Death of Helaman Pratt
A telegram received from Colonia Dublan, Mexico, by C.H. Wilckens this morning, announces the death at that place Thursday night of Helaman Pratt, formerly of this city. No particulars accompanied the message, which was dated Nov. 26, and merely stated that Mr. Pratt’s death occurred “last night.” Helaman Pratt was the son of Parley P. Pratt, and was for years a resident of the Eighteenth ward of this city. He was a son-in-law of Charles H. Wilcken, and served for a number of years on the Salt Lake police force.”
[Deseret Evening News, Nov. 27, 1909, 5]
Brilliant Career of Noted Pioneer
Helaman Pratt, a Frontiersman From Birth, Closes Long Missionary Life at 63
In the death of Helaman Pratt, the Juares stake has suffered an irretrievable loss. He died of apoplexy, Nov. 26, 1909, at his house in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico. Few have done more for the spreading of the gospel among the natives of Mexico than he. None have taken a more general interest in the work both temporal and spiritual. His work here has been of a varied nature, from the audience chamber of President Diaz to the cornstock hut of the peon; from the council room of the stake presidency to the great canal site. His faith and integrity were undaunted. He was always looking ahead, planning, counseling, encouraging and fighting, if necessary, to maintain the right and secure justice. He was the soul of honor, a pillar of strength in the stake, being noted for his wise counsel in all affairs. His disposition was cheery and practical, ready to make the best of all things that came. He was honored by the natives, with whom he had great influence. The “Jefe” said of him, “Senor Pratt was a good man and a good neighbor.” His integrity and faith were undaunted.
He was the son of Parley P. Pratt, and the oldest child of his mother, Mary Wood Pratt. He was born at Mt. Piagah, May 31, 1846, during the journey across the plains. He entered the valley in September of 1847, a pioneer then as always. For 10 years he took part, as a child, in the interesting events of those first years; then suddenly the cares of a man were thrust upon him by the death of his father, whom he loved and revered. For 10 years more he bravely assisted the family in their struggles. The things they experienced, those know best who have been left fatherless in a new country.
At 21 he with several of Salt Lake’s promising young men was called to go south, and open up a country, called “the Muddy” in southern Arizona. Here he met Victoria Billingsly, who shared with him his after life, missionary experiences and all. After moving around from seemingly one desirable place to another, they found in each some great hindrance for colonization. Because of this President Young released them.
As they drove out over the hill, they saw their homes and schoolhouse, some of the material for which had been hauled a hundred miles, in flames, kindled by the Indians. Even the little boy born to them on the Muddy sickened on the way home and died the day after reaching there.
In 1872 he again went south to the Sevier, presiding over a little settlement there. While here his other life-long companion, Dora Wilcken, joined the family. He had been in Sevier but there years when a call for a mission to Mexico came. The new home was broken up also, the family comfortably located in Salt Lake. So he started south again, little thinking that the rest of his life would be spent in the unknown land towards which he traveled. From the first the country and the people and their great needs appealed to him strongly. So much so, that after the company of young missionaries returned home discouraged with the seeming impossibilities of the country, he with others felt that an opening could be gained. So they were called to return.
The true Lamanite missionary spirit entered his soul and remained there until his end. He could see their temporal needs, their great depravity and the remedy for it. Being released from this mission, he remained at home five years, laboring on the Salt Lake police force as a most efficient officer. He then returned to preside over the mission. The native fare was so unwholesome, and the hardships endured so great, that his health was ruined and for 10 years he was a physical wreck. While laboring in Mexico City, exile colonists from Utah, entered northern Chihuahua, seeking a home. He greatly assisted in explaining away the prejudice felt against immigrants entering from the United States.
He gained the lasting friendship and good will of the “Grand Old Man of Mexico, Pornria Diaz.” When the president recently visited Chihuahua, he asked the delegates from the colonies about, and sent his love to “Senor Pratt.”
Lands had to be purchased, sometimes with great trouble in finding the proper titles, and in this work he never rested from first to last. His family came to the colonies in 1887, and he came up to located them there always expecting to continue his missionary labors. Under the direction of Erastus Snow, he brought the native saints from around Mexico City to the colonies.
He assisted them to get located and make themselves as comfortable as possible, but they could not stand pioneer life, and one morning when Elder Pratt called at their little settlement on the river’s bank, he found them all gone. They had shouldered their belongings and in the darkness of night stolen away, intending to work their way back to Mexico.
When the Juarez stake was organized with A.W. Ivins as president, Helaman Pratt was chosen as a counselor, and from then until the recent re-organization, they labored untiringly for the growth and development of the colonies and surrounding people and country.
His home was always open and people from all over the stake or strangers passing through, visitors from the north or the native traveler, were sure of a welcome there.
His desire was for years to see the great canal at Dublan finished. He worked for it with his undaunting energy, until he saw the water flow from the river, across the valley, into the natural reservoirs and on to the prairie below. Fifteen years ago his health was restored in a miraculous way. From then until he received a severe fall, a year ago, he was strong and well.
The month prior to his death was one of the most pleasant he had ever known. His son, Rey L., who had been for three years presiding over the missionary work in the interior, came home to regain strength after typhoid fever, and they greatly enjoyed being together.
The Thanksgiving week was full of joy. A wedding feast was given for his daughter, at which he as the genial host.
Thanksgiving day was greatly enjoyed: meeting with all his family during the day except the little branch in Mexico, dancing with his grandchildren, and laughing heartily at passing jokes. In the evening plans were made for a busy morrow, but the morning sun found his spirit passing to its Maker.
Four sons and four daughters were on the other side to welcome him, and six sons and six daughters, with 14 grandsons and three granddaughters are left to cherish his memory on earth.”
[Deseret Evening News, Dec. 20, 1909, 3]
Death of a Pioneer
Recalls Interesting Historical Events
In Early Days of Settlement of Sevier County He Warded Off Indian Troubles
The Deseret News recently had an account of the death of Helaman Pratt, one of the stake presidency of Juarez stake in Mexico. He died on November 20 of apoplexy. He was one of the noted men who have gone from Utah to Mexico to colonize that country, and from President Diaz to the lowest of the peons he was held in high esteem.
It is not his work in Mexico however, that makes the name of Helaman Pratt known in this county, but his good works while a resident of this county. Back in 1872. He had been called to the Muddy country, in Nevada, where he labored with others for some time, but owing to Indians and other undesirable conditions the Muddy country was abandoned. Then it was that he came to Sevier county.
At that time Glenwood was the important town in the valley and Helaman Pratt presided there as bishop. Later he founded the town of Prattville, midway between where Richfield now stands, and Glenwood.
His residence in this county did not continue many years but he was a very useful man while here. One of the notable incidents was a threatened invasion of a tribe of Navajo Indians, which would have led to disastrous consequences, but for the good offices and diplomacy of Helaman Pratt.
At that time a party of Navajos made the long journey from Mexico to the Ute Indians who inhabited Grass valley. The two tribes traded together for several days and the Navajos started south for their own land. When they reached Wilmette, in Grass Valley they encountered a gang of white men lead by the notorious Tom McCarty. Trouble ensued and two Indian were shot. When the Indians reached their own country and reported the affair war was practically declared against the Mormons, who were accused of this trouble, although not a Mormon was in the valley at the time of the fight. A white man named Boyd, a Spaniard named Hubbel and a Mexican named Jesus, an interpreter, were at Fort Defiance when the Navajos were preparing to come to fight the Mormons. In the councils of the Indians it was finally decided to send a delegation to the scene of the trouble and make an investigation. In this delegation were the three men named above, and Helaman Pratt headed the men who met the delegation. He succeeded in convincing the delegates that the Mormons were in no way implicated in the attack on the former Navajo visitors.
Helaman Pratt was an intimate friend of W. H. Seegmiller. The two labored faithfully together in building up Southern Utah and Nevada. They were life long friends, and companions in preparing the wilds of Utah and Nevada for settlement.
[Richfield Reaper, Dec. 30, 1909]