. . . This is my busiest year yet. All is hurry and bustle change & trouble. First sold off all our household effects, furniture, pictures, &c. &c. Went to live for a few months with a Mr. Thomas Pickering in Little London to save rent and save every penny we could in any manner, for it was going to be a hard struggle to get sufficient means to pay our passage to America and we must go. Our dear friends, the Pitt family, were all going and we had promised to go too. Economy was the motto. We denied ourselves all luxury and barely took the necessities of life. Worked hard & harder. I made another beautiful Iron safe which I sold for five pounds and that helped me a great deal.
Early in the year I received a letter informing me of the marriage of my dear friend, Priscilla Pitt, with Mr. Alfred Lunt at Nephi, Utah. This was a great disappointment to me, for I had intended to be present when she was married and it made my path harder to bear but I was somewhat comforted with having her sister, Ann, right with me that I was going to take care to look sharp after. My failing was a great love for the opposite sex and I was always falling in love with some good woman. I loved to be in their company but I had in all cases the most honorable intentions toward them. In leaving my native land I was leaving several young ladies I liked very much. I was taking some with me and I was going where I could see many of my old friends and lovely playmates of my youth. This cheered me.
The time soon arrived for leaving and we got our notice to come to the ship. We were told it was several pounds more to pay and that cast me down for it left me without a penny to sustain me and family on such a perilous journey to the Far West but I must go at any risk. So at the latter end of April we commenced to pack up and wish our friends goodbye. We moved to Brother Pitt's the last 2 or 3 days and held many counsels together how to raise means to get necessities for the journey. We were informed that we needed one pound for necessaries at Liverpool and here we was with only one day more in England and only half of the pound that we needed. But an aunt of Harriet's, Mrs. Banks, came and gave us 10 shillings to help her on the way and we decided on the good promise of Brother and Sister Pitt to use their cooking utensils, &c. all the way. This was hard, but there was no way out of it so we went around and wished our parents and brothers & sisters a last goodbye, many of them never to see anymore in this life. We had "God bless you" from many and all wished us well.
At last, on the 30th of April at 4 a.m. we put our little all in a cart with Brother Pitt's folks, jumped aboard, and turned our backs on our native town, a family of 5 of us. I took one long look back as at the break of day this scene passed from my sight. Thousands of circumstances crowding my mind of things in the past but they were soon forgotten in thoughts for the great future, some 9000 miles of travel was here before us and 3 small children and a wife and friends all to look after more or less.
We soon arrived at Wolverhampton Station and took train to Liverpool. The journey was very pleasant on the railroad to Liverpool as there were some 2 or 3 hundred Saints on the train, all bound for the far of Zion and our hearts were light and free. We passed through Manchester & other large towns which was interesting to me. By noon we was at the Great Time Street Station, Liverpool, and all was bustle and hurry. A dray was hired and our [p.10] luggage was soon at the docks and we was with it. And oh, what to me a wonderful and bewildering sight. I nor any of our party had ever seen a vessel of any kind and here we were all at once in the midst of the largest and busiest seaport in the world. It gladdened the heart and was truly marvelous. Here was seacraft of every kind with perhaps 2 or 3 thousand vessels in port from all parts of the world from the tiny schooner to the large, heavy-masted ship and beautiful palace steamers. But all our attention was riveted on one ship, the ship that was to be our home for several weeks, the good ship, John Bright. We were seen aboard & I took my cornet in my hand and could not cross the deck till I was asked to play a solo by the officers of the ship which I did to their pleasure and satisfaction.
Our party from Willenhall was 26 persons and I got our berths all together as far as I could and in the best part of the ship. It would have given me pleasure to have visited Liverpool and the docks and the vessels, &c. but there was not time. We had but one day to get straight in, run of all errands, and prepare for sailing. So it was to work all.
We set sail and left the dock early in the morning of May 12th and started a long and perilous journey, 804 souls aboard. It was a large, staunch and noble ship, the John Bright, with 3 decks. Our company was presided over by Elder [C.M.] Gillet, a good man, and I found and made lots of friends on the vessel. I was appointed trumpeter for the company to sound the call in the morning for all to get up, also for prayers and all meetings, and for all to go to bed at night. I was also appointed to take charge of the choir so I got all the singers together and formed a good choir of some 30 voices. I also got, by request, all the [p.11] instruments together and formed a band to amuse the company.
We were soon in the Irish Channel, a rough and very dangerous part of the sea, much more dangerous than the ocean itself and the heaving and tossing of the vessel soon had its effect on all the passengers and hundreds were seasick, and, oh dear, what a night. All my company from Willenhall were sick and the most strong were the worst, but I did not get it at all. I had a small feeling of it about 5 or 6 days after the rest but it all left me in 10 minutes. I had a terrible time to look after the sick, over 20 on my hands to wait upon and cook for and I had a big job making gruel, &c., &c. One morning I fell down the ladder with two kettles of boiling water in my hands and I was scalded some but soon I got well. My friends all praised me to the highest while they were sick and made some way up promises of help and other kindnesses if the Lord would only spare them. But I am sorry to state here that when they got well all this was forgotten and the scene changed as well as the weather that soon became delightful when we got fairly out and into the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. My wife and 3 little ones needed a great deal of attention and I worked hard for others that I might claim their assistance but alas, what a change, they even shunned my company and if me and my little ones sat in one part of the deck they would move to the other side. I think I was the poorest of the lot in means. I needed help but those I expected to help me would not. I privately one day asked one of them to tell me what I had done and why they would not voluntarily help me. I was informed I was not to expect help for if they had anything to give away they would give it to those who had something to give in return. This upset me, yet [p.12] it set me more at rest next day for I began to seek new friends and soon found some who gave me needed help. This made me double glad. My wife kept her bed nearly all the way and I remember when she had to do some washing for us I had several times to stand and hold her up the while she done it. Nevertheless, I attended all meetings and conducted the singing.
We had regular meetings on the ship. I also gave 3 or 4 concerts of vocal and instrumental music, also 3 or 4 dances. About 2 to 3 weeks mid-ocean we met with a fearful storm which lasted 48 hours. It was terrible, the waves dashing onto the ship. We could not cook our meals and were not allowed on deck. The hatches were down and we were in prison. The second morning I begged leave to go up to see the storm and I did enjoy this fearful yet grand sight. Soon as I went to look over the side of the deck a large wave came over and buried me so I was wet through from head to foot and soon beat a retreat.
After the storm, a calm and we were 5 or 6 days going at 3 miles a day with our sailing ship. Several steamers passed us and some passengers and sailors went in boats a fishing. Saw the deep, deep blue sea fathoms down. Also saw many large fishes such as sharks, porpoises, &c. and as we approached the land, the welcome seagulls gathered the water. We passed Newfoundland in a fog and were soon on a lookout for a pilot and it was a glad sight to us to see a man come aboard from our destined port who would come out to meet us and see us safe in.
Soon after daylight next morning all was bustle and the cry of land, land was on every tongue. I hastened up on deck and there was the New World, America, before me. We were now passing up the Hudson River and oh, what a beautiful sight, and how glad all hearts were. [p.13] The sight along the banks 2 or 3 miles distant was most charming, though we had but a bird's eye view. The fortifications, the islands, and the scenes were most delightful, was especially [to those] who had not seen a speck of land for over 5 weeks. The thought of fresh food & water, also, friends we expected to meet in port help us some and the thought of the dangers past and God's blessing in bringing us safely through made us glad indeed. The sick were soon well; the disheartened were happy; my wife and all of us felt strong and better much. At noon we were opposite Castle Garden and were much interested with the passing of the various sea vessels. Also at viewing the distant towns of New York, Brooklyn, New Jersey, &c.
Next day at 11 a.m. we went ashore on a small steamer and was glad to set our feet on terra firma once more. It seemed quite a change and funny to me to walk on land after walking those decks 5 weeks and 3 days. We soon registered, changed our little stock of money, and was ready to go further on our trip. Took a walk a short distance and made a few purchases and though me and my little family were alone, we felt well. We were instructed to stay at the Castle till night and then go forward. At 10 o'clock the signal came for all to move and get to the dock on the other side of the town for the steamer we were to sail on left at 11 p.m. While at the Castle I took out my cornet and played a an hour under the great dome and it sounded beautiful and attracted much attention as there must have been 2000 people in the hall. But all is bustle and we must go.
We pack up and start on a dark night. We have all our children asleep and they must be packed, besides we have 8 or 10 parcels to go and I am loaded down like a horse. A friend packs [-] for us and we [p.14] have left the Castle Garden. Our load is far too heavy. Louisa has to walk and cries. Mother packs Lizzy. The crowd of hundreds whom we started with have gone right along not having such burdens as we have. We cannot keep up and so we are lost in the streets in New York at 11 p.m. Mother is in great alarm because baby is gone but the service of the kind policeman soon puts us on the way and we see the beautiful steamer all lighted up ready to rush down the Hudson River. Being late we can find no place to even sit down, so great is the crowd and we are thrust into the engine house to lie down on the floor with an hundred others. I remember my head was within about 6 inches of the stroke of the beam of the engine and the rattle of the machinery was most fearful but we was tired enough to sleep anywhere and at 4 the next morning at break of day we arrived at New Haven where we took the cars for a long trip.
A gentleman here offered me work and wanted me to stay but I would not. At 8 or 9 o'clock we went out with a long train of cars. Our route was by the Grand Trunk line and took us through Canada. Our first general shopping place was St. Alban's, a border town, and here there was trouble. It was the time of the Fenian War and all was alarm. The soldiers were on parade in the street. We soon passed along rapidly into Canada and there we saw the Fenians also, the English army in battle array. We got soon to Montreal and passed over the great tubular bridge. Here we lost our train for they needed it to send reinforcements to the battle. Stayed till night at Montreal and then next in freight cars to Detroit. The scenery was most delightful all the way and very interesting to me. [p.15] We passed all the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, &c., also many large towns. Stay all one night in a freight warehouse at Chicago. Next day left on the Hannibal & St. Joe [Joseph] Railroad. Passed through Illinois and Missouri to the town of St. Joseph or St. Joe. Here a steamer was chartered to take us down the great Missouri River. We had crossed the Mississippi at Quincy but we are now on the Missouri in a poor but large steamboat and in two days we go down the river to a place called Wyoming, [Nebraska]. Here we embark and our journey is so far ended, 15 days travel from New York.
Wyoming [Nebraska] is a frontier town, very small, but I am first there. I seek a place to stop but behold it is out of doors. Not even a shed can we get. We got a few willows and made a tent with quilts and sheets to creep in at night and many hundreds of others do the same so we are only imitators. We have 3 weeks to wait until our wagon trains are ready to cross the great plains of the desert to still far away Utah. . . . [p.16]
. . . Our hearts were now full of joy. We had made the trip though a pang always came when we thought of the little one laid to rest on the way. We passed through Echo Canyon and Parley's Park, Emigration Canyon and then the beautiful city of Salt Lake burst to our view. Joy. Joy. Here was to us a paradise indeed. . . . [p.19]
BIB: Grant, William. Autobiography and diary (Ms 1956), pp. 9-16,19,. (CHL)