On board the steamer "Mameluke," St. Louis, May 1st, 1848.
Dearly beloved President Spencer,--This is indeed the first convenient opportunity I have found of informing you of our safe arrival over the sea. We were thirteen days tossed violently about in the channel and Irish Sea. The whole company were quite seasick, except Brothers [C. W.] Wheelock and Samuel, and Mother [Mary] Kerr, who by their exertions, coupled with the kindness of Captain William McKenzie, greatly ameliorated our condition.
On Sunday, Feb. 27th, we were beating off Milford, and it was proposed by the captain, if the weather did not change, to put into haven the next day; but we succeeded in clearing the Cape, and standing out to sea. Sometimes we ran so close upon rocks and shoals, that the captain put on all the sail the Carnatic could bear, which made her roll and wallow in the seas with apparent madness, and thereby barely escaped the threatened danger. This was the roughest part of all the voyage, and took such an effect upon us, our boxes, barrels, &c., as led us to watch, and leave it mostly to those who were on the land to pray.
As soon as the elements and our healths would permit, we were organized into such divisions as equalized the labor of cleaning, building fires, receiving water, maintaining watch, &c., each day of the week. This was done by the men. We had our regular hours for prayer; also meetings on the Sabbath. We had some precious seasons, and once administered the sacrament. The captain, upon finding us diligent to observe good order, laid aside the rigid formality of ship rules, and granted us every comfort and convenience which we could enjoy, or he bestow, on shipboard; indeed he studied our happiness with the care of a father, bringing and sending dainties from his own table to such of the company as were most seasick; admitting us on the quarter and poop decks; into the cabin; committed the ship's medicine chest unto my charge; and allowed the females free access to the water closet; and when we came to warm latitudes, prepared shower and other baths, which conduced much to the health and comfort of the company. In short, had he been a Saint, I do not see how he could have granted us greater liberties, or indulged in more familiarity with us, and maintain the dignity of his command over all on shipboard. Let me here mention his kindness to me. On the 26th of March, when I had become so reduced as to be unable to dress and go on deck alone, he offered me his own berth and state room, and seat at his table. Reluctant to accept this too generous offer, the first and second mates offered me their rooms. I accepted the latter, and immediately began to recover; so that when we arrived in New Orleans, on the 19th of April, my health was again quite comfortable. When I was ready to pay for these distinguished favors, his charge was, "an interest in my prayers, that he and his might be gathered with us into the kingdom of God." He gave the parting kiss with tears; and the crew bestowed three cheers. Let the prayers and blessings of the faithful be for him and his; for while he called us brethren, he treated us as such.
We passed between the Azores and mainland, and entered into the region of tradewind influence on the 16th of March. It is worthy of note, that during our whole passage we experienced nothing like any tradewinds, but, on the contrary, they were mostly from the points of compass varying between west and north. The captain said he never knew the like before. I view it as one of the changes of the last days, for the perplexity of such as go down to the sea in ships.
As we passed into warmer weather, Father [James] Young appeared to fail daily, notwithstanding the diligent attention which was paid to him. He did not seem to have any particular disease, but was sometimes troubled with cramping, insomuch that on the 21st March we anointed and prayed for him; he was immediately relieved, and comparatively comfortable; still failing however, until he was again distressed with cramping, and when not, lay quite insensible. The weather was now very warm, and all hope of his surviving the passage, with any comfort to [p.203] himself or anyone else, had fled. The Saints and elders felt as I did, that it was best to commend his spirit to God, which was done with solemn prayer and laying on of hands, on the evening of the 30th, and at fifteen minutes past nine he fell asleep. We desired to bring his body, and bury it among the Saints; but the officers of the ship assured us we should not be permitted to pass the Balize with the corpse on board, and the company became resigned to a burial at sea. After being neatly laid out, his corpse was enclosed in a new piece of strong canvas, a great weight of stone coal, also enclosed in strong canvas, was attached to the feet, and at forty minutes past six o'clock on the morning of the 31st Father James Young was buried in latitude 19 degrees 10' north, and longitude 58 degrees 40'. The water was so still, that the corpse was seen as it sank at a great depth.
Sister [Eliza] Emery, from Doncaster, has been somewhat afflicted with the scald-head; and Sister [Sarah] Edwards, from the Birmingham Conference, has been feeble and declining in her health; otherwise the company have been, and now are, healthy, save seasickness.
Cleanliness and ventilation are indispensable to the health of any company of emigrants passing into so warm a latitude. We were as low as 13 degrees north of the Equator. Another important contingency is (since the salvation of precious souls is the primary object of our emigration), each adult person should be supplied with four instead of three quarts of water per day, and put up in sweet and healthy casks. When a protracted passage renders it necessary to reduce the quantity of water to two quarts, and even three pints, per day, as was the case with us, it is very uncomfortable, if not unhealthy, in the torrid zone.
We passed into the Caribbean Sea between the islands of Antigua and Guadeloupe on Sunday 2nd of April. We passed Cape St. Antonio (Isle of Cuba), on the 13th of April, and on Monday 17th about 3 p.m., Captain McKenzie, Brother [Andrew] Cahoon, and myself went on to the foretopsail yard, in search of Balize, and by the aid of the glass readily saw the lighthouse and steamers plying to and fro.
On our arrival at New Orleans, we found Elder L. [ Lucius] N. Scovil was watching for us, who immediately came on board, which very much cheered us all. By diligent exertion we were cleared and on board this boat in three days. Captain McKenzie had taken out a permit from the house of customs for the luggage of seventy families to be passed to the officer on board, with whom I made a favorable acquaintance. He treated us with much respect, and not a box, barrel, or parcel of any kind whatever was required to be examined; and lest we might wish to clear the ship when he was not on board, he gave me a certificate of clearance for my company and all that belonged to them. Thus even to this moment has the Lord our God seemed to prepare all things before us on this passage. Here let me say it is of vast importance to all concerned, that good and faithful men have charge of companies coming out, who will exert a savory influence, not only with the Saints in charge, but save pounds in value, and prevent the wounding of many good feelings.
Our entire company left New Orleans on Sunday morning, April 23rd and arrived here in the afternoon of Sunday the 30th, not quite eight days out, and just at the time of closing our meeting, which Captain Coolidge, with his brother and sister, and other cabin passengers, attended. They also have been very kind to us, and are now permitting us to remain on board till we can contract with another boat to take us up the river.
We are afflicted by the death of Elder M. Sirrine, whose widow is now in this city, and designs to accompany us to Winter Quarters. He died on his way here on board the steamer "Niagara," on the 20th of April, just before they had reached the mouth of the River Ohio, of consumption. His remains will be taken to Winter Quarters for burial. Brother Felt and the Saints in this place are doing well; they have a chapel and enjoy much of the Spirit of God. The council is for none to stop here who have the means to go to the Potawatamie lands. This is important to the welfare of the British Saints.
About a fortnight ago some 200 Saints left this place with Elders Amasa Lyman, E.[Ezra] T. Benson, and Erastus Snow on the steamer "Mandan," for Winter Quarters. When about 150 miles up, run against a snag, and were obliged to discharge freight [p.204] and passengers, and return to this place to repair, which was accomplished and the boat started up last Wednesday.
The latest news from the camp is all very favorable. The government of Iowa have granted a county of land to the Saints, called Potawatamie county, and the general government has created a post office, Evan M. Green postmaster--the correct address to which is "Kane, Potawatamie County, Iowa, via St. Joseph's, Missouri." The officers of this new county were to have been elected on the 3rd day of April.
Steamer,"Mustang," May 9
We have at length contracted with Captain Patterson of this boat, to land us at Winter Quarters for a guinea apiece over twelve years, and 100 pounds of luggage allowed each person, all over that is to be paid 4s. 2d. per 100.
During the past week a company os Saints arrived here from Western New York (Batavia), eleven in number, also the company which came in the "Sailor Prince," with Brothers Martin and Scovil. Such of them as can are going up with us. Elder Wheelock and most of those who came from Birmingham will find it needful to stop in St. Louis for a while; they are all I good health. Elders Robins and McKenzie have returned from Camp with much cheering news and interesting letters for the Salt Lake City. Elders Orson Pratt, and Levi Richards with their families, are expecting to start soon for England, also a goodly number of other men to aid in the glorious work, some of whom are now on their way.
Our present company, who still call me their president, numbers about 150, and consists of persons from different parts of the United States as well as the old country. I am indeed surprised to find such kind and generous treatment as we have received on these rivers, and am assured that the state of public feeling towards us is very much modified, and business men in St. Louis, as well as masters of vessels, are seeking to obtain our business, which is already an advantage to us, and if judiciously conducted will prove a lasting aid in the gathering, and profit to the. We are permitted to enjoy our meetings for prayer and instruction at our own option on this boat, as hitherto, and the officers join with us with all becoming respect.
Now, Brother Spencer, I have watched over this company with my utmost diligence. My counselors have efficiently co-operated with me. In so doing we have done it in view of the worth of precious souls; and I firmly believe no company of Saints has ever crossed the Atlantic with less disorder, disaffection, or complaining, or with more of a salutary happy influence exerted upon all people, under all circumstances, which have surrounded us: for all this I feel thankful, indeed, to my Heavenly Father, and believe it will be comforting to you and the Saints generally, in Britain, to know of it. We are thankful for their faith and fervent prayers, the benefits of which we have richly realized. When they come out may they, as we have been, be led forth in much mercy, and be spared the many evils too often connected with such a journey.
Brother Cahoon returns thanks for your kind letter received here, and in view of your receiving this thought is best to defer writing till we had seen your children. We have not had a word from them yet, but we rejoice in the hope of seeing them soon and our dear kinsfolk. Brother Samuel, Brother Scovil, and my counselors join with me in sentiments of high esteem towards yourself and family, and which you every prosperity and happiness in accelerating the speed of the work; and may the blessings of God and good men abound unto all such as have ministered to our wants, or may, to yours and all the faithful.
Farewell, as ever, your fellow servants for righteousness sake,
F. [Franklin] D. Richards,C. H. Wheelock,A. [Andrew] Cahoon,
S. [Samuel] W. Richards. [p.205]
BIB: Richards, Franklin D., [Letter] Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. 10:13, (Jul 1, 1848), p. 203-05. (CHL)