John MacNeil to David and Ann MacNeilNew York, 26 July 1870
Dear father & mother,
I take up my pen to let you know how I got across the ocean. We had a very rough voyage from [when] we left Liverpool. I have been sick & pitched up. Nearly all on board were sick. You must excuse my Queenstown letter, wrong dated, wrong everything. I never knew anything about Queenstown till we were within sight. We had morning & evening meetings on board. The weather was so very rough that it was miserable up on deck. I got wet to the skin several times attempting to stay on board deck. There was such a sickening smell below, I could not stay below. We had plenty of music on board.
I have eaten very little since I left. The food you get steerage fare a pig would not look at. We had coffee & bread to breakfast (sour bread). We had dirty water soup & boiled potatoes for dinner. We had coffee & sea biscuits for supper. You could not eat the meat we got. If ever your spared to come, do not come with the intention that you will have everything you require on board. You will have nothing, unless you treat the steward & you would have to always be dropping money into them. Some of them had everything they required with them, pickles, preserves, hern, ham steak, & everything nice while I was starving of hunger. Be sure to take oranges or lemons to taste your mouth after sickness. Be sure & fetch ham & cheese.
We got to the banks of Newfoundland on Thursday 21. I found Brother Richardson on the vessel & soon made his acquaintance. He says he had a note from Brother Douglas regarding me. He says he will see me all right.[p.98]
There was about two hundred & fifty Saints on board, the most part of them Swiss Saints. There was one child died (Swiss) & was buried in the sea. There was two births amongst us. The Swiss are very dirty & lousy.
Be sure & fetch everything tasty for you will get nothing on the vessel. Warm clothing is very necessary till your within two days sailing of New York. When we were within two days sailing of New York it turned very warm & we could get up on deck & had games both with the sailors & with ourselves. Be sure and fetch bread.
We seen lots of fish on our trip, porpoises and whales. I do not know that I have got any more to say at present. You need not expect anymore word from me till I am landed and looks around a little. . . . Give my kind love to brothers and sisters and all inquiring friends. No more at present but remains yours forever,
John MacNeil to David and Ann MacNeil
Smithfield [Utah] Tuesday 27 September 1870
Dear father and mother,
When I last wrote you we were in Castle Garden. We stayed a day and a night there and then got into the cars. I liked the cars better than the vessel. We were only two days traveling on the rail when two men coming along the line placed a railway sleeper [p. 99] [railroad tie] across the line and when we came up against it the cylinder of the engine burst into shivers. But the engine man struck it off an shunted us back to the next station with 1 cylinder. The block had to be cut out with an axe before we could get it out. There were three trains come meeting us at the time but they seen us in time to haul up. When we got back to the station they telegraphed to the next station and the two men were caught.
We were ten days on the rail. We landed in Ogden on the 6th of August. When we arrived there the smallpox were raging there so they thought it advisable to take us all luggage an all down to [Salt Lake] City. When we were about half way to the City we had to shunt to let a train past that came from the City. When they were passing they stopped and let out Brigham Young, George A. Smith & Daniel H. Wells. They stepped into our train and went right through shaking hands with everyone as they went along through the cars. . . . [p.100]
BIB: MacNeil, John [Letter to David and Ann MacNeil, July 26, 1870 and September 27, 1870] in Buchanan, Frederick Stewart, ed., A Good Time Coming: Mormon Letters to Scotland (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1988) pp. 98-100.