February 26, 1937.


President Harold W. Pratt
Apartado #4
Coyoacan, D. F.

Dear President Pratt:

I am enclosing you a carbon copy of the letter I have today written to the First Presidency, regarding the probable location of the grave of Parley P. Pratt. The people who have engaged in this hunt have done so out of their general interest in the matter. They feel now that they have gone as far as they can possibly go in locating it, without having official permission from either the family or others to continue farther. It is the opinion of Brother John W. Whipple that he could secure a court-order, permitting the removal of that body. It would have to be done with some caution and probably as secretly as it would be possible to do it. I am sending him your address and he will probably write you further. To save extra writing, I am giving you information by sending you a copy of the letter to the First Presidency. When you have received the letter from Brother Whipple you can answer him with perfect confidence in him as a man and I may say the parties who have been interested are not asking any one for money to help get it. In fact, I think Brother Berry at Stillwater, Oklahoma would be very glad himself to finance anything that we might attempt if it was thought advisable to remove that body from its location in Arkansas.

I trust you and Sister Pratt are well and enjoying your labors. I hope we may have the privilege of seeing you at the April Conference.

With all kind wishes, I remain

Sincerely your brother,

Elias S. Woodruff
Mission President

ENC: I co letter to First Presidency


February 26, 1937


President Heber J. Grant and Counsellors
47 East South Temple St.
Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Brethren:

At the time President and Sister Bennion were with us in Stillwater, a verbal report was made to him what we hoped and believe is the location of the grave of Parley P. Pratt.

John W. Whipple, the President of our Branch at Stillwater (an attorney) his grandmother was a Lamenite and he has a great interest in that country. He is a very intelligent, capable and humble man. For a long time he has been very much interested in trying to locate the grave of Parley Pr. Pratt. Brother Berry has been equally interested, finally Brother Berry financed the trip and Brother Whipple pointed out and directed it. Brother Berry, Brother John W. Pope and grandpa Scott were sent in an automobile to Van Buron, Arkansas. Brother Whipple had previously learned that Parley P. Pratt had been tried in Van Buren, Arkansas two-days before his assassination. Two charges being preferred against him: The first one of kidnapping, which was not sustained and the second one of stealing the clothes of the children of Mrs. McClean who had left her husband on her route West and was in the same company in which Parley P. Pratt was on.

Through the Editor of the paper at Van Buren, they were finally made acquainted with a Mr. Fine, whose father owned what is know as Fine’s Springs and who built his home near those springs a few years before the assassination of Parley P. Pratt. This Mr. Fine was a child when Parley P. Pratt was killed. They discovered a very great deal of prejudice against our people and only by concealing their idenity were they able to obtain any information at all. Grandpa Scott had been born and raised in that country and Mr. Pope was personally acquainted with a number of kin folks of this Mr. Fine, so that in that manner they finally obtained his confidence and got him to take them to the place where Parley P. Pratt had been killed. He pointed it out to them and told them the story; among other things saying that Brother Pratt had a metal shield or vest and that there was the mark of six bullets on this shield which had been flattened out by the shield and had therefore not penetrated his body. When Mr. McLean was unable to shoot him, he rode up behind him and stabbed him in the back. Mr. Fine positively refused to tell them where the grave was until Brother Pope, rahter cunningly said, “I don’t believe anybody knows where the grave is or could show us, could they?

[page break]

Mr. Fine said, “I am the only one who does know where the grave is, but I won’t show it to you.”

A letter will not suffice to give you the details except to say that they worked on his feelings until finally he did take them to the place where he pointed out the grave of Parley P. Pratt and identified it in a number of ways. Among other things he said that for twenty years he had passed through the thicket where this grave was located on his way to and from the spring carrying water to the house. He said, everytime I passed that grave I spit on it.

I am writing this now for your information. I don’t know whether anyone would be interested or not in an attempt to secure the bones of Parley P. Pratt. It would be futile to attempt to erect a monument to his memory. We are assured by the Editor and his wife at Van Buren that we would hardly be out of arrange of the people, until they would blow up anything we might put there. I thought you would be interested, I shall be glad to try to tell you the story. The circumstances under which the information was obtained, lead me to believe that almost certainly they have seen the grave.

I suppose Harold Pratt would be the nearest relative, at least the nearest one I know and I think I shall write him and give him the same information.

With all kind wishes, I remain

Sincerely your brother,

Elias S. Woodruff
Mission President


[Transcribed by Walt Morrell and Suzanne Taysom, Mar. 2014]

Letter to President Heber J. Grant and Counsellors from Elias S. Woodruff, February 26, 1937, letter, digital image; “Mary Wood Pratt Collection”, MS 25036, file 1, p. 31-34 (https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE2207536&usedforsort=MS_25036_f0001 : retrieved January 2014).

Return to Parley P. Pratt’s Grave