On Tuesday, May 13th, 1862, we finished berthing the eight hundred and seven souls of the Saints on board the packet ship William Tapscott, Captain Bell. At 1 p.m., the presidency of the mission came on board, instructed us freely, and organized us under the presiedncy of William Gibson, with Elders John Clark and Francis M. Lyman as his counselors. There were other Valley elders [MEANING THOSE WHO HAD ALREADY BEEN TO THE VALLEY OF THE GREAT SALT LAKE] in our company--Thomas C. Stayner and wife, Samuel Hargraves, and William Dallin. Also native elders, who had done a good work as presidents or traveling elders, in various conferences; Thomas Liez, Thomas [p.529] W. Rees, Israel Bale, Charles R. Jones, William Shires, Joseph R. Morgan and Henry Whittall.
It takes considerable work to locate and settle on a ship eight hundred souls for a sea voyage of six weeks, as ours proved to be. No people in the world are so good to handle and so willingly submit to wholesome discipline as the Latter-day Saints.
At 11 a.m., Wednesday, May 14th, 1862, we weighed anchor and were led out to sea by a steam tug. About noon the steamship "Kangaroo" steamed by us with President Lyman, Rich and Cannon, and Elders John Van Cott, William H. Dame and George J. Taylor on board for New York.
The first afternoon out the brethren were called together and our company was divided into nineteen wards. The following brethren were appointed to preside over them: Henry Whittall, Charles R. Jones, J. R. Morgan, William Dallin, Israel Bale, Samuel Hargraves, J. [James] H. Harrison, J. Huntington, W. [Walter] Price, W. [William] Woodhead, William Probet [Probest], S. [Samuel] Brooksbank, G. [George] Pope, Thomas Memmott, J. [James] Hibboot [Hibbert], J. Godfrey, T. [Thomas] W. Rees, W. [William] Cooper, and C. [Charles] C. Foster [Tester]; captain of the guard, Thomas Liez.
Various arrangements were then entered into for the proper regulation and comfort of the Saints in the different wards. The more important items were as follows: Each ward president to keep a list of the names of all under his charge, whose comfort and well being he should make it his special business to promote. Prayers in each ward every morning at 9 o'clock, and every evening at 8. Whatever article may be lost or found by any of the emigrants on board, the same to be reported to the president of their respective wards, who will take measures to restore it to the owner, if possible. No private lights to be allowed below deck, except by special permission of the captain. The emigrants of each ward to arrange their cooking, etc., together, in rotation, instead of indiscriminately. The president of each ward to deep a judicious check upon the conduct of all emigrants under his watch care, etc.
When we had brought a score of men in positions to shoulder up a share of the load, we seemed, for the first time, to breathe freely. Those men all proved to be capable and earnest workers. At 8 p.m. the steam tug left us to work our own way through winds, waves and calms. President Gibson and his brethren kept ever a supervisory care over all the company's affairs, ever ready to assist with advice or otherwise. Our beginning seemed all that could be asked. At the close of our first day we surveyed all our works and pronounced them good.
Israel Bale and Emma Goddard were married on shipboard by President Gibson. The second day out two stowaways materialized and were soon set to work scrubbing the deck, for passage and provisions.
That terrible contagious seasickness was found raging among us on the second day out, although we had successfully passed the health officers. I came down with it as soon as possible. I had the violent form. It would engage me in a set-to from once to five times every day. I was quite indifferent to all that passed around me. We found it necessary to insist on rules of cleanliness being observed. Also the sounding of the bugle at 6 a.m., when all must--their health permitting--come out into fresh air. After prayers, at 9 p.m., no female was allowed on deck.
The first week passed with some misfortunes. Captain Bell fell on deck and broke a rib. Brother Hargraves also fell and hurt himself, quite seriously. Seasickness all the rage. The physician can't do anything to prevent or cure seasickness.
On the twenty-fourth of May, in spite of seasickness, President Gibson [p.530] married three couples of young folks. At the serving of rations, some people refused some of their supplies, others took them and threw them overboard. Some ugliness developed, but nothing very serious. General meeting was held on Sunday, on deck, and in the evening, in different sections of the ship. Good counsels prevailed. Disaffection, brought on by the ship's cooks, made quite a rumpus among us. The cooks were dismissed and negroes put in their places, and peace was again established. Calm after calm prevailed, so that our voyage looked as though it would be prolonged.
On the twenty-eighth of May we consigned to the sea Mary Carr, the fourteen-months-old daughter of Richard Carr. With singing and prayer, in a terrific storm, we attended to that sad rite. The weather was so severe that all were early below decks, and the evening was spent in singing the songs of Zion.
Ours was an unusually large company, a slow sailing boat, with rough weather, much seasickness, calms or head winds that delayed us until our supplies ran short.
President William Gibson was in a bad state of health when we sailed from Liverpool. He worked all he could for the company and was about much at night. His health failed him, and he got into such a nervous state that he was quite unfitted for the labors of president. About the tenth of June, two weeks out from New York, Dr. Whittle notified Brother John Clark and me that his state was a serious one. We then stepped forward and took charge of the company affairs. Such a contingency, perhaps, never arose in the history of emigration, where it became necessary for the counselors to step to the front and assume full charge of the company, as we were under the necessity of doing, from then till we arrived in New York, June 26th.
We at once took stock of the company's stores and supplies of every nature. We found it necessary to put all on half-rations of water and all provisions except salt beef and sea-biscuit. The medical stores were depleted entirely of wine and brandy. It was a hardship seriously felt by the Saints, to lose one half their supply of water and good provisions. We took every precaution to have the benefit of fresh air to people and their bedding, so that, aside from seasickness, our company arrived in New York in very good condition. Elder John Clark and I, in our extra labors, moved harmoniously side by side, and were sustained by all of the Saints.
On our arrival at New York, in consequence of the enfeebled condition of President Gibson, the sole charge of the company was put into my hands from there to Florence, Nebraska, by Elders Horace S. Eldredge and Ormus E. Bates, who were in charge of emigration matters at New York City.
It required a constant and faithful watchcare on shipboard and crossing the continent to prevent corrupt, designing men, from imposing upon our pure and unsuspecting girls. We were also annoyed by foolish men within our own company, which inclined us to feel that the "white man is very unreliable."
While gathering moneys from the company in New York for their passages to Florence, someone picked Brother Phillips' pocket of thirty sovereigns, or $150 in gold, a most unfortunate occurrence for a poor people. We moved out of New York, by rail, Friday evening, June 27th. . . . [p.531]
BIB: Lyman, Francis M. "My First Mission," Contributor 17:9 (July 1896) pp. 529-31. (CHL)