On Monday, February 26 1849, about 2 p.m. we commenced our journey by going out of the Waterloo Dock and singing "The Saints Farewell." During this time my feelings were wrought in a wonderful manner, too much for me to describe on paper. I remember well the sober faces of my faithful brothers: William Phillips of Merthyr; Abel Evans, Eliaser Edwards, John Davis, my brother David, and Daniel Evans of Velinvach, Ustrad, Cardiganshire, who came from Wales, all the way to bid us farewell.
Oh, how heavenly the fellowship of these brethren many times in Wales. The day was often too short for us to talk over the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. We would often extend the conversation through the night while others were sleeping and it came to [p.243] my mind, when should we meet and see one another again. I thought of hearing someone saying that the time would not be long before I would meet them all in Zion, and this gave me courage.
When we were being towed out of the dock, I saw my dear brethren following down on the river bank as far as possible, and I imagined I could hear on the breeze, them saying, 'Oh, Father, take Thou the care of them, for we cannot go further.'
After we had gone about thirty miles out to sea, the steamboat left us alone on the great ocean. The wind was against us the first day but the weather was fine.
On Tuesday we came in sight of an island the land looked barren and the mountains very high and dwelling houses were numerous, skirting the beaches. Tuesday and Thursday following, most of us were very much out of sorts through seasickness, but some of us escaped without any sickness. During these days our dear president, Captain Dan Jones, was very mindful of the sick. He showed his love towards us very much. He would walk back and forth through the great ship, and administer to those that were sick. He and Brother Daniel Daniels of Brechfa and William Jenkins of Cardiff and other faithful ones were very busy waiting on us, and making gruel for those that were sick. This was the most tasty and beneficial food for us during these days. It would stay on the stomach better than anything else. I did not want either salt or butter with the gruel, nor could I eat any bread with it. It was the same with my dear wife and children, but Mary my youngest daughter, was not sick during the whole voyage, though many prophesied before we left Wales that this one would surely die on the sea, but to our Heavenly Father be the glory for keeping us all alive. We did not remain sick but a few days and I see by this time that the seasickness has done us good by purifying our stomachs.
I recommend all those that will follow us to Zion to bring oatmeal, and oat bread with them. They will find this the best food when they are seasick. The best way for those that follow us to Zion to keep their health is to keep on deck as much a possible. This will be an advice that will benefit them at our expense.
Brother Jones kept very busy to get people to go on deck, but many would hide from him by covering up in bed while he passed and I fear that I was not far from being like one of these. He would sometimes jokingly say that he would bring the pulley down and put a rope around us and hoist us up against our own will, but all willingly obeyed, and went on deck so the joke was not executed. [p.244]
Love toward us caused Brother Jones in every way to benefit us. We all see his worth to us from the beginning of the journey until now and I believe that Brother Jones will continue in his effort until we reach the valleys of the mountains, and I believe also that he will continue in this effort until we shall enjoy every blessing temporally and spiritually.
Dear Brother, you may publish through your sweet sounding magazine that false prophets are those that have prophesied through the press and pulpit that Brother Jones would sell us as slaves and take all our money. It is plain to see where their inspiration comes from, and what spirit leads them to prophesy such lies about us.
But, to return to the history of the voyage. There were not many of us sick after the first day or two. I do not intend to give a daily history of the voyage as I intended at first in this letter because Brother Jones has given a minute history of the daily occurrence. It suffices for me to testify that he has stated the conditions correctly. I have a daily account of the things that happened and also the condition of the weather. We sometimes saw a large school of fish jumping and rolling in the water in the wake of the ship. There were [some] six to seven feet long called sea pigs. We also saw a dolphin. It was caught by one of our sea men. They consider this the handsomest fish in the sea. It is about the size of the ordinary salmon of the river type. We saw scores of flying fish. They were flying in flocks over the water. On the 19th of March we saw a fish about twelve feet in length. Some of them called it sharks and others young whale. We left many ships and islands behind and our vessel hurried towards the setting sun. We had fine weather and fair wind nearly every day. Indeed it was much more of a pleasure trip than I expected, the middle of March was like June. While in one part of the ship musicians were playing, in other parts good books were being read and studied--others conversing about our country and the success of the Gospel in Wales and many of their relatives had obeyed it. And my prayer is that my relatives and all those who heard me preach in the counties of Camarthen and Cardigan and all Wales will take hold of the truth and obey the gospel, that the seed that I sowed will grow luxuriantly. I have no doubt that it was planted in good soil and that it will bring forth fruit. Those that are left in charge will watch over the young sprouts that they grow, and plant much more of the seed in good soil, that it may not be destroyed ut will bring forth much fruit.
We held family prayer and prayer meetings nearly every night instead of family prayer. Our Heavenly Father gave us of his spirit [p.245] from above and answered our prayers until the winds obeyed us. We held Saints meeting every Sunday and commemorated our Lord and Savior and sometimes in those meetings the spirit would make known to us knowledge about you in Wales. Yes, it revealed to us great things, and oh how sweet was the teachings and exhortations of Brother Jones to us about the resurrection of the dead--how they would be raised and with what kind of bodies they would come. There's more mystery in this than some believe.
Well, I see that the letter is getting long no matter how sweet it is to write to you. I must draw it to a close but before ending, I desire to inform my dear brothers and sisters who intend to follow us to Zion to obey the counsels of their presidents from time to time, for then they will have much happiness through the Holy Spirit, but those on the other hand who disobey the counsel and disregard the Holy Priesthood had better stay at home until they become possessed of more of God's spirit, and be obedient and well-bred and gentlemanly and easy of handling.
My dear brothers and sisters, hurry and come after us and remember the counsel, be obedient and remember the word of the Savior Jesus Christ, that the meek shall inherit the earth. And now, dear Brother Davis, after writing so much, I will terminate by informing your that we have reached this place in good health and my wife joins me in remembrance to you and wishing you every good [p.246].
Your brother in Christ,
BIB: Jeremy, Thomas, [Letter] IN The George S. Ashton Family Story, pp. 243-46. (CHL)