Revisit Canaan, N.Y. — Interesting meeting — Marriage — Return to my forest home.

July 4, 1827–April 12, 1828

It was the Fourth of July, 1827. [1] The morning was beautiful and gay, the sun rose without a cloud over the pine-clad hills of my native land, where in boyhood I had often toiled and sported, just as I came within a mile of the farm of my good old aunt Van Cott, of Canaan, Columbia County, after an absence of three years.

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I had, during this time, exchanged the features of the bashful boy for those of the man; and, instead of a laughing, careless countenance, a forehead of marble and a cheek of rose, stern care had marked me as her child, and the sun had given a shade of brown to my features; these, added to a heavy growth of beard and whiskers, disguised me so far that I could pass through the neighborhood of people, known and familiar to me, unnoticed and unknown.

With a quick step, a beating heart, and an intense, indescribable feeling of joy, sorrow, hope, despondency and happiness, I approached the door of Mr. Halsey, and knocked; it was opened by an aged female, a stranger to me; I entered and inquired for Miss Thankful Halsey — in a moment more she had me by the hand, with a look of welcome which showed she had not forgotten me.

I spent the day and evening with her; explained to her all my losses, my poverty and prospects, and the lone retreat where I had spent the previous winter; and the preparations I had made for a future home. I also opened my religious views to her, and my desire, which I sometimes had, to try and teach the red man.

“In view of all these things,” said I to her, “If you still love me and desire to share my fortune you are worthy to be my wife. If not, we will agree to be friends forever; but part to meet no more in time.”

“I have loved you during three years’ absence,” said she, “and I never can be happy without you.”

I repaired to my aunt’s — found the usual welcome. After visiting my mother and kindred, for a few days, I saw my old friend, William S. Herrick, where I had been employed five years before. He was very anxious to employ me again; and finding I was willing, he discharged a hand he had already, and gave me double wages. I remained in his employ till October, [2] and found the same kind reception as formerly.

On the 9th of September, 1827, [3] Parley P. Pratt and Thankful Halsey were solemnly united in the bonds of matrimony, by Elder Palmer, Minister of the Baptist Church, in Canaan, Columbia County, N.Y.

In October we took leave of our friends in Canaan and took passage for the West. We hired a conveyance to Albany, and then took passage for Buffalo on a canal boat; and from there on board a schooner; passing up Lake Erie we landed in safety at the mouth of Black River, in Ohio, and within ten miles of my place. [4] My wife had some money, which we paid in for the land I had purchased. The following spring found me 21 years of age, married and settled in a log dwelling, in the midst of a small clearing made with my own hands, in the place where I had spent the previous winter in solitude. [5]

Notes


[1] Parley was twenty years old and the United States was celebrating its fifty-first birthday.

[2] This was October 1827. Parley worked for Mr. Herrick nearly a month after he was married.

[3] Parley and Thankful were married thirteen days before the Prophet Joseph received the gold plates from the Angel Moroni. Parley was twenty years old and Thankful was thirty. According to Parley’s record, the couple was married in the house of Thankful’s father in Canaan. Joseph and Emma Hale were married this same year on January 18.

[4] Parley and Thankful’s first journey together was a long one. The distance from Canaan to Albany is 25 miles. The passage on the Erie Canalfrom Albany to Buffalo was 363 miles. The journey on Lake Erie from Buffalo to the mouth of the Black River (near present-day Lorain, Ohio) was another 200 miles. From there it was 10 miles by foot to the couple’s home, making a total distance of nearly 600 miles.

[5] The United States census of 1830 lists Parley as “Pearly” P. Pratt, living in Russia Township, Lorain County, Ohio. Russia Township is located about nine miles southwest of the village of Lorainon Lake Erie and less than five miles south of Amherst, Ohio.