AMERICA--Ship Hudson, New York, July 19, 1864
Dear Brother,--Trusting you received our last communication sent on shore by the pilot on leaving the English Channel, we embrace the earliest opportunity to acquaint you with matters associated with the Saints on board the ship Hudson while crossing the waters of the broad Atlantic.
On various occasions we were becalmed, making no progress whatever for several days, and what wind we had was fickle, boisterous, and mostly [p.539] ahead, consequently our getting to New York has been principally accomplished by tacking frequently, and keeping as near to the wind as possible. The weather during the first three weeks of the journey was very warm, after which the temperature of the atmosphere cooled considerably which was more favorable to the general health. Considering the number of passengers, very few have suffered from seasickness, although, at times, from the increased motion of the vessel, the majority felt rather qualmish.
At 7:30 p.m., regularly every evening, a council meeting was held in the saloon of the second cabin, at which the condition of the Saints was reported, and such measures adopted as were deemed necessary and expedient to be carried out for the continued comfort of all under our watch-care. On Sundays we held meetings on the main and poop decks when the weather was favorable, at each of which valuable instructions were imparted by the elders to the English and foreign Saints, calculated to enlarge their understanding, brighten their hopes, and increase their faith in the principles of the gospel they had obeyed, also suitable for individual practice in the pent up position they occupied on board ship.
Captain Pratt kindly gave us the freedom of the poop deck, and on several occasions ordered large quantities of soup to be made from preserved meat, principally for the benefit of the sick, which from its tastefulness and quality, proved very nourishing. His anxiety for the comfort of all was evidently manifested, as by night and day he was ever ready personally to administer to their necessities. The many favors shown by him to the Saints, reflect the highest credit on his character as a gentleman possessing a generous disposition and kind heart, willing to bless on life's crowded highway the needy soul with what he has to bestow. By such actions he has won the love and respect of all, while his name shall long live in familiar fondness with us, and his acts of kindness be spoken of in the family circles of Zion's happy homesteads as that of a friend and benefactor. Assured that we express the heartfelt feelings of all on board, we say, "God bless Captain Pratt; may his years be many, happy and prosperous on the earth, and his actions ever worthy of praise from honest souls, and may the glad spring of each succeeding year find him employed in conducting across the great waters many hundreds and thousands of Zion's sons and daughters, watching over their interests with that fatherly care and anxiety so conspicuously manifested in his disposition."
The ship itself is the finest we ever sailed on. Her movements, even in rough weather, are easy and graceful, and the accommodations afforded for cabin and steerage passengers, are not to be surpassed. The water produced from the condensing engine is quite a luxury, far better than is got in many of the towns and cities in Old England. This boon, however, can only be fully appreciated by those who have crossed the ocean in vessels having bad water with no condensing engine on board.
The provisions, on every occasion when dealing them out, were found to be in good condition and of excellent quality, also the medical comforts provided by you for the Saints, have been liberally dispensed among the needy, as wisdom dictated from time to time. The supply allowed was equal to the demand, and the quality was first class. For your kindness in so providing for the sick on board all feel very thankful.
On three occasions we were nearly run into by other ships coming from windward, by their not using that caution so essentially necessary in the preservation of life and property on the deep. On the 8th instant a steamer, one of the Confederate privateers, supposed to be the "Georgia" or "Rappahannock," passed us. Her movements were rather suspicious as she turned two or three times near us, as if surmising on the probabilities of success, by way of booty, did she intercept us. Her appearance created some excitement among a few timid ones on board, and their strange expressions of doubt concerning their safety, to the fearless and confiding, were very amusing.
Charles Downham, a boy of seven years, belonging to sister Downham, [p.540] from Basington Branch, Southampton Conference, falling, by his carelessness, from a boat on the main deck, had his arm broken; but being promptly attended to, and due care being taken, he is now all right.
We are sorry to say that the measles were brought on board by a Jewish family belonging to the other passengers. Before it was known, however, we were three days out at sea. On the 18th ultimate they first appeared among the Saints, seizing both old and young throughout the ship. The births and deaths on board are as follows:--June 1st, Sister Susannah Kaneguter [Susanna Kanniquke], from Holland, of a son; Wednesday 6th instant, Sister Ann [Anna] Winkler, from Switzerland, of a son; Friday, 15th instant, Sister Mary Baxter, from Crofthead Branch, Edinburgh Conference, of daughter.--Thursday, 23rd ultimate, Carl, son of brother John J. and Susannah M. Kammerli, from Switzerland, of inflammation of the bowels, aged 1 year, 2 months and 21 days; Monday, 27th ultimate, Elizabeth Reizer, from Switzerland, suddenly of disease of the heart, ages 40 years and 3 months; Sunday, 3rd instant, Gottfried Adam, son of Gottfried and Eva Beck, from Germany, of Diarrhoea, aged 1 year, 9 months and 5 days; Monday, 4th instant, Emma Matilda, daughter of Frederick and Matilda Singleton, from Portsmouth, Hants, of Maurasmus, aged 6 months and 14 days; Tuesday, 5th instant, Amelia, daughter of Thomas and Kezia White Clifton, from London, of Apthoca, aged 3 months and 5 days; also on the 12th, Ellen Clifton, of Maurasmus, aged 1 year and 5 months; Tuesday, 12th instant, John, son of Sister Ann [Anna] Winkler, from Switzerland, of convulsions, aged 6 days; also on the same date, Emily Frances Kellow, from Cheltenham, of measles, aged 1 year, 2 months and 25 days; Wednesday, 13th inst., Bastiaan, son of Anne de Keyser, from Holland, of measles, aged 3 years, 1 months and 4 days; Thursday, 14th instant, Mary Ann, daughter of James and Elizabeth Papworth, from Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, of measles, aged 1 year, 4 months and 1 day.
The bodies of the above were committed to the deep in due order, and with that solemnity appropriate, by the elders officiating. Their remarks were consolatory to the bereaved, showing the views of the Latter-day Saints pertaining to their departed dead. The ties that unite us are stronger than death, and the love that warms honest, upright hearts, lives and grows beyond the grave. The strength of parental affection is increased, and when earth's fleeting joys and transient scenes shall have passed away, the links now broken in the family chain by death's chilly hand, shall be again welded together, and home's endearing associations shall be renewed with all the joys that animate the bosoms of immortals. It matters not materially where the body lays, whether beneath the green sward in its fatherland, or away far from the haunts of men in the deep, dark bed of the ocean.
Although we regret that so many of our number have died, still there are no sorrowful reflections on our minds that we did not perform our duty in paying them every attention to preserve them in life among us. The doctor of the ship, Mr. Henry James Rogers, was also attentive in administering to the sick.
Mr. Alexander Massey, part owner of the vessel, with whom you formed an acquaintance in London, proved a very pleasant and agreeable companion during the voyage. The other cabin passengers, with the officers of the ship, have also been very kind and obliging in their associations with us.
Although the passage has been somewhat long and tedious, it had been more or less one of pleasure. Unity, concord and good feeling have actuated all the brethren, with one or two exceptions, in laboring for the general welfare of all on board. Feeling thankful to the Lord for the protection and care extended toward us on our journey thus far, with confidence we move on, realizing he will still befriend us, and his bright smile of compassionate love and fondness will continue to gladden our hearts as we tread the extended prairies, or climb the mountain steeps, on our way to the hollowed home of the Saints.
The brethren are all well, and unite with us in sending kind love to you and all your associates in truth's holy [p.541] cause. May the blessings of heaven ever attend you. We remain your brethren,
John M. Kay,George Halliday,John L. Smith,Matthew M'CuneAlexander Ross, Clerk
Wednesday, July 20th, in Castle Garden, died of measles, James Edward, son of George and Harriet Williams, from Calne Branch, Bristol Conference, aged 10 months and 6 days.
Albany, July 2, 1864
After a pleasant ride up the Hudson river we arrived here at 4 a.m. We leave by train at 12 a.m. Brothers Young, Staines and Schettler are well, and join in love to you. Your brother,
John M. Kay[p.542]
BIB: Kay, John M., [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 26:34 (August 20, 1864) pp. 539-42. (CHL)