In the spring of 1856 most of Father's family were ready to set sail for America. There were my father, mother, Henry and Mary Seamons, my sister Mary and her husband James Thurston, myself and husband James Hancey, my sister Lucy and her husband John Reynolds, my brother Samuel Seamons and my three unmarried sisters, Jemima, Lydia, and Eliza Seamons. Also one William Beddingfield and his wife Louise Wilkinson Beddingfield. The mission president of Liverpool sent word to my father that they would have a ship chartered and ready to sail by the first of February and notified him to be in Liverpool by the 7th of the month.
The day before we left home the neighbors came from all around us to bid us goodbye. It was with sorrow that we said goodbye to our dear home and some of our dear friends and relatives we were leaving behind. Some of our relatives had turned against us because we were Mormons and would not come to see us off. Father turned to those present and said, "If anyone could come and say we owed them a penny, he would be glad to pay them." So we parted with them all with good feelings. But oh how sad it made us feel to say goodbye to some of our dear friends we were leaving behind, our dear home that never looked more beautiful than the day we left it. When our father bid goodbye to his father and mother and four brothers we never saw them again, but we were going to Zion and many new scenes were before us. We were 2 days going to Liverpool and then had to wait for a few days for the ship's crew to unload some ballast before we could go aboard. I remember that it rained in torrents for 3 days and nights while we were in Liverpool, and on the 17th of February we were taken out to the ships in open boats in the rain and had to climb up wet rope ladders into the ship. On the 18th at half past 2 a.m. the good ship Caravan set sail with 454 Saints on board under Captain William. Sands and crew for America. The Saints were under the direction of President Daniel Tyler and two counselors. The company was divided into 5 wards with a president and two counselors to each ward. About 8 a.m. we were assembled together for singing and prayer. Perhaps you can imagine the feeling of some of the Saints and see the tears roll down their cheeks as they tried to sing the hymn "Yes, My Native Land I Love Thee, All thy scenes I love them well, Friends, connections, happy country, Can I, can I say farewell; Yes, I leave thee, Yes, I leave thee, far in distant lands to dwell."
When we were about in mid-ocean a fierce storm arose and the water became so rough that the sailors had to close down the hatchways for over 2 days, so we didn't have much to eat except sea biscuits, or hardtack as the sailors call it, because we could not cook anything. The ship's cargo got shifted to one side of the vessel so that the vessel lurched over considerably and one mast was broken off and hung over the side of the ship. One sailor fell from a mast and was killed and another one had his thigh broken. One little girl died and was buried at sea. A few days after this, March 24th, my oldest child and son was born. It was a fine day and there was a wedding up on deck and many of the passengers went up on deck to hear the ceremony and see the couple married.
Our captain was very kind to the Saints and especially to the sick. During rough weather he with his cabin boy would come down and distribute large cans of soup and vegetables among the poor and the sick. So we named our son James Sands in honor of our Captain William Sands, because of his kindness to us and the Saints. We landed at New York on March 28, 1856. A steam tugboat came out and tugged us into the harbor. I had to be carried from the ship to the steamboat and then from the boat to land and up three flights of stairs to a room for the sick. This was in a place called Castle Garden. My mother stayed and took care of me and another sister who was sick until we were able to be moved two weeks later. [p.5]
My husband and James Thurston went over to a place called Williamsburg on the 1st of April and got a job from Jerry McWiggens. After a few weeks we moved over there and stayed until the fall of the year and then moved to New Jersey, where we lived for a little over three years. The people there were very kind to us and a branch of the Church was organized there with 33 members. Brother George Baker (now of St. George, Utah) was president of the branch. On June 21, 1858, my second son George Henry was born at New Jersey, Monmouth County.
In the year 1859 our late President John Taylor was then president of the New York Conference and he came and counseled the Saints with the families to move as far toward Utah as their means would carry them. Accordingly all the Saints of the New Jersey Branch went as far as Omaha, traveling by steamboat from St. Louis up the Missouri River to Omaha. Here a branch of the church was organized and we lived there for about 15 months. There was a great deal of sickness here and most of the Saints had the ague, or chills and fever as it was called, and a great many deaths occurred among the Saints. Among them was my second son, George, who died September 25, 1859. The older one lay sick two months longer and recovered.
On January 14, 1860, our dear father, Henry Seamons, died at the age of 51 years, which was a great sorrow to us all. In the spring of that year we began to prepare to go to Utah. Your father said he was going to Utah, but how we did not know; but said the Lord would open a way. On the 25th of February another son was born to us. We named him Horace William. He took down with the chills and fever but recovered.
About the 25th of May one Edmund Horton with two wagons and four yoke of oxen, his wife and family and a Harriet Bloomfield were ready to move. Also your grandmother Mary Seamons had one wagon, a yoke of oxen, a yoke of cows and a yoke of steers. In this wagon were Grandma Seamons, her son Henry and his wife, her son Samuel, her daughter Lydia, and one Sister Wilkinson (Lydia Daines Wilkinson) and her daughter Lydia and son Billy. Your father and James Thurston had one yoke of oxen, one yoke of cows and some young steers, and one wagon. In this were James Thurston and wife and three children, James Hancey and wife and two children, and a young woman, I have forgotten her name. After we started we traveled slowly so as to get the cattle used to it. We joined with a Brother MacGee and Charles Savage and others at Wood River and by the time we got as far as Genoa we had a company of fourteen wagons. A company of 32 handcarts and eight wagons were about half a mile ahead of us. When we encamped that night 30 mule teams that were going from Utah to Omaha for freight came and camped with us. President Joseph A. Young and 12 missionaries were with them. They gave notice that they would hold a meeting the next day and call the camp together for singing and prayer that night.
About four o'clock the next morning the guards came running into camp and reported that they saw something coming which they thought were Indians, but were not sure. We called up all the members and told the families to keep as close together as possible, to coral the cattle and look to their guns and ammunition. As they came nearer we could see that they were Indians, all dressed in their war paint and feathers with guns, spears, bows, and arrows and tommy-hawkes. Some of our men went out to meet them to see what they wanted and they asked if we had any gun powder or caps for sale or swap. Our men told them we had not so after they grunted around for awhile they said they were Sioux Indians and were going to fight the Pawnee Indians. At 10 o'clock that morning, we had a lovely meeting out in the open prairie at which President Joseph Young organized our company with a captain and two counselors. Our captain was Franklin Brown and with his brother Philander and John Levett as counselors and Josiah Levett as assistant captain. [p.6]
There being so many persons to each wagon that all could not ride and we had to walk most of the way. I had to carry my baby a great deal and he was growing heavier every day. Sometimes we would travel through wind and dust, and then through heavy rains and thunderstorms until we would be wet through. It was a long tedious journey, nearly four months from Omaha to Salt Lake City but we had no sickness to speak of and no deaths. As we went to camp at night and had supper and got rested up; oh, the good times we had singing songs, telling each other our experiences and expectations, and then we would kneel down and thank the Lord for all His kindness and mercies to us. I remember your father (James Hancy) saying to the oxen when he would unyoke them, "Well done, old Nigg and Dave, we are one day's march nearer home."
We arrived in Salt Lake City September 4 . . . [p.7]
BIB: [Collected information on the Seamons and related families, ca. 1980] (Ms 7571). p. 5-7 (CHL)