Eleanor Jane Pratt

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Eleanor Jane Pratt (McComb)

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Wheeling, Ohio, West Virginia, United States of America
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America
Place of Burial: Plat E City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah,United States of America
Immediate Family:

Daughter of James McComb
Wife of Hector Hugle McLean and Parley P. Pratt, Apostle, LDS
Mother of Fitzroy McLean; Albert McLean and Annie McLean
Sister of E. C. McComb and J. J. Mc Comb

Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Eleanor Jane Pratt

Biographical Summary;

"...Eleanor Jane McComb McLean: 1817-1854). Eleanor was born 9 December 1817, in Wheeling, Virginia, to James and Ann McComb. Little is known of her early life, except that her parents were strict Presbyterian and that they moved to Greenville, Louisiana, near New Orleans when she was a small child. It was there that she met and married Hector McLean in 1841. They seemed to be happy at first. But Hector started drinking heavily, causing a separation in 1844..."

"...Even though she embraced Mormonism in November of 1851, she was not baptized until 24 May 1854, by William McBride. Although he had given his written permission for her to be baptized and she continued to live with Hector, he forbade her to sing Mormon hymns or to read Mormon literature in his home. Eleanor did not comply fully with his rules, however, for she made it a practice to hold morning devotionals with her children while Hector was away, and sought all available means to stay in contact with the Church..."

"...Parley Pratt, having been called by the First Presidency to preside over the Pacific Mission and to set up a gathering place for the Saints in San Jose, arrived in San Francisco on 2 July 1854. 10 Upon his arrival, he immediately went to San Jose, picked up his wife Elizabeth, who had come to California earlier, and returned to San Francisco, where they first rented a small house for $25 a month. When it proved to be inadequate, they moved to a larger home on Broadway Street which cost them $35 a month. They had few funds and little to eat but were cared for by members of the branch, including Eleanor McLean. She brought the Pratts food, bedding, and clothing and became a frequent visitor at their home, often arriving at dawn with gifts of meat, bread, fruit and other articles which sustained the Pratts until the next day. This was a great help to Parley, because Elizabeth was sick most of the time and could do very little for herself or her husband. During her visits, Eleanor told Parley and Elizabeth of her home situation and asked Parley to help her solve her problems. Parley did visit the McLean home a few times to try to reconcile Hector and Eleanor’s differences, but succeeded only in making Hector more bitter. Eleanor appears to have decided that there was no chance that her husband would join the Church, but she decided that her children should belong. So on 27 August 1854, she took her two oldest children, Fitzroy and Albert, to Union City, where Parley was holding a meeting, and had him baptize them into the Church. Shortly after the two boys were baptized, Hector decided that the only way to save his family from the Mormons was to have his wife committed to an asylum; consequently he filed a charge of insanity against Eleanor. When Parley was informed of Hector’s plan, he assigned a young missionary to try to stop Hector..."

":...John R. Young was one of a group of missionaries working in and around San Francisco to obtain funds for their fares to the Sandwich Islands. While they were there, Parley, who was the mission president, had them tracting, distributing pamphlets, and doing other missionary work. John had been assigned to tract the city of San Francisco, but Parley released him from that assignment and assigned him the delicate task of helping Eleanor McLean keep her membership in the Church and keep out of an asylum..."

"...The next morning he returned to the McLean home and finding a card in the window advertising for a cook, applied; Hector agreed to hire him on a trial basis for a month. For nearly a month John stayed in the McLean home cooking, making beds, and performing other household chores .."

"...A week later the directors of the insane asylum, a physician, and Mrs. McLain’s brother, who was a banker, called as an examining committee. They had a long talk with Mr. and Mrs. McLain, then called in the children, who had been kept home for that purpose. After a long talk with them, Mrs. McLain suggested that the cook be called. Oh, how I prayed that I might be directed to say the right thing and not say too much. In answer to the questions, I said: Mrs. McLain comes in every day to the kitchen to tell me what she wants and instructs me how to do it. She is always calm and sensible in her talk. I see no evidence of insanity in her conduct. As to McLain, I can say but little. He stays in his room until breakfast is ready and immediately afterwards, goes to his office. When he returns at night, his step does not seem as firm and steady as it does in the morning. He appears nervous and walks about and talks a good deal to himself.” Mrs. McLain’s brother seemed pleased with my statement. The committee decided that Mr. McLain had no grounds for his complaint, and the shadow of the insane asylum was dispelled..."

"...Shortly after Young left, Hector took the children, put them on the ship Sierra Nevada, and sent them to their grandparents in New Orleans. When he returned home that evening, he told Eleanor what he had done, saying, “Now they are where you and the cursed Mormons can never see them again!” Then he locked Eleanor in her room. About two in the morning Hector released her since she had cried so much that it disturbed him. The next morning she attempted unsuccessfully to find the children. Her brother, E. C. McComb, suggested that she take the next steamer and follow the children, but McLean would not let her..."

"...When Hector heard of her plans, he boasted that she was in his power and that if she attempted to go he would have her in the insane asylum in twenty-four hours. This, however, proved an empty threat, as two weeks after the departure of the children, in February 1855, he even helped pay her fare on the steamer Daniel Webster bound for New Orleans. She was also assisted in paying her fare by Parley [P. Pratt],.."

"...The children had been sent to New Orleans accompanied by neither friend nor relatives. They traveled by ship to San Juan, Nicaragua, and then by steamer to New Orleans, arriving 13 February. They were taken to their maternal grandparents..."

"...Eleanor arrived in New Orleans on 2 March and went immediately to find her children. She remained in her father’s house three months, being closely guarded at all times lest she should try to take the children. She did attempt to remove them, however, and kept them hidden four days, but was unsuccessful in getting out of the city. Her father then pledged to change his treatment of her and let her have a room and free access to the children if she pledged she would not take them out of the city. She agreed and returned to her father’s house. Under these circumstances her health declined, and finally she asked her father to help her arrange passage to Salt Lake. She was given the means to take the May Flower to St. Louis and then the Alma to Atchison, Kansas, where she found a Mormon emigration party that hired her as a cook to pay her way to Salt Lake. She arrived in Salt Lake on 11 September 1855..."

"...We do not know what the relationship between Eleanor and Parley was during the 1854-55 San Francisco period other than that he tried to help her solve her domestic difficulties and she assisted the Pratts with gifts of food and clothes. After she had left for New Orleans in 1855, Parley wrote his wife Belinda that he had met a worthy soul who then was in deep tribulation, who, he hoped, could make her way to Zion. 25 After Parley’s death in 1857, Eleanor wrote that she had “often sought his society” at the home “he kept with his wife, Elizabeth, in San Francisco. . . .” 26 Whatever their feelings, Eleanor remained with her husband until she went to New Orleans to get her children back, however estranged they had become. When she left San Francisco she left Hector, and later she was to state in a court of law that she had left him as a wife the night he drove her from their home. Whatever the legal situation, she thought of herself as an unmarried woman..."

"...Eleanor arrived in September and went to the Pratt home to apply for a position as a school-teacher. 29 She was accepted, and one month after her arrival in Salt Lake, Eleanor and Parley were married. The ceremony took place in the Endowment House on 14 November 1855, and was performed by Brigham Young. Eleanor was looked upon as one of Parley’s plural wives from that time on, and was referred to by family and friends as Eleanor Pratt..."

"...Eleanor remained in Salt Lake for one year, serving as schoolteacher for Parley’s children for seven months and then boarding in Brigham Young’s house for four months and teaching the governor’s family school. 33 But with Parley’s call to a mission in the Eastern States on 24 August 1856, Eleanor, thinking to regain her children, bring them to Utah, and raise them there, asked Parley to let her accompany him on his mission..."

"...ans. She went to her father’s home and, by telling him that she had reconsidered her stand on Mormonism and did not believe it anymore, gained liberty with the children. She stayed at her father’s house for a week, then she and her two youngest children (Albert and Annie) took a steam car from her father’s home to New Orleans, a distance of several miles, from where she wrote a letter to her father telling him that she was now Mrs. Pratt and that she and the children were going to Utah..."

"...Learning in Houston by letter that Hector was in pursuit of her, Eleanor decided to take a passage with a man by the name of Clark, who was not a Mormon. He had a wife, three children, a poor wagon and three yoke of good oxen. It was while they were traveling with these people that McLean met them a little west of Arkansas..."

"...Parley visited various eastern states from December 1856 to March 1857..."

"...As soon as Eleanor had left New Orleans with her children, her father sent word to Hector in San Francisco. Hector came immediately to New Orleans, then searched for Parley throughout the East, almost capturing him in St. Louis in March 1857. Failing that, he decided to look for Eleanor, because he heard that she might be in Texas. He found in Houston that she had left earlier to join a Mormon train to Utah, so he went back to New Orleans. From there he went to Fort Gibson with the hope of catching Eleanor there. On arriving at Fort Gibson, he inquired if anyone had seen Eleanor or anyone fitting her description. None had, but after he related some of his troubles to the postal official and had given descriptions of Parley and Eleanor, the official produced some letters written to a Mrs. Lucy Parker from Mr. P. Pratt Parker. Hector knew immediately whose letters they were. He filed a formal charge with the commissioner in Fort Gibson and went in pursuit of Eleanor, while the soldiers and his friend Shaw looked for Parley. While riding a little west of what is now Arkansas, he came upon a rider by the name of John Peel, who told him where Eleanor could be found. He met Eleanor’s wagon on 6 May, and with another man rode up to the wagon, took the children, and rode off. About three hours later, Eleanor was arrested by a man styled the “State Marshal” on a charge of larceny of clothing belonging to Albert and Annie McLean to the amount of ten dollars. Three other names appeared in this same charge: Parley P. Pratt, James Gammell, and Elias J. Gammell..."

"...The next morning a party consisting of the “marshal” (Shivers), Eleanor, and twelve armed men, set out on horseback. When they had ridden about fifteen miles, Shivers asked Eleanor if she would like to see Mr. Pratt. She replied: “Not in tribulation such as I am in. He is a good man, and I know his family and would be sorry to see him as a prisoner. Is he in this part of the country?” “Well he’s not forty miles from here,” was the answer. This was the first Eleanor had heard that Parley was in the Indian Territory; the last she had heard, he was in St. Louis..."

"...After spending Friday at the fort, Eleanor, Parley, George and company started for Van Buren on Saturday, 9 May. They traveled the two days following, Eleanor in a carriage driven by two soldiers and Parley and George chained to each other on horseback. ..."

"...The next morning (12 May) when court convened, a crowd rushed into courtroom, anxious to see the proceedings. Eleanor was there, having come twenty minutes before court was to begin. They then brought in Parley as soon as Judge Ogden had taken his place. Parley looked weary and weak, having spent the whole night in jail with no food and little sleep. He seated himself near Eleanor with his counsel, Henry Wilcox. The first thing Judge Ogden did was to dismiss the charges against Eleanor. He said, “Mrs. McLean, the court finds nothing against you. You can retire.” Eleanor hesitated, then said to Judge Ogden, “Judge, I have been assured by the officers both Civil and Military that here I would once again see my children, and if this is the only place I may ever see them I wish to stay.” The Judge said, “Well madam you are at liberty; but not compelled to leave, you are no longer a prisoner.” Eleanor then went back to the hotel following the advice of a lawyer, John T. Humphreys..."

"...After Eleanor had left, the charges were read to Parley by McLean, who was allowed to state the history of his grievances, and read evidences to the court that “implicated” Parley. He succeeded in stirring up feelings against Parley among the five hundred spectators. 57 When Parley arose to respond to the charges, Hector drew his pistol and pointed it at him but was prevented from firing by the officers of the court. 58 Because of the excitement of the crowd and McLean’s display, Judge Ogden postponed the trial until four o’clock that evening..."

"...Early on Wednesday, 13 May 1857, Judge Ogden brought Parley’s horse to him at the jail. He released Parley, put him on his horse and offered him his knife and pistol, but Parley refused by saying, “Gentlemen, I do not rely on weapons of that kind, my trust is in my God. Good-bye Gentlemen.” He rode off in a southerly direction..."

[Hector McLean upon learning of Parley's release tracked him down and murdered him]

"...After Eleanor received definite word that Parley was dead, she asked Marshal Hays if she and George Higginson might go prepare the body for burial. The marshal said he would furnish a wagon and take them out to the site the next morning. Upon entering the Winn farm house they saw Parley’s body lying on a board. Mr. Winn told them about the murder and took them to the scene. They saw where Parley had fallen near a stump and had crawled to and used it to try to stop the bleeding. They also found several papers that he tried to use as a compress. Although Parley had lived about two hours after being attacked, he had bled to death. Examination of his body and clothing showed six bullet holes around the skirt of his coat and two knife marks in the front. One was in a V form over the left breast, but this did not penetrate to the body. The second, the fatal wound, was to the left of the first and about two inches long; this went directly to the heart. They also found evidence that a bullet had struck his collarbone and bounced off. Mr. Winn informed them that when asked if they should send for a doctor, Parley had said, “I want no doctors for I will be dead in a few minutes.”..."

"...Parley’s body was placed in a white pine box made by William Steward at the request of James Orme, Justice of the Peace, and driven by John Steward to Sterman’s Graveyard (now known as Fine Springs) about twelve miles northeast of Van Buren. 67 There Parley was buried by George Higginson about ten o’clock the night of 14 May 1857..."

"..This situation continued for several days, until the district attorney persuaded her that if she would go to see her parents in New Orleans just once more.."

"...The Judge had collected this money from various people in Van Buren, 69 and he told her that he sympathized with Parley and had never seen a man quite like him, so “uncomplaining and free from every feeling of revenge.” He told Eleanor that he had instructed Hector to leave Parley alone because he had failed to prove one thing against him.."

"...She went to the private residence of Randall Hunt, a lawyer, and related her case to him, asking his counsel. He listened to her story and told her that McLean had no case against her, but that she had better leave, for McLean might put her in an asylum for a time to see if he could make her insane. She left New Orleans and went back to Bayou Sara, where she found several notes from her parents in one envelope. These stated that they never wanted to see her again, that when she had taken upon herself the name of Mrs. Pratt, she had cut off all their sympathy for her. With that disappointment, she left the New Orleans area, never to return..."

".... On 16 June she left St. Louis on the first steamboat to Florence, Nebraska, and then joined a wagon train going to Salt Lake..."

"...Arriving in Salt Lake, she stayed with the Pratt family and taught school. Brigham Young had called her to build a schoolhouse in which to teach the Pratt family..."

"...In 1870 she was still teaching school at the Pratt schoolhouse and had Keziah, one of Parley’s wives, living with her. It seems from the 1870 Census Record of Utah that her youngest son, Albert, came to live with her, for he taught school for a time with her in the house. What happened to her other children is still a mystery. Annie died on 9 September 1872. We know nothing of Fitzroy, and we know little about Eleanor’s activities until her death at 8:00 p.m. on 24 October 1874..."

SOURCE: Pratt, Steven; "Eleanor McLean and the Murder of Parley P. Pratt"; Retrieved from http://jared.pratt-family.org/parley_histories/parley-death-stephen-pratt.html

Additional Information:

"Setting the Record Straight on Romney's Family History: The Murder of Parley P. Pratt"

http://mormonmidrashim.blogspot.com/2012/05/setting-record-straight-on-romneys.html

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Eleanor Jane Pratt's Timeline

1817
December 29, 1817
Wheeling, Ohio, West Virginia, United States of America
1841
June 1841
Age 23
1854
May 24, 1854
Age 36
1855
November 14, 1855
Age 37
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America
November 14, 1855
Age 37
November 14, 1855
Age 37
1874
October 24, 1874
Age 56
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America
October 24, 1874
Age 56
Plat E City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah,United States of America
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