Early in the spring of 1853 (February 3rd) my youngest daughter Margaret, was married to John McKellar, and having the means thanks to our Heavenly Father, we commenced making preparations for leaving our native land for the land of Zion and on March 19th 1853 embarked at Greenock at 8 p.m. on board the steamer, "Princess," and arrived at Liverpool at 3 p.m. on the following day. We remained there [Liverpool] until the 28th and then took passage in the sailing vessel, Falcon, and proceeded to sea bound for New Orleans in the U. [United] States of America, thence to Salt Lake City, Utah, the city of refuge where the house of the Lord is to be [p.28] built on top of the mountains, according to ancient prophecies; where all the seed of Abraham will be gathered, to fulfil the promise of God to our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, I, with my wife, Margaret Baxter, my son-in-law John McKellar and his wife, my youngest daughter Margaret, and Mary, my daughter, 5 in number; Agness who married George Marshall in Greenock, and Grace, my eldest daughter being before us, having left Greenock in September 1850, consequently I leave none of my family in Babylon, but my only son Peter, my beloved son, Archibald having been murdered at the gold diggings, San Francisco, California on leaving 128 pound sterling which I duly received; the same released me and my children from Babylonish captivity. My dear son said when he sailed from Quebec as chief officer of the Barque "Rory O' More," "I will release you and my dear sisters, and have houses and land ready for you in the land of Goshen or die in the attempt."
March 29th On board the Falcon, sailing towards Land's End, England. The wind east by south, with a light breeze pleasant sailing, a few seasick, all the brethren and sisters appear contented, and love and unity predominate. I feel happy and admire the power of the gospel, feeling that we are baptized into one body by the Spirit.
30th Sailing in the Irish Channel, wind east, sharp breeze, ship close hauled to wind, speed 4 knots an hour; the Saints all sick, few able to go to the cook house or eat, vomiting in every corner. My daughter Mary is my best sailor, being able to eat baked cake, bread, and flour scones. John McKellar and his wife are both bedfast, also old Sister Margaret [-]. First allowance of water served this morning.
31st Last night the wind blew heavily form the southeast; a young child died and was committed to the sea today. Wind continues with heavy rain, a very disagreeable day among the Saints, all bedfast, sick, vomiting and retching on very side. Ship steering southeast. My heart is sad. I pity my brethren and especially the sisters with young children; we must be made perfect through suffering; all will work for good. At 6 p.m. it blew a gale, all the tin dishes, and many chests broke loose, the ship rolled and pitched exceedingly, chests, pots, pans, goblets, and etc., dashed from starboard to larboard; the few who could sit or hold up their heads gazed motionless upon the scene. A brother sat beside me for a considerable time apparently alarmed, rose in heart, made an effort to ascent to the deck, but knowing the danger of such an attempt, I endeavored to dissuade him from it; however, he proceeded, but was only about two minutes above, until I observed him coming towards the hatchway and missed taking hold of the steps, by a sudden roll of the ship, he came down head foremost with all the weight, and striking the deck lay motionless, while I held him by the hand and said, "He is dead!" However, he lifted his head and looked at me so pitifully that I felt grieved for him. The mate came [p.29] with three sailors and carried him aft.
April 1st Sailing in the British Channel, this day is more favorable. A boy came down the gangway and struck his head against a chest. At 5 p.m. it blew a gale. Our cook house has been broken up last night. All the Saints are bedfast cannot get a drop of hot water to make gruel, tea or coffee; it is a day to try our faith; my son-in-saw, two daughters and wife are very sick; I prevailed upon the cook to make me a little gruel for them, and they were thankful for the favor.
2nd Sailing in the head of the British Channel, this day is more favorable. The ship rolled terribly all night. The Saints continued sick, many of the sisters have become weak and low-spirited. Our cook house is being repaired, and a new system of cooking established. I, with our president visited the man who fell down the after hatchway yesterday, and anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord; he is still wrapped in his bloody cloth and not washed. I brought him some jelly and flour scones and meat to nourish him.
3rd Sailing in the Atlantic, unfavorable weather, high wind from the west, the vessel rolled very badly last night, few can go on deck. A marlin spike fell out of a sailor's hand from the main mast and wounded one of the brethren; I am told that his skull is injured; a block also struck a sister in the forehead, causing blood to flow. We are all anxious for a more favorable wind.
4th Last night it blew a gale from the northwest. This morning we felt our condition very disagreeable. At 10 a.m. a Spanish Schooner hove in sight, and hoisted a signal wishing to speak to us; our ship backed her mainsail and lay to till the schooner came alongside; of course they spoke by trumpets, wishing our captain to give him the latitude as the Spaniard had lost her reckoning. He was told three times but hardly understood English. She bore away to the eastward. We had the company of a Dutch vessel this afternoon, but soon left it behind, our Falcon being a good ship in a heavy sea. I have not seen some of our women on deck at all as yet. Some of our stout young men require help to leave their berths.
5th Sailing in the Atlantic. A strong wind and heavy sea. Very unfavorable weather. All the Saints are still sick. Women with little children cannot lift their heads from their pillow.
6th Cross sailing, strong gale last night till 11 a.m. The mist cleared off, the sun appeared, the wind abated. Came two points to North. The ship sails south two points nearer our course. We are a little refreshed by the change and hope the weather will clear up and favor us, as this [p.30] is our tenth day at sea, and we fear our voyage will be tedious.
7th Sailing in the Atlantic. Wind shifted 2 points to north. The mist cleared off at 12 o'clock. Sailing due south two points off our course. The Saints are more cheerful expecting better times.
8th The wind due north. A pleasant day. Stay sails and studding sails hoisted, steering our course 8 knots an hour.
9th Strong east wind, sailing 10 knots an hour. A child 3 years old was buried in the sea this morning.
10th The vessel rolled so bad last night that the Saints were afraid of being pitched out of their berths. Sailing this day at 10 knots an hour. The sea became calm and it was a pleasant day. We held two meetings, partaking of the Lord's Supper, enjoyed a good portion of the Spirit of the Lord, testimonies were borne with great power. Two spoke in tongues, and some prophesied that the Lord would prosper us from henceforth if faithful, and all would see Zion.
11th Pleasant sailing on a calm sea at 7 knots an hour with slack sheets. The Saints are well with few exceptions, and a good spirit prevails.
12th Sailing beautifully on our course with a northeast wind, and 10 knots an hour. All the Saints cheerful. A third child buried at 10 a.m. in the great Atlantic. I rose early this morning and while leaning over the bows in meditation, we came in contact with a large shoal of porpoises; they sported all around the ship. They are a beautiful fish, though not so large as the porpoise in the Lochs of the Western Highlands of Scotland, where I used to fish for herring. The sailors tell me they are good fish for use.
13th The wind shifted last night to northwest. A pleasant day's sailing with a steady breeze, close hauled our course south by west, 7 knots an hour. We think we are nearing the West Indies.
14th Pleasant wind from the northwest, course south by west, strong sailing breeze, 9 knots an hour. The Saints all well with a few exceptions who are still suffering from seasickness. A good spirit still prevailing.
15th Still pleasant sailing. I am told that our captain intends sailing east of the West Indies to miss the heat and headwinds and it will make the voyage less by 500 miles. A warm daylight, we are only making 2 knots or 3 knots an hour. Received a week's provisions.
16th A pleasant morning, the wind changed to southeast, [p.31] light breeze, five knots an hour. All well. Omitted yesterday that we came into another shoal of porpoises; the second mate made haste to the bows with a harpoon. He hooked one, but the handle breaking he lost his prize. The porpoise here appear most beautiful, animated with life like salmon; the sailors say they are good, and will average one hundred pounds in weight. My family are all well, only Margaret a little delicate.
17th Pleasant sailing. The wind south by east. At 11 a.m. the Saints met, partook of the sacrament and bore testimony to the truth. At 4 p.m. we had a meeting on deck, enjoyed a good spirit all day, singing hymns on deck all the evening.
18th Clear sky this morning, hoisted larger sails, smart breeze south by west. Eight knots an hour. All tolerably well except a few. Margaret is still seasick. We were served with extra butter and cheese by the orders of President Samuel Bagnall over the government allowance.
19th The vessel rolled considerably this morning; smart breeze from the southwest. Heavy showers at intervals. Course southeast. At 4 p.m. the wind ceased. Heavy rain and very unpleasant.
20th Heavy rolling of the ship. At 6 a.m. the wind shifted to southeast, smart breeze, sailing 9 knots an hour till 4 p.m. As we sail a new route east of the West Indies we did not encounter the trade winds, but paid off toward the American coast and running along to New Orleans. The Saints are naturally very desirous to get upon terra firma, and will be on thorns and briers until they are. Like people who have been comfortably brought up know not the privation and danger of traveling upon sea; especially ladies who drink tea twice a day. The fourth child buried at 3 p.m.
21st A pleasant day's sailing with an east wind. 10 knots an hour all day. A clear sky and a delicious temperature. All the Saints who are well enjoy themselves.
22nd A profitable night's sailing till 8 a.m. when black clouds gathered. The wind shifted to southwest. It blew a gale with showers. Our good ship pitched and rolled, causing a few relapses and sea sickness, the most part in those who had become weak and pale.
23rd The ship rolled dreadfully all night, and all this day is logging and rolling, no wind to steady her. A brother from London was handcuffed by the mate last night but the captain ordered the irons to be taken off him this morning. He is confined in the storeroom. The poor fellow is possessed by evil spirits. He is married and has two fine boys.
24th A very pleasant day with the wind right ahead. [p.32] We held our sacrament meeting at 11 a.m. Evening meeting on deck at 4 p.m. Prophesied that our brother would be dispossessed of the evil spirits by fasting and anointing and laying on of hands. This was partially attended to. The captain had given him laudanum, and that might have been the cause of him sleeping and resting so well.
25th A pleasant day, a light breeze, still unfavorable for a speedy voyage, a salubrious atmosphere. The Saints generally are in good spirits. The provisions are getting to be very poor, the oatmeal and sugar especially. The English brethren cannot eat bulgur or use oatmeal, consequently they are at a great loss.
26th The ship rolled heavily this morning. At 1 p.m. a squall commenced with heavy showers and it continued until 9 p.m. The ship running render reefed topsails. The poor brother possessed by evil spirits appears to be no better.
27th A light wind. Ship's speed five knots an hour. A pleasant day. I feel my body greatly reduced and my health impaired since I left Greenock. All my brethren seem to be in a similar condition. Our rations are old and tasteless, and there is no nourishment in them. The old people feel it especially.
28th Pleasant day. Sailing with a light breeze all day. We held meeting at 4 p.m. to worship and bear testimony. There are good spirits as well as evil ones in our midst. I missed a sovereign last night.
29th A favorable wind, light breeze. A squabble occurred last night between the chief mate and the men; two of them were handcuffed, but were liberated by the captain.
30th Still a favorable wind, but made very little sail during the heat of the day. We fear that our voyage will be tedious as the season is so far advanced; but our Father is all powerful and will not leave us if we do right.
May 1st,-Sunday- The wind favorable this day. Met at 11 a.m. to celebrate the Lord's Supper and bear testimony. Preaching on deck at 4 p.m. The Spirit of God is still refreshing. We feel to rejoice as we are the 9th shipload that has left Britain or Babylon this season, and there is no more coming after us.
2nd Still a favorable fine dog wind northeast. Sailing 8 knots an hour. We encountered a large shoal of porpoises. The harpoon was brought into action, but none were captured. We expect to land tomorrow, as it five weeks this day since we left Liverpool or 35 days. [p.33]
3rd A sharp breeze right aft. Speed 10 knots an hour. If we are favored by a continuation of this breeze, our voyage will be accomplished this week.
4th We had a strong squall last night continuing till two this morning. We passed a small island at 4 a.m. Saw the lighthouse. I am told it is a barren island called Bacon's. Light breeze this day right aft. We hope to be in New Orleans on Monday the 8th inst. Saw a few flying fish this morning. They look as if they were made of silver when the sun is bright. At 8 p.m. it rained heavily and incessantly with thunder and lightning. Passed some coral rocks called Isaresac.
5th Excessively hot. Becalmed. A light breeze. At 6 p.m. we were much amused by some large porpoises. The same kind as are in my own land upon the herring fishing lochs, they floated on the surface of the water within forty yards of the vessel. Firearms were produced and several shots fired at them without effect, at which the porpoises made off.
6th A pleasant day with a light breeze right aft. Sailing six knots an hour, steering due south to avoid the Gulf of Florida. A week's provisions served out. Light winds which will make our voyage longer than we expected. Sailing along by a reef of coral rocks lying east of the Bahama Islands; excessively hot, the pitch boiling out of the seams of the deck. Two days of ordinary sailing would bring us to New Orleans, but the light breeze and the current against us we make but little progress; patience and perseverance will overcome every difficulty.
7th Smart breeze right aft. Met at 11 a.m. to partake of the Sacrament. At 4 p.m. a preaching meeting on deck.
8th Very, very hot; no wind to carry the ship on. We are still 400 miles from the Bar to New Orleans.
9th Hot, hot, excessively hot. Not a breath of wind to hold the sails from the masts. My wife, Margaret, is raging among the Saints, ridiculing me and my daughters. This is nothing new. It is hard to be falsely accused before strangers, though many will not believe her, but will see the bad spirit she has. Poor woman, I am grieved for her own sake.
10th A dead calm and another fearfully hot day; the current still unfavorable.
11th Slight breeze north and a clear sky. Still very hot day, course northwest.
12th Very light breeze when the sun went down. The Saints are becoming anxious as the season is so far advanced. Some of our sisters, especially the English. I wonder how they will perform the journey through the mountains.
13th We had a light breeze last night, enough to hold the cloth [p.34] from the masts. Held a concert till 11 p.m. The captain was much pleased with the comic songs. The moon shone brightly and all were cheerful.
14th Light breeze. Still 100 miles from the bar. The dolphins are numerous. Walter, a Greenock sailor of the fore-chains hooked a large one by the Lida Sister though he could not hold him, having bad footing, therefore it fell off. The dolphins are animated with great life and strength. I am sorry the poor fellow lost his prey.
15th The wind blew a smart breeze last night at 12 o'clock and continued all this day. Expect to arrive at the Bar and enter the river soon. Held our meeting as usual and a good spirit prevailed.
16th Seven weeks this day left Liverpool. We hope to be in Mississippi River this night. A moderate breeze, the color of the water is changed to a light green. I, with all my brethren, am very anxious to obtain a footing on solid ground.
17th The Pilot boat boarded us at 1 p.m. a steamtug came and lashed to the ship Falcon at 2 p.m. Hoisted a signal for a second steam tug to take us across the bar. Crossed the bar at 5 p.m. and proceeded up the river. Took a light barque on the starboard side of steamer.
18th All joyful, gazing upon the scenery and the beauty of the "Father of Rivers," and the sugar and cotton plantations. Arrived within three miles of the wharf and hove anchor.
19th Very hot. The steamer towed us into the wharf at 11 a.m. and we soon trod on the promised land for the first time. Traveled to the Post Office, and as I expected a letter from my son, but found none. Exceedingly hot. Orders for all the chests to be on deck early, ready to be shipped in the steamboat bound for St. Louis.
20th Commenced hoisting chests and luggage. I wrought till all wet with perspiration the day being so very hot. Went ashore with my wife at 12 noon, met Curry, a sailor from Greenock, went into a saloon and was treated by him, drank and ate a comfortable dinner, which we needed very much. Before I returned all of our chests were aboard of the steamboat. My son-in-law, John McKellar, was at a loss not knowing what had become of us. I did not think the steamer would be so early.
21st Lay all day at the wharf till 6 p.m. Brother McGregor fell through or between this and the next steamer and was drowned. I was not aboard at the time, but I am sorry to say that drunkenness was the cause. A light-headed youth sang three comic songs the night of the Soiree on board the Falcon. Left the wharf at 6 p.m. on our way to St. Louis.
22nd Stemming the current up this great river, beholding [p.35] the luxuriant trees and foliage on the right and left of the great Mississippi; the huts of slaves and a few neat cottages possessed by slave holders. We consider ourselves in a new world, but know that Great Britain is the seat of slavery, that one white slave works more in one day than 4 black slaves, with less to support his body, as his wages there will not afford, because I know that I wrought many days upon bread and water, doing the work of 5 black slaves and traveled 5 miles, to work for 1/8 per day, to support my family of eight, and meal at 1/8 the small peck.
23rd Stemming the current by steam power; a sultry morning, cleared off with a fine cool breeze from the north. In looking at the grand and beautiful stream, I thought of the power of our Father's work of creation. We gain ten miles an hour. Take in wood morning and evening.
24th Still plying against the stream. This is Queen Victoria's birthday. My God will remove your diadem and take off your crown, your power will be as the potsherd and King Messiah will as with an iron rod pound all your scepters. All you kings and queens of Babylon. Come Lord, our King, come quickly is my prayer. Thou knowest what I suffered from oppression and hard labor for a morsel of bread after my sore travel, hunger and thirst in the Peninsular War. My cry to thee, Oh, Lord, is remember the cry of the poor and fulfil thy promise, destroy them who have oppressed the hireling and kept back their wages by fraud.
25th Sailing upon the river, the landscape is beautiful and pleasant. We are 400 miles from St. Louis. Called at Memphis, Tennessee.
26th A cool bright day. 200 miles from St. Louis. We expect to be there late tonight or early in the morning. I hope to meet my daughter Grace in peace. Mrs. Smith brought me my saws and hammers that I thought were lost, as I could not find them aboard of the steamer, and was sorry at the loss of them.
27th Arrived at St. Louis at 4 a.m. Had our breakfast at Brother Idows house, 127 Market Street. My daughter Grace came in while we were at breakfast with large earrings showing that she was tinged with the spirit of pride more than the spirit of humility. Poor girl, I hope she will yet repent. I fear she lost the spirit of truth. I traveled through this great den, saw several of my old brethren, some who were elders, enjoying themselves among the flesh pots of sin, and had forgotten the covenants they had made with their God. They tried all in their power to detain me, but I left the town at 5 p.m. for Keokuk, where our people are in camp 200 miles above St. Louis.
28th Sailing to Keokuk had a miserable night. Laid down late in a berth to rest. My wife's shawl and a bottle of whiskey we got as a gift from Sister McCallum were stolen [p.36] by a gang of fiends; I reported the theft to the steward, only the shawl was dropped and recovered. We landed at Keokuk at 6 p.m. and slept in a large stone house.
29th Although it was Sunday all our luggage was carted to camp with no mention of the Sabbath. I am busy in the wood line, cutting a tent pole and making tent pins, and pitching my tent. As Brother McKellar and my daughter are left at St. Louis I have no help. Dead times back again; this night I sleep in my tent like my fathers in ancient times.
30th Keokuk Camp by the great "Father of Rivers." I took a look upon this goodly land and remember the poor and oppressed scattered in the barren wilderness. I feel truly thankful to the Lord, I enjoy a tolerable good measure of health, and pray that God will gather his people from the four corners of the Earth unto Zion.
31st Still in camp, gathering wood and musing upon the banks of the river, very anxious that y daughters would come up from St. Louis, as a part of the Saints expect to move tomorrow to Sugar Creek, and I wish to go there also.
June 1st Still musing and gathering wood. Received my wagon this day. I cannot leave with those that are going as I have received none of my oxen yet.
2nd Staying in camp at Keokuk. Changeable weather; heavy showers of rain with thunder and lightning every night.
3rd Still roving on the banks of the Mississippi in appearance of moving forward. Brother Syon started out for Sugar Creek, I could not go with him as I want my oxen.
4th Very hot indeed at noon, though cool in the morning and evening. A few of the Saints intend to remain here, or go back to St. Louis, being faithless of accomplishing the journey.
5th- Sunday- Meeting at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. A few of the Keokuk people stood and listened quietly. A Jewish preacher in the evening in the camp, he advanced many true ideas of the condition of Christendom, and of the kingdom of God being established without delay; he also had many erroneous ideas as well.
6th Had heavy rain again last night with thunder and lightning. Many are in doubt whether to go backward or forward; human nature is weak. Lord, strengthen thou me, that I may endure to the end of this journey.
7th Still very changeable weather. Some of our elders are reported to have become tired of Mormonism, and intend to remain here.
8th Heavy showers and cold at night, but very hot at noon. [p.37]
9th Our milk kine came this day, but I got none, although I was to have 2 cows, 2 yoke of oxen and 1 wagon for forty pounds sterling; I pay three pounds, six shillings over and get no cow, as the price of cattle has advanced owing to the extra demand. They take advantage of the Mormons. I received my oxen this day, and they appear to be good and accustomed to the yoke. I expect to leave Keokuk soon. My dear girls, with John McKellar, my son-in-law arrived tonight from St. Louis, I was greatly pleased and very thankful.
10th Tremendous storm with the most awful thunder and lightning last night. I have never before seen anything to equal it. I had a very peculiar dream last night of my daughter Agnes. (George Marshall's wife.) I am preparing to leave here tomorrow.
11th We left Keokuk at 8 a.m. . . [p.38]
. . . After leaving Kanesville we traveled to North Ferry and crossed the Missouri River. Traveled under Brother Shurtliffe with 18 wagons, 1,00 miles to Salt Lake City. . . .
. . . We arrived in Salt Lake City on Sept. 22nd 1853 and camped on the Public Square. . . [p.40]
BIB: McIntyre, Peter. Autobiography (Ms 3261), pp. 28-38, 40; Acc. #90869. (CHL)