. . . In the latter part of 1851, an Elder Eli B. Kelsey who was associated with Elders F. [Franklin] D. Richards, Erastus Snow, and Lorenzo Snow came to our house and told of a chance or rather offered a chance for father and family to emigrate to Zion early in 1852, on these conditions that after arriving in St. Louis Missouri we should labor for that company 3 1/2 years food and clothing furnished so preparation was made and on the 10 of January 1852 we saw the last of our native land as we headed out into the broad Atlantic Ocean while what with head winds and bad weather we had a [p.9] long rough voyage. Before the end was reached we were out of food and water. Of food all that remained was rice and oatmeal without salt and to cook it we had the blackish water of the Great Mississippi River as the old ship Kennebec got fast in the mud where we stayed 10 days per force the man who is now and has been 30 years bishop and is now of the 2nd Ward, Logan city. Him an me used to go down into hold of the ship and pick out of the debris (where the hard tack was served up) little bits covered with must but as hunger known no law we ate it and asked no question. We (that is us 2) lived on that 3 day then I took the oatmeal 4 or 5 days. At the end of 10 days and after having 3 large steam tugs pulling at the ship, we were all put on one of them and taken up the river 110 miles to New Orleans and left our 10 weeks home stuck in the mud at the mouth of the Father of Waters.
One incident occurred here worthy of mention. After we had been fast there about one week, a full rigged ship which had been fast 3 weeks, about one mile to the east of, on a morning of a strong east wind which drove the water in shore so much so that she flooded. Then with a little maneuvering of the sails fall and oft she plowed her way out of the mud and stood out to sea amidst the yelling, screaming, waving of hats. A person might have thought Bedlum had broke loose and was a grand sight to see her spread the sails to the Balize and heading over to the wind planning the mighty ocean and was soon out of sight with many a God speed safe to her haven. [p.10] While out in mid-ocean the following occurred in rather a light wind. An Irish man fell over board and the awful cry rang out, "Man over board!" Amid great excitement the cutter was hung in the [-] Manned with 8 galley [-] she was swung out [-] the ship was haul too, that is, brought up side to the wind so she will not run but drift side wise. Away went the boat with all eyes on it and with abated breath it was watched with the most intense interest. At times she would be down in a truth of the sea and then the expression would run from mouth "oh she is gone, she is gone." Then she would [-] on top of a mane as though a mile further away, but as all things have and so did the race for the man over board. Soon we could see she was nearing the ship and all breathed fiercer when they found him. He had taken his shoes up and was taking of his pants and as good luck would have it they saved him and his pants too. His shoes went for fish bait. He came on board as unconcerned as if nothing had happened. The ship was again headed for the mighty West bowling along at a fine rate and the excitement was over.
We left ourselves at St. Louis where our company of about 700 Saints scattered some what a goodly number. After about one weeks stay, boarded the condemned steam steam [SIC] wheeler for the Bluffs. Arriving at Brunswick a small town on the east side of the Missouri River some 200 miles from St. Louis. E.B. Kelsy, my father, me and 10 others left the boat and went over land for the Bluffs. [p.11]
About one week later as we were in Davis County (same state) the awful news came that the "Saluda" (name of the boat) had blown up with all on board our family and Hendry Ballard among them as may be suffered. There was consternation in our little camp and every thing bad was thought of. Eli B. had several thousand dollars worth of merchandise on board and he was of to the river about 60 miles. We learned shortly that our family with H.B. was safe with the exception Sister Harriet who had her left foot hurt some. All the little we had was lost but Sister Elizabeth saw what was going on that is every lady was saying something and every they could lay hands on and she did the same twenty saucers want as much or they lost watch was not much.
In about 2 hours after the explosion another boat came along the captain shouted and he would take anyone to the Bluffs free who wished to go. So sister gathered to gather what little she could and went aboard with the family and around so safely at the Bluffs. If my memory serves me right there was near 30 scalded or blown into the river and [-]. At least about that many was lost. Father with me and the little company arrived safe about the middle of June and all found all well and glad to meet again. Here was where father, eldest and youngest sister died with cholera. About the first of July we started for the ferry on the big river where my little brother died. On the 2nd we crossed the river where my poor mother died and was buried without a coffin. On the 4th the camp started for the Elkhorn River in what is now Nebraskie [Nebraska] state. [p.12]
Now there were 4 of us orphan children started in E.B. Kelsey's company for Utah. J.Y. a journey of 1036 miles the most of the distance I walked driving a team of 2 yoke of oxen and 2 yoke of cows. That was a long tiresome journey long to be remembered. It took us 3 months. We arrived in Salt Lake City [-] 14 1852. . . . [p.13]
BIB: May, James. Reminiscences (Ms 1518) pp. 9-13, Acc. #18870. (CHL)