A Child of Promise
A one hundredth birthday observed this past week recalls from the pages of Church History the interesting story of a “Child of Promise.”
The one referred to is Parley Parker Pratt Jr., the eldest son of Apostle Parley P. Pratt Sr., and Thankful Halsey. The history of the Church records that he was born under most remarkable circumstances.
His parents had been married for nearly nine years and for six or seven years of this time the wife had been in ill health. Apostle Pratt had been called on a mission to Canada. He was in debt and with his wife in ill health he was troubled in his mind and debated with himself as to whether he should go or remain for awhile and work to take care of his wife and pay off his debts.
While reflecting this one evening in his home in Kirtland a knock was heard on the door. It was Heber C. Kimball and others of his associates. Parley P. Pratt unburdened his mind to them and they laid their hands on his head and that of his wife and blessed them and pronounced a most wonderful blessing and prophecy upon them.
Among other things Elder Kimball promised Elder Pratt in the spirit of prophecy was that he should go on the mission; that the way be opened for him to pay his debts, and a great work would be done in Canada, that there were people there prepared and waiting for the Gospel and that it would spread from there into England. His wife was promised that she should be healed, and bear a son within a year, and that they should call his name Parley.
Much cheered they began to prepare for this mission and immediately the Lord opened up the way for them. The opening up of the Canadian Mission is a remarkable chapter in the life of Apostle Pratt. John Taylor and a large number of his society, who were studying the scriptures with an open mind, received his message and joined the Church. After a few months he returned and to his great joy found his wife healed. He took her back with him and within the year they again returned to Kirtland when her only child was born on March 25, 1837.
Quotes Apostle Pratt
The life history of Apostle Pratt records that two days before the birth of the son the mother had a beautiful vision in which she seemed wrapped in fire. It was made known to her that she would live to fill the measure of her creation and then be released from this life of pain and suffering. The vision was repeated again the next day at the same hour.
Her husband says in his history:
“She was overwhelmed with a joy and peace indescribable, and seemed changed in her whole nature from that time forth. She longed to be gone, and anticipated the time as a hireling counts the days of his servitude, or the prisoner the term of his imprisonment. She lived long enough to see her babe dressed and hold him in her arms.
“She was buried in the churchyard near the Temple in Kirtland, Ohio. Many hundreds attended the funeral and wept sorely, for she was extensively known. Her trials for the Gospel’s sake, while her husband had been absent from time to time on distant missions, her lingering sickness of years, her barrenness, her miraculous cure, her conception of the promised child, were all matters of note in the Church far and near. But she had gone behind the veil to rest, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest; while I was left to toil and struggle alone. My grief and sorrow and loneliness, I shall not attempt to describe.”
Parley P. Pratt Jr., the “child of promise” grew to manhood, married, raised a large family, filled two missions for the Church and honored the remarkable posterity that was his.
He discharged a duty imposed upon him by his father when in 1874 he completed the published volume of the life and travels of his father. He was aided in this work by Pres. John Taylor.
A member of the family of Parley P. Pratt Jr., writes of him as follows:
“He was a fine appearing man; he stood six feet tall, but was of a slender build. He had silky, black curly hair, and a long auburn beard. His face was oval, refined and delicate in contour. His eyes were large and dreamy, hazel in color. His beautiful character shone in his face. He was kind and gentle, patient and long-suffering, a most affectionate husband and father. He was very humble and meek, but with it all had a firm will, which amounted at times to stubbornness. This trait sometimes caused him trouble. He was honest and truthful, almost to a fault. He was scrupulously clean in person, mind and habit.”
He died Aug. 26, 1897, and his descendants honor the memory of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather this past week on his hundredth anniversary.
[Deseret News, Mar. 27, 1937]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Dec. 2006]