Twenty-fifth of April, 1863, it was announced in the Millennial Star that I was honorably released to return home. . . .
. . . I journeyed to Liverpool on the twenty-sixth of May, 1863, and boarded the ship Cynosure where I was put in charge of the Saints emigrating to Utah, with George H. Gleason and Willard G. Smith as my counselors, and William Parks, secretary. President Cannon did the setting apart on the twenty-ninth of May.
On the thirtieth I organized the Saints into six wards with W.G. Pitt over the first ward, James Watson over the second, Edward Cluff over the third, James Brown over the fourth, William Hayward over the fifth, and John Gibbs over the sixth. [p.106] I instructed them in their duties, and they were all sustained by common consent.
The rules were read: First, see that no evil exists, that good order is sustained, that cleanliness is kept in all the wards, that health may be preserved. It was also arranged that each ward attend to their prayers morning and evening, when the night bell rang.
On May thirty-first we weighed anchor at five o'clock in the morning, and set sail. That night I dreamed I saw the ship safely landed at New York Harbor after a long, dreary journey. I saw us all hailed "welcome home" with a band of musicians. Next day I told the Saints and captain about my dream. It was so impressed on my mind, that I never had a doubt of our not landing there alright, although we were in a poor old sailing ship which was lost on the return trip.
We had 859 souls on board.
We were tossed about on the ocean in the fog for days. The captain told me he had lost his bearings and when the fog lifted one day, we found our ship in the midst of fourteen icebergs. We sailed close by one of them. It looked like a little island, covered with seabirds, and had it's mountain peaks, canyons, and vales. It appeared lonely with the sun dancing on it's crest.[p.107]
The measles were brought on board and we had fifty Saints down at one time, children and grown people, too. The doctor was a poor excuse. He went around the patients with a bucket of salts and left a big dose for everyone that was sick. I told the captain, "It's a mistake to give opening medicine when the measles are breaking out." "Well, doctor them, yourself," roared he for he was a barboiled, big faced man, grim and untidy, and he gave me a medical book, saying, "Use the medicine I have along for the sailors. That doctor is a drunken sot, and he was put on board to pacify the law. It will not do to quarrel with him for he might give us trouble. The best way is to ignore him, and tend to the measles cases yourself."
I acted accordingly, and got along alright. Seven children were born during the passage, and I married seven couples, so they might have it to say, "We married on the ocean." We had old man Tullage [ John Tullidge] with us on board, and I bade him organize a chorus in every ward, and let him preside over them. This proved a great success in passing the time profitably, and kept the restless spirits occupied, while they practiced music. We had concerts every opportunity on deck, and joined all the ward choirs with Tullage conducting. [p.108]
The captain was delighted with our sentimental music. We had some fine talent, and thus we passed the time during the long, dreary voyage. On Sundays we had public worship. The captain had the sailors trim up the ship for the purpose and listened very attentively himself to what the speakers said. He forbade the sailors using profanity in the presence of the Saints.
We had one painful catastrophe, by the way. A young man belonging to the ship's crew got to playing with a rope. He would let himself down to the water, then come up by putting his feet against the side of the vessel to draw himself to the rail of the ship's deck hand over hand. He did this a number of times to show how smart he was, but one time he lost hold of the rope and fell headlong into the waters of the ocean. The ship moved eight miles an hour at the time he fell overboard and shot onward, to leave him like a speck on the ocean. They throwed over life preservers for him to catch but whether he ever got hold of any of them or not, we never knew, for we never saw him again. The ship was in full sail at the time, and could not stop and take another direction, so they made a large circle when the captain ordered the man at the helm to take [p.109] another direction. Meantime the sailors got one of the ship's boats lowered into the sea, and hunted for the boy till dark, without success. The captain had a lamp set in the rigging for the men in the boat to see the ship.
We threw up rockets every little while for we feared the men in the boat would be lost in the darkness, for the ship kept moving in the circle with the sail all lowered as much as possible. Finally the men and boat reached the ship nearly exhausted, for they had pulled hard to row. They found no trace of the boy, or the life preservers. He was left in mid-ocean without hope of recovery. Although he was a good swimmer, he found a watery grave. Man is a but a little thing when dropped in the ocean, or left to himself without the aid of heaven's supreme power.
I remember, that night after the ship was quiet, and everyone had gone below, I stood watching the evening star, and dreaming of my home. I wondered, "How is our little Eliza and Sarah, my wife? How has she fared without me?" It has been a long time and it seemed in imagination, I could take her in my arms, and hold her close. "Would I be out here, away from what I hold most dear, if I did not know that our Lord has restored his everlasting gospel to [p.110] the earth? Not much I wouldn't. I'd be home taking care of my loved ones, and working with her to make a home we both crave." I wept that night, with sheer homesickness, and knew it would be many weeks yet, "before I will get these Saints to Zion," and that night my pillow was wet with tears.
We finally arrived in New York Harbor, with great joy. William C. Stains [Staines] came out on the pilot boat to meet us, and welcome us home. We had been tossed about on the waters from June first till the nineteenth of July, but my responsibility was not ended. We had two thousand miles yet to travel by land. Though the responsibilities had changed, as it does all through our lives, from the cradle to the grave, we think in every case, our condition will be made better, so we hope on, presently to find rest from our labors, and are told that the rest we seek is only found by the righteous who die in the Lord.
When we landed near the ship, "Amazon," which left sometime after us, from London, with a thousand Saints on board and had entered the harbor two days ahead of us, yet we had never seen each other on the way, there was a band to play "Home, Sweet Home" in greeting. They had [p.111] supposed we were lost, but no, through all our perils God preserved us, and we landed safely as I was shown in my dream the night before we left Liverpool. The tears streamed from my eyes, and I had to retire to hide my emotion, and thank God, who had brought us safely over the sea.
Now new troubles were to be met, and overcome. We had to travel two thousand five hundred miles by land to Utah, by rail, by water, and by wagons from the Missouri River. The terminus of the railroad was at Quincy, Illinois. There we had to take a steamboat up the Missouri to Omaha, or to Florence, six miles above Omaha.
New York City was all upset upon our arrival. Ten thousand soldiers were there from the front to enforce the draft. The citizens had been unwilling to comply with the draft for the army, and soldiers had to be sent from the field to enforce it. Castle Garden was in a state of turmoil when we landed, and we were hustled like so many sheep into a pen. The Saints had all their money to change into American money. I had to go among them to get their money, and give them credit for what we got from a shilling upwards, and get it changed into greenbacks. [p.112]
All the money then in circulation was fifty percent below par; a dollar greenback was only worth fifty cents. Thus we had to go to the bank, get greenbacks for our English money, and hand it over to the Saints in exchange for their English money. I handled about three hundred pounds. Bill Parks, the clerk, was a great help to me in this matter, for he was a good accountant, and all was satisfactorily done in a short time.
Elders Eldrige [Eldridge] and Stains tended to the emigration. They arranged to go up the river to Albany, instead of through New York state. We went on light freighters behind a steam tug, where we took the railroad from Albany to Chicago and on to Quincy. At Chicago, they put us on cattle trucks, as the passenger cars had all been burned, and we had "Hopkins choice," for everything was under military rule, and that was to rule or ruin.
On the way from Chicago, William Hoggen's wife was taken sick, about to be confined, and the cars jostled so, I had to ask the conductor to stop at a siding about half an hour. As we were in a special train, he said with a great oath, "I'd run these Mormons to hell, if I could." I went in the car where Mrs. Hoggen was, I had the women [p.113] folks put up some quilts around her in a corner of the car, where she lay in pain on the floor to be delivered.
I put my hands upon her head, and prayed God to hear me in her behalf, and bless her so she, might be safely delivered. I asked that she and her offspring might live to honor God. One of the mothers on the train acted as midwife, and success attended our united labors. She was delivered of twin girls by the blessing of God, and they lived to womanhood. Their mother told me, the last time I saw her, "They are both happily married."
The next day, July twenty-ninth, we arrived in Quincy, Illinois where we took the steamboat for Florence, near Omaha. Here the responsibility I had borne was put upon the captain of the companies, and I was appointed chaplain in Captain Thomas Ricks Company, and acted as doctor and commissary all the way across the plains.
We had the same band that played "Home, Sweet Home," with us in New York City all the way to Ogden. It is today, the "Ogden's Pitt Band". We left the Missouri River August tenth, and arrived in Salt Lake City, October fifth in time for fall conference. . . . [p.114]
BIB: Stuart, David M. Autobiography (Ms 8254), pp. 106-114. (A)