After Pratt, it was 100 years until return of missionaries
Special report: The LDS mission in Chile

by Peggy Fletcher Stack

Valparaiso, Chile – LDS Apostle Parley P. Pratt, his pregnant wife Phoebe, and Elder Rufus C. Allen arrived in this bustling seaport Nov. 8, 1851.

They had come to Chile to see if it was yet ripe for Mormon missionary work.

At the time, Valparaiso was one of the most prosperous Chilean cities, with many foreigners, particularly British businessmen and bankers. It had a cosmopolitan feel, not unlike San Francisco.

Many visitors thought it was a more “democratic and liberal city” than Santiago because of its Chilean and foreign elite and wealthy businessmen, says Francisco Jara, a Santiago journalist who gave a short summary of Pratt’s mission at the 2004 Mormon History Association meetings.

Unfortunately, Parley and Phoebe, his eighth plural wife, arrived in the midst of the “1851 Revolution,” a kind of civil war. The Mormons faced opposition, deprivation and bias, Jara writes. Parley Pratt spent most of his time there studying Spanish and Chilean history and reading newspapers.

Phoebe Pratt gave birth to a boy, Omner Pratt, on Nov. 30, and he died 38 days later. His body is buried in a “Cemetery for Dissidents” – which included anyone who wasn’t Catholic – on the top of one of Valparaiso’s famous hills.

The Pratts and Allen gave up on Chile after four months and returned to San Francisco.

They had converted no one. It would take another 100 years before Mormon missionaries would reach Chile’s shores.

In 1990, LDS Church officials put a marble plaque memorializing Omner Pratt in the cemetery. Eleven years later, on the 150th anniversary of Pratt’s sojourn in Chile, dozens of Mormons gathered there for a commemoration.

“It is holy ground for Chilean Mormons,” Jara says.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Jun. 22, 2006]


Pictures about Omner Pratt in Chile
Courtesy of Rodolfo A. Acevedo

(Click on the picture to enlarge it)

omner pratt death

Book recording Omner Pratt’s death

The page showing Omner Pratt
omner pratt death close

Close-up of Omner Pratt’s name

omner pratt cause of death
omner pratt acevedo

Cause of death — Debility

Historian Rodolfo A. Acevedo with the book
omner pratt cemetery
The Cemeterio de Disidentes where Omner Pratt is buried

A view of the cemetery

omner pratt valparaiso
omner pratt plaque ceremony

A view of Valparaiso from the cemetery

The dedication of the plaque in 1990 for Omner Pratt
omner pratt plaque chile

Here lie the remains of Omner Pratt
30 Nov. 1851 – 7 Jan. 1852

Son of Parley P. Pratt, Apostle of Jesus Christ and first missionary of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” to South America, who dedicated this land for the preaching of the gospel.

August 1990

Return to histories of Omner Pratt