On the 9th of October, which was between eight and nine months after our baptism, we took passage on the ship Essex, which was bound for New Orleans.
No Saints were on board but ourselves. [MEANING HIMSELF, HIS WIFE AND THEIR SEVEN CHILDREN] Most of the passengers were Roman Catholics, with a priest as their shepherd. There was also a Methodist preacher aboard. One Sunday morning the latter said to me:
"What a pity it is we do not have divine service on board!"
I told him, if the captain was willing, I would be pleased to speak to the passengers and crew.
He was delighted with the idea, and said, "If you will preach this morning, I will in the afternoon."
I agreed, and off he went to the captain and told him he had two ministers on the vessel who were willing to officiate.
The captain being pleased to learn this fact, immediately gave orders for all hands to be ready on deck at the hour appointed to attend public service.
All on board were present. The morning was beautifully fine, and the sea sufficiently calm to enable me to stand on a chair by holding on to a rope. I spoke perhaps nearly three-fourths of an hour, dwelling on the contrast between the pure principles of the gospel as taught by Christ and his apostles, and the present confused and conflicting notions of modern Christianity, closing by testifying to the restoration of the gospel by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
After the service was over, the priest asked me a question, but the captain at once hushed him up, saying he would not allow me to be interrupted.
The sea breeze made me quite hoarse. On reaching our quarters, the preacher came in and said that what I had preached was not all true. I told him if he could point out one error, I would acknowledge it publicly. He failed to do it, and utterly refused to preach in the afternoon, although he had agreed to do so. So I had to speak a second time, which was very distasteful to the Catholics.
The captain and sailors were very kind to me and my family, but some of the passengers manifested a good deal of ill-feeling towards me, and I was secretly informed of a plot the Catholics had concocted to throw me overboard. I told my informant that America was the country I was bound for, and no place short of that would suit me; I had no fears.
Before parting with my fellow passengers, I felt impressed by the spirit of the Lord, one Sunday, to bear a final testimony. The Catholics gathered around and offered various interruptions. The mate ordered the sailors to bring some buckets of water. They did so and those who sought to interfere with me were told that if they did not disperse quietly they would receive the contents of those buckets. They immediately left, and this closed my public ministrations on that vessel.
During our passage, my wife gave birth to her ninth child which lived about half an hour, and was buried in the ocean, [p.57] the only means of burial being for the body to be stitched up in a sheet and slid down a board into the water.
We were nine weeks on the ocean before we reached New Orleans, then having our baggage transferred to the steamer "Timour," we passed up the mighty Mississippi until we came in contact with a snag, which tore away one wheel and the provision house, causing the greatest consternation and terror among the passengers, who supposed every moment we were doomed to a watery grave. Finally we were assured that although the vessel was seriously disable, there was no cause for alarm. We could not move, however, until a boat was secured, which towed us as far as Memphis. There we had to stay for several days while the vessel was repaired. While there also our youngest child died, and we had to leave it in the dead house, as the vessel was ready to start and we were allowed no possible chance to bury it.
We reached St. Louis early on New Year's day, 1852. The captain kindly permitted my family to remain on the vessel until I had a place to remove them to.
We had now arrived in America, strangers to everybody, in the middle of a very severe winter, and I had a family of eight to provide for. It being Sunday morning, after breakfasting on the vessel, I started off in search of Latter-day Saints, to apprize them of our arrival. I was directed to their place of meeting in Market Street, and got acquainted with John Tingey (now Bishop of the 17th Ward, of Salt Lake City), who, after meeting, kindly accompanied me in search of a room to remove my family to. We found one which could be rented at $4 per month, in advance, and, lacking that among of means, I gave the landlord, a double-barreled shot gun as security, which, by the way, I was never able to redeem.
It was a large room, and very difficult to keep warm, except with a large fire, and that luxury was denied us for want of means. I could only buy one hundred pounds of coal at a time. Our furniture consisted of a bedstead loaned us by a colored neighbor, and our boxes served us for chairs and tables.
Thus settling down in a new country in the middle of winter, with a large family, and without any visible means of supporting them, present rather a serious question to decide. What course must I take? Having one or two dollars to commence housekeeping with, something must be done. Not a day nor an hour could be lost, without earning a trifle to subsist upon. I could not beg, and I was too proud to receive charity even from the hands of the kind teachers, who twice offered us money to help us in what they deemed our destitute situation. I thanked them for their kind feeling, but old them to give it to some poor person, for, although reduced at one time to the last five cent piece for my wife to go to market with, I had the most unshaken confidence in my Heavenly Father, that, while blessing me with health and strength, he would open up my way to sustain my family, by honest labor, and that I would not have to depend upon the generous charity of others. In this feeling, of faith in God, and reliance upon our own determined exertions, my wife was also one with me, and equal to the occasion. We never felt poor while struggling to live, but rich in faith and confidence in God and in his providences. [p.58]
BIB: G. G., "Review of an Active Life," Juvenile Instructor 17:4 (February 15, 1882) pp. 57- 58. (CHL)