. . ."Early in the month of December, 1855, we left Aalborg to go to America. We stayed in Copenhagen a few days visiting father's sister and her husband. From there we crossed the Baltic Sea to Kiel, and by rail to Gluckstadt. Thence by steamer to Grimsby, England and to Liverpool by rail and sailing from there on the 12th of December on the ship John J. Boyd. Under the leadership of Knud Petersen who had filled a mission to Norway and Denmark. There were 508 passengers on board. Knud Petersen became president of Sanpete Stake of Zion. He was father-in-law of President Anthon H. Lund.
We had a very rough voyage over the Atlantic. We got to New York on the 16th of February, 1856. Sixty-five days on the water. We had headwinds most of the way. When we were about one-third of the way over we were driven back to the coast of Ireland. The vessel was on fire twice. The one time was serious. The fire started in the Captain's cabin and burned through the deck and filled the vessel with smoke so that the passengers had to go on deck. Some trunks and other luggage that was on fire was thrown into the sea. There was much sickness on board and I remember more than thirty deaths. I will here describe a funeral at sea. After the customary services the corpse was sewn into a [p.6] canvas, or sheet, with a large lump of coal at the feet. A plank was laid over the side of the vessel and the corpse laid on it with feet out. A prayer offered, the end of the plank raised and the dead slide into the sea, feet foremost, when all was over. Several of the sailors were disabled and some died. The captain was very cruel to the sailors. At one time the vessel sprang a leak, water running in fast. About thirty sailors were working a large double lever pump with ropes attached to the ends of the levers. One sailor was not working to suit the captain. He picked up a rope with a heavy hook in the end, and from behind hit the sailor on the head with the hook, killing him instantly. I stood nearby watching the pumping and saw it. So did some others. The ship was getting short of able-bodied sailors to man the ship and the captain planned to drought [draft] passengers to take the place of disabled sailors.
One morning I had occasion to go on deck very early and looking ahead saw what I thought was a steamship. I went below and told the folks that we would soon be to land, that there was a steamship not far ahead. Some of the passengers went up to see and when the captain turned his glass on it discovered that it was a wrecked vessel. What I thought was a smoke stack was a stump of broken mast. Part of the bulwarks had been torn away by the sea and the waves had swept over the ship and one of the sailors had been swept overboard. Mutiny occurred on our ship. The captain did not want to rescue the sailors of the disabled ship. The mates did. We were told that the mates and the crew put the captain in confinement. The first mate, with two sailors took a small boat and rowed to the disabled ship. The second mate took charge of the ship. The way they got away from our ship [was] they hung the [p.7] boat by ropes from the end of a yard arm. A long timber that is fastened across the mast about twenty feet above the deck which reach out on either side a little past the sides of the ship. The large sail is fastened to it. The boat was hung to the end of this arm. The rocking of the ship set the boat swinging with three men in it. The mate in the back with the steering oar and the two sailors each with a large oar ready to pull when the boat struck the water. The boat went out with a big swing and the ropes ran through the pulleys and the boat struck the outgoing wave. It went through the foam and out of sight on the farther side of the wave. It looked as though the boat had been swallowed up in the sea but soon we saw it gliding up the side of another big wave a hundred yards or more from our ship. Our ship was turned around for at first the wrecked ship was on our right; after a little while it was behind us, and then at our left and further away.
The sailors from the wrecked ship came to our ship in a large white boat that held all of them, as I remember thirty-five. They came to the side of our ship and a rope ladder was let down that they came up on. Their boat was hoisted on to our ship. Our mate and the two sailors were hoisted up in their boat. The wrecked ship was loaded with flour from America to England. It was left to drift where it would. We watched it as long as we could see it. Among the rescued sailors were two Negroes. They were the first Negroes I had seen. I had been told when small, if children were bad the black man would get them. I had come to believe that there were no black men. When I looked up in their faces, standing close by, I nearly fainted. I thought the black man had me sure.
At one time the captain said to Knud Peterson [Petersen]. If I hadn't damned Mormons on board I would have been in New York six weeks ago. Peterson [Petersen] [p.8]said to him, if you hadn't Mormons on board, you would have been in hell six weeks ago.
Our drinking water got bad before we landed and the provisions gave out except some hard sea biscuits. Father had brought his Danish military uniform, sword, gun and bayonet which had been presented to him. They were sewed up in canvas. When we landed they could not be found. They had either been taken or lost. He wanted to keep them as relics.
When we landed in New York it was said the captain was not on the ship. It was thought he had got away on a fishing or trading boat. Several had met our ship a day or two before we landed.
Apostle John Taylor was at New York to look after the immigrants when they landed. He was very kind and attentive to them. We stayed there about a week. We learned that it was providential that we were so long on the sea, for when we got to New York the trains had been snowbound for a long time and could not run for several days after we landed and we would have been on expense. The ship company furnished the provisions as long as we were on board the ship. When we left New York the roads were yet in bad condition and we had to travel very very slow. I remember in places the men would walk beside the train. Most of the immigrants hadn't enough means to take them through to Utah, and had to remain in the States. Some stopped in Illinois, some in Missouri and others in Iowa. We stayed in Alton, Illinois. It was the forepart of March and snow was yet on the ground so the boys could coast down the hills on their hand sleds. I did not understand the American language but played with the boys just the same. The first sentence I learned was G__ D____. When anything went wrong the boys said it. [p.9] I thought is sounded very appropriate till I was told that it was swearing, and what it meant. I then quit it. I always had aversion to profanity as long as I can remember. I was often laughed at when trying to talk American, but soon learned. In a month I understood most that was said to me, and could make them understand me.
Father worked at a brick kiln at Alton, Illinois at a dollar a day. He worked there till June when he and I took the chills and fever and was confined to our beds most of the time for a month; till after mothers death.
Mother was afflicted with consumption and died on the 4th of July, 1856. It was called weavers consumption. She had woven on a hand loom most of her life and lint form the material was breathed into her lungs which caused irritation and the infection.
Shortly after mother's death we went to St. Louis, Missouri where we stayed about a year. In the spring of 1857 we sailed up the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska. We stayed there a short time until we started for Utah with Christen Christiansen's Handcart Company. . . . " EDITORIAL NOTE: [THE FAMILY ONLY WENT AS FAR AS GENOA BEFORE HAVING TO RETURN TO OWTHA WHERE PETER GOTTFREDSON [GOTFREDSEN] WORKED. IN TH
E SPRING OF 1858 THEY COMMENCED THEIR JOURNEY TO SALT LAKE CITY WITH A SMALL COMPANY FROM DENMARK LED BY IVOR N. IVERSEN (pp.10-12)]
BIB: Gottfredson, [Gotfredsen] Peter. Autobiography, pp. 6-9. (CHL)