This year the Lord blessed that I got "Remunerative Employment" and earned almost enough money to take me to New Orleans. The president of this branch of the church had me send one pound to Liverpool as deposit money to go with the ship, "Ashland," which was to start in January, but it did not go until the 6th of February 1849. The fare from Liverpool to New Orleans was three pounds and ten shillings. ($17.50)
I had enough for the sea voyage but not enough to take me to Liverpool, so as is always the custom among our dear people, some of the Saints contributed enough to take me there.
The first night I slept on ship board and next morning had no breakfast, as I was very economical about my money under such trying circumstances. I started for the office of Latter-day Saints to pay my passage money and as I approached the door whom I did see coming out [p.29] but no other person than our President. He asked me if I had had anything to eat. On learning that I had not he drew from his pocket some bread and ham and gave it to me.
After paying my passage I had some bread and milk which I bought with the only penny I had left. The next thing that confronted me was how and where to get my outfit-that is, bedding, cooking utensils, water pots, etc. All that we were allowed on ship was a certain amount of food and water, which was not enough for a hearty person. A Brother Daft gave me six pence and I borrowed four shillings from one George Wood. From this paltry sum I had to get a scanty fit-out. The ship left the dock and cast anchor in the river where it remained three weeks because of head winds.
I was appointed to see to the cooking for the passengers on one side of the ship at six pence per berth for the voyage. For this service I received 15 shillings for the voyage. It took us twelve weeks and two days to get to New Orleans from the time we left the dock.
The first land seen after the coast of Ireland was the Island of San Domingo. Not far from this island some of the sailors and myself had a dive and swim in the sea.
During the voyage we [p.30] ran short of fuel and had to burn water casks, share wood or anything we could afford to let go. We also ran short of provisions before reaching land.
When we got to the mouth of the Mississippi River the tug boat took us up to New Orleans. Before going I helped the deck-hands to get plenty of fuel and provisions. For this service I was given all the food I wanted and some for another family.
When I arrived at New Orleans I paid the four shillings that I had borrowed from Brother Wood. He asked me what I was going to do, I said, "I'm going to stop here until I earn enough to take me to St. Louis." "Here take the four shillings and come along and keep me company to St. Louis, and pay me some other time," was his answer.
But fate did not favor me with returning this kind offer for after he arrived in St. Louis I never saw him. He was one of the victims of the cholera plague that carried away two-fifths of the Saints going up the river from New Orleans to St. Louis.
While going up the river I helped the deck hands to get fuel to the fire. For this service I got all that I could eat, and also enough for my bed mate and family of five. (A widow who needed help.)
We arrived in St. Louis with one of the paddle wheels broken. The first tug that took us from the mouth of the Mississippi broke down and had to wait for another [p.31] from New Orleans. In St. Louis I met a brother that had preceded me a year or two. In England I had tried to teach him to read and write but he could not learn very well. His name was Clemens and he was following the trade of a grinder. He had me go in the grinding business with him and gave me a share of the profits. I stayed with him only a few months. I was now offered a position by the city hospital to bring sick people there and bury the victims who had died with cholera, and who had no friends to bury them.
As I had got so far towards the gathering place of the Saints I was very desirous to get the remainder of the way. Yet I accepted the offer to run one of the city hospital vans and stayed until the cholera had died out. The death rate was very great for three months. Three of us were kept busy running light wagons and we took two loads a day each and four dead bodies on each wagon at a time. As we took only such people known as paupers, this compared with the others filling more respected graves would make the numbers somewhat alarming. The average paupers we buried daily was 24. The other two drivers were stricken down with the cholera and one died with it, but I did not get it.
When the health of the city had become good again they only needed one driver and as the other man was hired [p.32] before me he was kept for the place. They wanted me to stay and take the porters place as they had taken a liking for me, but as the salary was only $12 per mo, where the other was $15.00 per month, I wouldn't accept. Of course we got our board, washing and bedding free, this giving us an excellent opportunity to buy clothes.
The steward of the hospital did not want me to go until I had put the flower garden in good order for I had worked at the business in England and wasn't without experience. I consented and in a few weeks had the flower garden in very good order.
I now got work at a glass factory but the hospital steward made me stay there until I could find a good boarding place. I did not stay at the glass works long.
I then went to work for a doctor two miles west of St. Louis. I did not like this place, so in a few weeks accepted a place in a livery stable. Long hours and small pay, only $10.00 per month wasn't at all to my liking so I soon gave up this business.
About this time the steward of the hospital wrote for me to come back to my former place at driving the light wagon as the other fellow had got drunk and upset the wagon with a corpse and they had discharged him.
I went back and had been here but two weeks when I taken down with the typhoid [p.33] fever. For three weeks I was in a very delirious conditions There was a young man with whom I roomed at the hospital who would hurry and get his work done, then do mine so as to keep my place for me when I got well.
There was a young woman with whom I had kept company in St. Louis, by name of Mary Ann Bunton. While in my delirious conditions I was unable to go and see her, so she got tired of waiting and let another man, John Griffiths steal her affections for me. The big fire of '49 burned the finest business part of St. Louis so many new buildings were being put up, and builders were in great demand. John Griffiths was a brick layer and made $3.00 or $4.00 per day. So of course he had a big showing to make and getting Mary to choose "gold rather than cupid." While I was sick I told Ben Williamson that Griffiths had ruined Mary Ann.
Three years after I was told that it was so, and that they were both cut off from the church, also that Griffiths would not marry Mary.
When I got better and my fever had abated I told him that I intended to go to Salt Lake in the spring. With this information he set out and told the hospital steward and got him to send for the other man who had been discharged and when I got well I had to go and hunt something else to do.
As soon as I left the hospital, a woman was brought in and it was found that she had the small [p.34] pox. She was 10 up in a bathroom. This lady would have to be sent to the small pox hospital as this hospital did not admit any person having a contagious disease but the questions was who would take her there. The hospital corps refused and the doctors did too. One doctor asked me to take her for $2.00. I was not afraid of the small-pox so I said that I would. I did not know where the hospital was but found it late in the night after a great deal of trouble. I got back at three o'clock in the morning.
The cholera in the summer of 1849 was so bad that they had to have eight hospitals in St. Louis. There were then six wards in the city and each ward had a public school house. All of these hospitals were in these school houses except two. The invalid (St. Louis) Hospital was a Catholic Institution and was managed by Sisters of Charity. They furnished nurses for all the school houses as well. Strange to say that not one nurse died with the disease.
I was now well but was very weak, and took up my lodging with a family by the name of Wrigley. Mr. Wrigley was a tailor by trade and worked at this business during my stay with them. He was made president of the St. Louis Branch of the church this year, (1850.) While staying with the Wrigley's I worked for a Brother William Porter for $1.00 per day.
At this time I was going to come to Utah with a brother named Crossley and had agreed to pay half the expenses. He got a yoke of oxen and said they [p.35] cost $50.00 and that he had paid $25.00. When I was going to pay the balance he said that they cost $55.00. I went to see the man who sold them and he said he had agreed upon $50.00. I would not join this man in coming to Utah now that he had tried to cheat me.
Jedediah M. Grant wanted teamsters to accompany him to Utah and required them to deposit $10.00 to insure their going with him, and he would refund the money when they arrived in the valley. I engaged with him and had to pay my passage up the Missouri river to a landing place called Bethlehem. . . .[p.36]
. . . Coming down Emigration Canyon three of our wagons broke down and one or two were left behind for the night. Some of the men returned from the city next day to bring them in. Most of us got to the mouth of the canyon by dusk that evening, but he had to wait there. There were two roads leading into the city. One at that time was Emigration Street now known as Third South Street. The other was South Temple Street. I came by this road. The hill was very steep and as I was descending it my trunk containing all my worldly goods fell out without my knowing it. A man by the name of Tomlinison who ran a pottery by the name of Deseret found it. I called next day and got it and gave Brother Tomlinison a pair of new trousers for his trouble.
We drove down Main street and unhitched between First and Second South Street. Then we took the oxen over the Jordan river and when we got back it was three o'clock a.m. A very good meal was awaiting us and it was the first we had had since the [p.39] previous morning. . . [p.40]
BIB: Martin, John. Autobiography (Ms 192), pp. 29-36, 39-40. (CHL)