. . . The spirit of the gathering came upon us and we decided to bring our business to a close and emigrate with the first [p.2] company that was to start in January 1850. I was quite a long time in doing this, my time being taken up with my business and also in preaching and traveling around. But we had made up our minds to leave for Zion. In December 1849, I advertised my property for sale, so I could pay all my debts and see how we stood with regards to this world's means. My household effects were sold to the highest bidder to a great disadvantage. My business in the store sold to a man whose name I have forgotten, however we disagreed only in one small item and that was the receipt for the making of an article called soda scones. It was a small thing but I had made money at it and would not give him the receipt for same, except he paid me well for it. Our bargain was nearly broken up when I gave in to him, with him paying 25 pounds for the receipt, I wanted fifty but I said I could do no better and gave it up. Since I have come to America, now about 34 years, I have heard by the elders who have been at that place that the man I sold out to has retired from business, independent. His son now occupies the same place carrying on the business the same as I left it. After all was sold out I had in the neighborhood of one thousand five hundred dollars and left for the branch to collect about three of four hundred dollars that I had trusted out to the Saints but left word not to oppress them. Before I started I paid into the temple fund, fifty dollars. The night before we left, the Saints had a social party where we all gathered together. We had a good time, I assure you. We left on the first day of January 1850, with the Robertson family. We journeyed along through Perth and on to Glasgow. William Robertson and I left them there. They were to go by rail and we to go by steamer, so we would be in Liverpool before them to secure places for their comfort. We stayed in Liverpool four or five days.
We sailed on the old ship Argo on the 10th day of January. There were five hundred Saints on board bound for Zion. It seemed from the start we were going to have stormy weather. We were nearly nine weeks in crossing the deep, which we should have crossed in half that time. At one time near the Island of Cuba we were nearly wrecked. One night about 10 o'clock, when quite a number of the cabin passengers were on deck, and the captain was spinning his yarns, thinking all was going well, a flash of lightning as bright as day showed to those on deck, the land and breakers within three or four miles. In an instant the captain ordered all hands below. The sailors were ordered to their posts and they worked with a will. By the daylight we sailed clear of the rocks. In a few days more we landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River, where we had a busy time in fishing up buckets of fresh water. In crossing the mighty deep we buried 12 or 13 of our brethren and sisters. The tug steamers came down the Mississippi to look for vessels that wanted to be tugged up to New Orleans. One came along and took us in tow. We got along for sometime until we came to a place I think they call the bar. The old ship Argo went aground and all the steaming and tugging she could do had no effect. There we stuck and had to wait until the tide came in. When it came in, we got off the bar amidst the cheering of all hands. As we went up the Mississippi a most dismal scene met our eyes. You could see the fishermen's houses built on piles, the same as those driven down for the building of bridges. There were four spiles driven down in the soft mud or water and then their houses of logs were built upon them. The Negroes would come along in their boats to trade with us. They had eggs, oranges, chickens, and many things which we were very glad to get. As we neared New Orleans
, we could see splendid buildings, plantations and orange groves. They were busy plowing and working in the fields and gardens. It seemed like summer. What a contrast, when we left Scotland everything was winter and now everything was in blossom. We arrived at New Orleans. The ship was fastened by her moorings and then we were allowed to go ashore, which we had not done for over two months. I remember it was on Sunday. We went into the town and bought a few things for the folks on board. When we got to the market they were busy selling the Negroes by auction to the highest bidder. We stayed in New Orleans a few days. The officers in charge of the company chartered a steamer to take us up the river. . . . [p.3]
BIB: McKell, Robert. Autobiography (Special Collections & Manuscripts Mss1972). p.2-3, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University,