Ship Chimborazo, off Cape May, 120 miles from Philadelphia, May 18, 1855.
President F. [Franklin] D. Richards.
Dear Brother--Our pilot is on board [p.397] to conduct us up the beautiful River Delaware. I take great pleasure therefore in giving you a short account of our beautiful and safe voyage over the briny deep.
We left Liverpool docks 17th April, 12 o'clock. We were taken down the River Mersey by steamtug to the sea, and then left to the mercies of wind and waves, both of which were mild and gentle for four days, when we took fair wind as we were leaving soundings, having the blue sky and rolling billows to gaze upon--a new but majestic scene to most on board, and the cheerful countenances of the Saints, with songs of Zion, told the joy of hundreds on board, who had for many years earnestly desired and prayed for deliverance from old Babylon. Great was the joy of the Saints on leaving moorings, in the presence of Elders William Kimball, Grant, Ellsworth, Ferguson, Merrill, Dunbar, and others, in the midst of the shouts of hundreds, not unnoticed by angels, and those prophets who predicted and foresaw the sons of Jacob gathering home from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, to the inheritance promised him and his seed after him.
From the time we took fair wind until the 29th, we advanced prosperously. We were then becalmed for four days, and were drifting back by the tide. This day being Sabbath we held two meetings on deck, through the kindness of our noble captain. Much of the Spirit of the Lord has been manifested, and the Saints showed their willingness by unanimous vote to devote the first day of May to fasting and prayer for past favors, also to be favored with fair wind. Be assured, this fast was not without sacrifice, as most of the Saints were getting a sharp appetite from the fast without vote--by seasickness. However, the Lord did not pass our sacrifice unnoticed, for previous to our dismissal of Sacrament meetings in our various wards, the captain was ordering more canvas before the fair wind which continued five successive days and nights, and which brought us safely over the banks of Newfoundland. We passed one ship dismasted; the Saints did not complain at the loose boxes and tinware dancing to the tune of ten knots an hour, as we were getting what we asked for--fair wind, which is not attended without the waters being somewhat enraged at sea. Then we had a few days of disagreeable cold weather, attended with snow and rain, and winds fluctuating, which is quite common at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, where the ice of the Lakes Erie and Ontario flow down.
The officers and crew were often heard to say the "Mormons" had better fast and pray again, but all with the best of feelings, and belief of some.
Sunday, 13th May, New York pilots came on board close alongside of Long Island. We learned, from the papers, of the arrival of the "Juventa" six days previous--7th instant, at Philadelphia. We find, this a close chase, as they had 18 days start.
We held three meetings this day on deck--two preaching meetings, and one Sacrament and testimony meeting, attended by the officers of the ship with the best of feelings; a day not to be forgotten, for heaven has smiled upon us, and I must say the ship is a Christian, for it has kept the Sabbath by resting, as it has been calm and fair each Sabbath, so that we have been able to hold meetings on deck.
18th. Cast anchor sixty miles from port, in the Delaware River. This is about halfway from the mouth of the river, or Cape May. I am happy to report the Saints in excellent standing and health, rejoicing to see the promised land of Jacob. Considering the experience of the Saints on board, I never wish to preside over a more willing and better people than the Chimborazo Conference. Through my able council and presidents of wards, whom I often met in council, we were able to control all things for good, and for the comfort of the Saints, which was quite satisfactory. Many came to me and said they lived better on shipboard than in England. We have kept up daily meetings twice each day in our various wards, which caused a continuation of that good Spirit that is coupled with signs following. The gifts of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, not omitting the healing of the sick by laying on of hands, have accompanied us, to our joy. Many have testified they have enjoyed more of the Spirit of God on shipboard than ever before. We have enjoyed excellent health all the way, seasickness excepted. The Saints employed their extra time in making tents and wagon covers for the plains.
We have had two deaths of infants, one April 28, daughter of Jeremiah and -- Price, by accidental fall from the hatch- [p.398] way, aged 23 months; May 2nd, son of William Beynon, of inflammation of lungs, aged 10 months; both from East Glamorganshire Conference, Wales. We have had one birth, three marriages, four baptisms, and four more applicants on arrival, one of which is mate of the ship, brother-in-law to Captain Peter Vesper, master of our ship, who has secured our blessings and warmest feelings for his kindness and good management. I can speak of him as a good navigator, and kindly disposed, by which he secured a vote of thanks, both on leaving Liverpool and on our arrival in Philadelphia. On one occasion three kettles of gruel were administered to the Saints by him, which caused them to say, "God bless the captain."
22nd. We have been detained in the river until daylight. This morning we learn the "S. Curling" arrived today, and will join us, and we will leave for Pittsburgh day after tomorrow.
Elders [Andrew L.] Lamoreaux and [Thomas] Jeremy join in love to you and all friends, and may God bless you all, and bring you safe home to Zion.
Yours in the New Covenant,
Edward Stevenson [p.399]
BIB: Stevenson, Edward, [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 17:25 (June 23, 1855) pp. 397-99. (CHL)