Olivia Pratt Driggs

Olivia Pratt Driggs, oldest daughter of Parley P. Pratt, was born in the city of Manchester, England, June 1, 1841.  Her father, who was one of the first apostles in this dispensation, after providentially escaping from prison in Missouri, in 1839, where he with others had spent eight months without trial for their religion, went with other members of the Twelve to England the next year.

They located in Manchester where her father commenced the publication of a periodical called the Millennial Star, which has continued until the present time.  Parley P. Pratt was the first editor of this magazine.  The beginning number was issued in May, 1840, and the following inspiring poem written by him especially for the introduction of this periodical appeared on its cover.  It was also the first hymn printed in the L.D.S. Hymn book that was published at that time:

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo! Zion’s standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day
Majestic rises on the world.

The clouds of error disappear
Before the rays of truth divine.
The glory, bursting from afar,
Wide o’er the nations soon will shine.

The Gentile fulness now comes in,
And Israel’s blessings are at hand;
Lo! Judah’s remnant, cleans’d from sin;
Shall in their promised Canaan stand.

Jehovah speaks!  Let earth give ear,
And Gentile nations turn and live!
His mighty arm is making bare,
His covenant people to receive.

Angels from heaven, and truth from earth
Have met, and both have record borne;
Thus Zion’s light is bursting forth,
To bring her ransomed children home.

Upon learning that his family in New York was dangerously sick with scarlet fever, Brother Pratt, acting on the advice of the members of his quorum, returned to America.  After their recovery he again sailed for England, taking his family along, where it was understood he would remain for several years as editor and publisher, as well as to carry on missionary work.  The group included his wife Mary Ann, her daughter, Mary Ann Stearns, by a former husband, his sons Parley and Nathan, and his wife’s sister, Olive Frost.  After a long and tiresome voyage, they lauded at Liverpool in October, 1840.

These two sisters, Mary Ann Pratt and Olive Frost, were the first missionary women in this dispensation to cross the ocean in the interest of the Church.

Manchester now became the family home, and it was while they were occupied in their missionary activities, a year later, that little Olivia was born.

The Pratt family remained in England until October, 1842, when they returned to America, landing at New Orleans in January, 1843, having been on the water fifteen weeks.  As they were going up the Mississippi river on a steamboat, Olivia’s little sister Susan was born.  Because of the frozen condition of the upper Mississippi, the family stopped at Chester, Ill., a little town seventy miles southeast of St. Louis, where they spent the remainder of the winter.

Late the following spring, they moved on to St. Louis and from there they were taken to Nauvoo on a small steamer called the Maid of Iowa, commanded by Captain Dan Jones, of Nauvoo.   This boat belonged to the Saints, the Prophet Joseph being part owner.

At Nauvoo they were met on the docks by the Prophet Joseph who carried little Olivia in his arms up the river bank to his home where they all received the usual welcome and “God bless you, Brother Parley.”

Nauvoo was the family home until the expulsion of the Saints several years later.  They lived in a large, two-story brick house facing west toward the Mississippi river, and located on the corner of Young and Wells streets, just one block east of the temple square.

The children watched the walls of that edifice as they gradually ascended, and amused themselves running around on the foundation and among the big stones and work benches.  They knew the workmen, and the hardships under which they labored; among them were Brother Player, Miles Romney, and others.  The men were so distributed that there was one man to a stone, cutting the half moons, suns, and other figures.

Olivia’s mother was an active member of the first Relief Society which was organized by Joseph Smith, with Emma Smith as president.  At the time of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, the children picked up some of the printing type that was thrown into the street, and the older ones spelled all their names with it.  Some of this type is in the possession of members of the family today.  The older Pratt children attended school in the Masonic Temple.

During their sojourn in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph was a frequent visitor at the Pratt home, and Olivia remembered that he used to take her and the other children on his lap and amuse them.  When the martyrdom came, with all its horrors, together with its accompanying excitement, the children received such lasting impressions that they were vivid all during the remainder of their lives.

One day Brother Joseph Fielding was driving his big team and wagon west on Young Street, and as he neared the Pratt home little Olivia ran out in front of the horses and was not seen by the driver until she was found between the horses, when he rescued her.

The family was in Nauvoo at the time of the battle, and at one time the citizens of Nauvoo stored forty kegs of gun powder in the large cellar under the Pratt home.

At the time of the expulsion, the Saints were given three days in which to get out of the state of Illinois, and by the end of the third day some women and children were camped on the river bank in the sand just opposite Montrose.  The ferry was a flat boat which was towed up the river by horses then it was carried across by the force of the stream, a rather slow process.

Sister Pratt and the children were quartered in an improvised tent which she had made water-proof.  One day at the sound of fife and drum, they discovered that a company of troops had halted nearby.  Upon seeing Mrs. Pratt, the officer said, “You’re a pretty set, ain’t you?”  Sister Pratt replied, “Gentlemen, it’s your day now, but bye and bye it may be ours.”

“Shut up,” he said, “or I’ll have you placed under guard.”

“I don’t fear you at all,” was Sister Pratt’s rejoinder.

One man in the gang called to little Olivia, who was a curly-headed child of five years, and asked, “Where’s your Pa?”  As she ran out, Mary Ann, her sister, went along to protect her.  “Where are you going?—To California?” he continued.  “Well, here’s a bit piece [12 ½ c.].  It will pay your way out there,” he spoke as he threw the coin to Olivia.  These children did not see dime or nickel coins until after they came to Utah, as few had been made at that time.

After crossing the river, tents were pitched on the Iowa side where food became scarce.  But droves of quail flew near by, and were so tame that the people had no difficulty in catching them for food.  One day a steam boat came up the river from St. Louis loaded with provisions that had been donated by the good people of that city.  When it reached the river bank, a representative of each exiled family was sent for, and the provisions were generously distributed according to the number in each family.  May Ann, now a girl of fourteen, was sent by her mother and received corn meal, bacon, dried apples, and other much needed articles.

Late one night, little Martha Pratt, aged three years, daughter of William and Martha Shumway Pratt, died in a tent from ague.  They secured a coffin in Montrose, and the next day the body was taken across the river in a sail boat for burial.  Mary Ann went along to show them where the Pratt family graves were located.

Several times the boat almost tipped over.  They were met on the Nauvoo side by a brother with a team, he having rowed across earlier in the day.  The remains were placed by the side of the other Pratt graves in their private lot not far from their recently abandoned brick house.  An accurate map of the place is now in possession of the family.  Nauvoo was still and quiet.  The mob had all gone.  There was not a soul to be seen anywhere.

Six weeks after all this excitement, Sister Pratt and her children recrossed the river and remained in Nauvoo all winter.  With John S. Fullmer’s family, they lived in the house which had been the home of John D. Lee.  This was not far from Heber C. Kimball’s large brick house.

As soon as spring opened, they moved east to the state of Maine, their old home, where they stayed for about eighteen months, when they came west again, locating in St. Louis.  It was at this place that Olivia and her little brother Moroni L., who was born in Nauvoo, attended school for the first time.

Their next temporary home was Kanesville, now Council Bluffs, where the children again attended school.

On May 10, 1852, they started across the plains arriving in Salt Lake City four months later; and the following winter Olivia attended school in the Fourteenth ward assembly rooms.

After the cruel assassination of Brother Pratt, the family moved to Battle Creek, in Utah county, and made their home with Brother Oscar and Mary Ann Stearns Winters.  At this time the houses in this region were scattered along the state road from American Fork to Provo bench.  The Indian War, however, waged by Chief Walker, forced the people to build a fort which is now the town of Pleasant Grove.

On the 15th of February, 1857, Olivia was married to Benjamin Woodbury Driggs, a promising young man of that community, the ceremony being performed by Elder Orson Hyde.  Brother Driggs had also spent his youthful days in Nauvoo, where his father, Shoduck F. Driggs, lived and maintained a large wagon shop.  At the fitting out for the “move,” Shoduck F. Driggs built dozens of wagons, the iron work of which was done by Martin H. Pick.

This young bridegroom had recently returned from southern California, where he had been employed by Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich.  B. W. Driggs became one of the leading businessmen of Utah county.  He was an officer in the militia and took an active part in the Black Hawk and other Indian troubles.  B. W. and Olivia made their permanent home in Pleasant Grove.  To them twelve children were born, six of whom survive them.

In the late 80’s B. W. Driggs, Jr., and Don Carlos Driggs, with others of their brothers, settled in Idaho in the valley of the Tetons, then an Indian country.  They founded the thriving town of Driggs, where Don C. was appointed postmaster by President Cleveland.  The Teton stake of Zion was later organized with Don C. Driggs as president, in which capacity he served for twenty years.  Inheriting the sterling qualities of their progenitors, these Driggs brothers took an active part in building up that community.  B. W. Driggs, Jr., is at present prosecuting attorney for Teton county, Idaho.

The Driggs home, in Pleasant Grove, was a social center for both old and young, and Sister Olivia was never happier than when she was extending hospitality to her friends and neighbors.  In this immaculate home, there were music and books; and it was here that the young people of the community loved to gather to rehearse concerts, dramas, and other forms of community amusements; and in which the daughters of the home were capable and talented leaders.  Sister Olivia herself, joined in all the plans and ambitions of the young people, and was their constant inspiration.  For many years she was a member of the old folks’ committee, as well as an active Relief Society teacher in the ward.  She died at her home in Pleasant Grove, Tuesday morning, June 12, 1906, aged sixty-five years.

[The Relief Society Magazine, Aug. 1924]

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