A few items or incidents that may be interesting to you that happened during our long journey to Utah, our grand old mountain home. I can't remember the time when the place was not talked about in our home, for we always planned to come sometime. At last the time did really come.
On Monday, the 14th day of May 1862, we left Birmingham for Liverpool, England, and went directly on board the ship, William Tapscott, commanded by Captain Bell (if I remember right, his name was William Bell). He was a fine man, bluff and ruddy but kindly and every inch a man. It was his third or fourth trip across the ocean with a shipload of Mormons, and he told my father that he never felt so safe or had better voyages than when he was bringing over a shipload of Latter-day Saints. This time there were eight hundred and fifty souls on board, including the crew. It was a sailing vessel depending entirely on the wind and sails to carry us across that big blue sea. We set sail about eight o'clock that same evening. How happy everyone was! As the ship began to move, hundreds of voices - men, women and children- began to sing: Come, Come Ye Saints; then Cheer Saints, Cheer, We Are Bound for Peaceful Zion, Cheer Saints Cheer for the Free and Happy Land; then Oh [p.260] Ye Mountains High in the Clear Blue Sky, by Charles W. Penrose. It was one of the nights that I have never forgotten.
We were second-cabin passengers, the only accommodation to be had. Our cabin was a room with four berths in it. The light was from a large porthole covered with very thick blue glass. When the sea was not too rough, we had it open. Lorenzo used to always have a heavy fish line hanging out always hoping to land a big fish, but he never did. Our family consisted at that time of Father, Edward Price; Mother, Matilda Lawrence Price; and six children: Lorenzo age 16, Agnes 13, Walter 12, Linda 3, Eli 14 months and myself, Isabelle, 14 years. Matilda had come the year before in the care of some friends. She was 18 years.
There was a row of cabins similar to ours on each side of the ship, not all as large. They were numbered - ours was No. 1. In the center of the ship there were two long tables running down as far as the cabins reached. On each side of the table, long benches were secured safely to the floor. We had to do our own cooking. There was what they call a cooking galley. The stove in it was about ten feet square with a space about three feet all around it for the people to stand and hold on to their pans and saucepans, for they would sometimes slide all over the stove, if the sea was a bit rough. That was my first initiation in cooking. Mother was seasick for two weeks. The night we set sail I don't remember that we had any supper; we had been too busy all day and too excited to think of eating.
It was lots of fun the next day to watch the sailors stow away the baggage for so many people. We youngsters all around the hatchways were watching them lower the trunks from the deck into the hold when all at once a little boy, a Welsh boy, leaned too far over and lost his balance and came tumbling down three stories to the hold. He just missed me. He almost struck me in the face as he passed the place where I was leaning over looking over too to see all I could. It was a wonder it did not kill the poor child. It broke his leg in two places. They put him in a cabin opposite ours. He was such a patient, jolly little fellow. When his leg did not pain him he used to sing: "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel is a Motto for Every Man." He would sing at the top of his voice the chorus: "Drive care away, for grieving is a folly. Put your shoulder to the wheel is a motto for every man." That was our only accident during our trip on the ocean. Three babies died and were buried in the sea.
In the early part of June, we were in a dead calm for three days. The sailors said we had only traveled about three or four miles a day. It seemed so funny not to be moving after making a good headway. It gave us a queer feeling to be so still. The sea was just as calm as a pan of water, not a ripple to be seen. Our ship had been traveling from 11 to 14 knots an hour. Then on the 21st of June we had a terrific storm of wind and rain. The waves were mountain high. [p.261] As one end of the ship went down, you could not see over the top of the waves, the next minute the other would be down. It was the grandest sight that I ever saw, beautiful but awful in its grandeur. But havoc in the steerage and in our quarters too. The buckets, grips, pans and all kinds of cooking utensils and trunks were skating all over the place. A great many of the women and children were frightened nearly to death. Some felt sure we would be shipwrecked. It was after this awful storm that Captain Bell told my father he always felt perfectly safe when he had our people on board. There was no thought of cooking that day for no one was allowed on deck, but strange to say, we did not think of food or eating, not even (did) the children. About the 24th of June we arrived in New York and bid farewell to kind Captain Bell.
The next year Captain Bell brought another shipload of Saints over, then was sent by the owner of the ship on a three years' cruise and somewhere in mid-ocean the William Tapscott caught fire and was burned to the water's edge. We heard that all on board perished but never knew for sure if it was true, but I would not wonder for in those days there was not so much traffic.
We stayed in New York one night and left for St. Joseph, Missouri; that was as far as the railroad went at that time. We arrived there on the 4th of July. We were all dreadfully tired. We had not had a chance to lie down for nine days and nights. What sleep we had was taken sitting up or leaning back in our seats, but for one day and night we did not even have that privilege. You see, we came during the Civil War and railroad cars were scarce, and one place, I think it was just before we reached Chicago, all the trains of cars that our folks had rented had been burned by the Rebels, so there were none at that station to be had. The depot master offered to rig up some boxcars, or we could wait in the depot for twenty-four hours or maybe forty. There was nothing sure about their being able to furnish enough, so they put it to a vote of the people and, of course, the vote was for the boxcars rather than wait. So they put heavy planks across the box cars quite close together, no back to lean against, and very little foot room.
We had not gone more than seventy-five miles when we met with an awful jolt. Everybody tumbled into each other's lap either backwards or forwards. It was all the same - there wasn't room to fall on the floor. It seemed to me I bounded up to the top of the car, then fell into somebody's lap. Anyway there was some tall scrambling. I suppose every car was the same as ours. Of course, the train came to a full stop and the conductor came through the train to find out how many of us were hurt or killed. He looked with wonder when he found there was no one hurt or dead, said it was a miracle that he could not understand. What caused the trouble, someone had tried to wreck the train by putting the section men's handcar across the track. Our boxcar train broke it to smithereens and passed on as [p.262] though nothing had happened. Only another instance of the Lord's protecting care which we all felt, and I hope, appreciated.
As I said, we arrived in St. Joseph on the 4th and camped on the banks of the Missouri River that night. Next day we took a steamboat for a two-hundred mile ride up the river to a little place called Florence, about six miles from Omaha. . . . [p.263]
BIB: Kunkel, Isabelle Price Our Pioneer Heritage comp. By Kate B. Carter Vol. 7 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1964) pp. 260-63. (CHL)