Isaac Russell and Pratt family letters
L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Isaac Russell and Pratt family letters (Vault MSS 497). This collection contains primarily correspondence between Russell and his family and letters to and from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including some to and from Russell during his mission in England. It also includes some correspondence to and from the Pratt family and the Snively family, including letters by Parley P. Pratt, as well as from the extended family of Pratt’s wife Hannahette Snively Pratt and her sister Susanna Snively Young. These letters came with the Isaac Russell letters and are likely included within the collection because of Russell’s connection to Pratt. Most of the letters are originals, except for a string-bound typescript copy of some letters dealing with Isaac Russell, the originals of which are not contained in the collection. Dated 1828-1893.
Isaac Russell (1807-1844) was an early Mormon convert in Canada and served in the first mission of the Church to England. Born at Windy Haugh near Alston, England, Russell and his family emigrated from England to Canada in 1817, settling in Little New York (Toronto). On June 25, 1829 Isaac married Mary Walton. He built a home in the Charleston Settlement (now Downsview, Ontario), and worked as a carpenter there. In 1836 Parley P. Pratt met and baptized Russell’s sister, Isabella Russell Walton. After hearing Pratt preach the gospel in the Dawson home, Isaac and his family were baptized along with several others, including John Taylor, Joseph Fielding, and John Dawson. Russell and his family moved to Kirtland, Ohio, soon after baptism, and from 1837-1839 he served in the first mission to England in the company of Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Joseph Fielding, John Goodson, and John Snider. On April 26, 1839, after their move to Far West, Missouri, Russell and all his family and relatives and many others (91 in total) were cut off from the Church by Sidney Rigdon. When the Saints left Far West, Russell, his family, and many others who were cut off, remained in Far West. Russell was imprisoned in the Richmond Jail for contempt of court, and was sold as a slave because he would not deny his religion. He was freed by a Mr. Raglan, but only after Russell insisted that he work for Mr. Raglan in exchange for the amount that Mr. Raglan had paid to set him free. Mr. Raglan lived in Ray County on the Woodward farm where Russell moved his family while paying off his debt. While working in the Crooked River Bottoms of the Missouri River, he contracted swamp fever and died, on September 25, 1844.
Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857) was an early Mormon leader, serving as an apostle from 1835 until his death in 1857. Pratt practiced plural marriage, and had twelve wives and thirty children. These included Thankful Halsey Pratt (1797-1837), Mary Ann Frost Pratt (1808-1891, divorced 1853), Elizabeth Brotherton Pratt (1817-1897), Mary Wood Pratt (1818-1898), Hannahette Snively Pratt (1812-1898), Belinda Martin Pratt (1820-1894), Sarah Huston Pratt (1822-1886), Phoebe E. Soper (1823-1887), Martha Monks Pratt (1825-1894), Ann Agatha Walker (1829-1908), Keziah Downes (1812-1877), and Eleanor Jane McComb (1817-1874).