Apr 3, Elijah Billingsly selectman, $3/day (Jenson history)

1869, spring & summer, big effort to make new 10-mile ditch to St. Joseph, which failed. Moved town 1 1/2 miles upstream, then that fall abandoned. 60 familes moved to old St. Joseph, 20 to found Overton. Moved the dobies. Ellsworth 10

1869, Sep 13, Altamiah Sophia Billingsley born “St Joseph”

1869, Fall, Overton organized, Helaman presiding elder, 20 families (ward record, and Jenson history, quoting Des News for 10 June 1869–this must be wrong)

1869, Nov 23, Elijah Billingsley motion to create Overton election & judicial district and school precinct, carried (Jenson history)

1870, early (before BY visit), sheriff of Lincoln County, back taxes since 1866

1870, Mar 15-25, Brigham Young visits, disapppointed (Ellsworth, 20)

1870, Nov-Dec, people destitute, leaders tring to get goods for cotton (Ellsworth, 24-25)

1870, Dec 20, vote to abandon, approved next day (Ellsworth, 25-26). Vote to abandon in Overton 28 in favor, 1 opposed. (Ward record)

1871, Feb 8, sheriff served summonses. people move to avoid liens. stock already gone. Sold wheat in field for price of seed, and that never paid. 150 of the 1867 missionaries down to 9. burning homes. snowstorm (Ellsworth, 28-29)

1871, Feb 16, grinding wheat, then later wagons came from St. George (Ellsworth, 27)

Warren Foote, Journal, FHL film 0000495

p. 192 Elijah Billingsley drew a lot for farm land in St. Joseph 1865 (big list of names)

p. 198 1866, black hawk war, conference to decide which town to gather together in. They favor site on bench near Mill Creek. Bro Snow asks about ditch, he says would sink in sand and evaporate, fill with sand every time wind blows. Then asks Bro. Billingsley, and he says about the same. Says in consequence of Bro Foote and BIllingsley’s unbelief he thought it best to move to St. Thomas, though he clearly preferred Mill Point. Then sends letter says Mill Point stay put, St. Joseph go there or to St. Thomas. People decided to go to Mill Point except Foote.

p. 205 Billingsley, Gibbons & Foote elected “Superviser in Pah Ute Co. elections.

p. 207 Helaman in Overton, Daniel Stark in old St. Joseph

Abraham Alonzo Kimball Journal, LDSCA MS 1778

p. 61, people so poor cut up ticking and sheets for clothes, suspended meetings.

p. 62 he felt lucky living in a tent compared to the old settlers. jealousy between them, talking about neighbors, bad feelings. “We enjoyed ourselves in dancing together on the clay floors as there was not one board floor on the Creek.” Some missionaries attempted to make a new settlement, called back by BY.

p. 65. They’re practically starving, little food to work on. “My wife used to shed tears on seeing me set out in the morning to work with a piece of bread and a yeast Powder can full or part full of Molasses, my health being poor at hte same time, but the warm climate seemed to improve me some. So after starving as long as we deemed necessary and in wisdom, William Segmiller, Helaman Pratt, and myself decided to rig up six mules each and load with salt for Pahranaget Vally for smelting purposes, after borrowing four mules each, as we owned two apiece.

We set out for the Salt Mountain, which was located about 10 miles below on the Rio Virgin River.” decided to blast own loads, misadventures with that. trouble selling it. p. 69 Helaman shoots at sandhill cranes. long chase. p. 70 “At noon we dressed him and soon had a part of him cooking, and we done amploe justice to that portion, and by being quite economical the bird lasted us some four or five dais with the aid of Bacon.” They find business agent, Helaman starts to tell truth, but Kimball lies to get paid.

p. 72 their party confronted by 20 armed Indians. They are ready to fight but don’t. Then Indians “help” them carry logs from swamp.

[p. 71] “Stopped one day then set fout for home, taking two Indians with us to show us where the Timber was (called Timber Mountain, 65 miles from St. Joseph). Took their Pistol in security for their good behavior, but for all that they [p. 72] run away, leaving us to find our own Timber which we failed to find, not daring to venture in search of it as there was only one place where there was any water, so we turned back and set out fo rhome again. On arriving at the Head waters, where I caught the mule, we campled for hte night, calculating to cut some ash Timber form the swamp. Bout the time we were eating breakfast some six or eight Indians came to camp, demanding the Pistol we had in security, we informed them that they could not have it until the Indans came that owned it. They made us promise that we would not whip him nor kick him if he came (whipping Indians in that country had become quite customary by those going to California) did as desired, and they set out after them or him that owned the Pistol. in about an hour, they returned with about twenty, besides our Indian, all armed with Guns, Bows and Arrows, claiming they wanted to fight. we consented to fight if they wanted to, as we was well armed and had prepared for this while they were gone. after bullying them a short time, we compromised on conditions: if the Indians leaving us, shoudl carry three six mule loads of Timber out of the swamp, and besides returning the Pistol, would give them some Flour. Helaman Pratt and Wm Seggmiller doing the chopping. while I stood guard over the wagons and camp out fit. After a short time all the Indians but the Chief and myself went in and carried out Timber, and of all the whooping and yelling, they done some of it. [p. 73] Some five or eight getting hold of one log, some falling, some slipping and all manner of monkey shines.

“The water was warm, as all the springs supplying it were warm, and of a whitish color at all times of the season.

“The old chief got tired and went off home leaving the balance of the tribe, requestingt me to send him a Biscuit, when they came (his name was Rufus).

“There were three chiefs on the Muddy, Joshuf, Thomas and Rufus, all tolerable peaclab le men.

“We got our loads out that day and loaded up. Set out of rhome nexst day, arriving the following day…”We divided everyting in three equial parts as near as we could not minding which hauld the most Salt. We was just poor enough to be united and feel well in doing what was right and be willing to divide. “Live and Let Live”! [underlined] My family never did feel richer in their [p.74] lives than then.”

p. 73. They get home and divide meat. Never felt richer, working for each others’ good when poor.

p. 83 Helaman Pratt in company to find Long Valley I think. Helaman overturned his wagon on Elephant Hill, though a good driver.


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