. . . In the fall of 1863 our arrangements to leave London and emigrate to Utah were being consummated, although with many tears and heartaches, saying in our hearts farewell to our kindred and friends, visiting in Leigh, Surrey a few times, telling them (our relatives) of the Gospel, but not openly declaring our intentions of emigration for the reason that the law might have upset our plans. One year yet remained of my apprenticeship not completed, and my father was opposed to our leaving, so we had to be very careful or our plans of emigration would have been thwarted and our fares, which were paid in advance, would have been lost. Little by little were our plans completed, our meager outfit made ready, and on the 30th day of May, 1864, transferred to the docks and on board the sailing vessel Hudson which was to leave June 1st for New York.
It was a very interesting sight to witness the coming together of 900 Latter-day Saints, consisting of English, Scotch, Welsh, Germans, Hollanders, Swiss, Scandinavian, Danish, and a very few French. At the fore end of the ship, apartments and berths were arranged for 200 consisting of mostly Irish emigrants to the United States. These were partitioned off to themselves so that there was no association with them on the ship's deck. Our people were very busy locating [p.4] themselves in their berths by day, fastening their trunks and belongings to the deck so that all would be firm and not be disturbed by the ship's motion when at sea. At dusk, groups would gather and visit with each other, singing the songs of Zion and relating incidents that had occurred in getting to the big boat, and also of their history since becoming members of the Church. But oh! what a happy crowd, all bent on doing the will of the Lord and keeping his commandments.
On board ship strict discipline was necessary; rules were made to be observed by all. Officers were appointed to enforce them, and to see that there was no delinquency. Prayers were maintained night and morning, meetings held on deck every night, and lights were to be out by 9 o'clock p.m. Arrangements were also made for the distribution of food, certain days for certain articles of food. The galley or cook house with its arrangements was completed and certain hours designated for the cook to receive them, and for the distribution of fresh water; for remember all articles of food were in a raw condition except hard tack or ship's biscuits, which were not very enticing, it being necessary to break them with a hammer, and frequently in breaking them you would see many jumpers or maggots roll out of the crevices in the biscuit. The ship's rations consisted of salt beef, salt pork, potatoes, rice, split peas, and a very small quantity of flour; tea, salt, pepper, sugar, and we each had to be supplied with a linen bag to hold each of these articles, and at the time specified we were to be at the commissary to receive them.
On June 2, 1864, anchor was weighed, a pilot board attached to the boat by means of a heavy cable towed us down the River Thames into the English Channel; then the sailing vessel Hudson was left to make the journey across the Atlantic to New York City. There were many heavy sighs, and many a tear shed, when leaving the English Channel, for the last time, to take a glimpse of their native land, England, as it gradually faded from view to see no more land until reaching the shores of the United States.
My father and Mr. Pardoe (to whom I was apprenticed) heard the news of our leaving for Utah and came to prevent us, following us down the Thames and the English Channel in a tug board. But we had too big a start, so they gave up the chase.
The ride over the ocean was not very interesting, especially on a boat similar to the one we were now on. The only points to break the monotony of our condition were the occasional sighting of an ocean liner or some other sailing vessel which was enjoyed, especially if near, also the shoals of porpoise and the blurting of the whale, which threw up bursts of water many feet high. However at midnight when about in mid-ocean we were awakened by much activity of the crew on deck, and next morning we learned that we nearly had a collision with another sailing boat--so close that the rigging of each ship became entangled, and we felt, upon hearing the news, surely the Lord was mindful of us, and that he had protected us from dangers.[p.5]
The next point of interest to us was when we were nearing the shores of the U. S., when early in the morning the Confederate gunboat "Georgia" hailed us and brought us to a standstill, for be it remembered the War of the Rebellion was now in full sway. After inquiries from our captain we were permitted to move on for they ascertained that 1100 British subjects were on board. Consequently they had no means of handling that many persons and the would-be prize was given up, the gunboat's band playing a farewell.
On our journey much sickness in our company was among us, such as measles, and many of the children died and were buried at sea. It was a custom that will always be remembered by us, and very sad to contemplate. The corpse was wrapped in a blanket and then placed upon a plank, and at a certain part of the ceremony the plank was raised and the body fell into the watery grave.
It was early in the morning of the 16th of July when the words, "Land Ahoy!" were heard and it was a lively rush on deck to witness the new land, and it was certainly a picture never to be forgotten. After our six weeks and over of an ocean life, to again witness land, it looked to us beautiful. In a few short hours a pilot had us in a tow and we were safely taken into the harbor of New York. Here we were interviewed by the customs officers and were placed in the Castle Garden, where all were examined as to health and inquiries made to comply with the U. S. laws as to our right to land. After passing a critical examination, we were passed and permitted to go ashore.
We were directed to railroad cars to convey us to the frontiers. It was no small job to locate a company with freight, but finally two sections were formed and we were on our way. Travel on cars was not very commodious and not very clean. It was also slow for bridges and railroad tracks were torn out by Confederate armies, and freight had to be carried across rivers and creeks were train crews awaited to convey us to our destination. At St. Joe we were placed on a Missouri River boat which carried us to Wyoming, Nebraska, an outfitting point for the journey across the plains.
For two weeks we lived in a little brush shelter awaiting preparations for the journey over the plains, the loading of wagons, with freight of 900 people being tedious and slow. It required 120 wagons with from two to four yoke of cattle. Finally one train of 60 wagons and oxen was in shape and Captain Hyde placed in charge. On account of Indian depredations they halted and waited for the next train to overtake them so that they would be stronger in case of attack from Indians.
I was engaged to drive on of the teams to Salt Lake, the agreement being my fare and board as well as that of my mother for my services. This was new work for me as I had never seen any oxen yoked before, but by watching old teamsters it soon became easy. Experience taught me that kindness to oxen availed much for the cattle came to know my voice. While many accidents occurred, I had no trouble from the Missouri River to Salt Lake. . . .[p.6]
BIB: Symons, Charles William [Autobiography], IN Meredith, Carley Budd and Anderson, Dean Symons, The Family of Charles William Symons and Arzella Whitaker Symons (privately printed, 1986) pp. 4-6 (CHL)