“Stu-boy, Stu-boy, Take Him!”
Missionary Escapes Large Bull Dog
This has been a favorite story of mine ever since I read PPP’s Autobiography after I joined the Church many years ago (in the 1945s). I thought you would enjoy reading it (perhaps again.)
Using his resources as a clever missionary Elder Parley P. Pratt was probably one of the first missionaries in this dispensation to be troubled by a dog.
Pratt, a 23-year-old convert, had been appointed in October 1830, by the Prophet Joseph Smith to travel with three other elders (including Oliver Cowdery) to Indian territory. Following a meeting with Native Americans they met Sidney Rigdon, then a devout Reformed Baptist, and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon.
Subsequent events resulted in the conversion of Rigdon and about a thousand others. This was in and near Kirtland, Ohio.
Pratt and his group were preaching when an officer presented Pratt with a warrant for his arrest for “a very frivolous charge.” There was a trial that evening with “false witnesses,” and Pratt was ordered to prison or a sum of money he did not have.
He was locked in a public house overnight, the prison being several miles away.
In the morning an officer (Mr. Peabody) took him to breakfast ready to conduct him to prison.
His companions stopped by and he told them to go ahead, that he would join them later.
Here are Pratt’s own words on what happened next:
“After sitting awhile by the fire in charge of the officer, I requested to step out. I walked out into the public square accompanied by him.
“Said I, ‘Mr. Peabody, are you good at a race?’ ‘No,’ said he, ‘but my big bull dog is, and he has been trained to assist me in my office these several years; he will take any man down at my bidding.’
“’Well, Mr. Peabody, you compelled me to go a mile, I have gone with you two miles. You have given me an opportunity to preach, sing, and have also entertained me with lodging and breakfast. I must now go on my journey; if you are good at a race you can accompany me. I thank you for all your kindness–good day, sir.’
“I then started on my journey, while he stood amazed and not able to step one foot before the other. Seeing this, I halted, turned to him and again invited him to a race. He still stood amazed. I then renewed my exertions, and soon increased my speed to something like that of a deer.
“He did not awake from his astonishment sufficiently to start in pursuit till I had gained, perhaps, two hundred yards. I had already leaped a fence, and was making my way through a field to the forest on the right of the road. He now came hallowing after me, and shouting to his dog to seize me. The dog, being one of the largest I ever saw, came close on my footsteps with all his fury; the officer behind still in pursuit, clapping his hands and hallooing, ‘Stu-boy, Stu-boy–take him–watch–lay hold of him, I say–down with him,’ and pointing his finger in the direction I was running.
“The dog was fast overtaking me, and in the act of leaping upon me, when, quick as lightning, the thought struck me, to assist the officer, in sending the dog with all fury to the forest a little distance before me. I pointed my finger in that direction, clapped my hands, and shouted in imitation of the officer. The dog hastened past me with redoubled speed towards the forest; being urged by the officer and myself, and both of us running in the same direction.
“Gaining the forest, I soon lost sight of the officer and dog, and have not seen them since.”
NOTES: From Chapter 7 of Pratt’s Autobiography. Parley Parker Pratt was born in 1807 in Burlington, New York. While traveling in Western New York he came across a Book of Mormon owned by a Baptist deacon. He traveled to Palmyra, New York, met the Prophet’s brother Hyrum and was baptized by Oliver Cowdery in September, 1830. He baptized his younger brother Orson, then met Joseph Smith and went on the mission described above.
He was an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, ordained at age 27 in 1835.
While returning from a horseback missionary trip to the Southern States he was shot and killed at age 50 in 1857 and is buried in Alma, Arkansas, where a large monument has been erected. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parley_P._Pratt) for his many accomplishments in the Church and details of his death.