J[aques], J[ohn], "Some Reminiscences," Salt Lake Daily Herald, 1 Dec. 1878, 1.
- Related Companies
- Edward Martin Company (1856)
SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 30, 1878.
Twenty two years ago today, the fifth and last handcart company of "Mormon" emigrants for the season from Europe, arrived in this city-saved; those who were left of the company, from perishing of cold and starvation; but nevertheless all in pitiable plight.
The company of emigrants, of which this handcart company constituted the larger part, embarked at Liverpool, May 22d, 1856, on the packet ship Horizon, Captain Reed, a Scandinavian and a gentleman. The company consisted in large part of persons who had been "Mormons" for many years, some of the oldest members of that body in Britain, poor but faithful, and they were specially reserved for this company, to be brought out under the auspices of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund company. In an address to the company on board, C. H. Wheelock remarked that among the passengers were the persons who had given the first sixpence to the "Mormon" elders when they first went to England, and the names of those persons were Samuel Pucell and family.
The next day, after embarkation, the vessel left the Bramley-Moore dock, and cast anchor in the river Mersey. The same day there was a noisy quarrel on board and a bit of a fight between the mates and some of the crew. The ship obtained her clearance papers the day after that, and Joseph A. Young staid the night on board. On Sunday, the 25th, about 9 a. m., the steamtug Great Conquest took Captain Reed, F. D. Richards, C. H. Wheelock, Thomas Williams, W. G. Young, and others to the ship, and the emigrants bade adieu to the "fertile fields and flowery vales" of Old England. The tug then towed the ship about twenty miles to sea, during which time two marriages were celebrated. The tug then returned with the river pilot and the gentlemen referred to above, excepting the captain. A channel pilot was left with the ship. The next day many of the passengers became seasick, and some of them never had any great relish for the ship's provisions afterward, though during the first day or two on board the siege at the cook's galley was tremendous. Some of the passengers never recovered their usual vigor while at sea, but remained in a debilitated state until they set their feet on dry land again. On the other hand, some, who were remarkably hearty at sea, began to lose vigor as soon as they landed in America. The rations served out to the emigrants on board included salt pork, salt beef, sea biscuit , flour, rice, oatmeal, peas, sugar, tea, mustard, pepper, salt and water.
The passengers on board numbered 800, of whom 635 were Perpetual Emigrating Fund emigrants, 212, ordinary, and seven cabin passengers. I believe all were "Mormons," under the superintendence of Edward Martin, assisted by Jesse Havens and Geo. P. Waugh, the last named a veteran British soldier. The steerage passengers, including all but the cabin passengers, occupied two 'tween decks. The berths, each about six feet by four feet six and made of rough boards to hold two persons each, were two feet in height, nailed up along the side of the vessel, the ends to the vessel's sides, the lower four about two feet from the floor. There were also some berths in the centre of the vessel. Two cubic feet more space was allowed to each passenger on the lower than on the upper deck, which made the lower deck more roomy and sweeter than the upper deck, though the former was not so light as the latter.
On the 28th most of the sick passengers had recovered, many appetites had grown sharp again, songs were heard, and there was dancing on deck to the music of a violin and a tambourine, and another marriage occurred. On the 29th the pilot went off on a pilot or fishing boat, near Cork, taking letters from the ship, for which accommodation he charged sixpence each letter. Another marriage took place, and the measles appeared on the persons of two children, though I am not aware of any necessary connection between those two events. On the 31st most of the passengers were seasick again, and there was a premature birth, the infant dying in a few minutes, also another death, and on the next day another.
The captain was pleasant, courteous, and kind, taking much interest in the welfare of the passengers. The first mate was a Yankee, tall, spare, dark-visaged, dark haired, ill- dispositioned, a good seaman, but a harsh ruler of men. The second mate, an Englishman, was a pleasant good-natured old salt, and a good rough seaman, though not so rough-tempered as the first mate. This day, the last of May, the captain conversed freely with some of the passengers, commending highly their organization, morality, and good order. He said he had been on board with them eight days and had not heard a single oath from them. He contrasted their general deportment with that of Irish emigrants generally, stating how the latter would quarrel and fight with one another over their cooking, etc., and that his chief reliance to secure order among them was by turning the hose on them while the crew were at the pump, to which aqueous method he frequently had to resort. With only one cook's galley to do all the cooking for more than 800 people, it may be imagined how busy a place it was and how necessary a cool temper and a slow tongue were among the passengers, from whom the cooks, men, were also furnished. The women generally were employed much of their time on board making tents and wagon covers for the overland part of the journey, at least the western part of it.
On June 19th the captain traded with a fishing vessel some nails for some codfish, off the Newfoundland banks, and next day seven of the fish were distributed among the passengers. On June 25th, was seen the pleasantest and most provoking sight of the voyage-the sea as smooth as a lake, the ship semi-becalmed, and the British royal mail paddle-wheel steam-packet Ana passing astern the emigrant ship at a tearing pace, while salutes were hastily exchanged by the two vessels, both on their way to America.
On June 28th Cape Cod was seen, and in the evening the ship cast anchor in Boston harbor. In going up the river, or channel, the passengers were kept down below to give more room on deck for the sailors to tack about; but it was a painful deprivation to the passenger landsmen to be shut down from the luxury of the first good and delightful sight of the land after having been so long at sea.
On Sunday, 29th, the passengers passed the doctor. A meeting was held on deck, and, in response to three cheers for the captain, he complimented the passengers on their good behavior and said that the company was the best he had ever brought across the sea. He further said that passengers sang "We'll marry none but 'Mormons'" and he would say he would "carry none but Mormons." In a subsequent conversation he repudiated altogether the brutal system of treating emigrants like dogs. He said he considered the passengers as men, some perhaps superior to himself, and he thought they expected rightly to receive civility and respect from the captain, officers and crew, and he reiterated that the company was the best he ever knew. About four, possibly five years ago the worthy captain crossed the continent not by handcart, but by rail, and he called on a few of the emigrants residing in this city, whom he carried across the Atlantic as above related. Very much pleased the old gentleman was to see them too. But to return to the voyage: During its continuance there were four marriages, two births, and four deaths.
On the 30th of June the steamer Huron towed the Horizon to constitution wharf, when the emigrants debarked as expeditiously as they could, forty eight hours only being allowed for them and their baggage to leave the vessel. They took cars for Iowa city, crossing the Hudson at Albany, and passing through Buffalo on the 4th of July. The night they were in Chicago a fire occurred in that city, which some of the emigrants went to see and to help to put out. The evening of the day they arrived at Iowa city there was a very severe thunder and rain storm, turning the plentiful dust into plentiful mud. Iowa city was the terminus of the railroad then, and the remainder of the journey, 1,800 miles, was expected to be done with handcarts, and ox-wagons. Two or three miles from that city was the rendezvous camp, to which a few of the emigrants went on the day of their arrival in the city, but nearly all of them remained at the depot, and passed the night in an engine round house. In the middle of the night a wicked engineer ran an engine into the round-house, whistling and blasting and waking the emigrants, who could not think what on earth was the matter, I believe, however, no one was hurt by this rude and unfeeling behavior.
During their stay in the Iowa camp the emigrants employed themselves in making the carts and doing other preparatory work until July 28th when the camp broke up, and the handcart portion moved off nearly a mile for a start and then camped again. The handcart emigrants were divided into two companies, one under Edward Martin and the other under Jesse Haven, altogether numbering about 600 persons. Some of the emigrants who came in the company to Iowa city were numbered in two wagon companies, under John A. Hunt and Benjamin Hodgetts, which left the rendezvous camp about this time.
As only a very limited amount of baggage could be taken with the handcarts, during the long stay on the Iowa city camping ground there was a general lightening of such things as could best be done without. Many things were sold cheaply to residents of that vicinity, and many more things were left on the camping ground for anybody to take or leave at his pleasure. It was grievous to see the heaps of books and other articles thus left in the sun and rain and dust, representing a respectable amount of money spent therefore in England, but thenceforth a waste and a dead loss to the proper owners. The companies were divided into hundreds and tens, with their respective captains, as usual with the "Mormon" emigration of those days. Many of the carts had wooden axles and leather boxes. Some of the axles broke in a few days, and mechanics were busy in camp at night repairing the accidents of the days. One wagon with mule-team and two wagons with ox-teams were apportioned in each handcart company to carry provisions, tents, etc. During the journey through Iowa numbers of armed men were passed going to help "bleeding Kansas." In passing one settlement a resident looking on the handcart procession, was so seriously impressed that he sententiously gave vent to the opinion that making a long journey in that fashion "was a hard way of serving the Lord." When in camp, near Marengo, a crowd of rowdy young men on horseback visited one of the companies of handcart emigrants and seemed disposed to create a disturbance, but they subsequently rode off without, though during their stay they gave the emigrants a sample of western profanity oaths and "by Gods" rolling from their tongues about as frequently as other words, and with much more gusto! The last handcart company arrived at Florence, on the west bank of the Missouri on the 22d of August. This was the site of "Winter Quarters" of the great "Mormon" camp from Nauvoo in the winter of 1846. There, owing to the lateness of the season, the important question was debated, whether the emigrants should winter in that vicinity or continue the long and wearisome journey to Salt Lake. Unfortunately, warm enthusiasm prevailed over sound judgment and cool command. And it was determined to finish the journey the same season. One prominent and sanguine gentleman proffered to eat all the snow the emigrants would find between the Missouri and Salt Lake, an offer of the hasty and impulsive nature of Jephthath's rash vow, a strange offer too; when it was known that in the region of the South pass snow was capable of falling at almost any time of the year. The results of the determination to proceed were fraught with disaster and death.
At Florence the two handcart companies were consolidated in one and put in charge of Edward Martin, assisted by Daniel Tyler, the apportionment of wagons still continuing with the company. Connected with it was also a large herd of horned stock, mostly young, of which I question whether a single hoof reached this valley. Before starting from Florence a general lightening of baggage took place. Some of the emigrants sold their extra baggage, some was deposited in store, to be forwarded afterwards another season, though owing to various hindering circumstances, I apprehend that not much of it ever reached the rightful owner on this side of the Wasatch range.
The company left Florence on the 25th of August, to make a journey of 1,000 miles, half of it over the mountainous backbone of the continent in an inclement season of the year, with an early and severe mountain winter rapidly approaching. But my letter is long enough for to-day, and the journey across the plains and mountains will be long enough for another letter.
[also in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 30 Nov. 1856, 9-14]