Beloved President F. [Franklin] D. Richards.
Being instructed by President [Israel] Barlow, it affords me much gratification to inform you of the welfare of the company of Saints on board this fine ship, under his able and fatherly presidency, who, in connection with his counselors, Elders [Joseph] Perry and Robinson, and the seven presidents of seven wards, has enjoyed the highest confidence and esteem of the Saints, and the authorities who command the ship. Up to the present time, with the exception of two children with the whooping cough, and one case of smallpox, we have been mercifully favored. Many of both sexes have been seasick, as a matter of course, but not caused by bad weather, for that has not visited us. I think we have reefed top sails twice, by way of precaution. The captain in this, as in every instance where we have noticed, has manifested a spirit of kindness and gentlemanly bearing worthy a true-born, independent American; having, on many occasions, administered comforts to the sick, out of his private means. We have had two births on board - "Sanders Curling" Fox, son of Brother and Sister [George] Fox from Birmingham; and a daughter of Brother and Sister David Micklejohn [Meiklejohn], of Culross, Pertshire, Scotland, both very fine, healthy children.
Tuesday, April 24.--At 11 o'clock in the morning, a general meeting was held upon the quarter-deck of the ship, guards being placed over the hatchways.
The assembly was called to order by the secretary, who gave out the hymn - "Come All Ye Sons of Zion", which, having been sung by the assembly, Counselor [Joseph] Perry engaged in prayer. The secretary then read the letter of instructions from President F. [Franklin] D. Richards, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which was listened to with great attention by the Saints, who unanimously responded to its contents, and raised their hands in token thereof. The president and counselors, the secretary, the president and counselors of wards, and the rest of the Officers were severally presented, and sustained unanimously.
Resolved: That the Saints sustain each other.
Suitable teachings followed from the president, Counselor Robinson, and the secretary; after which, Elder W. [William] Willes sung "The Working Bees," and the whole assembly joined in chorus. The best kind of feeling was manifested during the two hours the meeting lasted. The captain, doctor, and others connected with the ship, being among the audience. The meeting was closed by prayer from Elder [Joseph] Perry.
The ship, at this time, was about sixty-miles south of Cape Clear, Ireland, gently urged along by a light, but favorable breeze, which gradually left us, after causing many to be seasick, and was succeeded by light airs and calms on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. During the prevalence of these, the mind of the president was much exercised in relation to the necessity there was on the part of the Saints to be careful of their walk and conversation, and to unite in prayer and fasting to the Lord, that he would be pleased to grant them a fair and prosperous wind to the end of the voyage. An address was prepared by the secretary, dictated by the President and his Counselors, and read by Elder J. B. Maiben, accompanied by the secretary, in the several wards, which were formed into three meetings for the purpose, on Sunday, and it was most remarkable, that as soon as it was done, a fair and prosperous wind arose, and all looked bright on board and around.
I sent a ship letter by a whaler, Saturday, 28th April, to Liverpool. [We received it. Ed. Star.] A marshal and two aides have been appointed, and found very useful; Elders D. [David] C. Moffatt, [John W.] Hains, and [Samuel] Sully are the active and energetic men who have done this difficult, yet beneficial service.
The authorities on board have gained the hearts of all. The provisions have given great satisfaction. The sick have been administered and ministered to in a way truly gratifying and satisfactory by the captain, the doctor, and the authorities. A health committee was appointed, having the secretary as presiding officer, and the presidents and counselors of [p.423] ward's members thereof. A paid fireman had to be appointed, a most arduous and responsible duty; and I have heard only of a few instances of the porridge being mixed. I have frequently assembled the children for instruction and teaching during the voyage, as far as my very limited means and leisure permitted. The president has suffered from seasickness, but not so much as on former occasions. Seven of us, including myself, who had not been seasick, anointed him, and, through the mercy of our Heavenly Father, he received a great blessing. It is truly charming to see the kind feelings of the Saints towards the sick, in imparting their little comforts to each other. This is the only voyage I have taken, out of more than a dozen, that seasickness has been absent from me. I attribute my freedom from it, to fasting and prayer, the day before leaving, and drinking nothing but pure water during the voyage.
This morning, Tuesday, 22nd May, 1855, at half-past five, we were in sight of the lighthouse and a tug ahead, on for New York. No deaths, no marriages; and I trust to have none to report on this voyage. If you had been here on board, I believe your counsels could not have been more faithfully carried out than they have been. The gifts have been manifested by several of the Saints at different times. Some of the sailors believe the gospel, and I believe are concluding to go to Utah with us.
The ship came to anchor at noon, and Elders J. B. Maiben and J. [Joseph] Booth were sent to the office of President Taylor, who was out of New York, with President Fullmer, at Philadelphia, which induced Elder Felt to send a telegraphic message. The ship passed the examining officer in first-rate style, all well. Several reporters came on board, and much admired our organization and fine order, and they said they would publish us in the papers.
The captain has acted in a way to call down the blessings of the whole Church; he spoke in the highest terms to all, of everything and everybody, and returned us in his list as "578 Saints" and he was pleased to say, "You are Saints, for you have acted like such in every way, and, of all passengers I never saw such, for you have been no trouble to me at all; more of a pleasure than a trouble."
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, 28th May. I must now close. Since I wrote the above, we have sent our dear brethren, full of hope, to their various destinations.
Yesterday, the Perpetual Emigration Fund emigrants of the Samuel Curling went in the "Amazon," to St. Louis, with Elders Stevenson, Barlow, &c., and I am left here alone to await the arrival by boat and train of the independent passengers, and a few of the Perpetual Emigration Fund, who were too late for the boat from New York to Amboy, to meet the Philadelphia rail cars. From New York to Amboy by boat 1 1/2 hours; by boat again to Philadelphia 5 hours; washing our hands and face, and taking breakfast, and then off to this city; taking from Friday noon, to Sunday morning at daylight.
I would beg of my dear brethren in Europe to bring only necessary changes and utensils, for the immense baggage has nearly broken our backs and our hearts too. Bring a little and good. The great expense of sending this incubus would have rescued many poor Saints from bondage. Luggage, luggage, luggage, is like a dread spirit from the vasty deep. If I had a voice of thunder, I would say to the Saints PRUNE YOUR LUGGAGE!
In haste as ever, for ever,
W. [William] Willes
Secretary of Company [p.424]
BIB: Willes, W. [William], [Letter], The Latter-day Saints Millennial Star 17:27 (July 7, 1855) pp. 423-24. (CHL)