. . . my father left England to come over to America as him and all the family belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the gathering place for the Saints, being in Utah, North America. Everything we had was sold at auction and it brought a good price. It seemed very hard for Mother to part with her brothers and mother who was getting very old. But as mother was all the one in the family that ever joined the Mormon Church. Well, all things being ready, we took the train and started away from Southport on the 10 day of May 1856 and arrived in Liverpool in a very short time, as it was only about 20 miles from Southport to Liverpool. Father was not long in finding the ship that we was to sail in and I was delighted at the idea of being on the water in such a big ship. It was all fun and [p.5] pleasure for me, but I was in and out and everywhere where I had not ought to be and kept my parents in hot water all the time till we got ready to sail on the 13th day of May. All things was ready and the ship pulled out into the River Mersey and just as we was leaving the harbor the sailors came on board, the officers already being on board.
As the 13th of May was my birthday, I was then 13 years old, and when we got out on the river and cast anchor, the government officers and doctor came on board and everything had to be inspected by the officers and the people by the doctors. And after all things had been restored to order and the officers left, then the sailors and the ship officers got into a quarrel and began to fight. This almost frightened some of the emigrants to death, but the first mate ran into the cabin and came out facing the men that was after him with a pistol in each hand caused them to stop very quick. He told them the first man that moved he would shoot him down. He stood there and kept them back till a signal of distress was sent up and it was hardly any time before boats came alongside with policeman and all the crew was put in irons and taken to shore. The first, second, and third mate and the ship carpenter were all that was left on board so we had to lay on the river 3 or 4 days till another lot of hands could be got.
The name of the ship was the Horizon, half clipper build. 900 tons burthen had on board 950 people. She was a 3 mast sailing vessel. I think on the day, all things being ready with a new set of hands and very jolly over. The steam tug came along with the pilot and we started again. I can't say how far the tugboat took us, nor how long the pilot stayed on board, but after we lost sight of land there came another steamboat alongside and brought the captain and took off the pilot.
I can hardly tell anything [p.6] about the trip as I was too young to keep a journal. I know we was 5 weeks on the sea and some of the time it was very rough. We had head winds nearly all the way. Our provisions was sea biscuits, salt pork, and beef with peas, rice, tea, sugar, and some dried fruit sometimes. The water we had to drink would stink so that we could hardly use it for 2 or 3 days then it would be good again. There was seasickness plenty. Some of the people being sick all the way, though I was in my element all the time and the harder the wind did blow the better I enjoyed myself. When the big waves made the ship toss about, I was not seasick any of the time and when land was sighted, I almost felt sorry. The first land we saw was Cape Cod and Boston was our landing place. It was a very beautiful evening when we sailed into the bay and cast anchor.
We could see Boston City in the distance so we had to stay a day or two and go through the same treatment as we did on the start, the doctors and customs house officers coming on board and examining everything. The doctors found no sickness, only seasickness, and the officers did not find any smuggled goods so we was allowed to land. I think we stayed out in the bay about 3 days. During that time there was a great many small boats loaded with people came out to see the Mormon emigrants as we was the first Mormons landed in Boston. But they was not allowed to come on board as there was a good many sharps among them and the ship officers did not want them swindled by them. All the emigrants landed at New York before that time, so when we landed it seems like everybody was crazy to get on the land and have a walk through the city, but Edward Martin having charge of the company and it being late in the day, he counseled the people not to go onshore till the next day. So guards was placed at the gangways and nobody was [p.7] allowed to pass off or on, so all things remained very quiet. There was a few men sent onshore to get something that the people wanted.
So the next day we had the privilege of going where we was a mind to. Then the ship began unloading and everything we kept in very good order. It took several days to get all things to the depot, so all the little boys had a good time running all over the town getting into all kinds of mischief, and I know our parents was very glad to leave the city and get us on the care where they could watch us a little better.
After all things was ready, we started on our journey by rail, but we got very tired of that way of traveling. We went from Boston to Chicago then to Rock Island, crossed the river on a steamboat, because the railway bridge was burned down. After we all got over, we took the train for Iowa City. When we got there and our baggage was unloaded, it was getting late in the day, and our camping ground was 3 miles from the city, as there was no place at the depot large enough to accommodate so many people. So a great many of the people started for camp on foot just about dark and I was one of them. But we had not gone very far when it began to rain and was so dark that you could not see anything and to make things worse I got lost from the rest of the company, but made out to keep the road by the help of the lightning, for Iowa can beat the world for thunder and lightning, but I never was afraid of lightning. After ascending a steep hill I could see a fire at the camp. They was keeping a big fire burning for to let the people know where the camp was for there was a great many people waiting there to get their teams and wagons ready to start across the plains.
When I saw the fire, I started in a straight line for it and that is where I missed it. Not knowing anything about the country, I thought that would be the best way. The rain had quit after it wet [p.8] me through, there not being a dry thread. After wading through numerous pools of water from ankle deep to knee deep and wallowing through grass as high as my head, I managed to reach camp pretty near give out. But after all my bad luck I was there before quite a number of the company. Father and mother and the children arrived after me. 2 of the children, being small, had to be carried most all the way. But when they got to camp, they found an old friend, James Fisher, from Scotland. Him and father was playmates together and had not seen each other for a number of years. He took us to his tent to stay all night. I don't know how long they sat up and talked, but after supper I soon fell asleep. This was my first night in a tent.
When I awoke in the morning, the sun was shining and I could hardly realize where I was, but boy, like it did not take me long to dress and get out. Then I saw a beautiful country, grass and farms as far as the eye could see, on one side and on the other side of camp was a strip of timber, not very wide but don't know how long it was. There was a stream of water running through it. I soon got acquainted with the country and swimming was the order of the day with all the small boys in the camp. We had to stay 6 weeks in the camp before all things was ready to start across the plains and it was a great sight to see about 6 or 8 hundred people starting for Utah with handcarts. Nothing of interest, only hard work. . . .[p.9]
. . . there was about 500 people in the camp when we started from Iowa but their was not that many arrived in Utah. With hunger and exposure many died and those that lived to get through was in a very pitiable condition, but when we got to Salt Lake City we was well cared for. Stayed one night at Mrs. Besses and was very kindly [p.15] treated as our destination was Ogden, we arrived there on the [-] of December 1856 they was sleigh ing and the snow was deep so we was 7 months on the road to Utah. . . .[p.16]
BIB: McBride, Heber Robert. Autobiography, pp. 5-9, 15-16. (CHL)