I had made a very sensible arrangement. Help being secured, my next thought was to get our berths fixed, so that all might be ready before the rolling of the ship began. My first enquiries were for our bedding; but it was no where to be found. Now this was very annoying, for we were all tired and the children, poor things, were fidgety; and anticipating a long and unpleasant voyage I wanted to have everything in readiness. Besides which I had made special preparations in the shape of many additional comforts which I knew on board ship would be absolutely necessary, and had even sold my watch and jewelry for that purpose.
I enquired of the proper authorities, but could obtain no information, and nothing remained but for me to wait until the apostle came on board to bid a final adieu to the emigrants. I felt this annoyance all the more as I considered that we had no right to expect such mismanagement. We would naturally have preferred to make our own arrangements and to go alone, had we been permitted to do so; but we had, over and over again, been instructed not to go by any other vessel but that chartered by the Apostle Richards, that so we might escape the perils which were sure to overtake the Gentiles. Imagine our disgust when we found that as there were not enough of the Saints to occupy the whole ship, the lower deck was filled with Irish emigrants of the most barbarous type, and that their luggage and ours had been thrown together indiscriminately into the hold. Most of the Mormon emigrants recovered their property when they arrived at New York, but as for our own, personally, we never saw it again, and all the voyage through we were left utterly destitute.
The Apostle Richards and Pastor Kimball came on board before the vessel sailed and I told them all about it. We could not possible put to sea in that condition, I said, and I wanted to leave the ship. He promised that the things should be looked after, and assured me that on no account should we be permitted to sail without being properly provided for. I not only trusted their word as gentlemen but I believed in [p.173] them as favored servants of God; and when subsequently I found that they had wilfully deceived me I became conscious that there was as little of the true and truthful gentleman about some of the modern apostles, as there was of the apostle about ordinary gentlemen.
Thus in the cold, foggy days of and English November we set out, bereft of the commonest necessaries, and deceived by our own leaders, to begin a new life in a new world.
I would not for my own sake mention these unpleasant reminiscences were it not that so many mean and cruel deceptions--and, were it not that I do not care to use harsh words, I might call downright "swindles"--had come beneath my observation in connection with the Mormon emigration in past years. I will mention one alone which ought not to be passed by unnoticed.
In the year 1854, Brigham Young and the leading elders were most anxious to draw to Zion the converts from every part of the globe; and for this purpose the faithful were called upon to bring in freely their contributions to the Perpetual Emigration Fund. To set them an example, Brother Brigham himself stated that he would present as a free-gift his own property--a valuable city house and lot, if any purchaser could be found wealthy enough to purchase it. An English gentleman named Tenant, a new convert, accepted the offer and advanced the money--thirty thousand dollars--and set out for Salt Lake City, expecting there to be put in possession of the property. He was one of the unfortunate Hand-Cart Emigrants, of whom I shall presently have occasion to speak more fully; and he died on the plains. His wife and children, when they arrived in the Valley, were told that the transaction was not made with them but with Mr. Tenant, and all their efforts to obtain the property, which in common justice was theirs, were unavailing. At the present moment Mr. Tenant's wife lives in miserable poverty in Salt Lake City, while there is no one to bring the honest prophet to account.
The vessel sailed, and we heard no more of our property. Whether it ever left London, or whether some obliging [p.174] brother took charge of it on his own account, I cannot say, but I could form a pretty good guess. I frequently see that man in Salt Lake City, and I always think of my bedding when I see him. Nothing, however, remained but for me to put the best face I could upon matters. I took my wearing apparel and other articles out of the trunks and put them into pillow slips, and extemporized as well as I could a rough substitute for beds. These served for the children, and I covered them with my cloaks and shawls; and for our own berths and bed-covering I had only a few pieces of carpet which I had put aside for the cabin floor, together with a worn-out blanket which an old lady on board was good enough to lend me.
We had not been long at sea when the young sisters whom I had engaged to help me, fell sick, and some of the brethren were very anxious to nurse them. This appeared to be quite the established order of things, for I then found that it was very seldom that a Mormon emigrant ship crossed the ocean without one or more marriages on board. It was, no doubt, very interesting to them, but to me it was extremely inconvenient, especially considering that my husband had now taken to his berth, which he did not leave during the remainder of the voyage, and myself and the children were not much better off.
Sick as I was, I had to prepare our food, and manage everything, for in those times emigrants either took out their own provisions or were allowanced in raw material, and in either case had to do their own cooking. My chief difficulty was in getting what I had prepared to the fire-galley, for I could not leave the children, and I was afraid to venture myself upon deck. So I got any of the brethren who chanced to be passing to take it up, and of course they were willing to oblige me but the galley was so crowded--every one having his or her own interests to attend to--that I very rarely, if ever, had my provisions decently cooked, and on more than one occasion I never saw them again. This was an inconvenience which modern emigrants do not suffer at the present day. [p.175]
Unsuccessful with the young sisters, I thought I would try if I could not get one of the brethren to help me, and fortune at first appeared to favor me. There was on board a young man,-- Harry, they called him,--and he was so situated that I found it easy to open a negotiation with him. He had been a saddler's apprentice in a country town in England, and having listened to some itinerant preacher, had been converted, joined the Church, and begun to think for himself. So hearing that terrible judgments were quickly coming upon the Old World, he resolved to flee to the New, and in his hurry to get there he forgot to inform his master that he was about to leave. This accounted for his being so badly provided for.
Now, Harry had those two great blessings--a splendid appetite and unimpeachable powers of digestion. I will not say that he enjoyed these two blessings, for that he did not, on account of lacking a third blessing, namely, the wherewithal to make the first two blessings a pleasure, and not an inconvenience. The ship's allowance was altogether insufficient for him, and he, therefore, gladly engaged to do what few things I required upon condition that I should add a little to his own private commissariat.
Harry was a smart lad and at first very useful, and he soon convinced me that he had told the truth when he said that he had not had enough to eat ever since he came on board--it seemed to me very questionable whether he ever had before. He had, however, nothing to complain of in that respect while in our employment, for although the children were able to eat whenever we had anything fit for them, my husband and myself could seldom touch our rations, and as everything that was not used fell to Harry's share, he fared pretty well.
Harry was not the lad to neglect his own interests, and as our interests appeared just then to be his also, matters worked very harmoniously. Our bread was never now brought back to us half raw or burnt to a cinder. It must be properly cooked for our eating or it would not do for Harry's, and as for it being lost of delayed on its way to or from the galley [p.176] that was, of course, quite out of the question. But the strangest thing of all connected with Harry was that immediately after his coming we were incessantly annoyed by the rats. I had brought for the children's use a small supply of preserves and other little delicacies; but these mysteriously disappeared with alarming rapidity, and whenever I save any trifle for the children to eat between meals, that also was gone when it was wanted, and in every instance Harry suggested that it was "the rats," though I never could find any traces of those interesting animals. I was sorry to part with Harry, for he used to tell funny stories to the children, and amused them a great deal, but "the rats" and Harry were so closely associated in my mind that I though if Harry left, the rats might perhaps also cease their visits. So Harry went, and I was once more left alone to do the best I could.
The weather was very cold, and though we wore our clothing day and night, we felt its severity very much. The rigging of the ship was hung with icicles, and without fire or warmth of any sort, it is now wonder that we all were soon hardly able to move from cold and sickness. I have heard emigrants who came over in steam-vessels say that even in mid-winter the heat in their berths was almost unendurable; but in a sailing-vessel there were, of course, no engine fires to warm the ship, and the passengers suffered accordingly.
In the midst of my trouble I was told of an ancient Scotch sister--a maiden lady, sharp and shrewd,--who, like the miser in Scott's "Fortunes of Nigel," was willing to help us "for a consideration." So we talked the matter over, and it was agreed that she should give me her services for the remainder of the voyage; and the "consideration" was to be two pounds English. Small as was our stock of money, and much as I knew we should need it upon our arrival, I felt that I could do no better than engage her. There was no saying upon whom she might chance to set her maiden fancy, but there was not the remotest chance of any of the brethren falling in love with her; so I considered her a safe investment, and, besides, I must have somebody--there was not alternative. [p.177]
It was now Christmas time--a season which in England was always sacred to joyous memories and festivities; but to us, exiles and wanderers, seeking a land of which we knew nothing, and which to us was a new and untried world, it was far from being a happy time. In the midst of the wild, dreary ocean there was nothing to recall the pleasant reminiscences of the past, or to inspire us with hope and courage as we though of the future.
The captain told us that we might prepare to eat our Christmas dinner in New York; but he was mistaken. I can form no opinion of the captain as a seaman, but as a man I detested him for his cruel treatment of two unfortunate men who were under him. These men--one a Spaniard, and the other a Hungarian--had agreed to work out their passage to New York, bu they were quite unfit for sea life. One of them when he refused or was unable to go up into the shrouds, was dragged aloft by main force, and there they tied him, and there they kept him until he was nearly frozen to death. On another occasion they beat both these men with spikes, and I feared they would kill them, and their cries and groans right above my head were most painful to listen to. In fact, so badly were they treated that on their arrival they had to be carried to the hospital. Such was the "discipline" on board the ship.
The captain was mistaken in his calculations. We did not eat our Christmas dinner in New York, as he had promised. A storm came on, which compelled us to stand out to sea again, and then a dead calm followed, and it was not until New Year's eve that we set foot upon the shore of the New World.
We were now three thousand miles nearer to Zion; but my heart misgave me as I thought of the future, and the first New Year's day that I spent in the United States was anything but a day of pleasure to me. [p.178]
. . .The Mormon emigrants have always a captain and two counselors to every company. The captain on board the Emerald Isle--the vessel in which we came--was a returning Utah elder;--one of his counselors was also a returning elder, and my husband was the other. As soon as the [p.179] Mormon captain had come on shore, and had reported to the apostle in charge of the New York Saints, he left to visit his friends. The Utah counselor had a young lady in the company to whom he had become very much attached, and who afterward became one of his wives. I was not, therefore, surprised that, as soon as he could get his baggage, he also should disappear; but my husband--the other counselor--being encumbered with a wife and family, was obliged to remain, and the whole charge of seeing to the company devolved upon him.
We had, therefore, to remain in Castle Garden until the whole company of emigrants was provided for; and during all the next week I, with my four children, remained in that public place, sick and weary, and as destitute of bedding and covering as we had been on board ship. The weather was intensely cold, and, unaccustomed as we were to the severity of an American winter, we suffered not a little. The other unfortunate victims to faith were in the same condition, with the exception that they and something to sleep on at nights, while I had nothing but the bare boards for my bed since we left Liverpool;--all that I could gather together had been reserved for my babes. How we lived through that journey I know not, but I am certain that, could I have foreseen what we should have to endure, I would never have left England, whatever my refusal might have cost me.
I could not refrain from contrasting my life before and since I knew Mormonism. Before, I scarcely knew what suffering was, so little had I been called upon to endure; I never knew what it was to be without money, or to want for anything; but now I was in a strange land, in the depth of winter, without a home, without a pillow to rest my weary head upon, and with a future before me so dark that not a single ray of light gave to it the promise of hope. Could any slavery be more complete than mine? My fanaticism and zeal were all gone--I had nothing to sustain me. Certainly, I was still held by the fear that Mormonism, after all, might be of God, and that all this suffering might be necessary. . . [p.180]
BIB: Stenhouse, Mrs. T. B. H. [Fanny], "Tell It All": The
Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Cincinnati, Ohio: Queen City Publishing, 1874) pp.173-80. (CHL)