Louisa Barnes Pratt (1802-1880)
Image from BYU Religious Studies Center
Conversion: Though she had joined the Episcopal Church as a teenager, Louisa Barnes Pratt and her husband learned of the restoration of the gospel in 1838. They were baptized and moved to Nauvoo soon after.
Marriage: Louisa married Addison Pratt in 1831. Shortly after they arrived in Nauvoo, Addison was called on a mission in the Pacific islands, leaving her to move her family west on her own.
Church Service: Louisa was one of the first women to serve a mission in the early days of the Church. She and her husband were called to serve together in Tahiti. Before their departure, President Brigham Young set Louisa apart, blessing her with “power to rebuke the destroyer” and strength to “do a good work” in teaching the people there (History of Louisa Barnes Pratt, 108). Though Louisa saw many of these blessings fulfilled, their mission was cut short when French laws prohibited proselytizing on the island.
When they returned from their mission, Louisa and Addison settled in California. Brigham Young called the Saints in California to return to Utah, but Addison refused. Determined to follow the prophet, Louisa went without him and moved to Beaver, Utah.
Influence on Women’s Rights: It was in Beaver that Louisa became involved with the women’s suffrage movement. She wrote a dozen articles for the Woman’s Exponent and led a petition to Beaver’s territorial legislature to grant women the right to vote and run for office. Though she never lived to see suffrage restored to Utah, she helped lay the groundwork of a legacy that would bless thousands of Utah women in the years to come.
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