. . . My wife was at this time staying with her parents in the Crown Hotel, Birmingham. They were all very glad to see me on my arrival in the family, as this was the first time I was ever with or had seen them. I found Mr. and Mrs. Butler a fine, tall handsome couple and three daughters also very handsome. All well educated and graceful and well-to-do. Now I had the offer to be put into a business of any kind and everything free of expense to me if I would only decline the offer and the ideas of going to Zion. Mrs. Butler was weeping bitterly. Several friends came to see me and all tried their best to see me and persuade me not to go to that wicked place called Zion. But I was immovable. I thanked them for their kindness. "Well", said all of them, "We have  offered and tried hard to persuade you and offered you a business and you refuse and we will not help you to Zion as the sin will not be on us." I again thanked them and told them I had a chain purse full of gold and if my wife Hannah did not wish to go she could take the purse full of gold, for my fate was Zion. My wife's Mother finding I was determined to go said, "Hannah, you have a sister in America, but where we do not know. As your Mother, my counsel to you is now to go with your husband and may God bless you both." Now one of the sisters had made two pairs of worsted socks for the baby.
As the ship was not going to sail for two weeks I took a trip to Rochdale to bid my sister Jane goodbye. Now Jane at this time lived 33 Lord St. Rochdale. She was at this time a widow with four children, two boys and two girls and living on her own means very comfortable. I felt very happy here as Jane was a noble woman and was the first that brought us the news of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The next place I now went to was a lodging house in Liverpool close to the docks where the ship was moored and getting ready for to start. I found there were no beds of any kind in my berth, so I wrote to London to my mother who sent me down the next day a feather bed. In the spring, 12 March 1854 we went on board and we sailed. There were about 300 Saints on board all pretty well off and of a good class, a mixture of all classes and all for Zion bound. Now I will write the truth to show what is the true religion and who are Saints. Now my wife at this time was heavy with child. I had prayed very earnestly to God that a good midwife might be on board. Now as I had been a steward of course I was used to seafaring life.
The captain was a good man and take it all through, the ship's company was also a set of fine men. The cook was very obliging to the Saints. Seasickness in all it's horrid forms came over the Saints. I at this time made myself very useful being quartered near the hatchway in and after the cabins. I was nicely fixed. I helped the captain and the rest all I could after the sea sickness was over. Our present was Robert Campbell, a Scotsman, Elder Smith and several others. We had prayers every morning and night and singing and testimony, preaching every Sunday. I might say it was a heaven afloat. The fear of God was in our midst. We were happy for the spirit of love and peace was in our midst. Although we had Saints from all parts of the world but a kind of smart well to do Saints. As we got into the Gulf of Florida my wife Hannah took sick and as good luck would have it the hospital was empty. No one was sick on board and my prayer was answered in the mid-wife. A fine broad Scotch woman came and offered her services showing me papers that she had served in the hospitals. At six o'clock in the morning we were all on our knees when Hannah was confined with twins on the 19 April 1854. At sea the joy was so great that on the third day the Saints all united to give the mother and the twins a grand feast and it was in no mistake.
Sister Wolington was a lady of fine breeding and rich, gave bountifully of her good things. I got three bottles of brandy and wine. The first mate proposed the toast. The boy to be called John Montgomery Wood Poulter and the girl to be christened Hannah Montgomery Wood Poulter. The mate was very jolly for the brandy had got into his head. The band played for we had a fine band dressed in green and gold trimmings. This was the first and the last of the band. At last we arrived in New Orleans 2 May 1854 all in good health and spirits. But alas, alas! How soon spirit of love and happiness was to depart. We found elders had been sent from Salt Lake to take charge of us. This was the last ship and the richest that went through. Now I will show a little of this love we got. It was given to be the understanding that all contracts made in the ship or in England was now as of no effect as all was placed in the hands of Captain Brown of Ogden City. Now this Captain Brown was a fine, smart looking man, he got a steamer to take us to St. Louis, and so it was all that [p.137] could not afford to hire a cabin had to go below and do the best we could, like so many cattle. While the officers of the Saints, Captain Brown and the rich of our company had first class cabins and ate and drank at the mess tables of the best of the land, the poor below had to take care of themselves in the best way that they could. The water we had to drink was river water, we had to put alum in it to make it drinkable. We had no prayer, we had no singing. The rich Saints with their Elders would come down to see us. Yes to see us, confined like so many cattle in hot stinking quarters. At last the cholera broke out on board and several of the sisters died and were buried at the places where we took in our wood with no singing or prayer.
I asked the captain of the steamer to allow me on the other deck where I could get some fresh air as the twins were getting sick. By me doing this the captain of the steamer gave all liberty to come up on the upper deck. Our good mid-wife was taken sick and died, buried like the rest. I was very fond of singing and as we got together talking about this and that I asked one of the Scotch sisters to sing and to make me a flag to fly in my tent to cross the plains with. She made me my flag. It was a fine flag, the red, white and blue and no stars but a beehive in the middle. While she made this flag it drew around us quite a crowd. This sister that made my flag was fair to look upon. A singer, a voice like a bird, "Sister, I love to sing the songs, the songs of Zion. Will you sing?"
"I will," she said, "Brother Poulter if you will help me." My! she sang like an angel. The poor Saints gathered around us and when it came to the choruses they sang with power. Soon it brought around us these enemies that the rich Mormons and their leaders were afraid of. Well, we got through and of course we expected to be eaten up alive by these Mormon enemies, but wonder, ye heaven, give ear! Oh earth! They stood like statues struck with wonder at the echo of the Scotch sister's lovely voice. Poor she was, but the spirit of the Gods' were upon her and what dith they say? "Madam if you please sing us another song?"
"Yes, sir." was her response. Again went up her lofty strains. It filled the steamer, if floated in the air. Spirits of the just were around us. All the singers felt good. Well, what did the singing do? What did it do--it went up to the heavens, the angels came down and drove away the sickness. Light again shone on our souls and it kept so until we neared St. Louis.
When listen, oh ye Heavens! Give ear oh ye earth! The poor
Saints were soon in hope to be in St. Louis to be again with the good Saints of Latter-days. But alas, more of our hopes blasted. Again the cruel power of man came to bear on us. We were all turned on an island into a lot of dirty houses with stores at the end of it kept by Doctors. Oh, we had the cholera among us. We were no sooner here when the Doctor told us not to go far back of the house as there were the graves of some who had died of smallpox and cholera. This scared some. They took sick and died. In the evening my brother William came at the back of the island with a boat with bread, butter, eggs, chickens, ham and cheese sent by my brother Charley.
William gave the Doctor five dollars, so I got off that evening with my wife and two children and went to St. Louis. I gave all my provisions to my sick friends. I went to my brother Charley's house. He was married to Miss Betts and had two children.
Now I stayed here for three weeks waiting for the Miss Mary Wolington to fill her promise to me, namely, to take me to Zion in her wagon, while in the office were Captain Brown, Orson Pratt, President of the St. Louis Branch, Elder Eldridge and a host of others. I found that Captain Brown had Mary Wolington as his tool by compelling her to break all her promises and to fill her wagon with merchandise. So it was, "Brother Poulter, I cannot take you to Zion for I have to obey the priesthood." [p.138]
Now how do you think I felt? My way to Zion all knocked in the head and the funerals passing the house where I was staying. I said to my brother Charley, "I can not stop in this place, I want to go to Zion. I can not go farther without hope of help from some quarter." "Well, Tom I am in partners with my brother William. I will give you five hundred dollars which is my share to help you out."
My brother William concluded to go to Zion with the aid of my brother Charley. I was to have a tent to sleep in, while William and his family were to sleep in his wagon. So the day came when the steamer was chartered to take us to Fort Leavenworth so as it was from New Orleans to St. Louis so was it from St. Louis to Fort Leavenworth, namely, a mark of distinction was to be drawn. The rich were to have cabins, mess at the mess table on the best of the land, while the others had to lie on the decks, but we took on board a good supply of food at St. Louis. We had a good passage to Fort Leavenworth. We camped in a lovely grove alongside of the river. The main body of the church was camped about three miles outside with a company of Saints that came from St. Louis in their own teams about three hundred of them all well fixed. The main body was commanded by Elder Eldridge.
We stayed at this place for six weeks. The cholera had broken out at President Eldridge's camp so the other camp from St. Louis concluded to go on to Zion and not wait any longer. My brother William got his team, two cows and four steers and started with the St. Louis company. Our cattle were wild, but young noble animals. The day we started it rained, blew and thundered. We had a good start and camped twelve miles from the camp in a lovely grove with plenty of grass. The St. Louis Mormons were old hands, up to it all. They were to go ahead. Their cattle were all well broken in. We made twenty miles and arrived in a lovely grove, good water and grass.
Six Indian chiefs, elderly men, all sat down in a circle and smoked the pipe of peace, they passed the pipes around, wanted to know where we were going and they told us that 300 of their braves were out on the plains on the war path and were at war with the Snake Indians.
On the third day out we camped in a lovely spot, a fine river running through the grove of timber. Lots of chubs and trout; we had no trouble to catch them. On the fourth day we camped on a creek. Good water and grass. Just as we were going to have supper the 300 Indian Braves came into the camp. They told us they had had no food for three days, they wanted us to give them food for three days. They took two young steers and killed them and dressed them. It was a fine sight to see them mount on their horses and start off full of glee.
The next day we camped in another lovely grove with a stream filled with fish, but the mosquitoes were awful. Sickness now broke out in our camp. Several women died and the children several were sick and died. They were buried by the wayside. One girl about fourteen said to me, "Brother Poulter give me a drink of cold water, for I am dying." We were now on the plains. We had no water. She died. It was terrible. My wife's left breast was sore, so the twins fared bad. At last they took sick. I slept in a tent. I took the twins and prayed to God to spare them to get to Salt Lake, as I dreaded the wolves, for we had them on our trail every night howling terrible.
Still our crowd was a merry one. Every evening we made large fires. We had a band in our crowd, dancing and singing. The cattle were guarded by two of the brothers every night. One night we killed a beef. It was near my tent. At midnight the large white wolves came howling and snapping their jaws, and followed the next day for several miles. We were now on the river Platt, where the grass was two feet high but no wood but wagon loads of buffalo chips which make a beautiful fire. At this place were large herds of buffalo, hundreds in a drove. My brother William and two more of the brethren took horses and went over the hills to hunt. Night came on, it was dark but the hunters did not come. I [p.139] fired off guns but not an answer. At last I heisted a lantern on the wagon top. Soon the three hunters were in the camp loaded with meat. The wolves were after them howling terrible. The hunters said that the lantern in the top of the wagon saved them.
We now broke camp and traveled to where we had to ford the river, Ashby Fork. The stream was running rapid. We had to drive the cattle by men on both sides to keep them from floating down the stream. When we got over we had two double teams to go over the hill. On this side the feed was very good, lots of wood and game and fish. We stayed here three days. On the top of a hill we found a dead Indian Chief. He must have been a great chief as he had a medal from the President George Washington. His hammock was filled with beads, children shoes, pipes, tobacco. He was dressed in white skins. He smelled like cedar. He must have been a man of about six feet or more. We got spades and dug a grave and put him in it.
We now traveled about twenty miles. We camped but it was a bad place to camp. No grass. This night eight of the steers had gone back to the last camping place. Two of them was William's. Eight men with eight horses and a week's grub went in search of them. They traced them to the banks of Ashby Fork and there they had crossed the river. While the eight men camped the first night the wolves and bears roared, howled and snapped that seven of the men would not go a foot further, but my brother William took the best horse and went over the river. On the plot he met a train of Saints, 300 wagons this train had got the cattle, my brother helped them across. In three days he overtook us. His eyes were bloodshot, he having had no rest for three days and nights. He was followed by two Indians and three squaws all the time. We killed a beef. The two Indians came into our camp. They were fine looking men, six feet and stout, part of the tribe of the Sioux.
A government train passed us going to Fort Laramie. Three days after this we came in sight of the fort and passed a camp of Sioux Indians, 10,000 waiting for their rations. They had been here for three months. The young bucks came out to trade for a wife. They offered three ponies for a wife. Some of the girls for the fun of it of it made a trade which nearly ended in a fuss. We camped near the Fort. In the evening the young squaws came to visit us. They were very pretty, dressed in white skins with trimmings of beads. A buggy with the officer and lady wanted to hire me and my wife at high wages if we would stay with them.
We stayed here for three days, then camped in a lovely place. While we were at supper a man came riding in saying, "The Indians had shot and officer and twenty-nine men, had burned up the Forts and were on the war path." The man wanted us to wait for his train. At break of day we had prayers. Got up the cattle. After breakfast we took council. It ended, obey orders, proceed to Salt Lake only delay on the Sabbath. We had now traveled about ten miles. In looking back we saw a large company of Indians in red blankets coming horse back with a large train of horses and cattle. The cry run through the train to get arms ready, but to our joy it was a company of Indian squaws and a trader flying for his life. He left us, the cattle and went ahead with the horses. We saw no more of this crowd. It was a Godsend to us, as we needed a fresh lot of cattle as our cattle were getting sore feet.
We met several teams going east after freight. One day we passed a large camp which had white tent covers on their wagons and fine fat cattle. They came to us and said, "Go back." They proved to be a company of Josephites. They ran the Mormons down in every way. Well, we kept on our way. Several fast teams passed us. Our food began to give out. We came across a steer which was scratched all over. We shot it and skinned it for beef. The wolves were bad. My wife had a bad breast which was hard on the twins. We now traveled about twenty miles a day.
One day we passed a church team going east for freight and emigrants. We noticed the teamsters had beautiful teeth, clean and white. [p.140] We also met one of the twelve apostles, Brother Benson. He camped with us all night. He told us that we should not find Salt Lake a heaven but all kinds of fish and said he, "Some of the biggest rogues in all the world. Now brethren look out for sharpers. By the by brethren, I want to trade a mule. It is rather lame but you bet it will lead you right into Salt Lake."
Well a brother had a six fine mules. Well, he said, "I guess I can let you have one good mule."
"Dear Brother, you shall be blessed." Well, the trade was made and the dear Brother got took in. We were nearing Salt Lake. At last the end arrived. It was told us that a band would meet us and Brigham to take us in. Well, now let us see how it turned out. It was a lovely day, about noon, just as we were going down the canyon opening to view the great Salt Lake. It was a lovely day, about noon, just as we were going down the canyon opening to view the great Salt Lake. It was a lovely sight, the sun shining on the lake. Well, they told us in England we should see a beautiful Temple. Now for some fun as we were nearing the city, we should meet some men, Mormons of course. "How do you do brothers? Your teams look well." On their long trip of five months our teams were four steers, three cows and one horse. Well this brother took us home to his house, a hut. Was not room to sit down anywhere.
"Well, now to business. Now my brethren I will sell you a lot. I will make you some dobies. I will get you some rock and loam clay and a yoke for your steers and a cow and a horse. Oh yes, by the way let me have your wagon to haul the metals on."
My poor brother Bill was sharp in his way but was no match for these fellows. "Well, Bill if you can and like, you can live with me and let Tom go up to Bountiful and strike out for a job." Alright so I struck our for a job. On a Saturday I got there in good time. I looked around. I saw a fine doby house with barn. But on going up to the house I was barked at by a large dog. I turned back on the other side of the road. I saw a man smoking a pipe.
"Hello stranger, how do you do? Do you want to find anything or anyone? "Yes sir, I want to strike a job."
"Well stranger, I have two acres here. Can you spade it up for me? Now stranger come in and see the old woman and the two girls."
So I went. The old woman was sitting by the fire smoking a pipe. The girls were knitting socks. They all looked fat but dressed coarse and shabby and clean. Now between me and them was quite a contrast. I wore a suit of black that cost forty dollars and a stove pipe hat. Well after a good deal of sport on me for my ignorance, it was, "Well stranger you had better go over to Dan Woods. He can fix you up good as it is getting late." So again I started for the fine house but instead of a dog meeting me out came a man about 54.
"How do you do brother? Come into the house. Mary get this brother supper." By gollys said I to myself I have struck it sure. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, butter, tea, mush and milk. After supper, "Now brother walk into my parlor." After a good deal of talk.
"Now brother, Mary will you show him a good bed, for he must be tired."
In the morning it was cold but lovely. Such a breakfast! By golly ham, chickens, pancakes and prayers to every meal.
"Now brother, I will show you my farm. He was well fixed. Fat pigs, turkeys, geese and I counted seventy-five cows. How many more I don't know. The omnibus was ready with four fine fat horses ready to start off to the meeting.
"Now brother I will drive and you can sit at my side. I take seven wives to meeting every Sunday. Now brother I will show you the house I want you to live in, and tomorrow I will send down a team after your wife and two girls."
"Brother" said I, "ain't you made a mistake? I have a wife and two babies. Twins, one a boy and the other a girl." [p.141]
"What! Great Scott, ain't you the brother I saw yesterday on the Square at Salt Lake City with a wife and two fine girls, one sixteen and eighteen?"
"No brother you have made a great mistake."
"Well, my brother I have indeed. Well brother I am late. Good morning, you had better go and see the Bishop."
By golly, I felt now cast adrift. I could see it was the two girls at Salt Lake was his brotherly love. It was this mistake, I got a good supper, bed and breakfast. Well, by the time I got to meeting it was all out. I saw the dear brother with his seven wives with ballyhoo on the bus. I took dinner with the Bishop who had but one wife, living in a log cabin with home made furniture. A smart man but no man to build up himself, but the poor. A slave indeed for everybody.
I found the soil here very rich. In the afternoon I took a look around the wards. Everyone seemed industrious and thriving to get rich. . . . [p.142]
BIB: Poulter, Thomas Ambrose, Diary, "Utah Pioneer Biographies," vol. 44, pp. 136-142. (FHL)