In 1864, when I was sixteen years of age, my parents decided to come to Utah for the sake of their religion. We were all anxious to go but we met with a lot of opposition from all those who knew us. Mr. Wean tried to dissuade father by saying, "Henry, if you will change your mind, I'll give you a better job and I'll sen your three boys to school. They can learn all it is possible for them to learn and then I'll apprentice them to any trade they want to follow. It won't cast you a penny." In spite of this my father adhered to his original decision and in the summer of that year we joined an emigration train and left London docks on the sailing vessel, Hudson, Jun 1st, 1864. There were 900 Saints on board. That was a sight to be remembered! Some were crying, some were laughing and others fainting at the thoughts of leaving their loved ones never to see them again. My father fainted on the deck as the ship began pulling away from the wharf. We thought for a few minutes that my brother Henry would not be with us. My cousin, James Thomas, was holding him on the dock trying to keep him from leaving but at the last moment he broke away and with a run and a big jump, caught hold of one of the ropes on the side of the boat and climbed aboard.
Captain Pratt, a cousin to Parley P. Pratt, was our captain. A fine man and a good sailor. He piloted our ship to Castle Gardens, New York safe in the harbour after battling head winds all the way across. There were 1025 people all told on board ship. We stood the trip fairly well. The fare was coarse but substantial. Hard ship's biscuits, fat beef, pork, beans and rice were our chief foods. Mother brought a small coop of chickens, two hens and a rooster, across with her and the few eggs we gathered [p.296] were surely enjoyed. Mother was very sick on the ship and could not eat anything until we got an egg and made it into a custard. She was able to eat that and so gained strength. We had a few deaths aboard. When that happened the body was wrapped in a sheet, weighted, and laid on a plank. It was then taken to the side of the ship, the plank tipped, and the body slid off into the ocean. "The billows rolled as they rolled before; there was many a prayer did hallow the wave as they sank beneath in a traveler's grave."
At that time the Civil War was going on and as we neared our destination, the warship, Alabama, pulled alongside our ship to determine what kind of freight was aboard. The sailors cried out to us to "say your prayers, you Mormons, you are all going down!" But we were spared. We were all immigrants from other countries and they dared not sink us. It took us seven and one-half weeks to make the trip across and at the end our ship was piloted into the harbor. All our luggage was taken to the custom house and examined. We were all passed on by doctors. As the doctor finished with us boys he turned to mother and said heartily, "your three boys are all alright!" If there had been any suspicion by the doctor that we were not as we should be in regard to health, we would have been kept in quarantine.
After we were through there, we were all loaded on a steamboat and taken up the river for the distance. Finally we were unloaded from that and eventually found ourselves on a train ready for our overland journey westward. The cars were without decent accommodations. We had to sit on our luggage for seats. People were riding in cattle cars or any kind they could get. It was desperately hard on those who were sick and on the older people.
Now we reached the war zone. I was forcibly reminded of an occurrence in which I had participated before leaving England. A man by the name of Gillman, a ship's carpenter, had taken a fancy to me and took me out one night to do some preaching. He was a local man--but he had some sheets of paper on which was printed the prophecy of Joseph Smith concerning the Civil War. I helped him distribute these sheets. When I began to get glimpses of the war I couldn't help but remember that prophecy. We saw quite a bit of action by the soldiers and by the Indians. They were, of course, all on the warpath. Many times we saw smoke signals from the tops of the mountains. One of the railroad bridges was destroyed and we had to unload all the luggage, take it down through the creek, up the other side and into some cattle cars that were handy there--dirty or clean it made no difference. The next station we came to was burned to the ground. The train was fired at by soldiers and one of the cars was afire as a result. Often at night officers came through the train searching for deserters. At times the engine and tender were alive with soldiers shooting at rebels tearing up the track.[p.297] Of course fear and horror were experienced by all of us but we would not have turned back had we been given the chance.
We finally reached the end of the railroad tracks and had to prepare ourselves for the journey across the plains. At that time there was a perpetual emigrating fund. The people who were already settled and living here in Utah, in the various wards, used to send whatever they could in the way of wagons and oxen to bring the immigrants to Zion. Of course there were may provisions, not only for us, but also for the people living in Utah, and the wagons were loaded to the limit. Nothing in the line of food could come from the west and the price of foods brought from the east was too high for most of us. Tea and coffee sold for one to two dollars per pound. Flour and sugar were a dollar a pound.
We stayed about two weeds getting ready for the westward march. The provisions had to be divided and all arrangements made. . . .[p.298]
. . . We were between three and four months coming across the plains and one weary day we found ourselves traveling down Weber canyon within one day's travel of our destination--Salt Lake City. Captain Hyde had gone on ahead when Bishop Cannon from Salt Lake met us. He inquired for Captain Hyde and on being told he had ridden ahead he tuned to father and said, "You are English?" "Yes," replied Dad. "Well" said Bishop Cannon, I have a chest of tea in my buggy--take it--and when you reach camp tonight we'll have some fine food ready." It was in October and there was snow on the ground. We had all gone through a great deal of suffering and were very happy to pull into the 8th ward square, the immigrants camping grounds The City and county Building now stands on that spot. . . .[p.299]
BIB: Sutton, James T., [Autobiography], Our Pioneer Heritage, comp. By Kate B. Carter, vol. 17 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1974) pp. 296-99. (CHL)