Wednesday, December 15, 2010

P. P. Pratt and A. Church in Tennessee

Parley Parker Pratt was a missionary in Tennessee. No, not that P. P. Pratt. His son! His grandson was only 17 at the time so I don't think it was him. He wrote home to the Deseret News periodically and they dutifully printed his letters. It one of them he describes some healings in Tennessee.

Shady Grove,

Hickman County, Tenn.,
Dec 5th, 1878

Editors Deseret News:

[There are several paragraphs where he describes his health, and paradoxically says the people won't listen, but that he has more requests to speak he can fill. He unfavorably compares his success to that of the early "Elders of the Church" and says the current harvest is a gleaning by comparison. He describes the weather, poverty, and sickness and then moves right into healings]

In many localities there has been much sickness, principally chills and fevers, The Saints, when afflicted, and even strangers, send from three to ten miles to have our Elders come and administer to them. Several cases of healing have occured in this conference, which I think are worthy to be placed on record, as a testimony to the world that the Lord is with his servants and people at the present time as well as in former ages. The first case that I will mention is that of the infant son of Mr. A. Church, of this place, who was so reduced in flesh that he had been given up to die by two physicians. As a last resort the parents sent for Elder Stevenson and myself (about 20th of July) to come and administer to him. We complied with their request, when the child gradually recovered its health, to the great joy of the parents, who acknowledged the hand of God in its restoration.

[He then lists a couple of other healings, describes his plans for the new arriving Elders and signs off.]

Your brother in the Gospel
P. P. Pratt.

When I saw this my first thought was that this "A. Church" was Abraham Church. The place is certainly right. But the dates are wrong. This healing is placed in July 1878. Abraham died in 1851. So I started looking at his children, still too early, then grandchildren, when I found Abraham George Church. This one was about the right age, and he had a son who would have been just under a year old at the time. One other piece that helps fit this. A. G. Church and his wife Florence Bingham were not members, though several of his uncles and cousins were. This might explain why he sent for the Elders only as a last resort.

A. G. Church and his wife Florence didn't end up joining the LDS Church. Nor did Henry, the son who was healed. I guess miracles aren't everything.

Of course the identity of A. Church is still a theory. I need something to confirm it. Anyone out there have any ideas?

Abraham Church (1790-1851)
George Brown Church (1822-1915)
Abraham George Church (1852-1922)
Henry Brown Church (8 Aug 1877-1950)

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