Brig Mexicana, 100 miles off New York, June 15, 1865.President Wells.
Dear Brother,--As we are now nearly at the end of our voyage, I take my pen to write you a few lines, and tell you how affairs have gone with our little company. Before leaving Port Elizabeth, South Africa, [p.442] I wrote to inform you of my anticipated departure with a small company of Saints per brig Mexicana. We left accordingly on the 12th of April, and soon were out on the mighty deep, tossing on the waves. It was not long before some of the Saints were a little sick, and others more so, but as usual in such cases, a few days saw most of them quite well. We were twenty-one days making St. Helena, nothing transpiring of much importance. The company was organized at a conference before leaving, by the appointment of myself as president, and Elder A.H. Noon as clerk and counselor, in connection with Elder H. Smith.
On board the vessel it was so arranged, that the brethren slept in one compartment and the sisters in another, and from the day of our company coming on board, which was done without accident and with much harmony, we posted a sentry over the sisters' compartment at night, Elder Noon taking charge of the guard. I appointed prayer meetings in the men's compartment at half past 6 a.m., and in the sister's compartment, for all hands, at about 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. We endeavored to establish cleanliness and order, in which the brethren and sisters generally co-operated, and on the whole I can say, that our little company of forty-seven souls have done well, and we have had general order, peace and harmony, although we have not escaped without a few disagreeables. For instance, the bugs on board the ship, which made their appearance before the Saints came on board, multiplied so fast in the forward part of the vessel, as to drive the sailors out of the forecastle, and the brethren out of their compartments, compelling them to sleep on deck in all weather, anywhere they could find a place to lie down. The brethren bore it patiently, though not very well pleased with the want of interest shown by the captain, who might have been kinder had he been so disposed. The first and second mates, however, were very considerate, and the brethren unanimously voted a testimonial to the chief mate. We have had frequent preaching and testimony meetings, at which much of the Spirit of the Lord has been enjoyed. The captain offered us the use of his quarter deck for preaching, but after preaching there once or twice, he expressed himself displeased with some of the truths advanced, since which we have assembled elsewhere.
Whilst we were in the neighborhood of the West Indies, the captain told us he expected a hurricane--the moon fore several nights having a ring around it, the sun during the day being surrounded at some distance with a bright ring, and the sky within of a leaden color. The clouds also looked ominous, and the barometer stood high; but these signs passed away without out having so much as a stiff breeze; there was, however, probably some very heavy weather at a distance from us. Our voyage has, thus far, been a most smooth and placid one, the vessel carrying studding sails nearly the whole time, and we not having encountered a really rough sea since leaving Africa, for which we have much cause to be thankful to our Heavenly Father.
I now come to the one painful event of the voyage, the death of brother G. F. W. Kershaw, which took place on the 5th instant. He was sick for about three weeks, and I am inclined to think had he taken few strong drugs, he might perhaps have lived; when too late he himself saw his error in this respect. The brethren were very kind, and all was done that could be done for him. He died as he had lived, firm in the faith. He leaves a wife and five children to mourn his loss.
The following is a copy of the testimonial presented to Mr.. Bates, together with his answer thereto:--
"Brig Mexicana, off New York, June 14, 1865.To Mr.. Russel Bates, chief officer of the above-named brig.
Dear Sir,--We, the undersigned, on behalf of ourselves and the company we represent, have much pleasure in tendering to you our thanks, for the uniform consideration and kindness you have shown to the passengers on board, and, in parting, we beg to express our good feelings towards you, and our desire for your welfare and speedy promotion
M.G. Atwood, President of company.A.H. Noon, H. Smith Counselors." [p.443]To which he replied--
"Brig Mexicana, at sea, off New York, June 15, 1865.To Messrs. M.G. Atwood, A.H. Noon, and H. Smith.
Gentlemen,--I, the undersigned, hereby return my thanks to you and fellow passengers, for your appreciation of the past, and good wishes for my future welfare, conveyed to me in so flattering a testimonial this morning, which came to me quite unexpected, and which I consider too much for doing my duty, and what common civility requires. I wish to express to you and friends, my approval of the good order and harmony that has prevailed on board during the voyage. With my best wishes to you all for the future, I remain yours, &c.,
Russell Bates,Chief Mate, Mexicana."
In conclusion, we feel to thank our God for the blessings that have followed us thus far, and trust his kind care may still continue over us; and asking our Heavenly Father to bless you and those associated with you, in the responsible duties of your calling, we remain, respectfully, you brethren in the gospel,
M.G. Atwood, President of company.A.H. Noon,H. Smith, Counselors.
P.S.--We arrived in New York, all well, on the 18th instant, and expect to start for Wyoming on the 20th. The Saints are well pleased with the attention showed by brother Thomas Taylor, the agent in New York. . . . [p.444]
BIB: Atwood, Miner G. et. al. [Letter] Latter Day Saints Millennial Star 27:28 (July 15, 1865) pp.442-444. (CHL)