Missionary Labors

St. Louis, March 5, 1878

Editors Deseret News:

As it has been some time since I wrote you, I propose in this communication to give you a very brief account of the missionary labors of Bro. Nels Madson, Jr., and myself, for some months past. Late in September we visited the Saints in the Pittsburg branch, presided over by Wm. Everick. They number 13 souls, three of whom are new members. We spent some seven weeks in Pittsburg and vicinity holding in the meantime 14 meetings, with an average attendance of 40 strangers; one or two families believing. While returning from our last evening meeting held at Pittsburg a crowd of young men, who had secreted themselves in the timber by the roadside, gave us a shower of clods as we passed by. We urged upon the Pittsburg saints the great necessity of emigration; with one exception they advertised their farms for sale, with a full determination to gather with the Saints, if possible, the present season.

Taking leave of our friend sin the above place, we visited the Saints of Keokuk, Nashville, Nauvoo, and adjacent places, holding meetings in private houses, and also in public halls. Dropping down the river we visited the city of Quincy, where, upon the first night of our arrival, we partook of the hospitality of Mr. N. Pinkham (brother to Sr. Tufts of our city), one of the oldest and wealthiest citizens of the place. Quincy is one of the most pleasant and prosperous cities we have seen on the river, containing some 30,000 inhabitants. Undoubtedly the hand of Providence has been over them for good, because of their kindness to our people when they fled from the persecuting hordes of Missouri in the Spring of 1839. Here we held, by courtesy of the mayor, several meetings in the court house, bearing strong testimonies to the truth of the great latter-day work. At our last meeting we had some 250 strangers present, the majority of whom were attentive listeners, but there were also many turbulent spirits present, who were not satisfied until they had succeeded in breaking up our meeting.

Spent some two months in Quincy and neighboring villages holding public meetings wherever we could procure a hearing, weather at times being bad, we did much fireside preaching. At Plainville, a Mr. Vining refused us a hearing in his church, (after promising it to us) on the plea that “Where we allow Mormonism to be preached it takes away all our best citizens.” What a pity. While in Quincy we searched out six persons who claim to have a standing in the church, all of whom have more or less faith, but they are so tangled up with the world in marriage and business that it seems difficult for them to extricate themselves. They were all very good and kind to us, administering to our temporal necessities, and we feel confident that some of them will yet gather to Zion.

On January 18, I officiated in baptizing in the Mississippi river, ice floating by at the time, a Mr. Tomblinson, of Camp Point, who has long had the name of being one of the best citizens of the place. His wife, son and daughters are good people, and are favorably impressed with the truth. We also have two other applications for baptism as soon as the weather will permit.

All through this section of the country, according to my experience, where the Saints have suffered so much from the hands of their enemies in years gone by, the harvest of souls is over, and even the chances of gleaning are very poor. Nevertheless through the blessings of the Lord, we find and make friends, wherever we travel, and now and then a person or family who believe the gospel and are willing to obey it. We find however that all who are convinced of the truth do not have the moral courage to embrace it. James tells us that “the devils believe and tremble” yet they are disobedient, having rebelled against God and his laws. We also find many who are bitterly opposed to the Saints and to gospel truth, who would delight, (judging them by their own words) in seeing every one of our people wiped out of existence. After preaching from the New Testament in a certain village in Illinois, we were waited upon the following morning by a citizen, who assured us that the people were so hostile that it would not be prudent or safe for us to remain in the place another night.

On our arrival in this city Jan. 30, we found the Saints here generally speaking feeling well in the work, and glad to see us. Since our arrival our time has been occupied in visiting the Saints and others, teaching and preaching in private and public as circumstances would permit. Some few Saints here are preparing to emigrate the present spring. Brother Madson, who has been my traveling companion now for about 12 months, having been released to return home, left here on the 20th ult. for Brigham City, going by way of Keokuk and Des Moines, in order to visit the Saints those places. He has been a faithful young missionary, and we have had joy in laboring together. His return leaves me without any one to assist me in the ministry. Possibly at Conference time some one will be sent down to assist me in my labors.

Your Brother in the gospel,
P.P. Pratt

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mar. 5, 1878, 2]
[Deseret News, Mar. 18, 1878]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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