Isaiah M. Coombs to Orson Pratt Concerning Parley P. Pratt

Payson, Utah, Sept. 19, 1879
Elder Orson Pratt:

Dear Brother:

I accompanied your brother Parley P. Pratt, on his last mission as far as Florence, Nebraska Territory, and am witness of some prophetic utterances of his while on the journey that I thought would interest you to know.

I will premise by saying that I was a passenger in his carriage, and that we were partners in the outfit, he owning the carriage and a pan of mules, and I a span of ponies.  It was owing to this arrangement that I had the privilege of being constantly in his society.  We rode or walked together nearly the whole distance to the point before mentioned.

Bro. Parley was very cheerful until the day we passed Larmie.  I remember well that on that day he seemed very despondent and gloomy.  He lay in the carriage nearly the whole day with a handkerchief over his face, sitting up now and then to look out at the scenery through which we were passing.  Many times during that day I heard him very gloomy exclaim: “Soon the scenes that know me now shall know me no more forever.”  I have always believed that he got an impression that day of the fate that awaited him, and that he never got over it.  He was certainly more or less dejected in his demeanor ever after.

In talking with his wife, Eleanor, a few days after this, I heard him map out to her the course he wished her to pursue to get possession of her children, and charge her to do the whole work herself and under no circumstances to write to him for assistance, for said he, “If you do I shall fly to your aid and in that case will lose my life and never see my little ones again.”  You know how Sister Eleanor obeyed that injunction and the result.  Bro. Parley’s prophetic mind foresaw it.

Another day as we rode along he undertook to describe to me the site for the Temple in Jackson County, Missouri, and advised me to go and stand on the consecrated spot before I returned to Utah, and there meditate on the future glory of Zion as portrayed by the prophets.  He added, “I too, should like to once more visit those scenes, but the Spirit whispers to me, ‘go not on the Missouri soil for if you do you will never return again to see your mountain home.’”  I remember that sentence very distinctly and had occasion afterwards to often recall it to memory.  When we reached Florence all of us except Bro. Parley and another Brother, Brother Huffaker I think, sold out our teams and carriages and went down the Missouri River to St. Louis, from which point we went to our various fields of labor.  Bro. Parley in order to avoid Missouri induced this other Brother Huffaker to accompany him across the State of Iowa in their carriages, intending when they struck the Mississippi river to send his wife by steamboat to New Orleans, and to go himself by railroad across the Continent to New York.  I know this to have been the programme, and I also know that the motive which prompted it was to avoid Missouri in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit that danger to him lay in that path.  Knowing Brother Parley’s plans, what was my astonishment a few days after my arrival at St. Louis, to meet him and his wife on the streets of that city.  Sister Eleanor had persuaded him to accompany her that far on her way to New Orleans.  I was credibly informed that Sister Pratt’s brothers saw him when he disembarked and never lost sight of him afterwards and wrote to McLean apprising him of their presence in the country and the probable object of Sister Pratt’s visit, etc.

I have always believed that if Brother Parley had followed the promptings of the Spirit and avoided Missouri that he would have returned in safety to the mountains, whatever had been the result of his wife’s mission.

I have rehearsed these particulars to several of Bro. Parley’s sons, but do not know that they have ever related them to you.

I am glad you are once more at home.

I may be a stranger to you but am nevertheless a co-laborer and brother in the Gospel of Christ.

Ever Yours,
Isaiah M. Coombs

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sep. 19, 1879, 2-4]
[Documentary History, 243]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Dec. 2006]

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