Pratt Clans At Forest Dale
Big Gathering of the Descendants of Pioneer Missionary Yesterday Afternoon
Orson F. Whitney’s Tribute
He Tells of Great Labors Which Made Up the Total of His Life’s Work
Touching and beautiful was the tribute paid to the memory of the late Apostle Parley P. Pratt by a younger apostle, Orson F. Whitney, who has shared with him the fellowship of working in the Church’s literature, and making a record of its history, at the Pratt family reunion held yesterday afternoon and evening in the Forest Dale meetinghouse.
The audience, which comfortably filled the main floor, was composed of the children of Apostle Pratt, and his brother Orson Pratt, and they knew their ancestors as providers and bread winners, while Apostle Whitney, who had been invited to make the memorial address, knew him as the first force in creative Mormon literature, whose expositions of what the new dispensation means, have taken their place at the head of work in that field, and whose many missions to open the work in Canada, in South American, in California, and in the Pacific Islands, have brought thousands of converts into the faith, among them many whose careers have been famous in Church history.
Taking up the life of Apostle Pratt in its phases having to do with the writing of Church literature, and organizing movements to spread the gospel, Apostle Whitney, discarding all notes, and speaking with the warmth of one who dearly loved the man of whom he spoke, paid him a personal tribute as a source of inspiration to him in his own labors, and one whom he had always held as an ideal for his guidance in life.
To Me An Ideal
“I have always felt for Apostle Pratt,” he declared, “a great admiration and reverence. He was always to me an ideal, and next to the prophet, and my grandfather, Heber C. Kimball, he was always my hero among the first leaders of the Church. I never met him personally, for he met his death within two years after I was born, but I have read his books so often, and heard so much of him that I always feel that I know him intimately. He was, I think, the greatest speaker Mormonism has produced. I heard Daniel H. Wells say of him once that while other men had moved him deeply, no speaker had ever stirred his blood as could Parley P. Pratt. I know he was the father of our literature, and no history of it will ever be complete without placing his name in the first chapter. As a poet and a historian I learned to revere him, not only for these qualities, but for his loyalty to his Church, to his beliefs, to his people, and to his country. He was not a rich man. Turning his back upon the riches of this world, he planned for riches in the next. He was an intellectual millionaire.”
Without referring to notes of any kind, Apostle Whitney then took up the life of Apostle Pratt, detailed it almost day by day, telling under what circumstances he performed each of the great labors which made up the total of his life work, and mentioning all the men associated with Apostle Pratt in these labors.
Referring to the first mission to Canada, he recalled a prophecy which was thus fulfilled that this mission should do much good and should open the way to establish the British mission. It converted John Taylor, who afterwards became president of the Church, and also the father-in-law and mother of President Jos. F. Smith. Of the mission to England, and the establishment of the Millennial Star by Apostle Pratt, the speaker declared this an important moment for the Church, for on the first page of that initial issue of the Star appeared a great poem, the hymn beginning “Lo, the Gentle chain is Broken.” “This,” said Apostle Whiney,” was a poetical presentation of the dawn of the last dispensation on the earth, and it is among the noblest poems in the language. Someone has changed it in the hymn book, but it has not been bettered, and it never should have been tampered with, for Apostle Pratt had a purpose in putting it there in just the form he used.”
Before closing the speaker read brief extracts from the “Key to Theology” which he characterized as a masterpiece in ecclesiastical exposition, and from the “Voice of Warning,” which he said fascinated and converted those who became students of it. After narrating the incidents connected with the last years, and the death of Apostle Pratt, the speaker closed by expressing the hope that his children and grandchildren would strive to follow the example of their ancestor, and give their lives like him, to service for the faith which he possessed.
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Apr. 12, 1907, 9]
[Deseret News, Apr. 13, 1907]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]