Mormon History

Eliminating Parley Pratt - 1857

Daily Missouri Republican May 25, 1857

TRAGICAL. -- It is with regret that we have to chronicle the homicide, committed in our vicinity on Wednesday last, by Mr. Hector M. McLean, late of San Francisco, California, upon the person of a Mormon Preacher. More than all we do deplore the melancholy affair that led to its commission. The deceased, whose name was Parley Parker Pratt, was a man of note among the Mormons, and judging from his diary and his letter to Mrs. McLean, he was a man of more than ordinary intelligence and ability. He had been a Preacher and Missionary of the Mormons at San Francisco, California, where he made the acquaintance of Mrs. McLean, whom he induced to embrace the Mormon faith.

She was at that time living with her husband, Hector H. McLean: they were happy and prosperous until she made the acquaintance of Pratt, and embraced the Mormon faith. She is the mother of three children by McLean, two boys and a girl, and seems to be an intelligent and interesting lady: converses fluently, and with more grace and ease than most ladies. About two years ago, and soon after she became a convert to Mormonism, she made an attempt to abduct two of her children to Utah, but was detected and prevented by her brother, who was then in California, and residing with his brother-in-law, Mr. McLean. She soon after, however, found means to elope with said Pratt to Salt Lake, where it is said that she became his ninth wife.

After the elopement of Mrs. McLean, her parents, who reside near New Orleans, wrote to Mr. McLean, in California, to send the children to them. He did so. Several months after this Mr. McLean received news that his wife had been to her father, in New Orleans, and eloped with the two youngest children. He immediately left San Francisco, for New Orleans, and, on arriving at the house of his father-in-law, he learned from that Mrs. McLean had been there, and, after an ineffectual effort to convert her father and mother to Mormonism, she pretended to abandon it herself, and so far obtained the confidence of her parents as to induce them to entrust her in the City of New Orleans with the children; but they soon found she had betrayed their confidence, and eloped with the children.

They then wrote to McLean, in San Francisco, who, upon the receipt of their letter, went to New Orleans, and learning from them the above facts in relation to the affair, immediately started in pursuit of his children. He went to New York and then to St. Louis. While in St. Louis he learned that the woman and children were in Houston, Texas. On his arrival in Houston he found that his wife had left some time before his arrival to join a large party of Mormons en route for Utah. He then returned to New Orleans, and from there to Fort Gibson, in the Cherokee nation with the expectation of intercepting his wife and children at that point.

On arriving at Fort Gibson, and while there, he found letters in the Post-Office to his wife from Pratt, some of which were mailed at St. Louis, and others at Flint Post Office, Cherokee nation. We are unable to give the contents of these letters with particularity, but they contained the fact that McLean was on the look-out for her and the children, and that they were betrayed by the apostates and gentiles, and advising her to be cautious in her movements, and not to let herself be known, only to a few of the saints and elders. McLean then, upon affidavit made by himself, obtained a writ from the United States Commissioner at this place for their arrest, and succeeded in getting them arrested by the United States Marshal. They were brought to this place for trial, and after an examination before the Commissioner, were discharged.

Pratt, as soon as released, mounted his horse and left the city. McLean soon after obtained a horse and started in pursuit, and overtook Pratt about eight miles from the city, and shot him. Pratt died in about two hours after receiving the wound. This is a plain narrative of the facts as we heard them from the most reliable resources, which we give to our readers without comment, as we feel that we are unable to do so with justice to all parties. But deeply do we sympathize with McLean in the unfortunate condition in which Mormon villainy and fanaticism has placed him.

Daily Missouri Republican May 26, 1857

The Mormon Tragedy in Arkansas.


Being in possession of all the particulars in the case of the Mormon Apostle, Elder Parley Parker Pratt, I submit the following facts in addition to what you have already published. The following article from the New-Orleans, is, Bulletin of December 19, 1856, with the exception of a few unimportant items, a correct statement of the case as far as it goes:


We became acquainted a few days since with a short history of certain transactions, partly in this city and partly out of it, which all adds a very fair illustration of the practical effect of their beautiful system of imposture which is shedding its lights and shadows upon the tops of the Western mountains. Possibly our readers may be interested in it -- especially if they should ever, in the mutations of the future, be thrown within the valley where this Upas sheds its poison and revels in the ghastly carcasses which strew the ground, they may perhaps be enabled to turn it to a practical use.

With this object in view, we will briefly state the circumstances to which we allude, suppressing names for the reason that some of thise affected, and most grievously affected by those circumstances are of our own citizens, and to whom we would render our profoundest sympathy. A few [days] since, a gentleman, his wife and three infant children, like thousands of others, left this city for the golden shores of the Pacific, the husband and wife dreaming doubtless that in the land of the shining ore they should soon [realize] a fortune for themselves and their children. The lady, we may promise, possessed more than an ordinary share of intellect, which had been cultivated in a highly respectable degree by the care of fond and doting parents, who little thought of the use to which that intellect would, in after years, be devoted, or how that devotion would be repaid. Alas! they can feel "how sharper than a serpent's teeth is it to have a thankless child," or one that brings them only [-----] instead of joy.

The family is settled in San Francisco. [Soon?] afterward the gentleman and his wife, in connection with a brother of the latter. chanced to step in on a Sunday to hear a Mormon missionary, from Utah who was holding forth in San Francisco. They were prevented by bad weather and walking from attending their usual place of worship, and as the house where the Mormon was speaking happened to be in their way, they concluded after leaving home, and from mere curiosity, to go in and hear him. Fatal curiosity! Inauspicious day! What the particular subject of the discourse was which they heard we are not advised. After coming out, the husband and brother expressed themselves very freely upon the merits of what they had heard, and pronounced some of it little, if any, short of blasphemy. To the utter astonishment of both, however, the wife and sister expressed herself highly pleased with it. As a probable solution of such a mystery, we may say, before proceeding further, that it subsequently turned out that she had heard a Mormon missionary while a young lady residing in one of the river towns in Mississippi. Polygamy was at that time carefully concealed from the outside Gentiles by the apostles of Jo Smith, and stoutly denied. Probably the young lady was fascinated by the romance which the Mormon may have skillfully woven into the discourse, and seeds of blasting ruin thus lodged in her mind spring up, fructify, and bear apples of Sodom to turn to ashes in the tasting many days after. Be this as it may, the lady soon became strongly attached to the Mormon faith, and went frequently if not constantly to hear its apostle. In a short time he had acquired sufficient influence over her to cause her to resolve to quit her husband -- if he would not accompany her -- and repair to the grand rendezvous of the Latter Day Saints, as they style themselves, at Salt Lake City.

The determination once taken, nothing could dissuade her from her purpose. But the children, what was to become of them? The mother was devotedly, passionately attached to them, and she was determined to take them with her. The father and brother of course became alarmed. To prevent her from going, they knew well would be impossible, but they resolved to save the children from the yawning gulf which was about opening to receive them; and in pursuance of this resolution they determined to send them to their gran parents in this city. They were therefore taken when the mother was absent, placed on board a steamer, and safely reached New Orleans, were soon under the loving care and hospitable roof of their grand parents.

Who, however, can baffle or circumvent a determined woman, fanatic though she be, when her feelings, her pride and her affection all combine to spur her on to the accomplishment of her object? The very next steamer that sailed brough that mother to this city, chafing like an enraged tigress, whose young have been taken from her! Her parents, who had been made aware of the circumstances, now determined that she should not take her children from them, and that if she was bent upon dooming herself to destruction, she should not drag her innocent babes down into the foul abyss with her.

We pass over the struggles, the watchings that ensued in this city a little more than one year ago on the part of the grand parents of these beautiful children of some ten or twelve summers, to keep the mother from taking them to Utah, and of her efforts to obtain possession of them for that purpose. Suffice it to say that for the time being she failed. How completely her whole soul had become wrapped up in the gross and disgusting deception which had seized upon her like a giant, the reader can judge when we tell him that rather than relinquish joining the vile horde which contaminate the air of Great Salt Lake by their abominations, she actually tore herself from the children of her heart and went without them.

She did not, however, abandon her purpose. Finding herself baffled for the time being, she determined to change her tactics, the more certain to secure at a future day what she could not then effect. She went to Salt Lake City via St. Louis, and her parents had the melancholy satisfaction to know that if she was lost to them, her children were at least safe. These, brother and sister, under the beautiful and fostering care which they received, budded like the opening rose beneath the sweet and genial influences of the Southern Spring.

They heard nothing more of her till one day last week, when they were struck almost dumb with amazement by her entrance into the family mansion. We pass over what followed, as the reader can much better imagine than we can describe it. She had been to Utah, had been a teacher there, had boarded at Gov. Brigham Young's -- only boarded -- had seen much suffering there from famine, and had seen also the error of her ways. Said she had been mad, had [-------] the Mormons, and had come to live with her parents and children, and to do what she could to make them happy. She asked them to restore to her once more their confidence.

Of course the delight of her parents was boundless. She did not profess, however, to have renounced Mormonism, but wished not to return to Utah, and still insisted that the Mormons were god people, and Brigham and his associates in office true prophets. If those drawbacks upon the value of her repentance created a regret or lingering suspicion in the minds of her parents, they did not express it, grateful and happy that she had done so much as she had, [----] made even a [---- confession] as to the impropriety of her past conduct, and hoping doubtless that time would accomplish what was lacking in her complete recovery from her horrible delusion.

On last Saturday morning she requested permission to take her children into town -- her parents live in the suburbs -- to go shopping, and promising to return by five, or at most by six o'clock in the evening. The permission was readily granted, and they have seen neither her nor children since. She has accomplished her purposes; and she is of course on her way back to Utah with her children, to be thrust into the open throat of the grim visaged and horrible monster who sits midway upon the Rocky Mountains, lapping his repulsive jaws and eager to devour new victims as they become entangled in his [foul], leprous coils. Her dissimulation was profound, was perfect. So much for Mormonism.

Mrs. McLean's brother arrived in New Orleans the next morning after her departure, wrote Mr. McLean informing him of her proceedings, and started in pursuit of her. Having obtained what he supposed to be god evidence of her having come to St. Louis, he came on here, bringing letters from respectable parties, certifying to the high respectability of McLean, and also of the family of Mrs. McLean, all of whom were equally interested with the unfortunate father in rescuing the children, from the destruction that awaited them.

But her plans of operation were deep laid and well matured in Mormon council, both in Salt Lake City and in St. Louis. And I speak advisedly when I say it, for I have the best evidence of that fact that the Mormon leaders, then and now, in this city, were busily engaged in aiding and abetting those parties in their nefarious work. And although the most diligent search was made in every direction, we were unable to ascertain with any degree of certainty the whereabouts of the woman and children until the 9th of March, when we received information of their being in Houston, Texas. Mr. McLean, the father of the children, had arrived in this city a few days previously. Pratt was then here, but on being informed of McLean's arrival he concealed himself. A warrant was obtained for him, and diligent search made, but, with the aid of his fellow apostles, he succeeded in making his escape.

McLean proceeded at once to Texas, but on his arrival there found that they had been gone some three weeks; but fortunately he obtained a list of the fictictious names which she bore, and found a letter from Pratt, of which I herewith furnish you a copy, directed to her as Mrs. Lucy R. Parker:

                                                St. Louis, Mo., March 3, 1857.

Dear Madam: I am well, except colds. I have just received yours of Feb. 15. Your correspondence with Mrs. Holmes, of New Orleans, has probably betrayed you before this, as the Post-Office will be watched, and your handwriting known. If you and yours are safe when this reaches you, cease correspondence with N. O. Fly instantly from your present vicinity, Northward. Cover up your track behind you; do not look back or write back, or know any person back, neither in Houston nor elsewhere. Take stage or private conveyance, or any way you can get to northward in safety and with speed. I shall direct no more letters to you at Houston. My next letter will be directed to you at Fort Gibson, on the Arkansas River, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. Marvel not if I am at the same place myself before you can get there. If not, you can stop there until I come or you hear from me. My name is Mr. P. Parker, or, if it cannot be otherwise, the next name can be added. You need not be a Mormon, or bound for Utah, nor need anybody know your business. You will only have to stay in Fort Gibson a week or two, and can hire your board or earn it, as the case may be. Only be reconciled.

If Brother Grinnel or Brother Moody, the Elders in Texas, wish to assist you, let it be in money or in ready and speedy conveyance, or in a boy or carriage, or some means or another to get you to Fort Gibson, Arkansas River.

My carriage will await you there, if the Lord will. As to you clothing from New Orleans, I have not the most distant idea your father will send you one rag. But id he should, it is a mere chance if Boardman ever hears from it; there may be fifty Boardmans in the city. It is a pity you did not give some certain address, such, for instance, as Brother E. Snow, Box No. 333. It will not do, however, for you to write (back) to your father, because the postmark will put him on the Texas track. You can, however, write to your father, and request him to forward them to E. Snow, basement of church, corner of Fourth street and Washington avenue, St. Louis. Date said letter to St. Louis, Mo., and indorse it to E. Snow, and he can mail it here to the old gentleman. You can indorse in a separate note to Brother Snow his [address[' and a request to forward to him, or in case your father has forwarded them to some house in St. Louis. You can ask him to send a letter to E. Snow, Box No. 333, St. Louis, Mo., containing order and directions to get them.

Brother Snow can then forward them to you this season. Do not make any effort to get your clothing unless you think there is some reason to hope they would be sent, because it will be giving them too much of a clue to your relationship, &c., &c.

I think I shall not start from here for Fort Gibson till I hear from you, say the 1st of April.

Mrs. Sayers is well. She has sent the $100. I paid it to Mr. E.

My [money] prospects, are as usual. Debt yet due in St. Louis, $---. Lick and Betsey are well and have ministered well.

Latest news from home, Dec. 4,. Our folks all well. Agatha sends her love to you. All the family united and full of the spirit of the "reformation," Nothing else [thought?] of in Utah. All the trains in: much suffering among the H. Carts.

Prest. J. M. Grant died very suddenly on the last day of November last. It is a heavy blow to all. But he is gone to rest and is called to a wider and more useful field of labor.

Now cheer up, trust in God, seek his spirit, and may he bless and preserve you and yours, henceforth and for ever; and may you be delivered from the hand of the enemy and gathered home, is my earnest prayer and blessing in the name of Jesus Christ.   Amen.   Z.

Should Providence order it so that you came on the Mississippi, avoid landing in St. Louis; land in some neighboring town, and write to E. Snow or to me.

The foregoing letter, together with [---- --- ---- ----] received at Houston, afforded McLean [a clue to?] the whereabouts of the whole party. He started at once for Fort Gibson, when, on presenting his letters, he met with the warmest reception from the United States officers and soldiers, and from the entire community, and every possible assistance was rendered him until he met the Mormon party and recaptured his children. There being no law in that country by which the arch fiend could be brought to justice, McLean had only the alternative left him of being exposed to his tormentings the remainder of his life, or of administering justice to him in a summary way. He chose the latter course and shot down the distinguished polygamist, and departed with his children to place them in security, when he qill come out before the world to receive whatever the consequences of his act may be. Whether his action can be justified upon Christian principles or not I do not undertake to say, but if a case can be imagined in which the taking of human life is justifiable, this in my opinion is one. Imagine an artful polygamist steathily insinuating himself into the affections of the wife of an honorable and highminded gentleman, influencing her to dispise and abandon her own husband and friends, and smuggle off his goods to the Mormon Church, and when their nefarous plans for running off his innocent and beautiful children were discovered, and the heart-broken father compelled to part with them for their safety, the villain takes his wife and the mother of his babes to his own licentious embraces, thus breaking up and destroying the happiness of a family forever -- (as he had done in no less than four instances before) -- bringing sorrow upon the gray hairs of parental affection. And not even content to stop there, but must come over the mountains, and by stealth rob the injured husband and father of his last remaining jewels of affection -- to doom them to a life of infamy and prostitution! And tell me, where is the husband and father with the heart and spirit of a man, who would longer forbear and suffer such a fiend to live?

The public and the press of the country in which McLean put an end to the tormenter of his life, unanimously sustained him in the act. A correspondent writing from the scene of action, says: "No jail could have held him in Arkansas, had he been arrested."

I have other instances of Mormon outrages equally revolting, which have been perpetrated here in St. Louis, and in other places, which I will give you in another article.   C. G. WARD, City Missionary.

Early Mormon Leader's Disinterment OK'd

April 3, 2008

VAN BUREN, Ark. (AP) The remains of an early Mormon leader killed 151 years ago in Arkansas can be disinterred and moved to Utah for burial as long as other burial sites are not disturbed, a judge has ruled.

A descendant of Parley Parker Pratt, an original member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was granted a petition Wednesday to remove Pratt's remains from a Mormon-owned cemetery near Rudy in western Arkansas for burial at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

One of Pratt's dying wishes was for his body to be returned to Utah, said attorney Robert J. Grow of Salt Lake City, a great-great-great grandson of Pratt's. Grow said Pratt will have two wives to his left and two wives to his right and the reburial will help close a chapter in the family's history.

Pratt's descendants include former Massachusetts governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a great-great grandson.

Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell said that because radar showed that three or four people are buried at the same site, Pratt's descendants must be sure to remove only Pratt's remains. Records show the other bodies nearby are probably children.

"The problem here is you'd be asking me to possibly disinter bodies that weren't kin to you," the judge told Grow.

Grow said he believed descendants know which body is Pratt's. A granite monument was erected in 1951 to mark the property.

"If it's not Parley, we certainly don't want to move anybody else," Grow told the judge.

Pratt's descendants plan to have archaeologists dig up the body later this month.

Pratt was chosen by church founder Joseph Smith as one of the first Mormon apostles. A religious writer and missionary, he also counseled Brigham Young.

While on a mission in the South, Pratt was accused by Californian Hector McLean in a lawsuit of causing estrangement in McLean's marriage. Eleanor McLean became Pratt's 12th wife.

Although Pratt was exonerated in court, McLean and two accomplices pursued Pratt to Alma, where they fired at and stabbed him. Pratt died May 13, 1857.

Some historians believe Pratt's murder led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah of some 200 Arkansas pioneers on their way to California. But most scholars discount the connection, said Jan Shipps, professor emeritus of history and religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. 

Mormon Apostle Dead 150 Years to Be Exhumed, Reburied With 4 Wives

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Associated Press

RUDY, Ark.   Archeologists have begun carefully digging up the remains of a Mormon church leader who was murdered and buried in western Arkansas 150 years ago.

The descendants of Parley Parker Pratt were granted their court petition this month authorizing the exhumation, and they plan to move Pratt's remains to Utah for reburial in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, next to four of his 12 wives.

The slow digging using small archaeological tools began Monday and may be completed this week, said Robert J. Grow, Pratt's great-great-great grandson.

"We're being very careful," said Grow, who also is president of the Jared Pratt Family Association. "We're taking photos and marking everything we find."

Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Gary Cottrell granted the descendants' request to exhume the remains on condition that no other graves are disturbed.

Radar indicates that multiple bodies are buried in the cemetery and that Pratt's remains are 18 to 30 inches below the surface. Historical accounts also show they were placed in a walnut casket surrounded by a pine box.

Parley Pratt, the son of Jared Pratt, was chosen by Joseph Smith as one of the first Mormon apostles. A religious writer and missionary, he also counseled Brigham Young.

While on a mission to the Southern states, he was accused by Californian Hector McLean in a lawsuit of causing estrangement in McLean's marriage. Eleanor McLean became Pratt's 12th wife.

Although Pratt was exonerated by the court, McLean and two accomplices pursued Pratt to Alma, where they fired at and stabbed him. Pratt died May 13, 1857.

Pratt was buried in another family's cemetery just east of Interstate 540 near Rudy. A granite monument in the cemetery, now owned by the Mormon church, has marked the site since the 1950s.

Grow said one of Pratt's dying wishes was for his body to be returned to Utah. He said Pratt will have two wives to his left and two wives to his right in the Salt Lake City Cemetery and the reburial will help close a chapter in the family's history.

Pratt is honored in Salt Lake City with a statue at the corner of 2300 East and Parleys Way, a road named for him. Below the statue are the names of his many wives and children. A park and a canyon also bear his first name.

Pratt's descendants include former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is Pratt's great-great-grandson. 

Descendants of Mormon leader ID burial site, find no remains

Associated Press

April 23, 2008

RUDY, Ark. (AP) - Descendants of early Mormon leader Parley Parker Pratt who was murdered in Arkansas 151 years ago feel certain they found his burial site after years of research and scientific study. But a 4-day archeological dig near Rudy that ended yesterday did not turn up any "identifiable human remains" to carry out Pratt's dying wish to be buried in Utah.

The family says the grave will be reclosed and they feel comforted that they did everything to carry out Pratt's dying wish to be buried in Salt Lake City.

Pratt was chosen by Joseph Smith as 1 of the first Mormon apostles. During a mission in the Southeast, he was hunted down by Californian Hector McLean, whose estranged wife Eleanor was Pratt's twelfth wife. Pratt was stabbed to death May 13, 1857.