"On Thursday, May 1, 1856, on the ship Thornton Captain Collins received the Saints (761 in number) in the Brammerley-Moore Docks, Liverpool, England, and on the following Saturday President Franklin D. Richards, accompanied by the government inspector and doctor, came on board, and the Saints answered to the usual inspection and were all pronounced by those officers to be in good health. President Richards appointed myself (James G. Willie) captain of the company with Elders Millen Atwood, Moses Clough, and Johan A. Ahmanson my counselors. Afterward in a few appropriate remarks he exhorted the people to strict obedience on the passage, as otherwise they could not expect, and would not have a prosperous journey. President Richards then blessed them in the name of the Lord and by authority of the holy priesthood. I then (Captain Willie) made the usual appointments for the promotion of cleanliness and good order, and on Sunday May 4, at 3 a.m. the company was tugged out of the river by the pilot. Seasickness soon commenced, but through the blessings of the Lord it was not frequent during the voyage which terminated at New York on the 14th of June, 1856.
The spirit of the Lord prevailed. The ship's captain yielded to the influence which surrounded him and was kind and affable to all, often voluntarily giving from his own table for the comfort of the sick and infirm, and otherwise ministering to [p.89] their wants with his own hands. He seemed to be a good man, and I felt all the time and still feel to say, 'God bless Captain Collins.' By his sanction, meetings (at which he was generally present) for preaching and bearing testimony were held on the quarterdeck, and every liberty which could in reason be expected was granted by him. He often in polite terms complimented the Saints upon their cleanliness and upon their ready compliance with his requests from time to time, and he said he never wished for a better or more orderly lot of passengers.
They certainly deserved the Captain's encomium, for with scarcely an exception they did their utmost to carry out to the letter the instructions given. Previous to landing at New York a testimonial expressive of the Saints appreciation of the captain's and of the doctor's kindness was presented to them by myself and one signed by the captain, first mate, and doctor on behalf of themselves and the ships company was presented to me for the Saints." [p.90]
. . .A few entries from William Woodward's daily journal have been included in this account. The names in the various accounts are not always spelled accurately.
"Thursday, 1st May 1856. Passengers embarked on the Ship Thornton, took possession of their berths as allotted to them; by the evening, order and tranquility prevailed throughout the whole ship. Jennet McNeil from Haddington near Edinburgh was safely delivered of a fine boy at 5 p.m. The number of passengers are as follows: 560 adults, 172 children, 29 infants." [p.91]
"Saturday 3rd May. Government Inspector and Doctor arrived at 11:30 a.m. President F.D. Richards also came with them. The Saints passed the Doctor and the inspection was soon completed. President F.D. Richards addressed the Saints for a few moments, counseled them to carry out the instructions of Captain Collins & appointed Elder J.G. Willie President over the Saints, and Elders Millen Atwood, Clough, & Ahmanson as his counselors, which appointment was unanimously sustained by the Saints on board. He then assured them that inasmuch as they would abide the instructions given, they should have a prosperous voyage, and blessed them in the authority of the Holy Priesthood in the name of Jesus Christ. He then, in company with Elders Wheelock, Willie and many others returned to Liverpool. Late in the evening Elder J.G. Willie returned to the ship with final instructions and immediately commenced to organize by appointing Elder M. Atwood to preside over the main deck, Elder Ahmanson over the Danish Saints of the lower deck, and Elder Clough over the English Saints of the same deck; for the convenience of holding meetings, cooking, &c., the first deck was divided into four wards, with four presidents, and the lower deck into three wards with presidents. Elder John Chislett was appointed permission of the Captain or his first officer. Elder Edward Griffiths was appointed steward to have general oversight over the provisions. John Patterson and Henry Bodenham were appointed cooks.
"Sunday 4th May. Tugged out of the river at 3 a.m. The steamboat returned about 8:30 a.m. Permission to hold a meeting on deck was asked of the Captain, which he willingly granted, and it being a beautiful day, the opportunity was availed of. The meeting was opened at 11 a.m. with singing and prayer offered by President J.G. Willie. President J.G. Willie and M. Atwood addressed the meeting upon the necessity of the Saints being cleanly, and maintaining good order and carrying out the instructions given from time to time, which was cheerfully responded to, unanimity of feeling prevailing amongst the whole.
"Allen M. Findlay, late of the Bombay Mission and Jessie Ireland of Dundee, Scotland, were joined together in the bonds of matrimony by Elder M. Atwood in the Captain's cabin, in the presence of Captain Collins, President J.G. Willie, and Sisters Minnie A. Cook and Emily Hill."
"Thursday 6th May. This morning at 3 a.m. Sarah Moulton from the Irchester Branch, Bedfordshire Conference was safely delivered of a son."
"Wednesday 7th. Sister Rachel Curtis, aged 75 years died of old age, being declining before we left Liverpool, at 7:30 p.m. from Norton, Gloucestershire. In the different wards prayers were offered up morning and evenings & to be continued during the voyage."
"Thursday 8th May. At 10 a.m. the bell tolled as a signal that the hour had arrived when we were to consign the remains of our beloved Sister Curtis to the sea to await the resurrection of the just. Great solemnity prevailed among all present. President J.G. Willie offered up a prayer to the Almighty. She was buried in the mighty deep. The Captain manifested much kindness on the occasion. At 4 p.m. Sister Rasmine Rasmussen, born in Jutland, Denmark, died from inflammation of the brain, having been afflicted with it for three months previous and in consequence of mortification ensuing, it was deemed prudent by Captain Collins and sanctioned by President Willie that she be consigned as soon as possible to her final resting place. At 5 p.m. the tolling of the bell, Captain, Officers and Crew with many of the passengers assembled to witness the consignment of her remains to the great deep. Elder Ahmanson offered up a prayer in the Danish language, and after [p.92] a few remarks by the Captain she was buried in the sea."
"Sunday 11th May. This morning with permission of the Captain the Saints assembled on deck and we held a meeting at 11:30 a.m. Singing by the choir and prayer by Elder Allan M. Findlay, after which Elder Atwood addressed the Saints upon their present duties and position they were in, and enjoyed much liberty while speaking. President Willie also addressed them a short time, not feeling well in health his remarks were not lengthy."
"Sunday, 18th May. Meeting held on deck at 3 p.m. addressed by President Willie and Elder M. Atwood."
"Tuesday 20th May. This morning all the Saints came on deck and as the sea became calm we held a meeting, it being the day appointed for fasting and prayer. The meeting was addressed by President Willie, Elders Atwood and Clough, and the privilege was given to the Saints to bear their testimony, and we enjoyed a good time. This day the decks were well cleansed and fumigated with tar and chloride of lime . . . At 11 p.m. fire was discovered in the passengers galley, but was promptly subdued by the Captain and crew assisted by many of the brethren. Great order prevailed among the Saints, the Captain was much pleased. We feel thankful to the Almighty for our preservation."
"Wednesday 21st May. At 4 p.m. Hannah Bayliss of Lye near Chelteham was delivered of a still born female infant. Mother doing well. Child buried at 10 p.m."
"Saturday 24th. Strong gales from the west, northwest Ship labors very hard and rolls much in a heavy sea. Hatches shut down and the Saints below and most of them in their beds. It was impossible for them to keep on their legs. the heaviest weather we have encountered since we left Liverpool. We desire to record the hand of Providence in our welfare, for the Captain informed President Willie that this gale blew us free from the ice to which we were close on Thursday last."
"Sunday 25th May. No meeting on deck in consequence of the state of the weather. The Saints kept below and mostly in bed. We desire to recorded the attention the passengers received from the Captain and Officers during the continuance of the gale, which was more than we had any reason to expect and for which we pray the Almighty to bless him and family and reward him an hundred fold."
"Wednesday 28th. Thomas Bodenham, aged 1 year, son of Mary Bodenham of Red Marley, Worcestershire, departed this life, and buried at 10 p.m. after a prayer was offered up by President Willie."
"Thursday 29th. Samuel Crook of Apperley, Gloucester, and Sarah Haines of Tewkesbury, Gloucester, were joined together in the bonds of matrimony on the quarter deck by President J.G. Willie, the American Flag having been brought forward by the Captain . Pres. Willie made some remarks on the subject of marriage and the nature of the covenants they were about to enter into, the marriage was then solemnized. Elder Atwood proposed three cheers for the ship Thornton, and President Willie proposed three cheers for the Captain, Officers and Crew, also the Doctor. Three cheers were also given for the bride and bridegroom. Captain Collins came forward and returned thanks and proposed three cheers for President Willie and Atwood."
"Friday 30th May. With regret we have to relate that an accident occurred at 4 p.m. A Danish child, Thomas Peterson, fell through one of the hatchways to the [p.93] second between deck, a distance of about 20 feet, and very much fractured his skull."
"Sunday 1st June, 1856. The Saints assembled on deck and a meeting held at 1 p.m. President Willie addressed them on Spiritualism . . . Four Children were brought forward and blessed by Presidents Willie and Atwood, their names follows: Margaret Ann Stewart, daughter of John and Ann Stewart from Edinburgh, Scotland. Charles Alma Moulton, son of Thomas and Sarah Moulton from Irchester, Bedford, England, Charles Thornton McNeil, son of Thomas & Jennet McNeil from Haddington near Scotland. Elizabeth Ann Farmer, daughter of Edward & Morgan Farmer from Spittlegate, Lincolnshire."
"Monday, 2nd. With all the attention and care bestowed upon the young sufferer, Thomas. Peterson, aged 8 years of Saland, Denmark, who fell through the hatchway on the 30th Ult. (ultimo - in the month preceding the present), yet he expired this morning. At 3 p.m. his body was brought forward to receive its burial, prayer having been offered up to God by President Willie, it was given to the great deep."
"Thursday 5th June. Margaret Kay, daughter of James & Mary Kay, from the Bedlington Branch, Newcastle Con. died of fever at 6:30 a.m., aged 3 years 5 mos., buried the body at 12 noon."
"Saturday 7th June. Mary F. Lark, daughter of William and Mary Lark, died at 3 a.m. of consumption, aged 10 years, buried at 12 noon."
"Tuesday 10th June. Jane James, daughter of William and Jane James of the Pindin Branch, Worcestershire, aged 9 months, died of the thrush in the mouth at 8 a.m., buried at 1 p.m. . . . 8 p.m. pilot came on board which caused much rejoicing."
"Wednesday 11th. The passengers came on deck when President Willie called them to order and then introduced the subject of presenting a testimonial to Captain Collins, returning him our thanks for the kindness we have received from him on our voyage across the sea, which was cheerfully responded to by the Saints. President Willie in a few remarks presented Captain Collins with the testimonial which was kindly received in a short address, and in return he presented President Willie and Saints generally with a testimonial expressive of his feelings towards us as passengers, making a remark that we were the finest lot of emigrants he had ever taken across the sea; an excellent feeling prevailed on all sides and the united feelings of the Saints are that the Almighty would bless Capt. Collins and family for his kindness towards us, which will ever be gratefully remembered. We also presented a testimonial to Doctor Williams for the fatherly care manifested by him to the sick for which we pray the Almighty to bless him. The Saints also felt to express through rest. Atwood their feelings towards President Willie in a written testimonial expressive of their confidence in him since they had been connected with him on board ship."
Thursday 12th June. "This day at 6 p.m. in the presence of the Captain, Officers and passengers generally, with the American Flag on quarter deck all due respect being paid, after a few introductory remarks on the marriage institution proceeded to unite in the holy bonds of wedlock James Thomas of Hereford to Mary Somerville of Edinburgh. Good feelings prevailed, and everything pertaining to it was done in order."
"Saturday 14th. At 8 a.m. steamboat Achilles came along side; Captain Collins engaged him to tow us to New York. General stir among the passengers all getting [p.94] ready toland . . . Doctor came on board off Staten Island and gave a certificate of the good health of the passengers. The Custom House also came and passed our luggage without any inspection. At sun down we landed at the Castle Gardens, a large building appropriated for emigrants, where we were visited by Elder Felt who kindly welcomed us."
James G. Willie's account continued: "on our arrival at Castle Gardens, New York, we received a hearty welcome from President John Taylor and Elder Felt. Several gentlemen of the press also paid us a visit and were very courteous toward us, appearing desirous of obtaining information concerning all the company from its officers and subsequently several paragraphs appeared in different New York newspapers in praise of the general appearance and demeanor the entire company. (Sister Annie Atkins, a P.E.F. passenger, remained at New York with the approval of Pest. John Taylor.)
"On Tuesday, June 17 they started under the presidency of Elder Levi Savage for Dunkirk, a distance of 460 miles, where they arrived on the 19th, leaving Brother Atwood and myself behind to transact sundry items of business. We however, arrived at Dunkirk by express train on the same day and immediately embarked with the Saints on the 'Jersey city' for Toledo (280 miles further), where we arrived on Saturday the 21st in good health and spirits.
"We at once started per rail for Chicago, which we reached on the following day. I should mention that the railway authorities at Toledo manifested a very unkind spirit toward us, putting us to every inconvenience in their power. The conductor compelling us to land in the streets of Chicago, but the superintendent there gave us the sue of an empty warehouse for the night. The next day (June 23) most of the English Saints left per rail at 3 p.m. and the rest at 11 p.m. for Rock Island. On the train arriving at Pond Creek the next day it was ascertained that the railway bridge there had fallen down while a previous train was passing over it. Several brethren including Erastus Snow were in the train, and although many of the passengers were seriously injured, they escaped unhurt. We slept in the cars, and on the 25th the remainder of our company came up. We had much difficulty in obtaining provisions which up to this period had been pretty plentiful. The Railway Superintendent here was very obliging and furnished us with a large comfortable warehouse to sleep in.
"On the 26th of June we left Pond Creek and, after crossing the Mississippi in consequence of the fallen bridge, started per rail for Iowa City where we arrived on the same day, meeting with the most cordial reception from President Daniel Spencer and the brethren and sisters in camp there. We stayed at this point until Tuesday (July 15) and during the interval had frequent opportunities of meeting together to hear the word of life spoken. [p.95]
BIB: Smith, Marilyn Austin. Faithful stewards--the life of James Gray Willie and Elizabeth Ann Pettit (Ms 9248), pp. 88-95. (CHL)