Church History
Louisa Barnes Pratt

“Louisa Barnes Pratt,” Church History Topics

“Louisa Barnes Pratt”

Louisa Barnes Pratt

Born in 1802 in Massachusetts, Louisa Barnes married Addison Pratt when she was 28. They were introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Louisa’s sister and brother-in-law, Caroline and Jonathan Crosby. The Pratts were baptized in 1838 in Massachusetts. While en route to Missouri to gather with the Saints, they learned about the violence against the Latter-day Saints in Missouri and chose to remain in Indiana until 1841, when they moved to Nauvoo. Louisa joined the Nauvoo Relief Society on May 12, 1842, nursed her children through measles, and donated to the women’s penny fund for the Nauvoo Temple.

Louisa Barnes Pratt

Photograph of Louisa Barnes Pratt

Beginning in 1843 Louisa began almost a decade of missionary support when Addison was called to serve a mission in the islands of the Pacific. After Addison departed for his mission, Louisa provided for her family and moved them from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters and later to Salt Lake City. While journeying to Winter Quarters, she met with other women to pray and provide each other mutual support.1 After she arrived, she experienced several trials, including living in a damp dugout, spraining her knee, falling ill with scurvy, and losing her front teeth.

Addison returned from his mission in 1848 and met Louisa in Salt Lake City. The following year, he was called on a second mission to Tahiti. In May 1850 Louisa and their four daughters embarked to join him for two years in Tubuai, where they learned the language, spoke in meetings, and preached the gospel. Jonathan and Caroline Crosby and their son joined them as well. While living among the women of Tubuai in the South Pacific, Louisa instructed them in English and domestic skills. She also taught them the gospel and blessed them when they were sick.2

Louisa and Addison returned from their mission in 1852 and lived for a time in San Bernardino, California. But she felt “bound with cords of love to the church” and was determined to be with the Saints in Utah. In 1858 she left behind her beautiful home in California and separated from Addison, who was becoming disillusioned with the Church.3 She settled in Beaver, Utah, and lived there for the rest of her life, serving as counselor and secretary in the local Relief Society. She remained close to her sister Caroline, and the two lived next door to each other in Beaver. Louisa died on September 8, 1880, of pneumonia.

Louisa’s life experiences helped her develop a keen “spirit of self reliance,” as she lived apart from her husband for half of their married life. She taught school and worked as a seamstress for financial support. Her journal and memoirs often report cycles of fear and discouragement giving way to peace and hope. “My heart felt weak at the first, but I determined to trust in the Lord and stand bravely up before the ills of life,” she wrote while living in Nauvoo. In Tubuai she wrote, “Little do we know what we can do till we make a thorough trial.”4


  1. See Louisa Barnes Pratt, Memoirs, Spring 1846 to September 1848, in S. George Ellsworth, ed., The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt: Mormon Missionary Widow and Pioneer (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1998), 82.

  2. Kathleen C. Perrin, “Louisa Barnes Pratt: Self-Reliant Missionary Wife,” in Reid L. Nielson and Fred E. Woods, eds., Go Ye into All the World: The Growth and Development of Mormon Missionary Work (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 2012), 261–88; see Topic: Healing.

  3. S. George Ellsworth, ed., The Journals of Addison Pratt (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 513.

  4. Louisa Barnes Pratt, in Ellsworth, The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt, 65, 78, 150, 222, 360.