. . . On the 19th of April, 1856, the ship Samuel Curling left Liverpool and sailed for Boston, with seven hundred and seven British Saints on board, bound for Utah by the handcart company. We landed in Boston May 23rd and remained one day in quarantine. It was Friday when we landed, but the kind-hearted captain allowed the passengers to remain on board til Monday, when we continued our journey to Iowa City. We traveled night and day be rail, buying our victuals at the stations, never undressing for more than a week. We stopped about two hours at the beautiful city of Chicago. I traversed its broad streets, buoyant and glad, to think I could still futher pursue my journey to Zion. We arrived in Iowa about the 1st of [p.318] June. Oh, what a sight met my gaze! Tents pitched, men working at the handcarts, women cooking outdoors, every person as busy as a bee. I thought I had got into the hive of Deseret sure. We were met by Brother James Ferguson, who took me to Brother Wheelock's tent, where he had some of the sisters prepare dinner. Sister Louisa Godsel was one of them, afterwards Brother Wheelock's wife. Everyone was so kind to me when they found I was alone that I soon dried my tears and went round the camp to see what was going on, everything was so new and strange. In coming on the cars I put my head out of the window to see some of the beautiful sights as we passed, and lost my bonnet. Then I was bareheaded; but one of the brethren came to the rescue. He had two hats, and lent me one, so I came to camp with a man's hat on; blushing like a red rose, for I had been told that if I put a gentleman's hat on, he had the right to kiss me, and I did not know what I would do under such circumstances, perhaps tell him to put it back where he got it.
While waiting for the handcarts to be finished, three or four of us went to Florence, a beautiful little place, about six miles from Iowa City, to see if we could get some sewing to do. We were quite good at hand sewing. A lady by the name of Johnson engaged me at five dollars a week, and my board, the other girls got more, but I was afraid I would not do enough to satisfy, if I got higher wages. I cut and made dresses for the lady, and taught one of her boys to write. They treated me like their own daughter not like they were paying me for what I did. After I'd been there two or three days, they began to talk to me about going to Utah, said they would never go if they were me. The man first talked to me and then the lady. She said she would treat me as one of her own family, and take me into the best society in the place, and get me a good husband, one that she would think fit for her own daughter. She said: "What will you do hauling a handcart across the plains? Why your hands will be blistered the first day, and you have never been accustomed to hard work."
I said: "Dear lady I know you are interested in me and I feel grateful for your kindness, but I shall try it."
She had some gentlemen boarders, and she put me to eat with them the first day; they kept passing the dishes to me, first one and then another. I was always used to being helped, so I thought they were making fun of me, and told Mrs. Johnson I did not wish to eat with them any more, so she let me eat with her ever after; and many a dainty dish she fixed for her and me. I always look back to my visit there with heartfelt gratitude, and pleasure. They had a piano, and I could play and sing a little, so could one of the [p.319] young men, and we would spend out evenings in some such way. I would sing "O Steer my Bark to Erin Isle, for Erin is my Home," and he would sing, "Dear Flag of my Country," so we had a pleasant time. Mr. Johnson got one of the young men to talk to me, and see if he could not get me to stay. He said, "Such a young lady as you are could make her fortune here and get a good home." It was a lovely place, and the only one I would have liked to stay in that I had seen along my route. The boy I taught to write asked me how much I charged for the lessons I have him. I told him if I had done him any good he was welcome. He went down town and bought me a box of writing paper and some pins and needles, to use on the road if I was determined to go. "Do stay with us, for I like you, and so do we all."
I said, "No, my little dear, I have left my native land to go to the Valley, and I must leave you, thought you are so kind.
The first Indians I ever saw were at Florence. I met some in the street, and was almost frightened to death. I ran into the first house I saw, without any ceremony. The lady assured me they would not hurt me, but still I was afraid. Brother Ferguson and some other were afraid I would be persuaded to stay, but I told them they need not be afraid; but they advised me to come back to camp, so I left and did as I was requested.
One day while in camp there were three of us girls who thought we would walk to Florence. It was about six miles from camp, so we got there and walked round for a few hours; went to the store and bought some calico to make us some dresses to wear on the plains. When we got started back we got awful hungry, and we coaxed the youngest one to go into a house and see if she could buy some bread. We gave her some money and she went. The people were eating supper, and sent her to invite us in to eat; but we would not go; so they broke a huge piece of bread for each one, and a slice of roast beef. When I saw her coming, graceful as a swan, and as beautiful as a summer's morning, I commenced to laugh and said, "What would some of our friends we left behind us say if they could see us now, tramps in very deed;" for they would not take money for it. We are all living now, but have not met for many, many years.
Well, on the 11th of June we commenced our journey, with a hundred handcarts, five wagons, twenty-four oxen, four mules, and twenty-five tents. With D. D. McArthur as captain, Edmund Ellsworths company started two days before we did. . . . [p.320]
BIB: Crandell, Mary B. "Autobiography of a Noble Woman,"
Young Woman's Journal 6:7 (April, 1895), pp. 318-20. (CHL)