. . . At about nineteen years old in April, 1862, I emigrated for America on the ship William Tapscott with 852 passengers. This ship was a three mast sailing vessel, old and worn out; an old tub not fit for merchandise, but good enough to carry the Mormons on.
The ship was eight weeks and two days crossing the ocean. Before I left London I had five young girls put in my charge to see that they got through all safe. Their names were Jane Seamon, Eliza Pinnock, Emma Spencer, Fanny Penny, and one more. When on board the ship I had five more put under my charge, Mrs. [Sarah] White and her four children. [p.1]
The first day out of the harbor all the emigrants were seasick and I was called on to help give out water and provisions, which I did until we landed in New York. The trip on the ocean was a red letter day in my life. The first day out was rather rough and the second day rougher, and all the people were seasick. After the fourth day out things on board ship went smooth and some of the people came on deck, others lay in their berths afraid they would die, and others afraid they wouldn't die. About the third week on the voyage there came a terrible storm which tore everything down that could be broken. So bad was the storm that the people had to stay in their beds for three days, the hatchway being closed most of the time, the water being one foot on the first and second decks, washing from one end of the ship to the other and side to side, as the ship tossed and rolled. The captain said it was the worst storm he had ever seen and he had been a captain for twenty-five years. The ship sprung a leak and the pumps had to be kept going night and day until we reached New York. When the captain was asked about the storm he said if he had known the condition of the ship he would not have sailed on her but consoled himself as he had a load of "Mormons" on board he would get through all right as there had never been a ship lost that was carrying "Mormons." After the ship landed in New York, she was not considered fit to carry anything back but lumber so they loaded her with that and she water-logged and was lost at sea. Taking the voyage all in all, it was quite an experience for us all. Only two deaths, one child and a man who was sick when he came on board. The burial at sea is a sad thing. The body is sewn in a canvas and a ball of iron placed at their feet so as to make the body sink feet first so the sharks cannot get it. A long plank is placed on the rail of the ship, part on the ship and part over the water, and the body is placed on the plank, feet to the water. After the burial ceremony the plank is lifted at one end and the body slides into the sea. You can see the body go slanting down for a long distance.
Besides having storms, we had calms which lasted from two to five days at a time. Sometimes we had drifted forty or fifty miles out of course in all one trip. We did not have favorable winds. All the winds were head winds so we had to tack. During the calm the emigrants had a good time playing on deck, climbing up the riggings, dancing, and playing games. One game we played all the time, that was pumping water out of the vessel. About ten men at a time on the pump. One of them would sing all the time making up the song as he pumped. Some of the words of the song were good and some ridiculous, but it helped to break the monotony. I remember on one of the calm days the ship lay in the water rolling from side to side and a porpoise, a fish from four to six feet in length and as fat as a pig, was playing about the ship and the water like [p.2] a sheet of glass. Myself and some of the other young men started to climb the rigging. We chose the middle mast because it was the highest. We had climbed about half way up and the sailors thought they would have some fun by catching us up in the rigging and tying us up to the mast. They caught one boy on the first landing and tied him there. By this time I was at the top of the mast having a good time, and a boy named Kent was waiting for me to come down so he could climb to the top. The sailors thought to catch me and tie me. Now up in the rigging there is not standing room for two so they stayed at the third landing from the top and let the Kent boy go down so they could catch me and tie me. About sixteen feet from the top is a guy rope that runs down to the side of the ship deck to hold the mast steady. Instead of coming down the mast to where the sailors were, I swung on to the guy rope and slid down to the deck. The rope had been lightly tarred and was not dry and I was skinned and covered with tar from my ankles to my thighs. The sailors said I would have a full run of the ship from that time on and so I was quite a favorite among them.
Things went along at about the same old style. Head winds and calms and we got short of fresh water and were put on half rations. But at last, after eight weeks and three days on the ship, we landed at New York. Stayed there two days and got on board the train. The train service was pretty good until we got to Niagara Falls. Yes, the falls are the grandest sight I have seen yet, water and mist, and a swift current below the falls is a sight beyond my description. We crossed Niagara about half a mile below the falls and the new Suspension Bridge. After crossing the bridge we changed cars, and such cars, common cattle cars, with all the filth left from the last load of cattle, all wet and stinking. We traveled very slow in Canada on account of it being a new road. The engine would have to stop on some of the upgrades and get up steam and go on again for a few miles. So slow was the train that the people could get out and walk up the grade and some of the young folks would get around the cars and push to give them a start.
Just as we got to the line between Canada and the United States, some bush rangers tried to wreck our train. They loaded a trolley car with rails and as we came down a steep grade they started the trolley car down the grade so as to meet us at the bottom. Our engine struck the trolley car and three cars went over the fragments of the trolley car. After three hours work we started on again and the next change of cars was better. Eventually we got to Chicago, where I got left. We did not expect our train to leave until 1:00 p.m. It was then about 11:40 a.m. A brother named Price asked me to go and get him some eggs and bread and gave me twenty-five cents to pay for them with. I started for them and crossed [p.3] the drawbridge; that is a bridge that opens in the center so that small vessels can pass up or down the stream. I got twelve eggs and two loaves of bread and was on my way back to the train and to my horror the drawbridge was opened and I heard the train whistle, "All aboard". After a few minutes the bridge closed and I ran as fast as I could. I got to the station just in time to see the last end of the cars and a boy saw me and pointing his finger at me said, "Ha, Ha, there is a Mormon left behind." To describe my feelings would be impossible for my last hope had flown. There was I in my shirt sleeves, a canvas hat, canvas pants and canvas shoes that a sailor made for me after my escape in the rigging. No money or coat, simply left alone in Chicago.
After collecting myself together I went to the ticket office to see how I was to go on my way to the Valley. The ticket agent could not help me any, and as I stood pondering and feeling, if not looking, the picture of despair, I heard a sweet voice gently say, "Was you a traveler on the special emigrant train?" I looked in the direction of the voice and saw the prettiest German girl it had been my lot to see sitting behind a fruit stand. She asked me if the ticket agent could not help me and I told her no, so she advised me to go to the general office and state my case. She directed me and I went and stated my condition and was told to come back in an hour. I went back in that time and received a pass on the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and was told to take the 6 p.m. freight train. Feeling all o.k. I sauntered back to my little German girlfriend and told her about my good luck. She looked at my pass and said it was good on any train at anytime and advised me not to take the 6:00 p.m. train as that only traveled fifteen miles an hour and the emigrant train went twenty miles an hour, and that I would never catch my train. But if I waited until 10:00 p.m., the postal express started then and would pass the emigrant train at 8:00 a.m. next morning. I had confidence in what she told me and waited until 10:00 p.m. During the interval I walked about Chicago, visited the barracks and principle streets and the shore of the lake and had quite a good time. I saw one man killed in a runaway, saw some rebel prisoners (it was during the war which had just broken out and these were hot times generally).
After seeing Chicago I got on board the express train and started. The only person I saw was an old lady who thought I was a train hand and she asked me something about the train. After riding four hundred miles at forty miles an hour, the train stopped and I saw another train on a side track just as my German girl told me I would. It did not take me long to get off the express and when the people on the train saw me they said up a yell that would almost wake [p.4] a drunken man. Oh, such handshaking. They were so glad to see me that they all wanted to shake hands with me at once. After a little while our train started and got to St. Joseph, Missouri. There we took a boat for Florence, the outfitting place for our start on the plains by ox team. The steamboat that carried us up the Missouri River was a day making the trip. It was very hot on the trip, three people dying from heat and drinking ice water. The three dead people were buried on the bank of the river. At last we got to Florence where the emigrants pitched their tents and started to learn to rough it. Florence is a few miles north of Omaha and had some of the worse storms I have seen. One storm in particular, the water came down in sheets. It rained so hard that it hurt the skin wherever it struck and lightning killed three persons and a great many more were injured.
After lying about for two days I got a job waiting on table at the hotel and fared quite well, having plenty to eat and not much to do. After about two weeks in the hotel, W. S. Godbe, a druggist of Salt Lake City, who was fitting out a freight train to cross the plains, asked me if I would come and cook for his men who were fitting up the wagons. So I told him yes. I started to cook for him and was to cook across the plains. After about three weeks of that work the ox team was ready. The captain, Ben Hampton, came to me and said: "Well, cook, I shall have to make a teamster of you until I can get a teamster." He handed me a long whip about fourteen feet long, and showed me five yoke of cattle. He said: "The wheelers are good and the leaders are broke to work, the other three yoke are wild, and we will help you to yoke them up for a few days."
You can imagine my surprise. I had not even seen an oxen yoked and did not know how to drive them. Well, the leader of the wagon train started the first team, and the rest of us piloted out cattle behind and we traveled about ten miles the first day on our journey of one thousand miles across the American desert. . . . [p.5]
. . . there was very little level ground until we got to the Valley. We camped on the Eighth Ward square the first night and unloaded our freight next day. . . . [p.7]
BIB: Farnes, Ebenezer. Reminiscences, pp. 1-5,7. (CHL)