. . . I paid our passages in the ship James Pennell on Tuesday the 1st of October, and moved my family on board the 2nd on Wednesday, we moved into the River Mersey and anchored that night.
The government inspector came on board and examined the company, it was a dark examination, as all the light they had was a lantern and a poor one at that.
The captain's name was James Fullerton, a native of New Brunswick. He was a tall thin fiery man but a good sailor.
The next morning at five o'clock a steam tug attached itself to us, and towed us out to sea, a distance of 60 miles, and we lost sight of Old England.
Nothing particular occurred during the next two days, but on the night of the 5th we encountered a heavy gale in the Irish Channel. One [p.28] man died in the night. We were tossed about during two days and driven back to the Isle of Man.
In the afternoon of the 7th I saw the calf of man "So called by the inhabitants of the Island" a huge black towering rock. Thus after being out about 4 days we were only 75 miles from Liverpool.
It is needless to say that a great many were seasick, and wished they were onshore; this is very usual with those who have never been at sea, and is very distressing. It lasts about 3 days, and is very rarely fatal, and after it is over, the person has an increase of appetite.
It moderated on the 8th and we continued our journey, going the north passage leaving Ireland on our left, and quickly entering the Atlantic Ocean.
The ship's company was organized before leaving England, and Christopher Layton was appointed first, and Edward Webb second counselors, and William L. Cutler, president, a local captain over every 4 berths, to see the necessary duties attended to; such as prayers, cleanliness &c.
My wife became feeble almost immediately after entering the Atlantic, (where we encountered another storm) and continued to get worse, so that many of the passengers thought she would die, but previous to entering the Gulf of Mexico she recovered.
When we neared the West India Islands we encountered another storm, we were not far from the Bahamas. After the storm had subsided, a calm succeeded it of three days duration, and then good weather until the morning of the 4th of November at 4 o'clock, a hurricane struck the ship suddenly, as we were sailing round the Cape of Florida entering into the Gulf of Mexico.
All the sails were set, and before they could be taken in the hurricane struck us, carrying away our main and mizzen masts, splitting the foremast, tearing all the sails to pieces, blowing the caboose shed, and deck hogsheads, overboard, tearing up bulwarks, carrying overboard boats and stanchions [TIMBER PLACED ALONGSIDE OF OCEAN VESSELS] leaving the ship almost a wreck.
This storm lasted only 20 minutes and all became calm.
I saw all the storm in a dream the night before, and also that we would be saved, and I felt moderately calm amidst the excitement, for excitement there was, everyone nearly expecting to be engulfed in the sea.
After the storm was over a jury mast was rigged, of spare spars and sails, which occupied a day or two, and we were rocked about for ten or twelve days, this was owing to the roll of the sea as it always has a great swell for many days, after a violent storm.
The rocking of the ship was caused by the want of the necessary masts and sails to steady her, and propel her onward. Her unsteady motion hindered [p.29] much cooking, and we were very uncomfortable, the deck was exceedingly slippery, but no accident occurred of any account, neither was there any sickness.
A calm set in, and the weather became cloudy, insomuch that the officers of the ship could not take the bearings of the compass. The weather cleared away and we drifted into shoal water, and we saw vessels in the distance.
The flag for a pilot was run up and answered, and on the 20th a pilot came on board and changed her course, and by the morning of the 21st he brought us to the Balize [Belize] about 11 o'clock, where we anchored.
In the course of the day another ship came along side of us, with a company of Welsh Saints (called the "Joseph Badger"). They left Liverpool two weeks after we did and encountered the same storm, but received the small injury of the loss of a top sail, owing to all her sails having been close reefed.
On the morning of the 21st November the steamer "Hercules" took both ships in tow, and took us up to New Orleans arriving at the wharf at 10 minutes to 10 o'clock Friday morning.
The report of our disaster was previously published in the papers and a great crowd of people came to see us, and among them a gang of rowdies, thieves, and desperadoes. We were cautioned to guard the ship, and repel them, but found it to be a difficult matter, but between the whole of us, including the captain and crew, we kept them off.
I went on shore and purchased some bread. Many of the passengers got fresh meat against the advice of the authority, as it would promote diarrhea.
The next day Nov 23d the steamer "Pontiac" No 2 Captain Warden was engaged, and we removed on board, and on the 24th we steamed up the River Mississippi to St. Louis. This was my birthday. I was 37 days old that day.
I must record a circumstance that took place at sea, about the 15th of November. I had a terrible attack of toothache that day, and it became worse towards night. While I lay weltering in agony, a man named John Fisher came to me with a pint of brandy in his hand, of which I drank freely, and the toothache ceased. He then asked me if I intended to stay in New Orleans. I told him I did, and the reason was, because I hadn't money to go farther that season. He then told me he had a dream, that if I did, my family and also myself would die, and now said he, if you like I will lend you money to pay your passage to St. Louis, and you can pay me back when you earn it there. Of course I accepted the offer, and paid him back in about a year and a half after. . . [p.30]
. . . After a quick trip of 8 days we arrived in Salt Lake City, on Sunday the 14th of December 1856. We were taken to the tithing yard. It was about 4 o'clock p.m. . . . . [p.39]
BIB: Cantwell, James Sherlock, The Journal of James Sherlock Cantwell, ed. by Blair R. Holmes (privately printed, 1973) pp 28-30, 39. (CHL)