BETA

Parley Pratt arrested in area of former home; tricks officer's dog in escape

Parley P. Pratt, an early missionary of the Church, had once lived in the Amherst, Ohio, area, to which he returned in late 1830 to preach the gospel.

In his autobiography, he wrote that he and his missionary companions "found the people of AmherstT all excited with the news of the great work we had been the humble instruments of doing in Kirtland and vicinity. Some wished to learn and obey the fulness of the Gospel - were ready to entertain us and hear us preach. Others were filled with envy, rage and lying."We had stopped for the night at the house of Simeon Carter, by whom we were kindly received, and were in the act of reading to him and explaining the Book of Mormon, when there came a knock at the door, and an officer entered with a warrant from a magistrate by the name of Byington, to arrest me on a very frivolous charge."

Parley dropped the Book of Mormon in Carter's house and went with the officer. After false witnesses testified against him, Parley was being escorted to prison when he concocted his escape by challenging the officer to a foot race. As the officer "stood amazed and not able to step one foot before the other," Parley got a head start of about 200 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 hallooing shoutingT after me, and shouting for 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."

Parley's escape was successful. The officer later returned to Simeon Carter's home, retrieved the copy of the Book of Mormon that Parley had dropped, studied it, went to Kirtland, and was baptized. The officer returned to his home and "commenced to preach and baptize." A church of about 60 members was soon organized in the place where Parley had played the trick of deception on the dog.