Moroni Walker Pratt

Written by his daughter Mabel Elizabeth Pratt Van Orden

Moroni Walker Pratt spent the early years of marriage in Salt Lake City on a small acreage in Sugarhouse Ward.  Here was the birth place of Ellice and Louie.  They were called to Bear Lake (Meadowville), two miles west of Bear Lake, to settle the area.  They purchased a small home and raised cattle.  He carried the mail across the Lake and lost a sleigh and mules one early spring.  Francis, Evelyn, Cora and Mabel were born here.  They moved to Malad, Idaho, then to Fairview, Idaho.  He was Bishop there for 17 years.  He was a builder, farmer and was influential in civic affairs, was a great lover of music and had the first organ in community.  He played the violin for dances accompanied by Ellice.

Mary Elizabeth Chugg was English born, was small and had brown eyes and hair, was a beautiful homemaker, seamstress and very thrifty.  She managed to raise the family and be free of debt upon Moroni’s return from a mission to Indiana.  Hazel and Florence were born in Fairview.  They did a lot of entertaining including church authorities and civic leaders.

In June 1911 Father took very ill.  He was living on a farm west of Preston and called Dr. Allen Cutler who couldn’t diagnose his case.  The called in other doctors but couldn’t find he trouble.  He kept getting worse for the next few days.  They decided to go to Salt Lake to LDS Hospital.  He would be leaving on the early morning train so he called all the family in the evening before.  He had two expectant daughters – Louie and Mabel – who were unable to attend.  Roy (Mabel’s husband) went without Mabel.

He was very ill all night.  Dr. Cutler stayed with him most of the night.  Mary and Dr. Cutler went with him on the train.  They called a Dr. Middleton to meet them at the train in Ogden to go on with them to Salt Lake City.

Entered LDS Hospital and fie doctors examined him and knew he was poisoned but because of the lateness of the hour and not knowing the cause decided to wait until morning to operate.  Mary wanted to stay the night but was not allowed to do so.

The bell was too far away for him to reach so he lay unattended all night.  He thirsted for water.  The next morning upon examination, though he was dying, as they told him he had about an hour to live, he told them to get  a pencil and paper and Dr. Cutler wrote the last words.  “I am not afraid to die.  I know that I won’t enter into the presence of my Heavenly Father immediately.  I’m on a slow train but have a through ticket.  I have never betrayed by Priesthood in any way.”  He asked that he be taken to the cemetery on the same ehicle that he had always ridden in – the white-top buggy and the ponies.  He wanted his brother, Willy Ridges, to make his casket out of hard wood with a white covering with no silver or gold handles or trim.  No hot house flowers but would be happy for he children to gather flowers from the fields.  He asked for Apostle Mathias Cowley to speak at his funeral.  He said he ha no worry about his family.  He had taught them to the best of his ability.  Dr. Cutler read this at his funeral.

Bro Cowley said, “There lies a rich man.  It was said of his Uncle Orson, and it is just as true of Moroni.  He was rich in the things of eternity.  To his knowing no man had a better understanding of the gospel than Moroni Pratt and was accepted as an authority by his acquaintances.  It was either right or wrong – no in between.  He never preached or lectured.  HE was never too busy to make a correction at the time it was needed and always made it in kindness and love.”

The night before Father went to the hospital he sent for his children to come and see him.  I don’t know how many went.  As for me it was just twelve days before my daughter, Agatha, was born.  Joe Hall came down and told us.  Roy stopped his work in the fiel and we started out from our home in Lewiston.  When we got as far as the Van Orden farm house, Roy stopped to tell them he wouldn’t be there to do chores.  Roy’s mother came out to the buggy and said it would be dangerous for me to take such a ride that I might take sick on the way home due to the excitement.  So I stayed with her while Roy went up to see him.  When Roy stepped into Father’s bedroom he said, “Where is Mabel.  I wished she would have come with you.”  I have never quite forgiven myself for not going up.  Often I have dreamed of trying to get to him in my buggy.  I have shed many tears of sorrow for not going to look upon the face once more of one I loved more than anyone else or anything in the world.  I was at Louie’s helping Dr. Cutler bring Lowell into the world when the phone rang telling us of father’s passing.  Louie was till under the chloroform when we first heard.  Agatha was born twelve days latter.  I always felt bad to think father never lived long enough to see her.  She was a beautiful baby.

The last time I saw Father was when Hazel, my oldest child, and I went to Preston in a one horse buggy.  AS we passed the grist mill on leaving I saw him loading grain.  I stopped, he saw me and came over to the buggy.  Hazel had a sack of peppermint candy ticks.  He took one out, gave it to her, kept the sack and said, “My favorite candy, I’ll eat it going home.”  So I stopped at the Fairview store and got Hazel another sack.  Father never left his family without a kiss and embrace no matter where you were and if it had been some time since he saw you, maybe a big tear or two would drop from his face.  I was only seven years old when my Mother died so all my love and affection for both father and mother was given to my father.

Will Ridges said he just could not make the casket for his brother, Moroni.  He said he loved him more than he could tell and he knew father would understand.  He said the reason he moved to Fairview was he thought he should be by father who understood life and its purposes, and at that time considered his companionship worth more than anything else in the world.  I heard him tell this to my Father one morning as we were all in the barn milking.  When Father got up to empty his bucket tears of joy were dripping from his face, as was Uncle Will’s when he came close after putting hay in the manger.

J. Golden Kimble was a neighbor to father in Meadowville.  While father was on his mission he was very kind to mother.  He chopped her wood and did many kind things.  One Sunday as J. Golden was leaving for church across the lake, he knocked at mother’s door.  He had just killed her a chicken and said, “Mary, there is a chicken out there bleeding to death.  See what you can do about it and if the ice doesn’t break through I’ll be back about four o’clock.”  He loved my father like a brother and said in his jovial way that he liked him better than some of his brothers.

One time as we were on our way to conference in Preston and father had most of his family with him.  We were all singing hymns as was the custom when ever we found an opportunity.  Something came up from behind the buggy and frightened our ponies as Father called them.  The tugs came unfastened and away the ponies went as fast as they could run.  Father let go of the lines, sat back in his seat and finished singing the hymn, Redeemer of Israel.  Then Bro. Bodily came along and half of us went with him and the other half went with McNiel’s.  Father went to the conference and sent some boy to get his team and when we came out at noon, buggy and ponies were tied in front of the Academy.

I started school in Fairview.  Hazel and I went tot school one year at the Weber Stake Academy.  I was in the seventh grade and she was in the sixth.  I had a theology class one hour a day under Pres. McKay.  Father took us to school and first day and introduced us to Pres. McKay and a Professor Monck, who was president of the Academy.  Father asked them to take care of us.  It was the first time I had ever been in Ogden or anywhere.  We walked a mile or two to school every day.  Every Sunday, while in Ogden, we would go to Aunt Eva and Uncle Frank Wood’s for dinner (father’s baby sister.)

On the way down to Ogden we stayed in the canyon the first night.  The second night we stayed at Grandpa Chuggs.  He lived on a farm at Farr West.  It was about the only contact we had with mother’s people – just three times we visited at grandmothers at Adams Avenue in Ogden.  Grandmother was a very proud and educated woman.  She taught us the beauties of polygamy.  She said that she would rather be the tenth wife to Parley P. Pratt than the only wife to another man.  After grandfather died, she kept a boarding house.  Joseph Ridges wanted her to marry him so he went to Brigham Young and Brigham Young came to her and told her that she was too young to stay a widow and that she should have more family.  She married him and had Will Ridges.

Bro. Monch, McKay, Barton and Randall were my teachers at school.  At first I was very homesick but then liked it and was unhappy when school was out and I spent the summer up Crooked Canyon.  It seemed that we had to do more than our share of the milking.  One morning I got angry and walked home.  After I told father I went to my sister Ellis’ and rested for two or three days.

Christmas at the Pratts was a large event.  We had a large tree in the parlor.  No child could see the tree or help with the decorations.  When we came down Christmas morning it would e all fixed.  Hard tack came in large wooden candy buckets.  Stick candy came by the box.  Presents were wrapped.  All were hanging on the tree.  Dolls, mouth organs, gloves, balls, tops, even to red top boots for Frankie, a few rare oranges and apples on the tree, a few ornaments, always a star on top, four or five large candles wired on the tree and candy and nuts under the tree.  Christmas program was Christmas morning and the children’s dance after dinner.  We had a big Christmas dinner.

We had a parlor, little girls bedroom, master bedroom, hall, large dining room and kitchen combined with kitchen stove in the middle, big walk-in pantry, Frank’s bedroom upstairs and a big back porch where we used to wash.  We had a regular milk house, churned thirty pounds of butter a day.  A treadmill turned the separator and churn.

We had one of the nicest homes in Fairview.  We had a parlor with painted walls with a chandelier in the middle that pulled up and down on a golden chain.  A red plush reclining chair we traded from Apostle Cowley in exchange for a jersey cow.  He had bought the chair for his sick wife who did not want it.  We had two paintings, one of Wilford Woodruff and one of the Salt Lake Temple, in silver frames.  The sofa and chairs were red plush and the carpet red states wool carpet.

We had the first organ in Fairview.  Father let it go out to a dance and mother would cry as it was moved on to a hayrack.  Mother said, “Please don’t let that organ go out again.”  My mother excelled in homemaking, house keeping and cooking was her delight.  She was a beautiful seamstress.  She had a rich sister in Ogden who was an old maid.  She would buy expensive clothes and then hand them down to mother who made them over for her family.  I remember going to Salt Lake and bringing back a trunk of Aunt Sarah’s beautiful dresses.  The girls all crowded around to see who could have what to be made over. I always picture mother at a sewing machine. She was a small woman, fine featured, small brown eyes and brown hair with olive complexion.  Her build and mannerisms are somewhat like Grandmother Agatha’s.  Mother, as a Bishop’s wife, was not social but stayed home to get dinner for church authorities and visitors and cared for a family of eight.  She wore a little bustle under a wrapper.  She wore her hair parted in the middle and pulled into a bob with a wave on the temple.

Father wore stiff white dickey and stiff collar and cuffs.  No one could get near the ironing board when mother was ironing for father when he went to conferences.  Grandmother Agatha came and complimented mother on sending her son so beautifully ironed and pressed.  Mother had a little band of sheep, her income, and Frank herded them.  In the spring they would sheer them and sell the wool to buy furniture and things for the home.  Also they had geese and turkeys.  WE picked the geese twice a year.  We would catch the goose, put its head in a sack and pick the down from its breast, then sell the feathers.  We would clean, pick and dress the turnkeys and ducks and take them to Franklin to sell.

The brethren always came home for dinner.  Mother always had white table cloth and napkins.  One apostle said, “This is the best fried chicken I hae ever eaten.”

Father was asked why he didn’t raise pigs.  He said, “You can’t have pigs and good neighbors.”  I remember the hayrack with father’s stallions, Rick and Wallace.  Father ran foot races and practiced all the time.  He donated a good bracelet during July celebration.  I beat the foot race and won the bracelet when I was about ten.  It was one of my prized possessions.

My mother took the prize, a golden watch, for being the best dance in Salt Lake City.  One day Mary Ann Egbert slipped tea in her apron pocket for mother.  They made it or lunch after father had gone to the field.  As they heard his step, one of them took off her apron and put it over the cups.  Father walked into the bedroom and on his way out, took off the apron and said, “Enjoy your tea, ladies”.

We had two new dresses a year, one on the fourth of July and one at Christmas.  They were made of laun in the summer, wool or flannel in the winter.  Franklin had a Co-Op store and we would go one a year and draw out our stock in trade.  We would buy bolts of cloth and have dresses made alike.  All under clothing was white made of factory unbleached or four sacks.  We had black shoes, black stockings for everyday and white stockings for Sunday.  Shoes were high-buttoned, which we polished every Saturday night and checked to see if buttons were all on.  The clothes were all laid over a chair Saturday night.  Only one bath a week.  Coats were handed down or made over.  We always wore aprons to school – checkered for every day and white aprons for Sunday.  They were more like a pinafore.

Just as we got home from school, Mother called Frankie to go for Mrs. Rawlins, the midwife.  Father was gone to Logan for a load of mortar for the Fairview meeting house.  She hemorrhaged and was so near gone when father and doctor got there.  The baby was not born.  Mother died that night.  Mary died when 39 years of age.  We children had been sent across the road to Dan and Mary Egbert’s, Mother’s dearest friends.  Mary Ann Egbert came to tell us mother had died.  We children had been excited about a new baby.  When I aw my mother in the white plush casket, dressed in a beautiful white dress with lace on the collar and cuff, I thought she looked awful with the green apron on.  We children had never seen any of the temple clothing as they had been washed and ironed in a room with closed doors.

Mother and Mary Ann Egbert bought their hats in Salt Lake.  We had white dresses mostly in summer with colored sashes.  I remember best a white dress with a red salmon sash.  I had a red felt hat and Lulu Johnson a blue felt hat.  They were big sailor hats.  Mother fixed an elastic to be worn under the chin.  When I left the yard I pulled up the elastic and the wind blew my hat into the ditch.  I ran back home and mother dried it of for me.

When my oldest child, Hazel, was born Roy was on his mission and he sent home the name of Hazel for the baby.  When grandmother Pratt found out that we were going to have a baby she asked that we name it after her.  This was a very high compliment as she was a very proud lady.  But I was at the Van Orden home and they were very kind to me and they just didn’t like the name of Agatha.  So out of respect for them I just couldn’t name her a name they did not like, so we waited for our second child to give her the name of Agatha.

The winter when the war closed in December, Roy was running a thresher machine.  It was in November and cold with lots of snow.  He went out bed as usual, fell asleep and woke up with a start and someone said to him “go home”.  He got out of a warm bed, cranked his Ford, and got home at midnight.  I had taken sick very suddenly with the flu and was so sick I hardly knew when he came in.  He went and got our neighbor lady, Mrs. White, as he had to go to work the next day.  He got neighbors to stay with his family.  I don’t know what would have happened if he had not come, as we ha no phone and a lot of snow.  He never tells of such things as our neighbors would make light of such things.

[transcript courtesy of Shirley De Hart]

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