America was now looming large in my horizon. Soon Father was to go, and after finding employment would send for the family, consisting of Mrs. Saxton, her daughter Clara, and myself. The plan was that Father would marry Mrs. Saxton on our arrival in the promised land. With that understanding, as soon as we boarded the vessel, I was to begin to call the lady, mother, and Clara, my sister.
Father made the journey in a sailing vessel and was on the water six weeks, arriving in New York sometime in April, 1865, just about the time of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He was fortunate in obtaining work and sent for us in October. These were exciting times. I was always ready for a change and was longing for the day when we should leave England. Mrs. Saxton was having a beautiful black satin dress made and one day I saw her show her mother a lovely new bonnet, a "skyscraper" as that was the style. And I heard her remark, "This is the wedding bonnet."
At last we started. It was quite late in the evening when we really got off. Although we had tried to keep the event secret all the neighbors seemed to know about it and were all out to say goodbye. In the meantime I was saying to myself, "Farewell bright eye. I hope I shall never see thee anymore." It is a real sensation to board a vessel and gradually pull out of the deck and see the waving of handkerchiefs and watch the receding shore. Three weeks we were to be on that ship. Three days my sister and I were seasick but poor mother was sick all the way, so sick that when we girls joyously told her we could see land, she replied, "I don't want to see land."
In the next berth to ours, we came steerage, was an old couple from Lancashire who were coming to their son who lived in America. The old gentleman was in the habit of sitting up to the table and hammering up his hardtack preparatory to the coming meal, really a sensible thing to do. As we neared the banks of Newfoundland we had [p.17] a storm. It happened in the night and the trap doors were closed. We were prisoners down in the hold as was the usual custom on such occasions. This procedure did not suit the old man. He got up and fussed about, declaring that someone ought to be up on deck looking after things. While he was thus expostulating, the old lady was sitting up in bed frantically rocking to and fro, crying, "I can't tarry here, I can't tarry here. I wish I was home. I wish I was home! I can't tarry here. I cannot tarry here." Whereupon the old man exclaimed "Oud, the noise with thee. How canst thee be home when thee's in the middle of th' ocean."
The old ship rocked and rolled but our family lay still as if nothing was happening. I took a swig occasionally at what we call the red bottle, a bottle of bitters which happened to be under my pillow to keep me from being seasick. I was not at all afraid. As always there were some pleasant times on the old ship, some lovemaking on the part of a few, and some nice people to visit. I spent some time with a young Irish woman who taught me how to crochet a collar thus adding to my scanty store of knowledge. One of the officers tried to make love to this pretty young Irish woman. He wanted her to walk about the ship with him. "The little girl will go with us," he said and people would think that I belong to them but I immediately said I would not go. I did not want to be a party to the scheme. The young lady did not go either.
Landing at Castle Garden was a real adventure, on the hustle and the bustle, crowds meeting crowds, boxes to be opened and examined, people disappointed because friends were not there and so on. My father was there, however. It was almost dark and I was looking up through a jam when I heard, "There she is with her dear little face." I think our family must have made a good impression with the ship's officers, for when it came our turn to have the luggage examined, the word was passed on that we were alright. So with the exception of one little box which was full of laundry linen over which they hesitated a few minutes because the examiners thought it was new, our [p.18] boxes and bundles were all marked OK and we were off to our new home in Manayunk, a manufacturing district a few miles out of Philadelphia.
Father married Mrs. Saxton immediately. She was a splendid housekeeper, neat and thrifty. She proved to be a good wife and mother and my debt to her is great indeed. One thing amazed me very much in the new land - whenever I was introduced to as "just coming over" the salutation would invariably be "Oh, she's such a little greenhorn, is she?" That hurt my feelings for in England when I did the wrong thing they called me a little greenhorn.
Soon Clara and I were put to work in a cotton mill where Father was employed, not in the same department, however. I must say the girls, with one exception, were a bad lot. One of their number had recently "got religion" and I was the only girl in the room who sympathized with her. She would frequently say to me, "I shall have to breal." It was hard for her to stand the pressure as all the other girls and men were making fun of her so she came to me to renew her strength. These girls had the habit of rubbing their teeth with snuff. Several times a day they would take a layoff to indulge in this habit and everyday I was threatened with some punishment if I did not join them. Needless to say I did not.
While tending my machine one day the front of my dress which was loose from the lining caught in the rollers. There is nothing to do but brace myself and let the portion of the dress go and thus save my life. When it was over I began to cry, not because of the danger I had barely escaped, but because my dress was ruined. "Don't cry," said one of the women, "there is lots of new clothes in America."
We did not stay in this place very long. Father found work in Philadelphia, whither we moved and again I went to work in the factory for a little while. For four months mother was laid up with rheumatism, so that the housework, washing and everything devolved upon us girls. Father used to wear white fustian trousers to work and these were washed every week. . . . [p.19] This was a hard job, as the mill grease is hard to get out. So I used to think that I did not want to marry a mill-hand. Mother lay in bed and directed us as best she could; but I think it was hard for her as she was very particular. This was one of the coldest winters Philadelphia had seen in fifty years, and as we lived upstairs, we girls must hang our washing out on a flat roof. I recall vividly that the minute that basket of clothes touched the open window they were stiff.
Eventually mother got well and both of us girls went to help with housework in other houses. Clara went to the Fenton home. One of this family, Lissie Fenton, crossed the plains with us and later became the wife of Brigham Young, Junior. I went to live with an old couple by the name of Glaspel. The lady was a dressmaker and taught apprentices. She also kept a little store selling linings, notions, etc. This pleased me very much, as when the other work was finished, I could go behind the counter and be a saleslady. In giving me instructions on my duties when I first appeared the lady said: "I never call my help in the morning more than once." Imagine a twelve year old girl getting up at first call; however, I missed it only one time. I lived there five months and learned much, watching Mrs. Glaspel make and fit dresses. I had a real opportunity to defend my religion with those apprentices. Often they would quiz me, and as always polygamy would come up for discussion; but I was ready with my quotation from Isaiah: "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, etc." This was rather a lonely place for a little girl, especially on Sundays, when after meeting father and mother would leave me there. I occupied my time reading or looking out of the window.
The following incident I thing is worth relating. I was working for one dollar a week and my board with an extra five cents for carfare, my home being about two miles away. During the week I had the misfortune to break a very common tumbler. AS usual I did not want to face a scolding, so I said nothing about it; but when Saturday night came, I walked three or four [p.20] blocks to find a shop where I could buy a tumbler to replace the one I [had] broken, then returned, made my explanation to the lady and walked home.
While we lived in Philadelphia, father was made president of the branch so that missionaries from Zion often visited us. As one time we had John Tullidge and Brother Rudd staying with us. It was at this time that Brigham Kimball died. While I do not recall the particulars, there was much conversation about it. Well do I remember Charlie Kimball and Robert Russel coming into the meeting on Sunday afternoon. The fact that they had come from Zion as missionaries made them look more like angels than men to me.
In July, 1867, Father thought that he could make the trip to Zion, so we started. It took us nine days by rail to reach North Platt, the outfitting post because we were traveling on an emigrant train and were sidetracked every possible occasion. We stayed part of one day at Niagara Falls, a glorious treat for us. One night we spent on the Missouri River on a cattle boat. You may be sure there was bellowing aplenty. But what did that matter, we were on our way to Zion.
Arriving at North Platt, which was then a little railroad town, we found that the company would be delayed one month. The situation was a serious one. Every day meant loss of time and means. Several excuses were given for the delay. One was that some of the brethren were in the East on business. They had been detained and must return to the valley with this company. Another was that the Indians had burned a trainload of provisions and more supplies must be purchased. Still another was that here was fine grazing and the cattle must start out in good condition. Meanwhile, there we were with our trunks and traps. The full quota of wagons had not yet been purchased and the housing of men, women, and children was a real problem. Finally, the railroad people tented us the use of a great barn of a building which happened to be empty and here we set up some kind of housekeeping for the coming weeks. [p.21]
After buying his supplies, father found himself with money enough to purchase one yoke of cattle only, so he arranged with a Brother [-], who had one yoke, to join with him, and Father would drive all the way for his share in the wagon. Fourteen men, women, and children with all their worldly possessions crossed the plains with these accommodations. The owners of the wagon, of course, had the prior right to riding space, so you may be sure our family of five did not ride very much. (The fifth member of our family was a little girl named Tilt, whose transportation had been arranged for at North Platte.) Kind friends, however, occasionally gave us a lift. A small tent, just large enough for five of us to sleep in side by side like sardines in a can was strapped to the wagon each morning and set up every night. Our train consisted of about sixty wagons, ten of them belonging to English speaking people while the other emigrants were from Scandinavian countries. Our leader was Captain Leonard G. Ries. . . . [p.22] [NO SALT LAKE CITY ARRIVAL ACCOUNT]
BIB: Fox, Ruth May. Autobiography (formerly in Msd 2050) pp.17-22. (CHL)