The Winter of 1834
by Debra Bruch
Enduring Principle: Grace and Generosity
Type: Multi-Part Drama
Parley P. Pratt
Costumes: Appropriate for 1834
Special Instructions: None
Latter Day Saint history* offers this true and powerful
story (dramatized) that demonstrates how people respond to God's grace
and somewhat parallels the Good Samaritan story. This can either be
performed or read. If the congregation is small, most could participate
in the service at different times. Characters can be doubled, except
for Parley Pratt. The different parts of the drama should be presented
in between the rest of the service.
Parley P. Pratt:
My name is Parley Pratt. During October and November
of 1833, my brothers and sisters in Christ and I were mobbed. We
were beaten, whipped, and some killed. Over a thousand people were
driven out of Jackson County, Missouri. I was completely destitute.
I lost nearly everything. I was hit in the head rather severely.
All my provisions for the winter were destroyed or plundered, and
my grain left growing on the ground for the mob to harvest. The
first day of January of 1834, we met in my house, and decided that
two of the elders should be sent to Ohio, in order to counsel with
President Smith and the church at Kirtland, and do something for
the relief or restoration of the people the mob hurt so badly. Later,
the mob burned my house and destroyed everything else I had. Because
of our poverty and the bad weather, we all hesitated to go. But
Lyman Wight and I decided to go. I had no clothing for the journey,
no horse, saddle, bridle, money, nor any provisions to take with
me or to leave with my wife who was sick most of the time because
of the cruelty of people. I didn't know what to do. Everybody was
poor. Almost everybody. I almost trembled just thinking about it.
So I just went out and started walking. I found myself in front
of John Lowry's house, thinking that perhaps he could help me. I
knocked, but got no answer. So I went in.
John: We were sick, weren't we, mother?
Mother Lowry: You more than me, John. But I could
do nothing. We both had a high fever. You were vomiting, and I could
John: It's all right, Mother. Maybe because we
were ill, God took an opportunity.
Mother Lowry: I saw him come in and sit down. He
was concerned, but he could do nothing, it seemed. He just sat there
and then another elder came in.
John: They administered to me and I woke up right
then and I was well again! This Parley Pratt told me that he needed
money and I gave him as much as I could. He then went on his way.
But it was a miracle to me and the house was full of the Holy Spirit.
Mother Lowry: The healing spirit.
John: It changed my life.
Parley P. Pratt:
He gave me enough money for me to start my journey
and to take care of my wife. I left Lowry's house and went further
into the woods of the Missouri Bottoms and came to a camp of a man
named Higbee. He owned some horses.
The Horse Owner:
I barely saw him walking down the road, it was
so dark. Yet at first glance, it seemed as if he was surrounded
by a light that I couldn't see. His clothes were rags, he had no
coat, and yet he was walking outside in the January snow, and 1834
in Missouri was a hard winter. I'd heard of the attacks on the Mormons
in Jackson County the November before, terrible things people do
to each other. I didn't know at the time if he was one of them.
I mean, he could have been a member of the mob who vowed to kill
these Latter Day Saints. Maybe he was out to kill me. Didn't matter,
I guess. Mind you, I would have helped anybody really. But this
was different. I felt compelled. He didn't ask for anything, and
I ended up giving him my best horse, old Dick. And then to top it
off, I gave him my saddle too! After he left, I found myself wondering
why God would let a man be so destitute, so cold and alone. Why
didn't God do something? That's when I realized that God DID do
something! God sent this man to me. I don't know why I did it. I
reckon it was a miracle -- that God let me be a part of His miracle.
It changed my life.
Parley P. Pratt:
This experience became more than just coincidence.
It was the touch of God. All I knew to do was to thank God and bless
the man and his family. The next person I encountered was Sydney
Gilbert at Liberty, Missouri. His shop in Jackson County was destroyed
and plundered by the mob. Fortunately, he had some fabric left,
and to my surprise, some women were visiting at the time.
(Talking to each other and the audience as if
they were being interviewed.)
Violet: Oh, you remember, don't you, Gloria, that
awful winter of 1834?
Gloria: That was a long time ago, ya know, Violet.
I'm old, ya know.
Violet: Oh, don't be cranky. Of course you remember
it. That nice man who we made clothes for.
Gloria: Oh yeah, yeah, we were visiting the frontier.
Nice place t' visit, but won't wanna live there, ya know.
Violet: He rode up on this beautiful horse, but
didn't have a coat and his clothes were nothing more than rags.
I couldn't believe it!
Gloria: Couldn't believe it. Not the sharpest tack
in the box, if you ask me.
Violet: Nobody's asking you, Gloria. He came right
up and Mr. Gilbert took one ...
Gloria: His family was where we was stayin', don't
Violet: Mr. Gilbert took one look at him and told
him to come in.
Gloria: That stranger was a looker, that's fer
sure. Had a nasty cut on his forehead, as I remember.
Violet: Well, Mr. Gilbert said, "Brother,
you need a new suit of clothes." It just so happened that they
had saved some fabric from that awful mob. So I said ...
Gloria: I said.
Violet: We said that we'll make him a set of new
clothes. Just give us his measurements and we'll get started.
Gloria: We couldn't measure him ourselves, ya know.
Violet: It wasn't appropriate, Gloria.
Violet: So we went to work and made him a new set
Gloria: At least I got to make his britches.
Violet: Gloria! I don't care how old you are, you
be quiet! There's people here!
Gloria: I didn't say anything!
Violet: I don't know why, but doing that never
left me. It changed my life. I don't have a clue why it did, but
it did. Yours, too, didn't it, Gloria?
Gloria: Yep. Changed my life.
Parley P. Pratt:
To be honest with you, I was having a difficult
time. I knew that God hadn't left me, but to be mobbed, beaten,
and torn from my home tested my faith, at least my faith in people.
When I left to prepare for the journey, I didn't know where I was
going. But God placed these good people in my path to bless me.
Lyman Wight was also blessed and we traveled over one thousand miles
to Ohio. Faith and the blessings of God cleared up our way to accomplish
what seemed impossible. There are people who will hurt and destroy,
but others who will give to the point of sacrifice. I will never
forget this. Never. It changed my life.
* The Board of Publication of The Reorganized Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The History of the Reorganized
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1: 1805-1835. Independence,
Missouri: Herald House, 1896: 333 334 & 399 401.
© 2008 Debra Bruch