St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 25, 1855
President E. Snow -- Dear Brother -- The Clara Wheeler, Captain Nelson with 422 Saints on board, left the Mersey on 27th Nov., 1854, under our charge; but owing to the weather we were driven on the lee shore, and nothing but the power of God could have prevented our vessel, which was drifting on to the reefs, from being dashed to pieces, as others were which had started under much more favorable circumstances. During the night of the 25th we were burning blue lights and signal rockets. Pilot, captain, officers, and crew had all given up hopes of our being saved; but the Lord was at the helm, and we returned to Liverpool in safety, where we laid wind bound several days, until feeling that it was our privilege to rebuke the elements, we held a day of fasting and prayer; many prophesied that the wind would change that night and that we should have a good breeze. It did change, and thus enabled us to get out on the next day, the 7th Dec., when we started afresh, the wind being favorable long enough to enable us to get clear. During the voyage we had one birth, eight marriages, and thirty deaths, seven of which occurred coming up the river. During the whole passage we were favored by our Heavenly Father in having fair winds, and in making, I presume, the quickest passage ever known at this season of the year. We arrived in New Orleans on the 11th January, where we were met by Elder McGaw, our agent, making the voyage in thirty-six days. In fact, nothing seemed to have the power of hindering us. At the mouth of the Mississippi the vessel got on the bar, but was got off directly by the assistance of an extra steamer, which happened to be close by, whilst according to all human chances, she might have remained for hours or even days.
On our arrival at New Orleans we were equally fortunate. We took our passage on board the "Oceana" eighteen hours after our arrival. On arrival at the quarantine ground, where with steamers with emigrants are compelled to stop and undergo medical inspection, causing a detention of one or more hours, we only stopped a short time, and succeeded in reaching this city on the afternoon of 22nd instant, just in time, for had we been detained a few hours longer, we should have not got up, as the river was soon after blocked up with ice, showing that the Lord was with his people. He also constrained the captain and officers of both ship and steamboat to show acts of kindness to us on our journey. The Saints are, on the whole, in good health and first rate spirits; the deaths were, as you will perceive by the list handed you, almost entirely among children, owing to the measles having been brought on board. Brother Parsons and I have had bad health nearly all the way. We have brought with us the mortal remains of Elder W. W. Magor, who died while fulfilling a mission in the London Conference, with feelings of gratitude, for our wonderful preservation and safe arrival at this stake of Zion.
I remain, dear brother, yours, faithfully,
Henry E. Phelps, PresidentPer E. [Edmund] C. Brand, Clerk. [p.38]
BIB: Brand, Edmund C. [Letter] IN St. Louis Luminary, 1:10 (January 27, 1855), p.38 (CHL)