. . . Arrangements had been made by Apostle F. [Franklin] D. Richards with the captain of a large sailing vessel to take us to America. But as we were so long he became impatient and swore that he would wait for us no longer, so about the 20th of December he set sail for America, but she had but fairly gotten underway when a violent storm rose which resulted in breaking two or three of the large cross timbers of the ship and thus she was obliged to put back into port to get his ship repaired and instead of our taking passage on this ship we was on the ship James Nesmith. The arrangement was for seven hundred passengers, but instead of that number they would take but five hundred and fifty. [p.5]
Before leaving the docks the passengers were carefully inspected by two doctors to ascertain whether there were any contagious diseases among them. Two children were found to be thus affected and they with their mothers were taken on shore.
After sailing out of port we were organized into four wards. I being appointed to take charge of the third ward and O.P. [Peter Olsen] Hansen, president of the whole company.
We were treated very kindly by all the officers and crew of the ship excepting the second mate who was a wicked man and notwithstanding we had paid full fair there were some of the passengers who suffered considerably for the common necessaries of life.
The wind not being favorable. We made but little progress for three or four days but during this time the sea was rough and as a consequence there was considerable seasickness among the passengers.
On or about the 14th of January 1855 I received the hand of Miss Keren Nielsen in marriage, President O.P. [Peter Olsen] Hansen officiating. There was also another marriage at the same time, and before we had landed in America there had three or four other marriages been solemnized.
We had a very pleasant voyage excepting one day and a few hours when the wind blew a fearful gale and blew our ship back for the space of one day and three or four hours. When the storm struck us some of the passengers were sitting upon the deck but some of the tackle of the ship being broken they soon made their way below.
According to the prophecy of the brother before leaving Denmark, we espied a light on the [p.6] American coast Feb. the 11th 1855.
Two boat [boats] were sent out to meet us on which were two or three Negroes, the first we, the Danish Saints, had ever seen, which I assure you was a great curiosity to us.
The ship was but six weeks and three days in making the voyage from Liverpool to the mouth of the Mississippi River. There were eighteen deaths, old folks and children, in crossing the ocean.
When coming into the Mississippi our ship lodged on a sand bar from which we were unable to extricate ourselves so the next morning a tug boat was sent out to assist us, but it was unable to render us any assistance. Another boat was added but they failed to move the ship so the next day a third boat was added without any better success than before. The captain then said would have to remain here until the river rose. It was Sunday night when we struck the sand bar and there remained until between Wednesday and Thursday night (the water raising 6 feet) and even then the ship was enabled to move off only by the aid of three tug boats, one on either side and one on front and then we did not get clear of the bar until the next day. After getting clear it was no trouble for one boat to draw three ships into New Orleans.
As we sailed along the Mississippi from its mouth to New Orleans, (it being the latter part of Feb.) was to be seen on either side, skirting the banks of the mighty Mississippi extensive orchards of lemons & oranges, figs and other luscious fruits in tempting abundance. Back of these orchards and running parallel with them were numbers of Negro huts. [p.7]
While lying on the sand bar we saw myriads of fish of all kinds some as heavy as a half grown pig. We were advised not to eat them as for some cause they were considered not to be fit for use.
We found all kinds of the products of this section to be extremely cheap: sugar 4, rice 2, and bacon 6 and other things in proportion.
While stopping at New Orleans an apostate from the Latter day Saints tried to induce us not to proceed farther on our journey at present giving as his reason for such a course that the ice in the river would prevent our reaching St. Louis. But at this juncture a missionary from Utah happened along and advised us to proceed on our journey for said he "the ice will be broken up and and [SIC] the river cleared before you reach St. Louis. Our president therefore tried a steamboat and we proceeded on our way for St. Louis after having laid in our supplies.
Before leaving New Orleans the captain came down to the ship and told us that this had been the most prosperous trip he had ever made across the ocean. The trip before this he had embarked with one thousand passengers, but no soon had he put to sea than they commenced to drink, play cards, quarrel and fight, besides they were filthy in their habits. From these causes disease took hold of them and before he arrived in America death had consigned seven hundred to a watery grave. On another and previous voyage he had embarked with three hundred passengers and from similar causes he arrived in America with but eleven souls, disease having taken the remainder away. "In the future," said he, "if I have my choice, I will [p.8] bring none but Latter-day Saints." Thus we can plainly see how the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ enable His chosen people to escape disease and death, while on the other hand a wanton disregard of these sacred principles had carried so many to an untimely grave. Such has been the case in all dispensations of Gods providence to His children and such it will continue to be until the end of time.
But to come back to the main thread of our narrative, we arrived in St. Louis, having buried seventeen or eighteen of our number while on our way up the river. With this exception we had a prosperous journey.
At St. Louis we the pleasure of beholding the face of our esteemed brother and Apostle President Erastus Snow, who told us we had been the most prospered of any company of Saints that had yet come come [SIC] to America. In alluding to the number of deaths that had occurred on our way up the river, he said that the Prophet Joseph had predicted that the time would come when the Mississippi River would be poisoned so that it would be unsafe for the Saints to come in that route, but would have to come in by way of New York.
Means being scarce among the Saints we were advised to seek for labor in Leavenworth, Kansas and Weston, Missouri. While at these places the Saints were attacked with that dread disease, cholera, which was contracted from some clothes that were taken in by some of the passengers for washing. . . . [p.9]
. . . On the sixth day of September 1853 we arrived in Salt Lake City, having been ten months and twenty days since we left Copenhagen, a distance perhaps of between six and seven thousand miles. . . . . [p.11]
BIB: Neilson, Peter. Family Record (Ms 5345), pp. 5-9, 11. Acc. #17756. (CHL)