A Schoolmarm All My Life
Joyce Kinkead, editor

Chapter 1
Louisa Barnes Pratt

[p.1]The eldest of the pioneer Utah teachers profiled in this book, Louisa Barnes Pratt was also, comparatively speaking, the best educated. In fact, she comes closest to fitting the stereotypical schoolmarm portrait, even to her New England Female Academy schooling and her diminutive stature.

Even as a child, Louisa (pronounced “Lou-eye-sa”) could not have conceived of a future that held such adventure, hardship, and autonomy. She drew on a “spirit of self reliance” very early as her family moved from her birthplace in Massachusetts to Lower Canada, her first experience with frontier life. Much of the journal she kept at the time chronicles her schooling as she seemed always to be looking for more education and experience, ready to bite off knowledge where she found it. She sought learning, both practical and intellectual, stopping in Vermont at age eighteen to learn tailoring, a vocation from which she earned an excellent income. From her savings, she paid tuition to attend the Female Academy at Winchester, New Hampshire.1 She already had experience teaching from her time spent in Canada.

Her life was irrevocably changed by two events: her marriage to Addison Pratt in 1831 (they were both twenty-nine) and their conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints six years later. They [p.2]moved west to join the “gathering,” eventually settling in Nauvoo, Illinois, where as usual Louisa demonstrated her efficiency at domestic management, since Addison was often absent. A valued missionary, he was sent in 1843 to Tahiti, not to be reunited with his wife and four daughters until some five years later in the Salt Lake Valley. In his absence, Louisa built a house in Nauvoo and earned money through her teaching and tailoring. When money was scarce, “the Lord provided.”

Her journal records the terrifying days following the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith when it seemed that any Mormon might be targeted by “the mob.” The Saints practically gave away their homes and possessions as they abandoned the notion of ever living peaceably with the gentiles.

Although she followed the advice of men such as Brigham Young and Joseph Heywood, she was not dominated by men. When they failed to include women in the organization of the wagon train west, she writes, “If the men wish to hold control over the women, let them be on the alert. We believe in equal rights” (in Stone, 51). She certainly felt women were equal to men in ministering to the sick, giving blessings, and speaking in tongues. In fact, men were sometimes afraid to visit those ill with contagious diseases; such fear did not stop Louisa.

Louisa taught school. “School” might have meant her Nauvoo home, a bower in Winter Quarters, a Tahitian beach, or a ward school. She lived alone with her daughters for most of her life, watching them marry and begin families of their own. She wanted to be with her husband and asked to accompany him on his second mission to Tahiti in 1850. However, even then he was often absent from their home. Only when Addison subsequently voiced his intent to remain in California, against Louisa’s wishes, did she return to Utah to lead a solitary life, teaching and working with other women in a branch of the Mormon church’s Relief Society she began in Beaver, as ever demonstrating capably what she could do.



My dear daughters, being now in my fiftieth year [1852] and having passed a life of deep experience in the changes and fortunes to [p.3]which life’s nature is always liable; and being in circumstances that afford me much leisure, I have resolved to copy and make a record of the leading incidents of my life, from notes, diary, and journal which I have written at different times. The reason which urges me most to this undertaking is I have been many years separated from my mother, whom I loved with a pure heartfelt devotion, and her memory I this day revere no less than the spirit palpitating in my veins. Often when mourning that separation have I wished, O! how ardently, that she had bequeathed to me her own biography! With what enthusiasm should I, in my hours of solitude and sorrow, have pored over its pages! I should have rejoiced and mourned with her, alternately, as she swam the stream of life smoothly; or buried beneath its stormy waves, she struggled for existence. All I have of her writings are a few letters addressed to me during an absence from home; these I esteem of great value.

And now, judging the feelings of my daughters from my own for my parents, I am determined to leave for their satisfaction a portion of my history. I shall aim at nothing more than the simple relation of facts; and such circumstances as I have not the most vivid recollection of, I will not attempt to describe. I shall commence with my earliest remembrances, presuming that nothing that has ever befallen me will be without interest to my children, and even their successors. And now my children, over whose welfare I have watched with the most sanguine hope, may you ever adhere to the principles of truth and love. Accept this as a tribute of my deep affection for you. Remember my weaknesses only to avoid them in yourselves; nor call that imperfection which persons more wise than you may denominate wisdom. Treasure up in your hearts and practice in your lives the instructions I have given you: and be assured that not a sentence, midst all my counsels, has been uttered but with the purest desires for your happiness. Never talk of the faults of your parents, as it will serve to lessen the respect and reverence you should cherish for their admonitions. Cultivate sincere love and unvarying friendship for each other and in a special manner for your own offspring; as also a spirit of tenderness and of patience; avoid as much as possible all manifestation of irritable temper before the younger members of the household, as it will be a great disadvantage and increase your toil in the forming of their minds.

[p.4]These remarks and sentiments may result in much good to you when my tongue and pen are silent. Remember the unfavorable circumstances against which I labored in rearing you.


I was born in the state of Massachusetts, Franklin County, town of Norwich. My parents, whose names were Willard and Dolly Stephens Barnes, were honest, intelligent people; and though not from the wealthier ranks of society, they were in possession of a farm with many of the comforts and some of the luxuries of life.

My earliest recollections are of schooldays. The district schoolhouse was on my father’s land, so I was sent to it at quite an early age. I belonged to a large class that recited in the Understanding Reader, a very popular one in those days. I could then have been not more than four and a half years old; was very timid, fearing censure. Nothing grieved me more than reproof from my teacher. I remember being called up once by the mistress and placed on the dunce block, where I was kept till evening, and asked every few moments if I’d be a better child? My mortification left me no power of speech, though I longed for resolution to enable me to say “yes, ma’am,” which I did at last succeed in saying. From my earliest childhood I was subject to deep sorrow through the smallest disappointments, and from incurring anyone’s displeasure. On the other hand I was given to great ecstasy of joy and delight;—happy when praised; the reverse when blamed. I feel assured in my belief that children generally are not enough commended.

About this time I was sent some twelve miles from home to live with an aunt, the sister of my father. It was agreed that I should attend school at her residence. I was started to school and received many compliments for my superior aptness for study. I was pronounced a great talker, as well as one who loved mischievous pranks; though ill nature was never imputed to me. Many were the times I felt like resolving to keep my tongue perfectly still, but nature would assert itself, so that after my season of restraint, when left alone, I would soliloquize to my heart’s content. An old spelling book, about this time, falling into my hands, contained the story of Leonora, the prattler, who could not visit with her brothers and sisters because of her propensity to talk. This [p.5]alarmed me so, that I came to regard taciturnity as a most virtuous trait of character.

I was called upon to make a lengthy visit to another of my aunts, whose name was Pomeroy; and on meeting her daughter, who is about my age, I commenced as was my wont, the practice of some of my tricky sports. Their house was commodious, and one of its large chambers we appropriated as a playhouse, and I spent most of the time in aping the pursuits and manners of our school teacher.

[In 1810 the family moved to Dunham, Lower Canada.]

At this time my age was about eight years. Though I ranked among the best readers and spellers, I could not write; which fault was owing more to the scarcity of material, as copybooks, ink, etc., than to any lack of inclination on my part. I remember mother writing to a niece of hers about this period, between whom and myself there existed quite an attachment. I requested permission to insert a few lines in the address, but no attention was paid to me. I began to expostulate with mother, when to satisfy me she said, “My dear, you cannot write; I will send your love.” This, however, was not sufficient in my eyes. I obtained a scrap of paper and a worn-out pen and secluding myself from the rest I began my note, printing letters from the spelling book, the pen appearing to me a very unfit instrument, I took up a darning needle which enabled me to pursue my design without further stoppage. After all this trouble my missive never saw the post, for the reason that it contained some reflections upon my brothers. But soon after, my reward came by our relative making us a visit. She heard my complaint, and replied that my letter would have been acceptable; that so ingenious a mind should be furnished with some kind of opportunity to progress. This lecture was not without its effect, for I soon wrote a legible hand.

The schoolhouse was about a mile from home. The road to it led through the thick woods, and was marked only by cuts in the trees. Bears and other wild animals haunted the timber. Returning home by this route one evening, together with a brother and a sister, we missed the way, and became lost in the dense shades of the forest. It was like “the blind leading the blind,” for the efforts of all were equally unavailing. As luck would have it, my little brother had a voice strong al-[p.6]most as the lion’s, and our only safety seemed now to depend on its use. The little fellow, at my bidding, while his sight was dim with tears, yelled with all his might. And the echoes of this terrestrial thunder, reached our mother’s ears, who was out in search of us. We were soon face to face with our parent with our clothes and flesh torn in the conflict. Soon the woods were cleared away by the unceasing toil of the husbandman. The berries of various sorts were left undisturbed; only as the task of gathering them was much lessened it was made far less romantic. Maple sugar was a natural product of the country, so we never lacked for nice preserves.

At length, the school was held in the town some two miles away, and we were obliged to traverse that distance every day, if we wished to continue our education. In the winter season, of course, home was our schoolroom, where we conned lessons under father’s eye. Some eight or more children, when the weather was fair, gathered from the surrounding neighborhood to start in company on the daily journey in pursuit of knowledge. A bottle of milk (a coffee-pot or other vessel was as commonly used) and a goodly allowance of food supplied this little host with the strength needful for the day’s battle. I cannot forget a device which my younger brother employed to save him being sent regularly to school. The moment mother began preparing our dinners, he would complain of some ailment of body, generally the colic, and his sonorous cries would alarm the whole house. But he was eventually cured either of his disease or his wiles.

My parents then belonged to the Church of England, which prevailed in that country. The catechism of this church was introduced into all of the schools; and though I had not been baptized, the task of answering questions about my godfather and godmother was required of me. The printed lesson furnished me with these answers irrespective of both understanding and conscience, which were, I had to presume, of little moment. The ten commandments I learned and the creed also, the latter taxing the memory, the former the mind and heart. But I rehearsed them all equally well, for a piece of money was the reward for such excellence, given by the great bishop Dr. Stewart whose visits to the schools were frequent. Though church was generally at too great a distance for me to attend, my mind was bent on the Scriptures so that I [p.7]became familiar with every portion of them, knowing the New Testament almost by heart.

[England and America opposed each other in the War of 1812.]

Our reading was dictated by our mother, religious works being mostly recommended, fictitious writings generally denied. At the age of fourteen, “Charlotte Temple”2 fell into my hands. No other work ever left so deep an impression on my mind and heart. Some of my friends who visited us, perceiving the effect this novel had on my spirits, for it suggested phantoms of thought that compelled me to laughter and tears, expressed their surprise in a manner that almost took the form of a reprimand, at the indulgence shown us by our mother; who, agreeing with the views of our guests, interdicted from that time all novel reading I was taxed with the study of books ill-suited to my age and capacity;3 though many maxims were seized by the mind, which gave to my thought a tincture of adult wisdom. Though of a naturally vivacious temperament, I became gloomily sedate by having my attention riveted upon the one subject of the soul’s salvation. At the age of fourteen, I was initiated into the Episcopal Church. I became desirous that my parents would settle for me the question now agitating my mind, whether anything was wrong in frequenting places of amusement. They appeared not disposed to favor our attending parties, but I could not get them either to condemn or approve.

My eldest sister, Lavinia, at the age of twenty-three married her first cousin, Stevens Baker. The match proved happy, and all became reconciled when a beautiful son was born. Here was something to interest me. Soon after this event, a cousin married and moved to a village six miles from home. She persuaded my mother to let me live with her, saying it would be an advantage to me. I was to be with her as a companion. My mother consented, but I was not willing to leave my [p.8]school. I went, was treated with respect and kindness, was introduced to strangers, the elite of the village, but their style did not please me. Every entreaty was used to make me contented; tears and promises, but all was in vain. I sighed for my mother’s home, and my old familiar schoolroom. At length my mother sent my brother to take me home. I took leave of my good friend and bid a cheerful goodbye to “Slab City,” as it was called. I resumed my school studies, but did not continue long till they were interrupted by the marriage of another relative, who invited me to board with her and attend the Government school, which was of a higher order. To this I readily assented. The man and his wife were in every instance extremely kind and indulgent. The gentleman’s name was Samuel Maynard. I was very happy in this family; for six months went steadily to school. At length, through an inadvertent act, I was prostrated with inflammatory rheumatism. A little girl by the name of Hannah Lee was boarding at the same house. I had never been fond of her, although she was amiable; but when I came to be helpless, so faithful and attentive was she to me that a lasting friendship sprang up between us. As soon as I was able to ride I was taken home, and for six months I was compelled to walk on crutches. My complaint confined me much to the house, which seemed tedious in the extreme. Occasionally did I wander away to a grove of trees and seat myself to ponder over my affliction. I would shed torrents of tears, but when returned to the house would assume a cheerful appearance. Dear to me was life and liberty, and when my limbs refused to do their office, I groaned in my spirit and was troubled. One year passed, and I began to recover. When sufficiently able to walk without crutches, I went nine miles from home to teach school. The inhabitants were scattered far and wide. I was required to divide my time among them, and when the walk was too long for me, a horse and saddle were at my command. The habits of the people differed in some respects from those in my own neighborhood. I gained the entire approbation of my employers, and was ever counted a thorough juvenile teacher.

My mother, having a large family and several boys, was desirous that one of her daughters should learn to be a good seamstress. I was the one selected to go to a town in Vermont and practice with an experienced workman. The family with whom I lived was located in that [p.9]place and kept a public house. They had influenced my parents to have me come to that town and engage in the business of making garments by rule. The person under whose tuition I was to remain a definite time was a young man boarding in his father’s family, where I also made my home. The father of the seamster had known my mother in her youth, and seemed disposed to treat me with great respect on her account.

My instructor, though a fine disposition and good complexion, was not well formed; he was undersized, with heavy shoulders, even to deformity. He wore an air of dignity, and was much respected. I treated him with politeness, never once dreaming of his entertaining any other sentiment towards me than what was due me in my situation. I soon found I had misunderstood him; that from my first arrival he had serious intentions. The young man was wealthy, and my friends thought that such a union would secure to me a respectable home. I frankly told my friends I could not marry the young man, even for his weight in gold.

At the expiration of four months, having acquired a tolerable knowledge of making men’s clothing, I proposed going home to my parents. Whereupon the young man suggested the idea of taking me home in a sleigh, as the snow was deep. Previous to my leaving, my mother and eldest brother, returning from their visit to Massachusetts, called to see me. Mr. Houghton, Sr., received my mother with great politeness and cordiality; but could scarcely believe she was the same person he had known in his youth. She responded to my request to leave.

In 1821, February, Mr. Houghton conducted me home to Dunham, Lower Canada, where my parents lived. We parted in friendship, he inviting me to return at any time I chose. I was soon in credit with the people as a popular seamstress, being considered competent to make the finest broadcloth into garments. I accumulated means very fast. The following summer I was solicited to teach school in the district near where my eldest sister lived. For the first time in my life I was introduced to an English family. I boarded with them. Their customs at first appeared singular to me, but as I became acquainted I contracted a high esteem for them. Their table manners were quite different from those in which I had been trained. If required to take a brandy sling to [p.10]”stay my stomach,” as they called it, till tea was ready, I did so, eating a bit of cracker with it. If to sit an hour at dinner table, I manifested no uneasiness. They had a family of children, several in my school. The eldest was a young man of twenty years, purely English; wore breeches and long stockings. The children were accustomed to have plays at evening, in which I joined. The familiarity we were obliged to use in the plays I soon discovered was producing sentiments I did not wish to encourage. It was soon whispered among my friends that the young Englishman was “enamored with the teacher.” A schoolteacher in the same board made choice of me for his son; employed a lady friend to negotiate. She represented the young man in the highest terms, I begged her to make an apology for me, which she did in as polite a manner as possible. I was firmly resolved to never marry one of whom my parents did not approve, and began to feel that a life of single blessedness was my destiny. A new schoolhouse was erected in the vicinity of my father’s residence. In that, I had constant employment for ten successive months. I was buried within the walls of what to me was a prison. As well as I had always loved a school, I became weary. About that time my eldest brother, whom I had loved with all the ardor of a sister’s affection, left home and went to the far west. Unhappy circumstances attended his leaving, greatly increasing the grief of the family.

About this time my Uncle and Aunt Baker contemplated a visit to Massachusetts, the place of my birth, where I had long desired to go. My mother, having three daughters younger than myself at home, seemed willing I should go to visit her relatives; believing it would be an advantage to me in the way of improving my mind and manners. My Uncle offered me a seat in his carriage which I accepted. My friends fully expected my return with my uncle, but that was far from my intentions. It was autumn of the year 1825; all nature was in bloom and beauty. Although sad at the instance of leaving home, the prospect of a cheerful journey, and a jolly old uncle for company, soon revived my spirits when out of sight of the old plantation. Our First visit was at Charleston, Vermont, where we found relatives who received us with great cordiality. It was a large village neatly constructed, and I had much pleasure in walking through it with my young lady cousins. We called at the State prison in Windsor, Vermont. The sight of the con-[p.11]victs and their cells affected me very much. I had never seen anything of the kind before. I heard the gratings of the great iron doors; they closed with a vengeance that struck terror to my heart.

We reached the superb little village of Brattleborough, Vt. about the middle of September, 1825. I was then 22 years old, and though I had seen little of the world, I had a good knowledge of books, and had for the most part, kept good company. Consequently, I was not wholly unprepared to be ushered into fashionable society. I was delighted with everything that appeared gay and beautiful. The elegant buildings, neatly finished and furnished, the flower gardens, shade trees, and front yards adorned with shrubbery, far exceeded anything I had seen in the new country from which I hailed. At the beautiful mansion of Col. Chase we made our First visit in Brattleborough, where we were received with great politeness. I thought of their poor relatives whom I knew in Canada. I did not in the least feel envious at all the grandeur I saw, neither did it cause me to despise the humble manner in which I had been reared. After spending a few days with this interesting family, we pursued our journey to Guilford, where lived the family of my mother’s brother, a widow with a son and two daughters. He had been a celebrated physician, had accumulated a large property, died, and left his family in easy circumstances. A dissipated son was wasting the means, much to the grief of his mother and sisters. The young ladies were sensible, intelligent girls; great pains had been taken with their education, but the habits of their only brother, unmarried, cast a shadow over their young lives. After spending a few days here, we resumed our journey to Massachusetts, 40 miles, which we performed in a day. We drew up in Petersham, at the dwelling of my mother’s sister, also sister of the aunt with whom I was travelling. She was quite aged, but seemed to have retained all the sprightliness and vivacity of youth. She appeared extremely happy to see us, and rejoiced over me as the daughter of her youngest sister. So much did she look and speak like my mother, that I was quite overcome at the sight of her. I soon became strongly attached to her. Her husband had long been dead, and she lived with her son. She had a large, pleasant room of her own, where she received her friends with such warm friendship and cheerful temper, she became proverbial for possessing a loving spirit. Never was I [p.12]happier than when visiting my dear aunt “Spooner,” for that was her name.

[For two years Louisa worked as a seamstress, saving her money and “seeing the world.”]

In the spring of 1827, I commenced attending the Female Academy [Winchester, New Hampshire]. Preceptor’s name was Sereno Taylor, a free-will Baptist preacher. Circumstances made it necessary for me to take boarding with a widow lady, by the name of Alexander. Her dwelling was most romantically situated, a large eight square roofed building at the far end of a beautiful grove of maple trees. It was a place of resort, where merry throngs assembled. Lovers of independence congregated there, as the rolling year brought about the Fourth of July. A walk in that grove by moonlight filled the soul with inspiring thoughts, both of nature and art.

[Louisa visited Warwick, her birthplace. In 1831 she married Addison Pratt, brother of schoolmate Rebekah Pratt. A sailor, he was often absent, but she proved to be an efficient manager. Six years later she joined the Mormon church and left the following year for Missouri, and later Nauvoo, Illinois. Addison was called on a church proselyting mission to Tahiti in 1843.]

My four children had to be schooled and clothed, and no money would be left with me. I was left in a small house. Mr. P. had purchased timber for a frame building; it remained for me to get it put up and covered. I went to a man by the name of Ellison who owned a sawmill, and related to him the circumstances of the case. I wanted the lumber on credit. Said I, “‘Tis true I am a stranger, but you need not doubt a woman; as a general thing they are more punctual than men.” He assured me he had no reluctance in giving me the lumber on my own reliability.

I commenced building the house. Soon after the frame was raised, some brethren came from Indiana and brought me two yoke of oxen, a wagon and a two-year-old colt which I broke to ride while I was building my house. Men were continually disappointing me in doing the work; then I must ride away and hire others. Father Cutler was accustomed to remark, “If all the sisters were enterprising like Sister Pratt we should not see so many ragged men about the street.”

My house was commenced in September. The 15th of November I [p.13]moved into it, after having it nearly finished. I had a rich carpet which I brought from the state of New York, one of my own make of which I was proud. My business as a seamstress enabled me to procure many articles of furniture with which to adorn my rooms.

In the spring of ’44, I took up a school in my own house. It was attended with great difficulty, and confusion, being a crowded school in a small room. But it brought me in a little. There were continual hostilities in Nauvoo from either one source or another.

[In June 1844 Joseph Smith was killed.]

As my children grew older, I felt the greater need of their father. It was hard for me to provide their living, keep them at school, discipline their minds, take a course to keep them cheerful, and secure their obedience. To keep my spirits from sinking under a weight of care, I was obliged to keep cheerful company; this led to criticisms from some of my neighbors not well versed in the science of human nature. I endeavored to explain to them the nature of my situation; left alone as I was with four children, how liable I was to become despondent; that I needed their friendship and approbation to enable me to endure; all which they were ready to acknowledge and to assure me of their unvarying friendship.

On to the West!

In the autumn of 1845 the Saints entered into a treaty to leave Nauvoo the ensuing spring. No pen can paint the anguish of my heart when I heard the news.

At length the time came that we must leave our beloved Temple, our city, our homes. Almon Babbit called to see me. I asked him if he could divine the reason why those who had sent my husband to the ends of the earth did not call to inquire whether I could prepare myself for such a perilous journey. His reply was, “Sister Pratt, they expect you to be smart enough to go yourself without help, and even to assist others.” The remark awakened in me a spirit of self-reliance. I replied, “Well, I will show them what I can do.”

[Louisa describes Winter Quarters of 1847; her eldest daughter, following in her footsteps, taught a school for juveniles to help provide for the family.]

[p.14]I had a bowery built in front of my house where I could seat twenty pupils, which my daughter and I taught with Pleasure and profit.

[Louisa crossed the Great Plains in 1848 to the Salt Lake Valley, where she was reunited with her husband.]

We were organized in President Young’s fifty wagons, with captains of tens; a head commander over all. Six hundred wagons were in the whole company, travelling three abreast.

[In Salt Lake City] Mr. Pratt engaged in a school to teach the Tahitian language.4 Our children were all sent to daily school, made comfortable for shoes and clothes; we all realized the blessing of having a father to provide for them. Spring returned. Mr. Pratt engaged in farming.

[Addison was called back to Tahiti in 1849, where Louisa joined him the following year to help with teaching.]

Every day found me at the old prayer house, teaching the native children in their own language to read and write, my own and the others in English. The remainder of the time I devoted to my journal and letter writing; together with studying that language and translating. Mrs. Tomkins5 and her two little daughters, I taught regularly. Her education was sadly neglected in early life, but she seemed ambitious. My employment daily is to keep the children at theft books.

The human mind is better developed under trying circumstances. In the hard struggles of life, in the stern realities, the mind is more active, it thinks deeper. I never knew a person whose life had been made up of deep afflictions, but from that one’s experiences there was wisdom to be gleaned. On the other hand, there are persons on whom providence has seemed always to smile, and they never have a dozen thoughts in their lives, aside from business and pleasure.

[They sailed for California in 1852, residing in San Bernardino until that settlement was abandoned in 1858. Louisa moved to Cedar City, Utah, [p.15]but Addison refused to leave California. In 1859 she relocated to Beaver, Utah.]

Establishes Home in Beaver

November 10, 1858—Was my 57th year. The most eventful of any year of my mortal life. I was strong and healthy, able to tend my own garden with a little help. … I was one who had been “Called as a woman, forsaken and grieved in Spirit,” had raised my four daughters6 under the most trying conditions of life, and with inescapable anxiety of mind, had I brought them all to maturity. All married and gone from me, but my youngest one, and she was a solace, and a helping, a companion and the staff of my declining years.

On the 14th of December—Mr. Warrdall commenced a school. Ann L. and Ephraim7 attended. He was talented and a competent teacher, often sad and moody however, on account of the separation from his family.

On the 3rd of January, 1860, my daughter, Ellen McGary,8 commenced teaching school, assistant to Wm. Paul Smith. Employment was good for her.9 Her husband went on a freighting expedition to California. So Ellen boarded with me. Shortly after I engaged in the same school. The school wore heavily upon me both in body and [p.16]mind. I undertook the task with a firm resolve to see an improvement in the children both in their studies and common demeanor. I was not disappointed.

On the 21st of March—I closed my department in the school. I had the satisfaction to know that my exertions had been blessed; that my pupils had made a creditable improvement; that what I had done was appreciated. I felt weary and worn, and thought to rest and refresh my mind. But it was not good for me to have leisure.

[Louisa traveled with family to Salt Lake City, which she had not seen in ten years.]

May. I walked over that City, wondered and admired. When I left it, not a house was built, worthy to be called a house. Now the lofty buildings were towering up in every direction. Large orchards on almost every lot. A flourishing populace city. I was led to exclaim, “What cannot the hand of men accomplish!” I also learned of much that poor women had done, who had, like myself, been left alone with young children; their husbands sent on missions to the four quarters of the globe.

[Louisa returned to Beaver.]

Spring 1861. The house of worship where I taught school was a dread to me; so neglected and out of repair did it appear. I often had my doubts whether the Lord would hear our prayers as readily, ascending from a place like that, which had not the credit of even cleanliness. It was, however, improved a little by the vigilance of the women in the community.

I continued laboring with great diligence in my school, using every possible effort to make the children learn; and as a reward I had the pleasure of seeing them advance rapidly. A want of suitable books was a constant annoyance. How often I thought of persons I had known in the world, who spent their means for that which did them an injury; and I wished, Oh! so ardently, that the children in Beaver, could have some of their money to buy books!



1. Ann Gardner Stone reports that Louisa attended the Preceptor’s Female Academy in Connecticut (45), which seems to be contradicted by the journal (204).

2. Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth was a popular sentimental novel in the tradition of Clarissa in which a young woman is seduced from England to New York. Written by Susanna Row, it was published in England in 1791 and in the United States three years later.

3. There was no such genre as adolescent literature during the nineteenth century. The three books most suggested for children’s readings were the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Swift’s Tale of a Tub.

4. His students were probably future missionaries to Tahiti.

5. The wife of one of the missionaries.

6. The daughters were Ellen Sophronia Pratt McGary, Frances Stevens Pratt Dyer, Lois Barnes Pratt Hunt, and Ann Louisa Pratt Willis.
7. The adopted son of Louisa Pratt, “Ephraim” was the name of Frank Grouard, son of a Mormon missionary and a Tahitian woman whom Louisa brought back with her to Utah. According to Pratt, he distinguished himself as an Indian scout with the U.S. Army. A different portrait of Grouard is offered by Ian Frazier: “[O]ne of the strange characters of the plains. No one knew whether he really was a Sandwich Islander brought to America by Mormons, as he often claimed. His haft sister said that he was the son of an American Fur Company employee named John Brazeau. … To his biographer Grouard made many bizarre claims” (42).

8. Ellen Pratt McGary is one of two correspondents featured in Dear Ellen: Two Mormon Women and Their Letters, ed. George Ellsworth (Salt Lake City: Tanner Trust Fund, 1974).

9. Ellen’s daughter—her only child—died after falling into a tub of boiling water at their home in Ogden. Ellen and her husband returned to Beaver to be close to Louisa.