. . . My father, James Alston, died May 26, 1863, leaving five children, the eldest ten years and the youngest two years of age. My mother, being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, desired to gather to the place appointed for members of the Church to assemble and settle, to make homes and build up a community here in Salt Lake City and the country adjacent north and south. Father's mother and brothers, who were also the executors of Father's will, were very strongly opposed to the children being taken to that wicked place where those "awful Mormons" lived. So Mother was under the necessity of making private arrangements to send my brother, eight years, and myself ten years of age, with a friend, paying a part of his emigration costs for caring for us on the journey. We were out on the Atlantic Ocean before my grandmother and uncles knew that we had been quietly sent away to the United States of America during the Civil War, leaving our mother with three small children; the eldest of the three a cripple on crutches; the youngest a child in arms. We emigrated in 1864, sailing on May 21st on the ship General McClellan. Aboard this good ship on this memorable [p.35] trip was Sister Eliza Allen, mother of our neighbor, Mrs. John A. Pressler. She was a fine example of young English girlhood.
During our voyage there was one birth, one death and one marriage. One night, in a dense fog, our ship struck a monstrous iceberg and was nearly wrecked, but was miraculously saved. It was a fearful experience. Everything that was not lashed down tight was thrown from side to side - people, utensils and luggage in one great pile. The rattle of pans, dishes and baggage, and the cries of women and children, the shouts of men, the commands of officers, the banging and bumping of the ship against the iceberg made it seem as if two monsters were trying to beat each other to pieces and the great floating mountain of ice would overwhelm the sturdy ship and sink her in the deep sea with all on board. But it was not to be so, we were in the hands of the "master of ocean and earth and skies."
We arrived in New York June 23rd, 1864. There we took steamer and traveled up the Hudson River into Canada to avoid the Armies of the Rebellion, broken bridges, uptorn railways, etc. incident to a war, which was raging in the States between the North and the South, with blood and rapine in all the land. We arrived in Wyoming, near Omaha, July 3rd, after going by rail and another steamer up the Missouri River. There we were met by the teams of oxen and teamsters from Utah preparatory to making an 1,100 mile trip, which I walked the whole way. . . .
. . . Captain Joseph S. Rawlins was in charge of our company. We arrived in Salt Lake City September 20, 1864. I was then eleven years old, having celebrated my birthday twelve days before arriving here. I must relate the welcome I received on the first day and night in the Salt Lake Valley. In the morning, about 11 o'clock, we came out of the mouth of Parley's Canyon, where we were met by a number [p.36] of men and teams. The first words of greetings I heard were, "Come here my boy and hold your cap." I came near the wagon from which this voice came. There was a man kneeling in the bottom of the wagon on some straw, and the wagon was nearly filled with peaches. He scooped up his double hands full of peaches and put them into my cap, then scooped up another handful and put them into my cap also, and it was full of lovely peaches, the first I had ever tasted in my life. "There" he said, "now eat those." He kept handing out peaches until his load was given away. I ran to our wagon where my brother lay very sick and gave him some peaches, the divided the remainder with the teamster and my custodian, John Ollerton, who had brought me from England, the I ate the rest. Now imagine, if you can, an eleven-year-old boy who had waked 1,100 miles and had an 1,100 mile appetite, and had never tasted a peach before in his life, having half a dozen nice peaches to eat! . . . [p.37]
BIB: Alston, Christopher, [Autobiography], Our Pioneer Heritage, comp. by Kate B. Carter, vol. 8 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1965) pp. 35-37. (CHL)