In Dec./49 in a conversation with President Gordon, he told me that I might now be released and gather to Zion.
I had labored in and about Rugby about four years and seven years had elapsed since I entered the missionary field.
I sold my possessions in Rugby to pretty good advantage but being advised to wait another month before emigrating, spent the interval in visiting the Saints in Leamington, Leicothershire and the various places of my former labor. A farewell party was tendered me in Ebenezer Chapel before leaving Rugby, and I left there a branch of seventy-six members over which I had presided all the time I was there.
Some of my friends accompanied me to the station and one brother named John Harwoodsen made me a farewell present of a sovereign.
In Liverpool I was appointed and set apart by Orson Pratt to preside over the Saints sailing to New Orleans on board the Josiah Bradlee. [p.24]
I came on board the Josiah Bradlee on Feb. 1 1850. The vessel carried seven hundred tons and was a strong, well built sail ship with Mr. Mansfield as captain.
I was appointed president of the company of S.D.S. which consisted of two hundred and sixty-three me members of both sexes and all ages. We were delayed from starting by adverse winds which continued about her warks. On the 7 though the winds were still contrary, I predicted that we should start on our voyage the following day. The brethren responded Amen and the sailors laughed derisively one of them remarking that he would give each passenger a half-sovereign if it were so. At 8 a.m. the next morning, however, the steam tug was on our side to bear us off to sea to the joy of all. At 10 o'clock we commenced our journey singing the songs of Zion & viewing the passing landscape until evening when the steamer left us. The night was rough and myself & almost the whole company became seasick.
While waiting in the wharf for favorable winds we had held a general meeting and organized the following order for the voyage:
I was sustained as president of the company with Elder Evans as my counselor to the Welsh Saints and Elder Baxter my counselor for the Scotch Saints. It was decided that a church meeting be held every sabbath day when practicable. Meetings were also appointed for Wednesday evenings for the English & Scotch and Thursday evenings for the Welsh Saints. It was then decided to divide the company into seven wards with a president over each to observe cleanliness and good order and to preside over prayer at 8 o'clock mornings and evenings with his ward and to have a watch-care generally over that ward during the voyage. A committee of six was appointed to serve out provisions once a week and six a.m. was appointed the time of rising.
Feb. 19 The Welsh mountains are in our view.
20 The Irish coast in sight and the sea very rough.
23 Lost sight of land. The company still remain sick. Elders [p.27] Evans & Reese keep well and attend the sick night & day.
24 The day being fine we were all a little better and held meeting. Afterward the cry of a whale! Caused us all to come on deck when we saw two whales following the ship. Evening coming on rough sickness returned.
28 Jonathon Matthews, aged 1 year and ten months died today and was buried in the sea by Elder Walker. He was the son of George and Elinor Matthews of Delford, Kent, & had suffered from spinal disease from birth.
March 10 A marriage solemnized between John Carver & Mary Ann Ermes [Eames]; ceremony performed by myself. Another marriage had taken place on the 24th of Feb, between Lewis John Davis & Sarah Rogers.
12 Weather is now about the same as May day in England. I have been sick more or less until today and I trust by the blessing of God I shall now be [-].
19 Held a meeting with the officers of each ward. My wife has had but little sickness and has been able to help the sick.
20 I preached from this text. For the kingdom of God is life unto a grain of wheat which was sown etc. Elder Evans preached the same discourse in the Welsh language the following evening.
24 James Needham caught a fish weighing 10 lt. during religious services on deck.
25 Have today caught the trade winds having before been in what is called "horse latitude" & made but slow progress from the 12th instant. Also held council meeting with the officers of wards etc.
26 The wind is favorable and we are making considerable progress.
27 This morning brings news of the death of a ten month old babe caused by the fall with the rocking of the vessel. The mother [-] [-], not being present.
Evening had a public meeting on deck and while I was preaching, we received word of the death of Rachel Rigal [Rigle], aged 14 months, daughter of John and Mary Rigal [Rigle] of Lincolnshire. Cause of death was croup. After the meeting the captain sent for me and expressed sorrow for the death [p.28] of the children and anxiety for the health of the company and said he would do all he can for our welfare which we believe for his conduct towards us so far has been that of a gentleman. When leaving him he invited me to come & sit with him whenever I felt disposed.
29 Fair wind and was busily engaged serving out provisions as usual.
30 Died today of small pox John Hery [Heys] aged 14 years, son of George and Elizabeth Hey [Heys] of Karridge, Cheshire. Three other families have been taken with this dread disease but no other death thus far.
Note - Another death from this disease followed when I called the elders together and we earnestly prayed that the disease might be stayed which was done and the small pox disappeared.
April 1 The wind strong and the sea rough. I was again affected with seasickness as well as many others.
2 Born to the wife of Robert Morris, a fine daughter. The wind is favorable & seasickness disappeared.
4 Came in sight of a lighthouse which is the first land we have seen for 41 days when we left the Irish coast.
5 Came in sight of the Key Islands.
6 Danger feared from the presence of a bank under the water but we were mercifully delivered.
7 The sight of a wreck caused some uneasiness among the passengers.
8 The morning fine and calm and we are making but little progress.
10 Wind rather more favorable.
12 Wind favorable.
14 Wind still favorable and we are making progress on our journey which we hope soon to accomplish as our provisions are getting very short except oatmeal and rice.
15 Morning fine and wind favorable but I have a bad cold. Died this evening from exposure on deck, [-] Rebecca Smith, aged 10 years, daughter of William and Rebecca Smith.
16 Committed the body to a watery grave. At two o'clock p.m. to the great joy of all, the pilot came on board. In the evening we cast anchor before crossing the bar. [p.29]
17 6 o'clock a.m. The steamboat "Angola Saxton" came by our side and brought us over the bar without any delay. We are now proceeding up the river with two other vessels.
April 8 Landed in New Orleans. Chartered a steamboat for St. Louis. Being put ashore at St. Louis [-] chartered another steamboat called the "Pocahontes" for Council Bluffs and arrived there on the 18 of May with seventy-five rents. [p.30]
At Council Bluffs I commenced working on a farm owned by a friend and while he purchased the farm I purchased the stock exchanging a beautiful hunting watch and guard for a horse and plow and my wife obtaining a cow for a lovely silk dress.
I located at Springville branch and was nominated and sustained as counselor to the president of that branch, the bishop attended to nothing but the tithing affairs. This position I held all the time during my stay here which was two years. Was also called as home missionary in five branches.
I was greatly prospered while here and was beginning to feel comfortably settled when Ezra T. Benson came from Utah with the special mission of calling the Saints to gather to which I responded promptly.
While at this place I had taken a small, sickly, orphan boy unto my home to care for, whose name was James Meredith. He gave us considerable trouble but as we had no children of our own we tried patiently to do the best we could for him and took him with us to the valley.
I had four cows and two steers but no wagon with which to travel. But a widow who was anxious to come supplied the deficiency and by joining into one company, we got along very well. We were organized at the Missouri River as company 4 with Joseph Outhouse captain. There were twenty-one companies that year with 52 wagons in each. As we started early we came on late many died of cholera and exposure and quite a number of horses and cattle were stolen besides various other troubles.
When we had crossed the Missouri, bring the first night of camping out. We turned our stock out to graze, well guarded by armed herdsmen. A small party of Californian travelers were camping not far from us and some of them asked us why we guarded our stock in areas. I replied that was a custom with us. We had hardly finished speaking when a band of eleven Omaha Indians came rushing like the wind toward our stock but seeing that we were in arms, whirled straight for the California camp and stole their stock almost before they had time to comprehend what was going on. Our men went in pursuit but got only two or three back. [p.32]
We had no trouble before coming to the Platte River. Here we were met by a large company of Indians who would not let us pass before we fulfilled their demands to fill their spread blankets with provisions. After this they troubled us no more.
When grazing and water were good we would lay over on Sundays. Sometimes the men would hunt buffalo and other game. Once started off to hunt but the following lines came over me with a strange power and I returned to camp:
"In the desert let me balm.
On the mountains let me tell
How he died, the blessed Savior
To redeem the world from hell."
When we came to the Sweet Water, as I was walking along in front of my team they suddenly began a stampede carrying me along between the two herds of steers. For a time I did not know what to do but at last jumped quickly to the side and as all the teams in the company were in the same spirit as mine I was saved from a horrible death.
Our captain proved himself a [-] crank and many of the company deserted him so before we reached our destination we were well broken with having traveled [-] by 8 July.
We arrived in Salt Lake City Sept 9 1852 and on seeing the goal, took my hat off and shouted "hurrah for Salt Lake!" My wife looked curiously and asked "where, where is the city?" I replied, "don't you see that little white house on the hill?"
We camped on Mill Creek with our stock and I found a room in Mr. [-] home in the ninth ward and employment on the rock wall around the temple. [p.33]
BIB: Day, Thomas. Journal (Ms 9217), pp. 24, 27-30,32-33. (CHL)