St. Louis, Feb. 20, 1855.
Dear Brother Franklin [D. Richards]--Previous to leaving England, I was asked by numerous friends and acquaintances to write them at an early date after my arrival in the New World. To many I made promises that I would do so, but since my landing I have been continually occupied; and as prospects indicate that this state of things will increase rather than diminish, and I hope to go on the coming spring, I see no way of fulfilling my promises, except by writing a general letter, and asking you to publish it in the Star.
Memory has often called Brother Franklin vividly to mind, as he lowered himself over the side of the ship, and said, "God bless you, brethren, you shall yet have a speedy and safe passage." This cheering prophecy was indeed fulfilled, for after we left the Channel, and got fairly out to sea, we had fair wind all the way, and the Clara Wheeler went to New Orleans quicker than she had ever been before.
The ship was divided into four wards, and the passengers into messes of ten persons each, to expedite the cooking business. Elders Follet, Guy, Martin, and [-] were presidents of the wards, and great credit was due to them for their faithful and diligent labors.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the provisions--they were all of first-rate quality, and we had, I believe, near fifteen barrels left when we landed in St. Louis. [p.221]
We had preaching and prayer meetings on deck and below, and we enjoyed much of the Spirit of God, but deeply regretted the continued sickness of our beloved President Elder Phelps. Several of the crew were favorably disposed, and promised to go through to the Valley.
When we arrived at New Orleans we were met by Elder McGaw, the agent of Elder Erastus Snow, whose kind and gentlemanly bearing won the affection and esteem of all who became acquainted with him; and I am happy to say that by our united exertions (those who had means lending to those who had none), we succeeded in taking all the company up the river, excepting two sisters who chose to stay at New Orleans.
Our reception at St. Louis far exceeded all I could have expected, and indeed all that ever took place at St. Louis before, and we all realized the blessings of being within the organization of a stake of Zion. About two days before our arrival, a severe frost set in and the river was nearly blocked with ice. Brothers Erastus Snow, Milo Andrus, the bishop and his counselors were early on the levee, the majority of the company were taken into the basement story of our large place of worship, the sick were the first objects of attention, and they, as well as the whole company, were located in hired houses as soon as possible.
Work, as a general thing, is scarce at this present moment, and provisions very dear, but we expect the river to open in a week or two, and then work will be abundant. I have started business, and have plenty of work, and enjoy very good health, and expect to cross the plains the coming season.
My kind regards to Brothers Daniel Spencer, Linforth, Jaques, Little, &c.
If this letter be published, I wish my acquaintances in England who have asked me to write, to consider it the fulfilment of any promises I may have made. [p.222]
With kind love, I remain your humble servant and fellow laborer,
BIB: Parson, John, [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. 17:14 (April 7, 1855) pp. 221-22. (CHL)