Board ship Siddons off Nova Scotia, April 12, 1855
Dear President F. [Franklin] D. Richards--The time has come for me to begin to prepare a report, as I expect to be too much hurried in Philadelphia to write much. I shall study brevity throughout--first, because it will be in keeping with my time; and secondly, because I was sick the whole of March, and only now and then committed anything to paper.
We left the Mersey on the 27th Feb., with fair prospects, but after getting into the channel fairly, a strong wind from the south induced the captain to put north, and, if possible, to double the north of Ireland. He kept this tack till we were between the Isle of Man and Ireland, when the wind shifted, and compelled him to turn south again.
The sea became pretty rough, and the Saints began to seriously feel the effects of an uncertain foundation, even on the second day out one could see scores of chop-fallen faces, which, until then, had been all life and glee, and full of hope; but notwithstanding the doleful countenances all around, a satisfied smile could be provoked on almost all by asking them what they were after, or if the Siddons would turn about again, and set them all down in Liverpool. Even the aged are willing to suffer all for the gospel's sake, and to press onward fearless of consequences.
I will here state that in addition to the appointments which you made, we further organized by dividing all the able bodied men into seven divisions according to your suggestions, each of which was required to cleanse the ship in the morning, and perform the other labours of that day which was assigned it, numbering them from one to seven consecutively, and gave the passenger steward charge of this department. We also divided the ship into four wards for religious purposes, and appointed a President over each ward. These are, Elders Andrew Ferguson, Henry Stocks, William Smith, and James B. Price. They hold meetings of some sort in each ward every night. I find [p.326] that this not only diverts them, but keeps many out of mischief, especially the young men, who take turns in the exercises of the meetings in their department, and are thus preparing themselves for future usefulness.
It will be seen that this is the forty-fifth day that we have been out to sea. I sincerely hope that this will not be a precedent for future voyages by this route.
After clearing the channel and passing Cape Clear, the captain chose the northern route, as the nearest and healthiest, also because the wind then favoured him; but we soon met with contrary winds, head winds and calms alternately, so that at one time, for twelve days together, we only made two hundred and forty miles on our way. In fact, during the whole of March we were tossed to and fro towards every point of the compass, and seldom towards the right one. We had frequent gales, and squalls without number; yet only twice have any sails given way. One at one time, and five at another, were torn to shreds and scattered upon the sea. And although the barometer denoted a hurricane for a week, without scarcely any variation, still we had none, neither did we have what I would consider a dangerous sea at any time. The old Siddons, God bless her, is truly a crack ship; the wildest wave can't catch her, she will mount and ride over it at the moment when it seems as though she must be swept fore and aft. Much is due, however, to the watchful care and prudent management of the captain and officers, and the efficiency of the crew, to all of whom much praise is due. I would recommend the Siddons, for her safety and convenience, and especially Captain Taylor, to your favourable notice whenever they can be engaged for the emigration of the Saints. Captain Taylor is very free, affable, and kind to his passengers, and very attentive to the sick, so much so, that he prepares and administers medicines in person to them many times. The sickness has been principally diarrhoea; the captain attributes it to the pork, although of the best quality, with which the passengers have been supplied. He recommends beef as decidedly preferable. I think it seldom, if ever, happens that the Saints, as a ship load, are better furnished than these were when they started. Almost every one was supplied with something extra and nice to eat of their own; and not being accustomed to extra diet, either as regards quality or quantity, a little indiscretion in the use of it, and a want of their usual exercise, tended greatly, in my opinion, to use them up.
We feel that we have much reason to rejoice and thank our Father in Heaven for our deliverance thus far. Although some of us have been, and some are still sick, our lives have been mercifully spared, and all (except a child [Charles] of Brother and Sister [John and Patience] Herbert's, which came on board sick, and was consigned to the deep on the first day of sailing, and another which was born on the way, and died six hours after) still live, and expect to till we get to terra firm. Nothing seems to have been able to shake the faith of the Saints in this, that they were safe. Although the "prince of the power of the air" sported his pranks sometimes, it would seem, to frighten them, they would not believe that they were bound for any other port than Philadelphia, much less that Charon should have the honour of conducting them across the River Styx.
Relative to the births on board, I made the following memorandum--Sarah, the wife of Seth Langton, of Preston, gave birth to a son, who died six hours after. Th mother did well. Sarah, the wife of James Jordan, of Southampton, gave birth to a fine son on the 30th March, all doing well. Sarah, the wife of Joseph Bean of Bradford, gave birth to a daughter on the 9th April, both doing well. A singular coincidence that the names of each of the mothers is Sarah.
Without any particular design, I found marriages coming up out of their usual arrangement; of these there were three, and all were contracted on land to take place on ship board. After we got fairly to sea, therefore, I appointed elders to marry the parties in waiting. The question of marriage coming up so soon, caused me to reflect upon it, in our condition, thrown together pell mell, as it were, each in the other's way, and subject to influences much more powerful than when in the wide world. I decided, in my own mind, most clearly in favour of total abstinence. And here I acknowledge my apparent deviation from the opinion of many worth Elders who have preceded me in the charge of Saints in like positions. It would seem that some think, the more the marriages the better the business they do; but we decided, in counseling [p.327] together, that to promote good order on the ship, virtue among the youth, and respectability among the whole, it was requisite to discourage marriages for the time being. We therefore put it out as our policy and counsel to all the unmarried, not to make love to each other, or enter into any marriage arrangements, as we did not wish to hear of any more calls for marriage ceremonies on board this ship. To aid us in this policy, we let the partition between the young men and families remain, and counseled the young sisters not to intrude upon the young men's sanctum; the young men were not forbidden to visit their friends in a prudent and timely way, nor to eat with them; but excess of attention or gallantly was what we discountenanced. This met the approval of all, and we had repeated assurances, from every quarter, that we should be sustained in this as well as any other measure we might feel to adopt. The opinion of many is, that Saints do not need such stringent discipline; I will say that there are some persons in every four hundred that need all the checks that any have received, and much more would not come amiss. With one exception, however, we have had no serious trouble as to this policy. . . .
Delaware Bay, April 19.
Since writing the above, Brother and Sister Alroyd, of Birkenhead, lost a little child about two years old.
On yesterday morning we were becalmed off the mouth of the bay in a fog, waiting for a pilot. About noon we had the pleasure to receive one on board, who immediately put us under way to port. This makes us, from tug-boat to pilot, fifty-one days, and, should we succeed to make Philadelphia today, as we expect to, it will make fifty-two days' passage from port to port.
We learn from the papers which the pilot kindly furnished us, that the Emperor of Russia is dead. How surprising events sometimes appear when we are not in daily receipt of the circumstances that produce them. I can fancy the sensation that this must have created through all Europe. Upon my saying that "Old Nick" was dead, Sister Helena replied, "Then we may hope for fair weather and no more head winds."
I do not know how good other Saints have been who have gone on other ships; but take these on the Siddons, all in all, I think them hard to beat, I have no fault to find with them. Almost invariably, the word of the presidency was the law to them, which they only wished to know that they might observe it. The exceptions only prove the rule, that this is the kingdom of God. We have many as good Saints on board, I believe, as ever lived--Saints who would have been ornaments in the Church during her severest trials and afflictions.
April 23. We arrived in port on the 20th, at evening, passed the doctor's inspection without difficulty. . . .
I received yours of the 6th April, announcing the departure of the Juventa. On arriving, I immediately sought the presidency here. I found Dr. Clinton, with whom I conferred. He, Elder Taylor, and Elder Felt, had put themselves to much trouble to ascertain the best and most reliable route. Their decision was in favour of the Pennsylvania Central route to Pittsburgh, from thence it is thought the best to take a packet. The expense to Pittsburgh is $4.50 for an adult, half price between five and ten years old, under five years free. Luggage 80 pounds. free to each full passenger, $1.25 per hundred pounds extra. They have been quite liberal, however, in the luggage. I thought best to accept the arrangement that was in reality already made, I may say, by Elder Taylor. I had the Saints remain on board from Friday night to this Monday morning. They passed inspection on Saturday and were ticketed. This morning at eleven o'clock they left Philadelphia, and right glad was I that they had gone. They all came to me for everything, without any one having the least idea what to do about anything. Without the help of Brothers Allred and Pace, I would have been utterly overrun--such a jam, and all in a hurry, you can think how it is. I was yet feeble, and Saturday's work nearly laid me up.
On Saturday Elder Taylor came in. On Sunday he held a meeting and arranged for those who remain. Some have already got work, and there is a prospect for more. . . .
Times are improving. I shall telegraph to Elder Snow today, and appraise him of their departure. It was thought best not to do it before, as I had no time to stir, besides the arrangement was concluded. . . . [p.328]
Tonight I purpose taking the express for Pittsburgh. Shall arrive before them at that. My purpose is to return to meet the Saints on the "Juventa" as they arrive. Brother Taylor will write you on the subject of the arrangement with the railroad line. I got a ticket to and fro without charge, excepting on a little way, owned by others.
Hoping to hear from you often, I remain, yours most truly, in the bond of love,
John S. Fullmer.[p.329]
BIB: Fullmer, John S[olomon], [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 17:21 (May 26, 1855) pp. 326-29. (CHL)