. . . I had been in Leeds a few months when I received a letter from my brother-in-law, John Sanders, stating that he and my sister were going to America, and if I would go with them he would pay all my expenses, and urged me very strongly to accompany them. The ship was to sail on the 21 of September, 1841.
I laid the matter before my brothers, and they were very much in favor of the proposition. Abraham said he would talk to a friend of his, a Mr. Cornforth, who had been a sea-captain and had made the trip to America many times. Mr. Cornforth said it was the best thing I could do as there was a much better chance for an opening for a young man in that country than in England, and he wished he could induce his son about my age to go too.
After many consultations with the Cornforths it was decided that I should go to America. I wrote to my brother-in-law accepting his proposition and saying that I would arrive in Liverpool in time to sail on the 21st. [p.3]
I straightway began to make preparations to leave my native land, and in due time packed my clothes chest, a large deal chest with a drawer under it (I have it now) and shipped it by freight train, directing it to the ship Tyrian in dock at Liverpool. This was a week before I started by passenger train.
The ship was advertised to sail at 1:00 p.m. on the 21st of September, 1841. I arrived at Liverpool at 9:00 a.m. and made my way to the ship. I found my folks on board, and glad to see me. When I inquired for my luggage I was told that it had not come on board. This gave me a terrible fright as it was but a short time before the ship would start out. I immediately started for the railroad station.
When I got there it was a few minutes past 12:00 a.m. I ran all around the yard but could find no one in the office or yard to give me any information about my luggage. I began to search among the freight and in lifting up a canvas cover near a door that lead to the street, found my chest. I had no time to consider what to do, but made up my mind to take it and go.
By doing so I knew I ran a desperate risk of being arrested. I passed thru the door and looked around for the yard man but he was not in sight. A dray man was passing just then, so I called him and told him I wanted him to take that chest to the dock.
He said all right so we put it in his dray and started. I told him to drive as fast as possible as I wanted to go aboard a ship that was just starting out. He said he would get her at the gate of the dock. He was as good as his word. The ship was just going thru the gate for bridge. We got the luggage aboard and I jumped on after it. It was with a thankful heart that I found myself safe in the ship.
I felt quite relieved when we were fairly out in the river, as I felt myself in danger of being arrested for taking freight out of a yard without it being delivered to me, but I always acknowledged the hand of the Lord in it. I suppose the yard man had gone to get his pint of beer and did not see me.
The ship laid at anchor in the River Mersey until next morning, when the pilot came aboard and we started on our voyage across the broad Atlantic. So I left my native land, which is one of the land marks of my life.
We were six weeks on the passage, the former part of which was rough and stormy.
One dark night we were run into by another large ship and came very near to having a bad accident. I acknowledged the help of the Lord in our safety.
Elder Joseph Fielding was president of the company of Saints on board the ship. He was a kind, good man and treated me kindly. [p.4]
He called on me to assist in giving out the daily rations to the Saints, in fact, few of them knew that I did not belong to the church.
There were a number of young folks on board, and when we got fairly out to sea and the storms had abated, we began to enjoy ourselves and had a pleasant time. I told the folks that it was the happiest time many of them would see for a long time to come.
Among the passengers were Mrs. Mary Ann Price and her sister Emma with whom I became intimately acquainted.
Taking it all in all we had a very pleasant passage and landed safely in New Orleans about the first of November, 1841.
Next day we took the steamboat for Nauvoo. At Warsaw, 18 miles below Nauvoo, we were met by Apostle Willard Richards, who read to us an epistle from the Prophet Joseph Smith, counseling the Saints to disembark at Warsaw and commence to build a city which was laid out a short distance below.
The company landed from the boat in a heavy snow storm, and took shelter in an empty building that had been used for a hotel and held meeting that evening. Brother Willard Richards spoke in regard to the design in building the city, and showed a plan of the same. The price of lots was from one to five thousand dollars.
Next morning the ground was covered with snow about a foot deep. There was one small log cabin on the ground occupied by Brother Decker, who was called mayor.
The brethren concluded that they wanted no lots and began to make arrangements to move on to Nauvoo. John Sanders, my brother-in-law left us and started on foot for Nauvoo.
On the third day a team arrived to take us to the city of the Saints. Brother Sanders had rented a log cabin on the river bank.
I worked that winter in a brick yard (the first hard work I ever did in my life) digging clay preparatory to making bricks the next summer. The yard belonged to Dr. Forster. I earned one dollar twelve and one half cents a day, but I never got my pay.
In February 1842, I was baptized in the Mississippi River by Elder Joseph Fielding; the ice had to be cut to let us down into the water. I was confirmed by Elder Fielding and Elder Sanders. . . . [p.5]
BIB: Bentley, Richard. Autobiography (Ms 125, pp. 3-5, variant edition Ms 12565, pp. 2-3). (CHL)