New York, ship Thornton, June 6, 1856.
Dear Brother and Sister Turnbull--We are drawing near our first landing place. I have enjoyed myself first-rate crossing the great water. It has been like a pleasure trip all the time. I have been blessed with the living Spirit of our God all the time, and have never found the moment but what I could thank my God with all my heart for the privilege of going across the Atlantic on such a beautiful ship, under the guidance of so good a captain.
There has been a great deal of sickness on board, there being many old and infirm. I believe there has never before been a company with so many old and young, halt, blind, and lame, from so many nations, crossed the sea. There have been seven deaths, three births, and two marriages on board. Died on the 7th May, Rachel Curtis, aged 75 years; May 8, Rasmine Rasmussen, aged 10, one of the Danes; May 21, a child was born and died a few minutes afterwards; May 28, a boy, aged 1 year, belonging to Sister Bottenham [Bodenhm], died; June 2, Thomas Peterson, aged 7 years, died from a fall from the upper to the lower deck; June 5, Brother Kay's daughter, aged 3 years, died; June 7, Mary Lark, aged 10 years, died of consumption.
Sister McNiel had a child on the 1st of May. He has been blessed and named Charles Thornton McNiel. Sister Molten [Moulton] was delivered of a son on the 6th May. He was blessed and named Charles Alma. Both mothers and children are doing well.
On the 4th May, married, by Elder [Millen] Atwood, Sister Jessie Ireland, to Brother Allan Findlay. It was done quietly in the cabin. On the 29th May, by Elder [James G.] Willie, Sister Sarah Hains [Haines], to Brother Samuel Crook. All the Saints were called to the upper deck. The young pair were taken to the captain's deck. We had a fine view of the ceremony. The American colors were hoisted. Elder Willie gave an address on the order of marriage, and read the order from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. After it was over there were three cheers given for the captain, three for the officers, three for the crew, and three for the young pair. The captain came forward and said he did not know what he had done to merit such thanks from the Saints - when he had shown them a great deal more kindness than he had ever yet done, he would then accept nine cheers, and feel that he had earned them. He said that we were under the American government, in an American ship - he was an American born, so were his father, grandfather, and grandmother before him.
The under decks were divided into seven wards. Brother Gourlay [Paul Gurley] has charge of the sixth, which is the one that I am in. He is a kind, good man. We have had some good meetings.
June 11. the pilot came on board last night. It was a joyful sight to see an American pilot. It is a perfect calm, and a real warm day. The sun is so strong that the captain has got sails spread over the passengers to keep it from hurting them. This has been such a day of rejoicing. Brother Quinn was called on to sing a song which he had composed about the voyage. The "Working Bee" was then sung by Brother [Alexander] Burt. President Willie addressed the Saints on "What they were going to America for." There have been no restrictions on the brethren of the priesthood. They have been allowed to speak freely, and they have done so. The captain, doctor, and officers always listened attentively and respectfully. The captain often joined in the songs of Zion. He would not allow any of the sailors to disturb the Saints in any of their preaching or amusement meetings. I have often thought that President F. [Franklin] D. Richards must have breathed his spirit on him at Liverpool. Brother Willie read to the Saints two testimonials, one for the captain and one for the doctor, and took a vote upon them. They were adopted without a contrary [p.478] vote. He then presented to the captain the one for him. He received it with tears of gratitude, and came forward and addressed the Saints. He said that he had done nothing but his duty, that he never crossed the sea with so good a company of passengers before - they had always been willing to do anything he wanted, when he told their president, Mr. Willie, what he required. He wished the Saints prosperity in all their future works, and said he would remember them with the warmest feelings as long as he lived. He asked God to bless them. Here his feelings overcame him, and he had to stop speaking. He then presented a testimonial to President Willie, signed by himself, his chief officer, and surgeon. President Willie presented the surgeon with his testimonial. He came forward to speak, but the tears choked him, and he could not proceed. He asked God to bless the Saints.
June 14. The tug has brought us to New York. We have all passed the doctor, and are now going to land.
June 15. Castle Garden, New York. I am sitting in the largest house I was ever in. We all landed safe, and got in here at 7:40 p.m. yesterday. Our names were called over, and we had to state where we were going, what money we had, and other particulars, which were entered into a book, and we then passed into the house.
Since I left you I have had all that I stood in need of, spiritually and temporally. May the God of Israel grant that you may be brought in safety to this beautiful land. I will write again from Iowa City.
Give my love to all my friends that may come within the sound of your voice or the reach of your pen. I remain your affectionate sister,
Anna F. Tait. [p.479]
BIB: Tait, Anna F., [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 18:30 (July 26, 1856) pp. 478- 479. (CHL)