Ship Ellen Gulf of Mexico.101 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River.Mar. 12th 1851.To the Saints, and all our friends in [-] Blackburn, Lancaster, England.
Beloved brethren, sisters and friends. As we are now drawing near the land of our future home and [-] and [-] I promised to write to you from New Orleans. I proceed to write a little in order to redeem that promise, believing you still feel interest in our welfare.
I will commence with presenting our grateful acknowledgment before the Lord, and returning thanks to you for your prayers in our behalf that we are thus far on our way safely.
From the 5 or 6 letters I sent you from Liverpool and while we lay in Cardigan Bay, you would learn as few things connected with our journey up to the 23rd of January. That was the day we left the Bay and put out to sea again, after a delay of 14 days.
From the [-] time until the 1st of February we experienced all the pleasures (?) of the Irish Channel, and of being banged about in a most uncourteous manner by the buffeting winds and waves. Frequently we were driven back as much in one night as we had sailed for a day and night previous. The night of the 27th of Jan. was one of this sort.
On the 30th of Jan., we sighted [-] Lighthouse, and St. Patrick's Tower. That was the last point of all that remained of our native shores, but it seemed as though [p.35] we could not be permitted to take final leave of those shores without a good [-] and of being treated with a watery grave. So at midnight the wind rose in great fury and commenced the fearful scene and while the hardy tar was executing the loud mandates of the skipper, (captain) in tacking us and reefing sail the proud waves rose in their majesty, and carried their lofty and foaming head mountains high and broke over us in great force. The hatches were closed, but not until much water had accumulated below. At length today dawned, and we began to creep out upon deck. It was true by a grand sight to look over the agitated bosom of the troubled deep and to see our gallant ship wending her onward course through the yielding wave. But, you know, too much of one thing is good for nothing. So towards night we began to get tired of the sport, and if we had had the power of him who spake as never man spake, we would, no doubt, have been heard to exclaim "Peace, be still, that our wives and little ones might have something to eat -- for we could have no fires. There had been much contention about cooking, but now we were quiet enough. I assure you but there was real danger attending all this, for we were driven close to a reef of rocks at the mouth of the channel, and just when it seemed that we would be cast away, the wind changed and blew us clear. At the moment of danger the watch was heard to say to [p.36] the first mate shall I acquaint them below? Oh, no was the hasty reply. And the sailors were cautioned against making too much noise, for fear of scaring the passengers. But we were not so easily frightened as they supposed notwithstanding the disturbance among the chests &c and the jingle of tins and kettles and the falling in of water, at the hatchway. Almost everything were moved out of its place. So after the manner I have described the month of Jan. 1851 passed away, never to be forgotten by me while I have recollection. But, since then, for the most part, we have had a pleasant sailing. Also we have experienced some inconveniences, yet, we have had many occasions of rejoicing. As you may well suppose and if you had been with us (which I often wished had been the case) and witnessed our rejoicings you might really have thought the saying of the old prophet was being fulfilled before your eyes. "The ransomed of the Lord shall returned and come to Zion, with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads." We have had our prayer meetings and preachings from time to time, interspersed with music and dancing, and other amusements.
On the fourth of Feb. we were hailed by a vessel in distress. Her name was "Appolo," ladened with merchandise, bound for London. Her captain came on board our ship, a fine looking young man, an American. They had encountered a storm off Jamaica, which carried away their rudder, but our captain could do nothing for them so their [p.37]captain after taking leave in an obliging manner, returned to his ship.
It is a painful sight to see a vessel at sea in distress, particularly when they have lost their rudder like the unfortunate "Appolo." For they are then left entirely to the cruel mercies of insulting winds and waves without any certainty of gaining their desired haven. I thought as we were born away that she resembled the sectarian church. Between the 25th of February and 5th of March we sighted the different West Indian Islands.
March 8th entered this Gulf. We have now contrary wind, have to tack about as we are now out of what they call the tradewinds. Many begin to fear our voyage will be protracted, and their spirits began to sink a little. Some kinds of provisions begin to give out. We have plenty of some sorts. Our provisions are but ill assorted. Our captain is a man of Belial. He once opposed Elder Dunn, while preaching. And he now sometimes jeers us and says our God never hears our prayers, or we would have a head wind, etc.
The priesthood held a meeting on the 11th of March and prayed that the Lord would give us a favorable wind, and speed us on our way. Brother Moss got up and prophesied that we should have a fair wind that night. I felt impressed, and got up and bore testimony to it, and it was according to our word.
March 13th. This morning we entered the mouth of the Mississippi. We are now in tow with a boat of that name about 150 miles below New Orleans. We have now left the sea, and although we have had [p.38] much pleasant sailing, I for my part have no objections to the new earth being without sea for to cross it once with a family, particularly when they are sick as mine have been is quite enough.
March 14th. This is a most pleasant morning and is rendered doubly so by the beautiful scenery on both sides of this majestic river. It is delightful to see the dwellings of men, after being shut out from the rest of the world so long. As we passed one of the plantations this morning a black man ran and plucked some large oranges from one of the heavily ladened trees, and threw them on board.
March 15th Arrived in New Orleans this morning.
March 18th Left New Orleans for St. Louis on board the "Alex Scott."
March 25th Arrived in St. Louis. There have been 10 deaths and 2 births on the journey. Mrs. [Mary] Armitstead was confined of a fine girl on the 21 of March, and is doing well. Susannah Spencer nursed her. Our little boy has been sick 5 weeks. I found my brother, Thomas, who received me kindly.
March 27th our little boy, James Nephi died of ship fever.
28th buried him in the Methodist's Cemetery about 4 miles west of the city. I am not prepared to say much of this place at present. My brother, Thomas is doing well. The Missouri River is so low that boats cannot ply. We are obliged to stay here in consequence. I have wrote to my cousin at Kanesville.
Respectfully yours &c,
James Armitstead [p.39]
BIB: Armitstead, James. Journal (Ms 6722), fd. 2, pp. 35-39. (CHL)