150th Anniversary of the Death of Parley P. Pratt
While on his mission, Parley sensed his approaching death. He wrote home, “I long to do my duty while here and then go to rest in the paradise of God.” Indeed, Parley stated, “I neither dread nor fear death, but I anticipate changing worlds with joy inexhaustible.” In May 1857, shortly after his 50th birthday, Parley was murdered outside the small town of Van Buren, Arkansas.
As he lay dying, Parley testified to those who had come to help: “I die a firm believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. … I know that the Gospel is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, I am dying a martyr to the faith.”
The Extraordinary Life of Parley P. Pratt
Many things, both good and ill have been written about Parley Pratt. But there is no doubt that he was not an ordinary man. His legacy lives to this day.
In the mountains to the east of Salt Lake City there is a canyon that bears his name. I-80 East from the Salt Lake Valley climbs through this Parley's Canyon.
"The transportation story of Parleys Canyon is one of development by phases, in which one mode of transportation improves on, or replaces, another. The most recent phase is today's high-speed six-lane limited access freeway which is Interstate 80; but it all began with Parley Parker Pratt's initial exploration of the entire canyon in June 1848." Utah Rails.Net
In November 1849, after suspending work on his road for a season, Pratt was called to head an exploring company of fifty men to southern Utah and to counsel Brigham Young on promising areas for new settlements. Pratt gave to the legislative assembly optimistic forecasts for settling the present sites of Richfield, Marysvale, Parowan, Cedar City, Washington, Santa Clara, Mountain Meadow, Beaver, and Payson. His company brought back samples of iron ore, coal, and other minerals. He provided specific information on weather, soil conditions, water, forestation, and other topographical conditions.
He opened his toll road in 1850, and during its first season of operation collected $1,500 from California-bound gold seekers and others. He left for a mission to Chile the following year, and the road largely fell into disuse. Today, what was then the "Golden Pass Road" is the Interstate 80 freeway through Parleys Canyon, a major scenic route into the valley, and one that services numerous communities east of Salt Lake City. http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/p/PRATT,PARLEY.html
Pratt, Parley P.
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In the old historic Nauvoo, Illinois there is a street bearing his name. It was along this street which runs west to east toward the Mississippi River that most of the early Mormons last saw their beautiful town. Parley's Street became known as the Trails of Tears (later to be renamed the Trail of Faith). As the Mormons were being driven from their homes in February 1846 they followed this road to the River and on to the west.
Parley Pratt, in his short 50 years, would cross the oceans six times. "Parley provided crucial leadership in the trek to the Salt Lake Valley and in the early exploration of Utah. During the winter of 1849–50, he led a 50-man expedition to investigate possible settlement sites and natural resources in southern Utah. In the 1850s Parley traveled twice to California as president over a mission to “all the islands and coasts of the
In 1851 he sailed from gold rush San Francisco to Valparaiso, Chile, along with his wife and another missionary, making the trio the first missionaries to South America. Unfortunately, civil unrest, restrictive laws against non-Catholic religions, struggles with the language, the death of an infant son, and lack of adequate funds cut short this early effort." The Extraordinary Life of Parley P. Pratt
A Note: Two of his descendents have run for President of the United States. George Romney was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, losing to Richard Nixon and his son Mitt Romney who is currently in the running for the same nomination.