Anna Hendrickson Pratt

Born 21 September 1901 in Fruitland, New Mexico
Died 5 April 1962, Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico
Parents: Lars Wilhelm Hendrickson and Gerda Alma Reinholdson
Grandparents: Henrik Persson and Johanna Larsdotter, Anders A.G.K. Reinholdson and Greta Christina Fogelberg
Spouse: Harold Wilcken Pratt, born 16 July 1899, Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico, died 17 May 1962, Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico
Ten children: Ana Marie (Pratt) Taylor, Lucile Pratt, Gerda (Pratt) Haynie, Harold Wilcken Pratt Jr., Berta (Pratt) Whitney, Carmen (Pratt) Shumway, Ramona (Pratt) Gale, Doratha Rae (Pratt) Young, Elena (Pratt) Turley Brown, Kathleen (Pratt) Bigler
Missionary service: 6.9 years
Missionary service of spouse: 6.9 years
Missionary service of direct descendants: 111.3 years through 1995.

Anna Hendrickson was born September 21, 1901 in Fruitland, New Mexico, the first child of four born to Lars Wilhelm Hendrickson and Gerda Alma Reinholdson, who were in very deed “goodly parents who taught her in the ways of truth.” Some of Anna’s memories of her youth included listening as her mother read to her, standing on a box to do the dishes at the age of three, because her mother was busy with duties incident to her job as president of the Relief Society, and helping with the outside chores because her only brother was not yet big enough to do them. Though living in a pioneer home was not easy financially, there was always food and clothing for their needs, and abundant happiness in the gospel her parents had accepted, her mother in Sweden and her father in the United States as a Swedish immigrant.

Anna grew to be a beautiful young woman and was one of the honor students in her graduating high school class. She had a lovely voice, and remembered singing at rallies during World War I. In 1919 the direction of her life was changed by a call to the Mexican Mission, as a result of which she turned down a university scholarship she had been offered. She filled an honorable mission, working in El Paso, Texas and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. She was tall (5’11”) and jokingly laid claim to all the tall elders in the field. Humor became reality, as it was there that she met her future husband, Harold Wilcken Pratt, who at 6’2″ certainly “measured up” to her requirements. He of course measured up in all those more important ways, too.

Returning from her mission, Anna attended summer school in Albuquerque, and accepted a teaching job in the public schools. During this time she became engaged, by letter, to Elder Pratt, but after a few months a local boy persuaded her to change her mind. Harold did not give in so easily, and Anna’s parents also insisted that Harold was the man for her, even though they had never met him. Anna realized her mistake, and when Harold came up to see her, they were married immediately, as he did not want distance to create difficulties between them again. This was on March 14, 1924 in Kirtland, New Mexico.

Harold had work in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico, and that is where they made their first home, and where the first two of their children were born, Ana Marie and Lucile, on 21 February 1925 and 1 November 1926 respectively. During the ensuing years they lived in many places, among them: El Paso, Texas; Mesa, Arizona, where daughter Gerda was born on 5 August 1928; Col. Dublan, Chihuahua; and Mexico, D.F. But wherever they were, Anna was happy because she was with Harold, and always made her home loving, warm, and hospitable to all who came to her door.

A very difficult experience came to Anna and Harold during their first stay in El Paso, Texas, when little Lucile, only ten months old, came down with polio, one of only a very few cases that occurred there that year. It was heart-wrenching to watch their beautiful child suffer all the effects of that terrible disease, in a day when very little was known about how to cope with it. Lucile slowly recovered, but one leg remained paralyzed for the rest of her life, and the recovery itself meant many hours of massage therapy by Anna, as well as other traumatic experiences, such as having to leave Lucile in the Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for months at a time while she and Harold returned home to care for the rest of the family.

Anna’s only son, Harold Wilcken Jr., known to the family as Bill, was born in Mexico City on 11 October 1930. His older sisters remember many family prayers that they might soon have a little brother, and were so happy to have their prayers answered. A little over two years later Berta joined the family on 8 February 1933.

In January 1934, while living in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Harold and Anna were called to preside over the Mexican Mission with headquarters in El Paso, Texas. During their presidency the mission was divided, and they moved their headquarters to Mexico City in 1936. But before their move Anna had a pair of twin girls, Carmen and Ramona, on 8 February 1935. Neither Harold nor Anna knew that twins were coming and were very surprised by their early arrival while Harold was away on mission business in Salt Lake City.

Being a mission mother with seven young children was certainly not an easy task, but Anna took it all in stride, and all who knew her remember her as always having a smile on her face. In those days the wife of the mission president also supervised the women’s auxiliary organizations, and especially the Relief Society. Anna did an excellent job, visiting them often and increasing the activity of the sisters. Every member in the mission knew he was welcome at the mission home, and Anna never knew whether there would be 12 or 20 to feed at mealtime. The missionaries remember her with love, as one interested in their problems and their wellbeing. In fact she had a gift for getting close to them, and Harold depended on her greatly in this regard.

In 1938 Harold became very ill with a kidney disease, necessitating surgery in Salt Lake City to remove one of his kidneys, and on one night Anna had to face the possibility of becoming a widow. But although Harold pulled through, it was necessary that they be released from the mission, and they moved to Texas, where Harold went into partnership with his brother Joseph, farming first in Clint, and then in Barstow. Doratha Rae, known as Chita, was born in Pecos, across the river from Barstow, on November 24, 1939. It was during this time of her life that Anna’s father died, while her mother was in Sweden doing genealogical research.

In 1940 Harold and Anna moved to Hot Creek Ranch, some thirty-five miles south of the small town of Lund, Nevada. Here Harold farmed, had dairy cattle and also raised beef. The next few years brought two more moves: in 1943 to a farm up Diamond Fork Canyon, near Spanish Fork, Utah, and in 1946 to Layton, Utah. While up Diamond Fork Canyon Anna decided to work outside the home for the first time since her marriage, and ran the kitchen at a settlement camp for “braceros”, Mexican immigrant farm workers. Harold was also involved in the “bracero” program, on a supervisory level. The Utah years added two more daughters to the family, Elena, born in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 17, 1943, and Kathleen (Cata), also in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 15, 1946. In 1947, Harold and Anna moved back to where they had first set up housekeeping in Chihuahua, Chih., and there established themselves permanently, Harold having been given the management of a farm machinery business, Escomex, S.A. The three oldest girls remained in Utah, to study and work.

In Chihuahua, Harold and Anna became very much loved and respected members of the community. They were both very active in Church affairs, Anna serving in almost any capacity you could mention, at one time or another. In reality, they were rather unofficial parents to the members of the Church there. In the business community, too, they were much loved and respected. Many people came to know and respect Mormonism through their contact with the “Chaparrito” and “Anita” as they were called.

Anna was a woman of many talents, not the least of which was her ability to sew beautiful clothes. and her daughters were privileged to wear the results. A memory held in common by her children is that of seeing her put her work away, and make the home and herself more presentable before time for her husband to arrive home from work. She loved music, would sing at her work, and play the piano for church services, though she never claimed to be expert at it. Reading was a favorite hobby also, and she and Harold had good wholesome literature in their home library. With her many obligations and large family, she was not always able to read to her children, but felt that by having good books available, the children would do well.

Anna’s love and hospitality were well-known to all. She made a lovely, inviting home wherever she lived, even though many times she had no electricity or running water, or other amenities that are now considered essential. She was a wonderful cook, and every year bottled fruit for her well-stocked pantry.

Anna was called home to meet her Maker on April 5, 1962, while Harold was away attending General Conference, but their love and unity had been so great that their separation could only be brief, and Harold followed her just six weeks later, on May 17, 1962. They are both buried in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua. They had raised a family of nine girls and one boy, all of whom are faithful and true members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Both Anna and Harold were outstanding in their generosity, hospitality, love of the Mexican people and the missionary work, and of course their love of the Gospel. They were shining examples of the statement made by the Savior: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”