. . . I shall not forget my feelings when standing upon the docks at Liverpool and looking forth upon the mighty waters. The chilly sea breeze seemed to penetrate my very bones and cause a shrinking feeling of fear to come over me, but this was soon dispelled by the novelty of the scene as I could not recollect having ever previously been more than eight or ten [p.5] miles from home and had never seen a ship or stream or body of water larger than a book before. Here I was in sight of hundreds of vessels, both sail and steam, with tow and other smaller craft, in great numbers, while at the docks and through the town the bustle and thrift caused by the commerce of the sea was everywhere visible.
After looking around awhile, a towboat drew upon alongside the wharf upon which we thronged with our luggage to be conveyed to the vessel, which stood out from the shore some distance at anchor. We soon reached the side of the ship, a most noble looking vessel, and previous to embarking, while yet upon the towboat, it appeared to be as high as a three story house, but when the passengers, one thousand in number, were all aboard it settled down in the water considerably. The ship's name was William Tapscott. Captain Bell, this gentleman, proved very kind and gentlemanly in bearing toward our people. As soon as we were all aboard, the sailors weighed anchor and the two boats, though considerably small, by means of a stout cable attached to its stern, and to the bow of our vessel, caused us to glide easily and rapidly through the water. This was the eighth of May, 1860, my brother Samuel's birthday. He was eleven years of age. All went smoothly until evening, when as we had been localized in our new quarters, we turned to our bunks and were soon sleeping soundly. Toward morning, upon awakening, we found that our vessel had ceased to glide [p.6] smoothly. Our little champion, the towboat, had left us to fate, and we rolled and pitched considerably, disturbing the equilibrium of a great number of the passengers' stomachs. What a deplorable set of beings. We appeared to be nearly all sick and, of course, few to give sympathy.
My father, fortunately, was not troubled by the rolling of the vessel, so he had to practice the art of cookery for himself and the rest of us when we could eat, although we all soon recovered with the exception of Samuel. He did not fully recover for two or three weeks. We were five weeks upon the sea. This was a long time to be confined with the narrow limits of a sailing vessel, although the life on the ocean wave was new and novel to us and we were diverted by watching the sailors and hearing them sing, "Haul, haul away. Haul away Jo." And then upon reaching the word "Jo" all pulling together with many other sailor rhymes. As also in looking abroad over the vast expanse presented to our views and occasionally sighting some other vessel in the distance, the tops of the mast only could be seen. But as they gradually drew nearer so the lower part of the vessel was presented to our view. We also occasionally saw shoals of porpoises which came gambolling upon the surface of the deep and when on account of unfavorable winds we were compelled to take to the north to make headway, we saw jets of water, occasionally rising several feet above [p.7] the otherwise smooth surface of the ocean. We watched anxiously for a glimpse of the whale, but Mr. Whale failed to show anything but his locality at breathing time.
We Latter-day Saints did not forget our God amidst the excitement and curiosities of an ocean voyage, but our hearts and voices were ever tuned to him in prayer and praise and we were blessed and prospered upon the seas. We escaped all dangers and although many in number I do not remember more than two or three being rolled up in canvas and slid off a plank into the watery grave.
Notwithstanding the novelty of a sea voyage to one traveling over its bosom for the first time, we were very joyful when we beheld the low, misty outlines of Long Island.
But when upon reaching the quarantine grounds we were not permitted to go ashore on account of two or three Danish persons being sick with smallpox. We were much chagrined although we did not tire of looking upon the scenery upon either side of the river. The beautiful green sloping shore studded with suburban residences making a most enchanting scene to us voyagers.
The sick were removed to Blackwell, or Mare Island, situated between New York and Brooklyn on the East River, and were permitted to go ashore.
As we embarked so we disembarked, by means of a towboat. We landed at Castle Garden, a place prepared for the [p.8] reception of emigrants where they can remain a day of two until they find more suitable quarters. The most of our brethren being bound for Salt Lake City, continued their journey by rail. My father's family with others, some thirty or forty souls, whose destination was New York or some of its adjacent cities, there to locate for a while to obtain means to enable us to resume our journey, were kindly taken in charge by some of the brethren of the Williamsburg Branch, who assisted us in locating ourselves and also in finding employment and although strangers unto us they were brothers and sisters indeed.
My father, Brother Land, and myself, now being the working force of the family sought and soon found employment. I went to work the next week after our arrival, in a grocery store, but as the store did not close until nine or ten o'clock at night I concluded it would not suit me and so left at the end of three weeks. I next found employment, my brother Samuel also, at Stephen's Harness and Military Equipment Factory, New York. We crossed the East River generally at the ferry called Peck Slip night and morning, a very pleasant ride of about one and one-half miles. My father, after residing in Williamsburg a few months, moved to a little village called Astoria, further up the river about five miles as near as I remember and as we continued to work at the same place we now had a ride of about six miles night and morning upon the river. [p.9]
In the spring of 1862 my brother and sister, William and Mary, who had remained in England after our departure, arrived in good health and spirits. William had married previous to leaving England, wife's name Katherine Woolfe of Cheshire. They stopped with us a short time and then continued their journey to Salt Lake City.
I had now become accustomed to the use of the awl and needle and was enabled to earn good wages. We worked by the piece and when working upon good work, I sometimes made nine or ten dollars per week. Sam could earn six or more dollars. Although when working uponskate straps at one and one half cents per dozen, I could not earn more than seventy-five cents per day, but taking good and bad times together, we were enabled to lay by means to emigrate in the spring of 1862.
A few weeks previous to our moving from New York State my father again moved to Williamsburg and in the month of May left with the general emigration of Saints for Salt Lake City. We did not have much time to notice the scenery along the route for as soon as we reached the terminal of one railroad we were transferred to another until we reached the city of Chicago, Illinois.
One incident that happened to us upon our railroad journey will show the animus of our enemies. [p.10]
We had proceeded in safety thus far but reaching this place upon the Sabbath and again pursuing our journey upon the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad seemed to enrage the engineer very much. He said he would drive the Mormons to hell and used considerable abusive language. He did his best to carry out his threat. He drove us at a great speed, a mile a minute, ad before reaching Quincy, either through friction or sparks from the engine, one of the freight cars caught fire and instead of allowing the brethren to take out the freight while the fire was in its incipience, he had the other cars uncoupled and drove the engine with the burning car attached at a very rapid rate causing the flames to gain full control insomuch that upon reaching the station, six miles from where the fire was first noticed, the car was thrown from the track, a mass of ruins. (The affair was afterward investigated. The engineer lost both character and situation and the losers of property were partially reimbursed, probably about 30% being paid).
After performing this feat he returned the engine and instead of slacking speed sufficiently, drove rapidly, causing a violent and unexpected concussion. As his passengers not knowing anything about the fire after the car was taken ahead or yet when the engine would return were talking excitedly and in every direction and positions that they would not have [p.11] been if they had noticed the engine so rapidly approaching and no signal was given to warn them so that they might be on their guard. Fortunately, no one was injured seriously.
We now continued our journey to the railroad terminal at St. Joseph and as more passengers arrived by rail than the capacity of the riverboat could accommodate, some of them were compelled to wait at the station until the return of the boat. My father's family were among them.
Our quarters at St. Joseph during our three day stay, although not the best, was about an average of what we experienced upon our journey. Provisions were very cheap and on this account it was a good place to stay, as but few here were any way wealthy.
Upon the return of the boat we embarked and traveled to what was then the head of the navigation. Florence contained but few inhabitants and they were mostly transient keepers of stores drawn hither by emigration. A short distance from this place we pitched our tents for about one month. While camped here a very heavy wind, rain, and thunderstorm for a while compelled us to our tent poles and in spite of the efforts of the inmates, many were blown down. Joseph W. Young, then emigration agent, was seriously injured by a wagon being blown over upon him, and was incapacitated for business for sometime. Several others were injured. At length, all preparations being completed, we moved camp. . . . [p.12]
. . . At the Weber River we were met by my brother William. We were much pleased to behold him again and at a point so near the termination of our journey as to make us feel at home. In Parley's Canyon we lost an ox for such a length of time that we almost gave him up and the train moved on, but upon ascending a very high hill overlooking the canyon, we could discern him in a dense growth of willows. We descended in haste and driving him before us followed the team, but did not again overtake it until we arrived at the camp in Salt Lake City. We had supposed this to be our destination, but as a home was what we wanted, as it was easier for poor people to make one from the elements in a new country where land could be had for the fencing, than to purchase, we decided to continue to move southward. (We stayed in the vicinity of Salt Lake City for ten days, during which time I got my first experience in running a cane mill at Bishop Smith's at Centerville staying there one day. . . . [p.14]
BIB: Isom, George. Memories, [LDS Church Archives, Ms 8620, reel 5, item #2, pp. 5-12,14; Acc. #35069. ALSO LDS Church Archives, Ms 8040
, pp. 9-18; Acc. #26732] (CHL).