By Carter Paxma

This is from a series of essays from the Fourth Grade Pioneer Essay Contest sponsored annually by the Cotton Mission Chapter Sons of Utah Pioneers. This essay is by Carter Paxman about his ancestor Parley P. Pratt.

Parley P. Pratt is my 4th Great Grandpa on my mother’s side.  He was born the third of five sons to Jared and Charity Pratt on April 12, 1807.  His father was a weaver, a farmer and occasionally taught school.  Parley grew up in economic struggle.  At the age of 15, his brother and him were boarded with some local farmers to help get by.   Despite his lack of formal education he loved to read and made up for it by learning as much as he could through books.

Just after he turned 18 his family lost their farm and he moved from New York to Ohio where he envisioned doing missionary work among the Native Americans. After living in a small hut for a little over a year he decided to move back to New York to see Thankful Halsey whom he dated in the past and ended up getting married just after his return.

At the age of 23 he and his wife decided to move to Newark where they found out about the Book of Mormon which changed their lives forever and ended his search for the true church.  On September 1, 1830 he was baptized by Oliver Cowdery and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 1835 he was named as one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He shortly after went to Great Britain to serve a very successful mission. Parley was an important leader in the trek to 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.

During his life he was a farmer, servant, fisher, digger, preacher, an author, an editor, a traveler, a merchant, an elder and an apostle for his church.  Parley had said, “I have lain months in the gloomy dungeons, and been loaded with chains.  I have been visited there by visions of angels and spirits, and been delivered by miracles.” (The Extraordinary Life of , April 2007,  He passed away May 13, 1857.

It would be pretty cool to meet him.  I learned that he was kind of an American hero.  I say he is a pretty great guy and I am proud to be his descendant.

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