Parley P. Pratt in Nauvoo


By Rick J. Fish

Prepared under the direction of Robert Grow,

President of the Jared Pratt Family Association

April 1993


Jan. 1, Parley sent forth a proclamation in a New York paper called the Prophet, which was edited by Sam Brannan and William Smith for the Church.

Jan. 22, “Forenoon, Elder Orson Pratt wrote a letter, in behalf of the council, to Elder Parley P. Pratt.  Afternoon, I went to the Historian’s Office accompanied by Elders Kimball and Taylor.  The letters to Elders Grant and Pratt were read and approved.”140

Jan. 31, “Received a letter from Elder Parley P. Pratt in relation to the prosperity of the church under his care, [i.e. N.Y.] and the great demand for Books of Doctrine and Covenants and Hymn Books.”141

Apr. 17, In Petersbrough, NH, Parley ordained Jesse C. Little to the High Priesthood, and gave him the keys of authority to preside in New Hampshire.142

Apr. 28, “Monday, 28.—In council with Brothers H.C. Kimball, John Taylor and N.K. Whitney; we read letters from Parley P. Pratt in relation to his movements in the east; he thinks that he has influence with President Polk and other leading men of the nation, who are determined secretly to control the officers of Illinois so as to induce them to do away with mobs and mobocracy.”143

Jan.-May, During these months, Parley continued to write and publish the Prophet in New York and to visit the churches and branches in the area.

May-June, Parley changed the name from the Prophet to the New York Messenger.

June 5, Parley wrote from NY, to the Brethren in Nauvoo.

July 20, “I published an address to those under my charge.  Soon after the publication of the foregoing, I took leave of the Saints and friends in the Eastern States, and returned to Nauvoo by way of the Erie Canal and the lakes, journeying from Chicago to Nauvoo by land, by private conveyance, accompanied by a few of the Saints from the East.”144

July 31, Alma was born to Hannahette and Parley.

Aug. 6, “FOR SALE:  By the Trustees of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one large new two horse carriage.  Any person wishing to purchase will please call at the Trustees Office in the Brick Store north of the Temple, formerly occupied by P.P. Pratt, or at Prest. B. Young.”145

Aug. 6, “Three hundred and fifty men are zealously at work upon the building [temple], which it is supposed will be finished in a year and a half, probably at a cost of half a million of dollars.  The spiritual concerns of the Mormons are governed by a Council of Twelve, composed of the following persons Brigham Young—The Lion of the Lord.  H.C. Kimball—The Herald of Grace.  Parley P. Pratt—The Archer of Paradise.  Orson Hyde—The Olive Branch of Israel.  Willard Richards—The Keeper of the Rolls.  John Taylor—The Champion of Right.  Wm. Smith—The Patriarchal, Jacob’s Staff.  Wilford Woodruff—The Banner of the Gospel.  George A. Smith—The Entablature of Truth.  Orson Pratt—The Gauge of Philosophy.  John E. Page—The Sundial.  Lyman Wight—The Wild Ram of the Mountains.”146

Aug. 18, Belinda M. Pratt recorded, “Mr. Pratt was called home to Nauvoo on August 18, 1845.  We traveled by the Erie Canal and Lakes, journeying from Chicago to Nauvoo by land [Aug. 26, 1845].  I went to Mr. Beaches tavern to board while Mr. Pratt went to his home.”147

Aug. 20, Orson wrote a letter for The Messenger saying that Parley had left New York “some two weeks since to his family and friends in the West.”148 In addition, Orson took over the publishing of The Messenger after Parley’s departure to Nauvoo.

Aug. 23, “Elder Orson Pratt has arrived in this city to take the Presidency of the Eastern Churches, in the place of Elder Parley P. Pratt who has returned to Nauvoo.  All letters for him will be addressed to this office No. 7 Spruce street.”149

Aug. 26, Parley returned to Nauvoo from his mission in the East.  “From the time of my arrival home until the end of the year, I was engaged in the cares of my family, in finishing my house, and in my official duties.”150

Aug. 27, “Elder Parley P. Pratt gave an account of his mission in the east where he had been about 9 months (and returned on August 26), preaching to and counseling the saints, and collecting tithing.  Council voted that they were satisfied with the course of Elder Pratt.”151

Sept. 30, Parley spent part of the day in the Seventy’s Hall.  “Parley P. Pratt said he had made a calculation for an outfit that every family of five persons would require: one good wagon, three yoke of cattle, two cows, two beef cattle, three sheep, one thousand pounds of flour, twenty pounds of sugar, one rifle and ammunition, a tent and tent poles; and that the cost would be about $250.00 provided the family had nothing to begin with, only bedding and cooking utensils; and the weight would be about twenty-seven hundred including the family, and calculating them to walk considerably would reduce it to about nineteen hundred weight.”152

Autumn, Mobs recommenced their murders and attacks on the Mormons in the outlying areas of Nauvoo.

Oct. 6, During the October General Conference, both Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt [ Parley was in attendance, Orson was on his mission] were unanimously sustained as members of the Twelve Apostles.  However, when it was moved to sustain William Smith, Parley P. Pratt arose and said that he could not conscientiously vote to sustain him.153

Oct. 15, Parley married Sarah Huston from Stark Co., Ohio.  She was Parley’s seventh wife and they will have four children.

Nov. 4, “Tuesday, 4.—Emigrating Company No. 1 met in the Temple, eighteen companies of ten families each were filled up and Parley P. Pratt and Amasa Lyman appointed captains over the first and second hundreds.”154

Nov. 30, “Sunday, November 30, 1845.—At ten a.m. I [Brigham Young] went to the attic story of the Temple with Elders Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman, of the Quorum of the Twelve;…”155

Nov.-Dec., The attic story of the Temple was completed an office was set apart for Parley, Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde to share.156 The endowment rooms were also progressing at a rapid rate of completion during this time.

Dec. 10, “At 3:45 p.m., we completed the arrangements of the east room, preparatory to giving endowments.  The following persons were present on this occasion, viz.;– Myself [Brigham Young], and wife, Mary Ann; Heber C. Kimball and wife, Vilate; Orson Hyde and Nancy Marinda; Parley P. Pratt and Mary Ann; John Taylor and Leonora; George A. Smith and Bathsheba W.; Willard Richard; Amasa Lyman and Mariah Louisa; John E. Page and Mary;…

“The main room of the attic story is eighty-eight feet two inches long and twenty-eight feet eight inches wide.  It is arched over, and the arch is divided into six spaces by cross beams to support the roof.  There are six small rooms on each side about fourteen feet square.  The last one on the east end on each side is a little smaller.

“The first room on the south side beginning on the east is occupied by myself, the second by Elder Kimball, the third by Elders Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt; the fourth by John Taylor,…

“Four twenty-five p.m., Elder Heber C. Kimball and I [Brigham Young] commenced administering the ordinances of endowment…We continued officiating in the Temple during the night until three-thirty a.m. of the 11th.

“The following were administered to: Willard Richards; Heber C. Kimball and his wife, Vilate; George A. Smith and Bathsheba W.; Orson Hyde and Nancy Marinda; John Smith and Clarissa; Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann; Brigham Young and Mary Ann; William W. Phelps and Sally; Parley P. Pratt and Mary Ann; Amasa Lyman and Mariah Louisa; George Miller and Mary Catharine; John Taylor and Leonora; Lucien Woodworth and Phebe; John E. Page and Mary; Joseph C. Kingsbury; Mary Smith, widow of Hyrum; Agnes Smith, widow of Don Carlos.”157

Winter, Parley assisted Brigham Young and others in daily administrations of the endowment to many hundreds of people preparing to leave Nauvoo.

December, Belinda M. Pratt recorded, “Some time in December I received my endowment and blessings therein and was again sealed over the altar [to Parley].158

Dec. 11, “Elder Orson Pratt returned from his eastern mission, bringing four hundred dollars worth of Allen’s revolving six-shooting pistols (alias pepper boxes).”159

Dec. 12, “Orson Pratt and his wife, Sarah Marinda, the First Presidency of the Seventy and their wives and others numbering in all twenty-eight males and twenty-seven females received the ordinances of endowment.”160

Dec. 23, “Eight-twenty, I [Brigham Young] left the Temple disguised and shortly after Brothers Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman left, to elude the vexatious writs of our persecutors.”161

Dec. 24, “All the Twelve have been absent from the Temple the greater part of this day except Orson Pratt.  One hundred twenty-two persons received the ordinances.”162

Dec. 25, Orson and Parley were among several members of the Twelve who met with Brigham Young to discuss moving the saints to the west.163

Dec. 27, “After prayers a general conversation ended, in which the Twelve and bishops, J.M. Grant, and several others took part.  The visit of the marshal and the emigration to California were the prominent topics.  Elder Parley P. Pratt read from Hastings’ account of California.”164

It seems that Orson Pratt was the only member of the Twelve in the temple, this morning, when the U.S. Deputy Marshal came inside the temple to search for the Twelve.  Somehow, Orson was able to elude the Marshal.  It appears that he hid in a little nook he had rigged up as an observatory.165

It also appears that Orson spent almost the entire day inside the temple.  The DHC says, “Orson Pratt was the only one of the Twelve present in the Temple [this morning]…[In the afternoon] Orson Pratt has been engaged in making astronomical calculations.  From several observations he makes the latitude of Nauvoo 40 o 35’ 48” north…In the evening I [Brigham Young] went to the Temple and met with Brothers Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith.”166

Dec. 29, “Elder Parley P. Pratt read Fremont’s Journal to Brother Kimball and me [Brigham Young].”167


Jan. 1, Nephi was born to Belinda and Parley.  He was their first child.

January, “In January 1846, Parley and Orson Pratt publicly argued in the newly completed Nauvoo temple over accusations Parley had made against Orson’s wife, Sarah.  Orson and Sarah had quarreled with church officials ever since Joseph Smith reportedly approached Sarah in 1842, while Orson was in England, and a proposal of plural marriage.  Shortly before Parley’s and Orson’s dispute, Sarah had informed Mary Ann of Belinda’s and Parley’s relationship.  May Ann confronted Belinda and, after learning the truth, left Parley.  They formally divorced seven years later.

“In the temple Parley accused Sarah of ‘ruining and breaking up his family,’ as well as of being an apostate.  Parley’s and Orson’s argument became so intense that Orson voted out of the temple.  The next day Orson wrote to Brigham Young, president of the Twelve, defending his attack on Parley.  He denied responsibility for Mary Ann’s knowledge of Parley’s polygamous marriages and told Young he was willing to repent of anything that would keep him out of good standing.  But, he declared, Parley was now his ‘avowed enemy.’  The two brothers did not reconcile unto seven years later in 1853.”168

Jan. 27, “Elders Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman, and I [Brigham Young] officiated in the higher ordinances [at the temple].”169

Feb. 8, Parley married Phoebe Sopher from Hempstead Harbor, N.Y.  She was Parley’s eighth wife and they will have three children.

Feb. 9, Most of the Twelve took part in the disfellowshipment of John E. Page, including Parley & Orson Pratt.170

February, Parley continued his daily work in the temple until the middle of February when many of the Saints begin fleeing Nauvoo for Iowa.

Feb. 14, Parley and his family left Nauvoo for a camp about 7 miles away from Nauvoo across the river in Iowa.  “It was on the 14th of February, 1846, that out teams crossed the Mississippi and started westward – six emigrant wagons, or three-seated carriages, and a one=horse wagon – the latter accompanied by my mother and her family, with little Parley driving old Dick.  Mother had arranged for her wagon quite comfortably.”171

“In leaving home at this inclement season, I left a good house, lot and out buildings, worth about seven thousand dollars, and several lots and houses of less value, besides a farm in the country worth near two thousand.  But I was much in debt.  I, therefore, left Mr. Bickford as my agent, authorized to sell the property, settle up my business, and take care of such of my family or friends as might be left in his care, including my aged mother, and the father, mother and sister of my wife.  I was intending, when things were settled, to place the surplus, if any, at the disposal of the Church or its agents, in aid of the removal of such as were not able to remove without assistance.”172

February, Parley and his family found a vacant log house not far from Sugar Creek, Iowa, where they spent a portion of the winter.  Mary Ann Stearns Winter recalls, “After three days we moved on a mile and a half and camped in a large new log granary with a bin of corn in one end, and a nice lot of potatoes in the cellar, of which the owner told us to help ourselves, so we feasted on parched corn and hulled corn and roasted potatoes, as only people camping out could do.  There were besides my mother, six other wives and two babies, Brother Rogers, wife and two children, Uncle William Pratt and Brother Whitaker as teamsters, Parley, Jr., Olivia, Moroni and myself, making quite a patriarchal family to be looked after.  When we had been out in camp a week, Pa Pratt [Parley] decided to return to Nauvoo to get some fittings for the wagons that would be needed on the long journey.  As he was going in the carriage he told mother she could go too, and see her parents and sister once more before they returned to their home in Maine, where their only son had urged them to come, instead of taking the long journey into the wilderness, and which they had been counseled to do on account of their great age, and the hardships they would have to meet.  Accordingly, mother took Moroni with her, expecting to return the same day, but as the blacksmiths were busy Pa could not get his irons for a day or two, and told mother she had better stay till he would come back in a day or two for them.

The weather had been growing cold for some days – the next day was colder and the third day when Pa arrived at the river it was so full of mush-ice that the ferry boats could not run and he returned to camp, brining this word.  The cold still increasing the river froze over, but the ice was not strong enough to bear up a man or a horse, and for two weeks all communication between Nauvoo and Iowa was cut off.  Mother was in Nauvoo – Ollie and I were in camp.  We slept in our wagon and it was so cold that Sister Phebe Pratt who slept with us, frosted her feet.173

February, Belinda M. Pratt indicated that Parley, herself, and their child Nephi, continued on across Iowa.  “It was a terrible journey from Nauvoo to the Missouri River.  It stormed almost continuously, snow and rain, and the earth was so soaked that the poor horses and cattle could drag us but a few miles each day.  We reached the Missouri River in July, near Council Bluffs and camped for several weeks.”174

Mar.-Sept., Probably sometime in March Mary Ann Stearns Frost Pratt and her family returned to Nauvoo.  I’m not sure what brought her family back, but they did return and stayed long enough to witness the battle of Nauvoo in September.  Mary Ann Stearns Winter’s journal suggests that they returned to sell the property.  “The main body of the Church had left Nauvoo in February, 1846, and for a time peace and quiet reigned in the city, with a lively hope in the hearts of those still remaining to soon follow the advance company of friends and relatives.  Our star of hope was westward bound, and all thoughts were turned in that direction.  The Lion of the Lord and his strong ones were in the lead, and like the needle to the pole, every faithful heart was irresistibly drawn that way.  We, individually, were waiting for our house to be sold that we might have means to pursue our journey and overtake our friends who started earlier in the season.  During the summer the mob element of Illinois became impatient….”175

Battle of Nauvoo: Sept. 12-17, 1846
Mary Ann Stearns Winter recorded, “Our home was only one block from the Temple and we could hear the reports given out by the sentinel on the tower, to the guards on the grounds below.  Day after day we had listened to the words of weal or woe, as they came from the sentinel’s lips, and our hope and courage rose and fell accordingly, but oh, for words to tell of the emotions of our hearts as the sound came forth, ‘The mob are advancing slowly, they are within one block of the breatworks.’”176

“The last few nights before the battle (Sept. 10-11), the sisters whose husbands were on guard duty, brought their little children and camped at our house, for we all seemed to feel that under the shadow of the temple was the safest place.  And it was then that my mother said, ‘It was the first time she would look with pleasure on the graves of her little children that were buried in the lot, near the house, for they were safe from all harm – and she knew not what would be the fate of the others.’”177

After the city was surrendered, Mary Ann Stearns Winter recorded, “About ten o’clock a message came that we would be taken to the river soon after dinner.  So, after partaking of an early lunch we prepared to leave our comfortable home with a knowledge in our hearts that we were never to return to it again.  The stove on the hearth – the furniture standing round – the pictures on the wall – all were given a parting look, and then my mother, taking her little children repaired to the graves of our loved ones from which we were so soon to be parted forever, till the Resurrection Morn, or till we went to meet them in their happy Home above.”178

Sept. 17, Mary Ann Frost Pratt and her family remained in Nauvoo until after the Battle of Nauvoo when they were driven out of the state on Sept. 17, 1846.

Sept. 18, “During the day Brothers Anson and William Pratt, with grandmother Pratt and their families, arrived and took up quarters with us in the tent, from the time being.”179

September, “The sojourn on the bank of the river was only temporary, and all those whose wagons and teams were nearly ready, soon yoked up their teams and started westward.  Of the others, some went down the river to St. Louis, others up the river to Burlington, and intermediate points, and there were some not willing to turn to the right or the left, but wanted someone to haul them a few miles out in the country where they could get work and obtain means to take them still father on their westward march.

“Brother Anson Pratt had helped with the distribution of the relief supply, and when the boat returned, he and family took passage for St. Louis.  He hired two skiffs at Montrose to come up for his family, in which they soon embarked and were floating down the river amid waving of handkerchiefs, and good-bys [byes] from those on the shore.  As grandmother Pratt went with them, that took seven from our company, and while we were glad to know they were going to a place of plenty, as well as peace, their going left a lonely feeling in our hearts.  And thus the end of the first week found us, and the second was a sorrowful one in our little camp.

“Little Martha Pratt [William’s daughter], four years old, had suffered with chills for a number of weeks and though her condition did not seem alarming, still she did not get better, and one morning her mother noticed a change – she continued to grow worse all day, and when Sister Pratt took her in her arms to prepare her for the night she could see that the end was near, and in a short time she passed peacefully away.  But of, the agony of that loving mother’s heart, to lose her beautiful, blue-eyed darling, in such a place and at such a time, and she cried out, “Oh, I can never leave her in this lonely place.”  But mother tried to comfort her by telling her that perhaps we could take her over to Nauvoo and lay her by the side of our loved ones and then it would not seem so terrible.  So in the morning Brother Pratt went over to see if it could be accomplished, and found there was nothing to hinder – the city was as still as death, and the few persons seen on the streets moved around as if at a funeral.  A little red pine coffin was procured at Montrose, and about one o’clock we started on our mournful journey.  Mother could not leave her sick baby, so I was sent to tell them where the graves were, and show them the place mother thought best for their little one to be buried.

“During the summer, mother had, in anticipation of our leaving the home, obtained stones from the Temple yard and now she had initials cut on them, and then after making a chart of the graves from the corner of the house, Brother Silcox dug down at the head of each grave and placed the stones down almost to the coffins, then covered all over and dug up the rose trees we had planted there, and smoothed off the ground, and no stranger could tell where they were.

“We did not go by ferry, but had a large skiff and landed in a secluded place on the other side where a team was waiting and we were soon conveyed to our destination.  Three of the brethren accompanied Brother Pratt across the river, and with the driver, the little pilgrim was laid to rest till the Resurrection Morn.  This made six graves in all, as Brother Orson Pratt had lost an infant daughter, though she was buried on their side of the fence, but she lay in a line with ours.  Requiescat in pace! [Rest in Peace]”180

September, Many of these 640 members who huddled on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River had no food, shelter, or transportation.  These members were named the “poor camp” and many of them witnessed the “Miracle of the Quail.”  Towns people of Quincy and St. Louis assisted them until Brigham Young’s rescue party reached them and brought them to safety.181


Apr. 24, Orson Pratt wrote a letter to Parley from Winter Quarters, Nebraska.  Orson informed Parley that Anson and his family, and their mother Charity were all well and living in Winter Quarters.  Orson also apprised Parley that “Wm. [William] has obtained a bill of divorce from his wife, he is in St. Joseph, Mo., the last information [which Orson had received was that] he [William] had sold 1 yoke of your [Parley’s] oxen for a shingle machine and of course must be getting rich very fast.”182

Orson gave some insights on the resolution of Parley’s property in Nauvoo.  “The High Council decided that [Ezra] Bickford should give ½ of your [Parley’s] property to Anson the other to Mary Ann [Pratt].”183


Return to histories of Parley P. Pratt

140 DHC, vol. 7, 362.

141 DHC, vol. 7, 368.

142 The Messenger, 120.

143 DHC, vol. 7, 405.

144 Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 339.

145 Nauvoo Neighbor, Aug. 6, 1845.

146 DHC, vol. 6, 434-5.

147 “Women’s Exponent,” Vol. 38 (1910), 71.

148 The Messenger, Aug. 30, 1845.  I’m not listing every letter or article Orson or Parley published in The Messenger since it would take several additional pages.

149 The Messenger, Aug. 23, 1845.

150 Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 339.  Belinda M. Pratt says that after she and Parley had returned to Nauvoo in August, that, “After a while it was arranged for his wife, Mary, and I to commence keeping house in rooms above Mr. Pratt’s store.”  See “Women’s Exponent,” Vol. 38 (1910), 71.

151 DHC, vol. 7, 437.

152 DHC, vol. 7, 447.

153 DHC, vol. 7, 457-9.  In The Journals of Orson Pratt, xii, it makes it clear that it was Parley who was at Nauvoo, and objected to William Smith.  The DHC says it was Orson, but Orson was in New York at the time.

154 DHC, vol. 7, 514.

155 DHC, vol. 7, 557.

156 See Appendix 3 and 4.

157 DHC, vol. 7, 541-543.

158 “Women’s Exponent,” Vol. 38 (1910), 71.

159 DHC, vol. 7, 543.

160 DHC, vol. 7, 544.

161 DHC, vol. 7, 544.

162 DHC, vol. 7, 551.

163 DHC, vol. 7, 552.

164 DHC, vol. 7, 555.

165 England, Orson Pratt, 108.

166 DHC, vol. 7, 553-4.

167 DHC, vol. 7, 556.

168 The Essentials of Parley P. Pratt, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1990, xii.  In addition, I have searched through the correspondence between Parley and Orson and I can find no evidence of a poor or hate-filled relationship between the two brothers as late as 1847, much less a running feud for seven years.

169 DHC, vol. 7, 576.

170 DHC, vol. 7, 583.

171 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 14.

172 Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 340-1.

173 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 15.

174 “Women’s Exponet,” Vol. 38 (1910, 71.

175 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 16.

176 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 16.

177 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 17.

178 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 17-18.

179 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 18.

180 Mary Ann Sterns Winter, Journal, 19-20.

181 For information concerning the “Miracle of the Quail” see CHC, vol. 3, 135-136.

182 Letter from Orson Pratt to Parley P. Pratt, April 24, 1848.  This letter is in the private collection of Robert Grow, Folder 2 Item 2.

183 Ibid.