. . . My strongest desire was to gather with the Saints to Nauvoo, Illinois, and on December 31, 1843 left home with my wife and child, three months old, with a light heart, bidding my father and mother, brothers and sisters and friends farewell. We arrived in Belfast, ten miles from Hillsborough [p.2] the same day and took passage on a steamer for Liverpool next day, first of January, 1844. Reuben Hedlock and Thomas Ward presided over the English mission, also Latter-day Saint Emigration.
It was reported that a vessel would sail on the first week of January. I learned from the president that a vessel had been chartered and was now fitting up berths for the emigrants, and would be ready to sail in about a week or about ten days for New Orleans. By the kindness of Walter McCallaster, a member of the church, my family and I were invited to go to his house and remain till the bark, Fanny of Boston, would sail. This I accepted and was kindly treated by himself and family.
All was bustle making ready for the emigrants, as they were arriving every day. The majority were from England and Wales, a few from Scotland and fifteen from Ireland, four from Hillsborough, and eleven from Crawford's bum branches. Everything being ready, provisions water and baggage being on board, with two hundred and ten souls, men, women and children. We were towed out to Liverpool the twentieth of January, 1844, and steamer returned after taking us into the Irish Channel. The company had been organized before sailing with William Key [Kay] as president. Thomas Hale [Hall] and Henry Aurdan [Cuerden] his councilors, and a committee of twelve men to take charge of the provisions, distribute them to the company and take a general supervision for benefit and health of the company.
I was chosen one of them and acted the whole voyage. We had a rough sea for three days in the Irish channel, with headwinds. The ship could not keep the course, but had to be taken to the Isle of Man and then changed toward the coast of Wales. The passengers became alarmed, the captain said that if the wind did not change the ship was in danger of being wrecked. But on the morning of the third day the wind changed favorably, and we rounded the Welsh Coast and entered the Atlantic ocean. The passage across the Atlantic was pleasant with the exception of a few days of storm, when we were tossed about and the storm came so furious that the waves swept over the ship. Hatches closed and no person was allowed on deck except the crew of the ship. Many were alarmed, fearing we were all going to the bottom of the sea. We had prayer meetings daily and preaching meetings on Sundays, regular as when on land. We now had fair wind and were making from ten to twelve knots per hour and first saw the West Indian Islands after having been our three weeks from Liverpool. We were detained by calms opposite the island called Jamaica, also in the Gulf of Mexico by headwind. We were driven back one hundred miles. After all the difficulties which is the lot of mariners we landed in New Orleans about the first of March, being a little over five weeks from Liverpool. New Orleans was a wonderful city for negroes and mules, mud and cotton, and what astonished me was the amount of cigars that were strewn on the sidewalk. Some to 3/4 used and none that were not used.
The "Maid of Iowa," a small steam boat owned by Joseph Smith, the prophet and Dan Jones, who commanded the boat, was chartered to take the boat to Nauvoo. It took two or three days to load the baggage into the steamboat with other improvements and supplies which had to be attended to. On Sunday morning, I believe the 3rd. of March, 1844 the boat left New Orleans for Nauvoo, Illinois, loaded down to the guards. The passage was very tedious, sailing against the current, which was very strong, and the Mississippi River being swollen and very muddy, especially the Red River, and others emptying into the Mississippi from the west in which are all very high at this season of the year. In order to escape the strong current of the [p.3] river the pilot would run the boat up sloughs or bayous, running around and taking many hours and hard work to get her off, also breaking 2 shafts, and sending down to New Orleans to get new shafts. These accidents were very unpleasant as the company was very anxious to get to Nauvoo before conference on the 6th of April. We were very much annoyed, also persecuted in towns along the river. News went ahead that a boat filled with Mormons was on its way to Nauvoo. Necessity caused the boat to land to get supplies. Men would rush on to the boat calling us foul names. "Joe's rats" was a common salutation we received. Natchez, a town on the east side of the river set the boat on fire. It was not discovered till we had left the place over half an hour, and the side of the boat was ablaze, also several beds and bedding. The fire was extinguished in a short time, with the loss of several feather beds and bedding. It was a narrow escape for the crew and passengers, also the boat.
Another town that we landed late in the evening, Captain Jones ordered that no person be allowed aboard the boat, but men came rushing aboard and would not be held back. Brother James Haslem [Haslam] went on the hurricane deck and fired a gun in hopes it would be a warning to the mob that we would not be run over by them. But in quelling them they ran for firearms and fired several shots. Things looked serious, steam was got up as speedily as possible, the boat was shoved off and they landed three miles up the river and lay over till the next morning, but we were not molested. Many of the company were sick by using the water of the river that was very muddy, which gave diarrhea, or bowel complaint. I was very sick and weak for two months after I arrived in Nauvoo on the tenth of April, I cannot express the joy and pleasure we enjoyed in just beholding the city of Nauvoo where we could behold the Prophet of God, and we were not disappointed, for he was with his brother, Hyrum, with leading men in the Church and other prominent of the city to the number of two hundred or more. Was at the landing to receive us and making us welcome to the city of the Saints. I was very happy to behold the prophet and patriarch and have an introduction to them, and hear their voice, and shake their hands.
The news of our passage coming up the lower Mississippi and the trouble we were in and persecution we had to suffer, came ahead of us, and great anxiety was felt for the safety of the company also the boat which was owned by the Saints. I will state one incident where the company was in eminent danger of losing their lives and sinking the boat, also shows their hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The lower Mississippi had quite a number of first class steamboats running between St. Louis and New Orleans that made the round trip every week each time they passed the "Maid of Iowa" we would have a grand salute by cheering and laughing and calling us bad names. One of those boats I forget her name tried to run us down and would if Captain Jones had not been on the hurricane deck as he was always on duty, made them shear off by hollowing and threatening to shoot the pilot. This took place at night when the company were in their beds. [p.4]
BIB: Adams, William. Ms 8039, pp. 2-4; Acc. #26731. (Typescript) (CHL)