History of Abraham & Lydia
Emigrated from Bath, England on 23rd Feb., 1854
by way of the ship, Windamere
Arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 Oct., 1854
Research by Mary M. Pearson
Compiled by Lee M. Pearson
Typed by Connie Bigler and Alice Marchant
Reproduced by David Marchant
Material obtained from Church Records, The Contributor,
and stories from members of the family:
Albert G. Marchant
Lydia M. Jones
Robert H. C. Marchant
Mary M. Johnson
Retyped and prepared for web, June 2002 by Russell
Thomas McMullin (great great great grandson)
The setting for our family history is in the city of Bath, England
which is located on the river Avon a dozen miles from its junction
with the Severn. At this junction the Severn is an estuary of the
Bristol channel which separates Wales from South England and joins
the Atlantic Ocean just south of England.
Bath possesses many mineral springs with properties similar to
those of Saratoga, New York; Hot Springs, Arkansas and Hot Springs,
Georgia. These springs are now known the nation over for their
health giving and recreational qualities. Similar springs in the
Wasatch and Salt Lake valleys have become favorite recreational
spots in the Intermountain West and the sulphur springs at Peoa
have, on occasions, been considered for similar treatment.
Bath grew around these springs and even received its name from
them. The tonic effect which the water gave to those who drank
from them or bathed in them made the springs the center of the
city's commerce and caused it to grow into a resort for health
and pleasure seekers.
This town in which Abraham Marchant was born during the year
of 1816 and where he was to live for 35 years was thus spared
some of the most violent eruptions of the industrial revolution
because of its resort features. (Nineteenth century England could
probably be compared to twentieth century American resort towns.
What ever adventures it offered in the way of stable work and
steady income was, to a large extent, offset by excessive charges
for food and rent.)
Living in a resort city may have spared the Marchants from the
worst upheavals of the industrial revolution, but if the main
current passed them by, they were still reached by violent enough
eddies that made their way from England's industrial section.
Abraham was born a year and a half after the final defeat of
Napoleon at Waterloo. The country of his birth had found, instead
of the prosperity it expected, an era of severe depression. European
markets failed to replace the army in consuming manufactured goods
and many factories closed down. The British armies were demobilized,
adding 400,000 men to the ranks of the unemployed. Ironically,
the chief step taken by the government to correct the problem
placed a greater burden on the poor. These were the ill-famed
corn laws of 1815 which virtually excluded foreign grain from
English markets unless home grown grain had reached the famine
price of 80 shillings per quarter. A second measure replaced the
10% income tax with higher duties on imported goods. The Corn
laws were modified in 1828 so that a sliding scale of duties was
levied--more when corn was cheap and less as it became higher.
However the British wage earner was not freed from the threat
of exorbitant prices when the local crops were low until 1846
when the laws were repealed.
Such conduct on the part of the government stimulated unrest
among the people and their extra-legal attempts to improve their
lot provoked retaliation which on occasion amounted to the loss
of all civil liberties. Several events happened that certainly
provoked many Englishmen to give up their English citizenship
and emigrate to America in search of greater opportunities. The
Peterloo Massacre of August 16, 1819 at Manchester is one example.
A crowd gathered to hear a speech on parliamentary reform and
was charged by soldiers with the resulting death of several people
and injuries to hundreds of others.
In all fairness to the British, despite the oppressive acts of
the government, there was a marked tendency toward more liberal
government particularly in the third and fourth decades of the
century. Francis Place, a master tailor, turned politician and
actually succeeded in getting the Combination Acts repealed and
as a result trade-unionism sprung into being almost full grown
overnight. So much violence resulted that the unions were suppressed
almost as fast.
In 1833 the Factory Act was passed which applied only to the
textile industry. This act prohibited the employment of children
under 9 years of age and restricted those between 9 and 13 to
48 hours a week or 9 hours a day. Those children from 13 to 18
years of age could work no more than 69 hours a week or 12 hours
The reader must speculate upon what effect the general unrest
and turmoil of England had upon this baby who was born March 17,
1816 to Abraham Marchant and Mary Prankt Marchant.
The baby, named Abraham after his father, was the youngest of
eight children. His oldest brother was twenty-one years of age
and the child next to Abraham was four years old. Abraham senior
was a fireman and lost his life in a fall from a ladder when his
youngest son was little more than two years old. From that day
on the widow was obsessed with a desire to view all fires and
as soon as she heard the fire bell she would rush to the stable,
hitch up the horse and dash off to the fire.
The older children were making their own way by the time their
father died. The oldest brother was married when Abraham was three
months old, and doubtless provided help to their mother and enabled
her to eke out whatever miserable pension the city provided to
her. Undoubtedly some of the older children were responsible for
the fact that Abraham was apprenticed as a tailor.
The tailor in nineteenth century England was one of the better
professions. It still retained many of the protective features
of the old guilds and yes was given access to an almost unlimited
source of raw materials by the steady growth of the textile industry.
During his youth Abraham thus learned the finer points of cutting
and fitting clothing and obtained sufficient business experience
so that at the end of his apprenticeship he was able to become
a full-fledged merchant tailor. As a merchant tailor, he bought
cloth and fashioned it into clothing.
Wearing a silk hat, Prince Albert coat and carrying a cane (a
mark of dignity) he became an English gentleman.
As Abraham approached maturity he was a man to inspire confidences,
and one whose stature was equal to the dignity of his profession.
He stood out in a crowd because of his height and was full bodied
and heavy set without being fat. Among his acquaintances was a
slight figure of a girl, Lydia Johnson, who could stand beneath
his out-stretched arm. Lydia worked as a milliner and since tailoring
and millinery have much in common he would always find an excuse
to see her and before he had completed his apprenticeship he and
Lydia were secretly married.
Lydia was a slip of a girl weighing less than 100 pounds, probably
have of what her husband did, and in her later years wore two
curls in front of each ear with the long hair in back braided
and done up in a net cap.
The happiness of the young couple was marred when their first
baby died. Lydia had a plaster of the child made which was brought
to Utah with them. However, a second child, Mary Ann, was born
March 19, 1839, two days after Abraham became 23 years old. Two
and a half years later Sarah Matilda was born Sept. 1,
1841. A son, Abraham Robert was born April 5, 1843.
If Abraham and Lydia had planned to conduct a combination millinery
and tailor business, the rapid increase in the size of their family
must have caused many curtailments in the millinery business.
In addition to their own babies, they were responsible for an
apprentice tailor who not only learned the trade from Abraham
but lived with them as a member of the family.
The second great event in Abraham's life was his conversion to
Mormonism which later resulted in the trip to Utah. It began at
about the same time as the first great event, his marriage.
In June 1837 Joseph Smith appointed Heber C. Kimball to establish
a mission in England. Accompanied by Orson Hyde, Willard Richards
and Joseph Fielding from Independence who were joined in New York
by John Goodson, Isaac Russell and John Snyder, Kimball arrived
in Liverpool, England on July 20. Three days later Joseph Fielding
preached the first sermon in England at Preston to the congregation
of his brother, the Reverend James Fielding.
The reader must use his imagination to supply the details--the
meeting between Joseph Fielding and his brother, the text of the
sermon, the reception by the congregation and the tracting and
preaching that followed. The results were so favorable that Joseph
Smith did not even allow the expulsion of the "Mormons"
from Missouri to interfere with the missionary work. Instead the
summer that the Saints moved to Nauvoo, he dispatched some of
his ablest apostles to England, including Brigham Young and Parley
Young had his first real taste of leadership and his first opportunity
to give his genius for organization full play during the six months
that Joseph Smith spent in the Missouri jail. Upon his arrival
in England he drew upon his newly discovered talents. After a
few months of exploration, he founded the Millennial Star, a monthly
paper, on May 27, 1840; Parley P. Pratt became editor. A couple
of weeks later the first conference in the British mission was
organized at Worchester, which was the Gran Green and Gadfiend
conference with twelve branches. A week later Wilford Woodruff
organized the Fromehill conference at Herefordshire with twenty
Brigham not only placed organization of the Church on a sound
basis, but he also taught the missionaries to use all the tolls
in their hands to gain converts. As a result, the teaching of
"Mormonism" were interspersed with glowing accounts
of life in America. The following is one account which appeared
in the Millennial Star:
Living is about one-eighth what is costs in this country...millions
on millions of acres of land lie before them unoccupied with a
soil as rich as Eden, and a surface as smooth, clear and ready
for the plough as the park scenery of England. Instead of a lonely
swamp or dense forest filled with savages, wild beasts and serpents,
large cities and villages are springing up in their midst, with
schools, colleges, and temples....
The missionaries ranged far and wide over England calling for
both temporal and spiritual salvation and in most cities were
well received. In late 1840 Lorenzo Snow went to Birmingham and
before the close of the year wrote that they had fifteen members
and many more converts on the eve of being baptized.
On April 3, 1841, one of London's newspapers reported "Mormonism
is making rapid progress particularly in the manufacturing districts
and it is also spreading in Wales. Furthermore, it's converts
are not made from the lowest ranks; those sought and obtained
by Mormonite apostles are merchants and tradesmen who have saved
a little money, and who are remarkable for their moral character...."
Two and a half weeks later Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball
sailed from Liverpool taking with them 130 converts. They arrived
in New York City on May 20, and reached Nauvoo six weeks later.
Brigham Young had been too practical to leave the converts to
the mercies of the unscrupulous ship owners and passenger agents.
He perceived that the problem of transporting tens of thousands
of people thousands of miles could not be solved in that manner.
By obtaining a ship-load of passengers he could bargain with the
ship owners and thereby insure passage at a fair price and respectful
treatment for all. The "Mormons" set up an office, chartered
their own ships, organized the emigrants so that there would be
ample food and water, and did it all so well that, according to
one writer, the system was cited in the House of Commons as a
model for other companies to follow.
Despite all of their care, however they made the mistake of placing
the system in the hands of unscrupulous people and made their
one misstep. The British American Joint Stock Company probably
served as a combination savings bank and emigration office. In
February of 1846 Abraham Marchant placed four pounds and five
shillings with it. If he made other contributions they were not
listed, and we can hope that the total was small.
In early 1846 word reached Brigham Young that all was not well
with the Church in England and he took time from his planning
to care for the "Mormons" who had just been expelled
from Nauvoo to dispatch Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor
to England to set the Church in order. Almost immediately upon
their arrival in October they advised the Saint's to "patronize
the Joint Stock Company no more for the present". Soon they
dissolved the company and disfellowshipped its resident, Reuben
Hedlock, along with Thomas Ward who presided over the British
Mission. This was done for disregard of counsel. The audit disclosed
that the depositors had been swindled and their means squandered
by the officers of the company. In fact only one shilling and
three pence were returned for each pound paid (roughly six cents
on the dollar).
It was three years after this debacle before Brigham Young found
a better way to help the emigration, and by that time the "Mormons"
had moved safely to the shores of the Great Salt Lake, which added
a thousand miles overland trek to the long sea voyage which the
emigrants faced. After the hardships of the first two winters
in Utah were over, on September 9, 1849, Brigham Young presented
the idea of a "perpetual fund to gather the poor" to
the congregation which voted that such a fund be instituted.
The original fund was raised by voluntary donations and loans
were made to the emigrants which were later repaid, thus giving
the fund its perpetual nature. In addition to donations the fund
also received the proceeds from the sale of cattle which were
left in the astray pound for a month. At one time the Perpetual
Emigration Fund, PEF, herd was so large that the stock was pastured
on Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake--an excellent unfenced range.
Thus less than three years after the Joint Stock Company was
dissolved, it was replaced by a better means of assisting the
emigrant and one that could be used to help those people who lacked
resources to make the trip.
It was not until 1843 that the first missionaries appeared in
Bath. By January 1844, Bath had eleven members, and twenty new
converts were added during the next three months. The growth of
the Bath branch was steady if not spectacular and in seven years
had increased to 130 members.
We do not know when or under what circumstances Abraham and his
family, which consisted of three children, first became acquainted
with the "Mormon" missionaries, however Abraham was
baptized on April 17, 1844. According to one story, his wife first
became interested in Mormonism and he discouraged the interest
until she was baptized and then he followed her in less than a
month. As this story goes he learned of her intention to be baptized
and set out to prevent it. However, he was delayed by a mad bull
and consequently by the time he arrived, the baptismal was over.
We have no stories on how friends, customers and fellow workmen
took the news that Abraham and Lydia became "Mormons".
Someone seems to remember that customers stayed away and their
income stopped. Yet they lived in Bath for seven years after their
conversion. During that time thousands of people in the British
Isles were converted and even in Bath services were well attended.
After his conversion, doubtless some of Abraham's associations
accepted him as before, while others made him the target of many
crude and vulgar witticisms. This latter group vented their spite
by assigning an idiot to him as an apprentice, and then through
their constant gibes at Abraham, influenced the weak minded boy
to carry on as in the following incident which Lydia related in
her later years.
In the month before the fifth baby was born the aforementioned
apprentice took a great dislike to Lydia. He not only teased and
taunted her but also carried on as if he were bereft of all reason.
He would spring against the wall and strike a blow at Lydia and
then laugh with glee to see the swollen woman dodge clumsily.
Her exertions served to excite him to greater efforts and he once
seized a butcher knife and threatened to kill the woman. Inasmuch
as the apprentice was possessed of evil spirits the only explanation
the missionaries could give was that "this is the devil's
way of trying to get rid of your first baby to be born into the
Despite the devil's efforts to the contrary the fifth child and
third son was born on January 3, 1845. He was not blessed until
July or later as Joseph Albert Stratton, the Elder who blessed
the baby, was in charge of the Bath and Bristol conferences from
July 22, to December 3, 1845. Abraham and Lydia decided to name
their son George Henry. However when the missionary performed
the blessing he inserted his own name, Albert, making the baby's
name Albert George Henry. Years later when Lydia related this
story to a daughter-in-law the girl replied, with all of the independence
of youth, "If I hadn't liked the name, I wouldn't have used
it." To this the dear old lady replied quietly, "You
don't know what the elders meant to us. I wouldn't show disrespect
by not using it."
It was within the next year that the Joint Stock Company was
dissolved. The most difficult task that faced Parley P. Pratt,
Orson Hyde and John Taylor was not to determine where had been
the wrong doing, or discipline the defenders, but to console and
reassure the people who had lost their savings. It fell to John
Taylor to go to Bath and after dispelling whatever bitterness
Lydia and Abraham felt, be became a frequent visitor in their
home and a lifelong friend.
After joining the Church, Abraham became a devout worker and
was soon shouldering many responsibilities in the Bath conference.
On March 1847, he was called upon to act as clerk to the new mission.
It was nine months later that he wrote the following to the Millennial
"I preached the first lecture and you would have been delighted
to have seen the immense congregation that attended and the attention
they paid. Truly I was and I felt quit at home addressing the
largest number of people I have ever stood before. I baptized
a young woman last Sunday morning, the first fruits of my labors
since you left."
We know very little concerning the reaction of Abraham senior's
other sons and daughters when their youngest brother joined the
"Mormon" Church. Abraham's mother died about a year
before her son was baptized, and of his seven brothers and sisters
we only know that Mary, who was eight years his senior, looked
upon his now faith with tolerance, understanding and interest.
Mary's husband, Robert Sleater, and their son, Robert, were passing
the building where the "Mormons" were holding services
when the boy said to his father, "Let's go inside and her
'Uncle Abram" preach." Once inside, they were impressed
with the devoutness of the congregation and the sincerity of the
speakers. This introduction led to further investigation and the
entire family became interested in "Mormonism". However,
the daughter, Louisa, became more interested in a missionary name
Mills than in the Gospel that he was teaching. Mills proved more
interested in Louisa than in converting her family and the pair
This fact so embittered Mary and her husband that they would
have no more to do with the "Mormons". However, Mary,
Robert and their family eventually emigrated to America and settled
in Carthage. Robert and four of his sons fought in the Civil War
and one lost his life. In addition to Louisa, a son, Robert, and
a daughter, Mary Sperry, moved to Utah. Mary lived in Park City,
only 12 miles from her Uncle Abraham's family.
Abraham lived in Bath for four year after he was made clerk,
and during this time his family increased to seven children. At
the same time he assumed more and more Church responsibilities
and eventually became President of the Bath branch. When he moved
to Birmingham in 1851, he was immediately appointed to the Presidency
of the Birmingham Conference.
At the close of 1851, Abraham and his family moved form the town
of his birth to Birmingham which is 80 miles to the Northeast.
Even then Birmingham was a teeming industrial city of 200,00
people producing the steel which made it famous the world over.
It was very much a metal working center processing brass, copper
and gold and silver plate as well as the ferrous metal. It was
somewhat larger than Salt Lake City is today, and the rapid industrialization
of England with its demand for more and more iron caused it to
grow very rapidly.
This industrialization came about largely due to inventions and
developments which occurred during Abraham's own lifetime. During
his first twenty-five years many changes were made in the modes
an methods of living in England. It was only two years before
Abraham's birth that George Stephenson completed the first adaptation
of the steam engine to the railroad. When Abraham was four years
old iron was introduced into shipbuilding; when he was eleven
the world's first railway line was opened between Stockton and
Darlington, England. The next year a Dutch ship made the first
all steam crossing of the Atlantic. The telegraph, the reaper,
the breech loading gun, the revolver, the steel plow, the bicycle,
the sewing machine and the electric motor were all developed and
put into use by 1851 when Abraham moved to Birmingham. Each of
these items created a demand for more iron and hence Birmingham
boomed during a period when much of England was in a state of
It was Abraham's determination to emigrate to America that led
him to move from the rather sedate town of Bath to the dirty,
sprawling city of Birmingham. Tailors must have been much in demand
in the boom town. Even though his Church activities had caused
his business to decline in Bath, a rapidly growing city would
not allow its prejudices to interfere with the services which
a skilled workman could provide.
Nor did his transfer to Birmingham bring any surcease in his
Church activities. The branch at Birmingham was more than five
times as large a the one in Bath. Since his reputation as a loyal
and steady worker preceded him, Abraham was immediately appointed
to the Presidency of the Birmingham Conference on December 6,
Abraham may have decided to move to Birmingham because he feared
that if he remained in Bath he would not be able to accumulate
the eight pounds to pay the passage to Council Bluffs for each
member of the family. An additional amount was also necessary
to purchase wagons and stock for the overland trip to Utah. The
figure of eight pounds per person for this trip was given in the
Millennial Star during the year of 1848. This amount was far from
the total cost. In 1851 the cost amounted to twenty pounds per
person. When Abraham asked, in April of 1852, if the cost of the
passage would continue to be that high he was informed that "this
sum has been required up to the present time because of the great
demand for cattle and teams but this will not be the case anymore."
Undoubtedly this prediction was not true, for in 1852 the last
of the refugees from Nauvoo arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in
a great migration. The initial surge of gold-rushers on their
way to California had gone by. However, it was replaced by a steady
stream of Westward bound settlers who competed with the Mormons
for stock and equipment at the Kansas City area.
Even though the expense of the trip to Utah had kept Abraham
and his family in England, thousands of other converts were not
stopped by the need of money. Nearly 1500 converts left England
for Utah every year. Abraham and Lydia longed to join each time,
but until they were actually prepared to make the journey they
continued their spiritual and temporal labors. According to the
Millennial Star, Abraham wrote in July 15, 1853, "A good
spirit was prevailing at the meetings and the gifts of the spirit
were much enjoyed, particularly in healing. The meetings were
well attended and tract distributing was vigorously carried on
by the Saints." In response to the recent Church announcement
officially condoning plural marriage "a great spirit of inquiry
respecting the Patriarchal order of Marriage was manifested."
The latter statement is an indication of how far Abraham had
come in less than ten years in the Mormon Church. He had not only
turned into an able speaker, but also was able to handle a crowd
in what might have turned into a crisis as Church members in staid
Victorian England questioned the meaning of plural wives and the
Patriarchal order of marriage. By drawing upon biblical example
he was able to explain the higher meaning of the order. No doubt
it was at that time that he and Lydia determined to eventually
perform the solemn rites in the Holy Temple.
Abraham's years in England were drawing to a close and on November
26, 1853, Elder George Bramwell was appointed to succeed Abraham
in the Birmingham Conference. This was an active step towards
Abraham's realization of a ten year dream. Abraham, Lydia and
their family were preparing to depart for Zion, and since the
ship sailed from England in mid-winter they had less than three
months in which to put their affairs in order. It was on the third
of February 1854 that Abraham made a deposit of one pound for
each member of the family or a total of nine pounds on the passage.
This left a balance of 28 pounds and ten shillings due on the
ocean passage which was paid at the time of departure. Abraham
booked ordinary passage on the Windermere and paid for the tickets
himself rather than rely on the Perpetual Emigration Fund.
At this time Abraham and Lydia's family consists of eight children,
Mary Ann, just a month less than 15; Sarah Matilda, age 12 1/2;
Abraham Robert, almost 11, Albert George Henry, 9; Lydia Elizabeth,
7 1/2; John Alma, not quite 6; Maria Louisa, 2 1/2; and Franklin
Williams, 5 months.
When the family boarded the ship, they were to find only one
other larger family--that of Caroline and George Smith in which
there were nine children ranging from 16 to 1. John and Rebecca
Forrest had eight children ranging from 19 to an infant. The William
Davis family, with seven children, ranged from 19 to an infant.
Thus Abraham and Lydia had as heavy family responsibilities as
any of the passengers aboard the Windermere. Their skills with
needle and shears were much in demand as one of the tasks assigned
the passengers was to make wagon covers for future use. Abraham
was continually turned to by the other passengers for council
because of his being an ex-mission president.
No specific information is available as to the background of
the other passengers. The list of passengers, which the ship's
captain deposited at the Port of New Orleans at the end of the
journey had a space to show the occupation of each passenger.
Of the first forty-five names on the list, 4 were farmers, 39
laborers, and 3 domestics.
At that point the clerk tired of writing so much for each passenger,
and the rest f the list was left with the occupation space blank.
Abraham and Lydia must have had an exceedingly busy February,
disposing of household possessions, packing necessary equipment
for a journey into the unknown, and arranging their family for
At the beginning of the emigration, Church authorities had given
much thought to proper organization in order that the emigrants
could receive the best possible terms and in most cases entire
ships were chartered. Such was the case of the Windermere which
carried 572 emigrants. In addition to meeting the requirements
of the Mormons, the ship owners and ship captains were governed
by the laws which the United States and England had enacted protecting
the passengers. The Mormon church acted as a policing agency and
thereby insured that the emigrants had full benefits of the laws
which were governed with provisioning, sanitary facilities, space
and such other items as were necessary to provide for the comfort
of the passengers. Since the ships were made up in England, the
ship captains naturally paid more attention to the English laws
than those of the United States which could only come into effect
at the end of the journey. The British Passenger Act of 1852,
which governed the emigrant ships in 1854, required that provisions
for seventy days be carried if the passage was begun between the
16th of January and the 14th of October. In the ships carrying
Latter-Day Saints certain adjustments were made in the minimum
diet. The weekly provisions furnished, for each person consisted
of two and a half pounds of hard tack, pound of wheat flour, two
and a half pounds of oatmeal, one pound of pork or beef, two pounds
of rice, one half pound of sugar, two ounces of tea, a quarter
pound of butter and two ounces of salt. In addition, three quarts
of water was furnished each adult for each day. Children under
fourteen received half of the adult ration. Each passenger was
also allowed two and one-half pounds of sago and a pint of vinegar
for the entire trip. The vinegar must have been a life saver as
it provided a means of flavoring the dry and monotonous rations.
The fact that any provisions which were left at the end of the
voyage were given to the passengers is an example of the shrewd
handling and foresight which characterized the Mormon emigrations.
Once complete account of the voyage of the Windermere by W. W.
Burton exists. Unfortunately most of the details differ from what
is included in the Ship's Passenger List. For instance, according
to Burton, Father Squires died on the day the ships said, or February
23, 1854, which the Ships Passenger List showed him as having
died on March 12. Similarly, Burton related that Emma Brooks and
her "sister Fanny" died of smallpox on the same day
while the Passenger List showed that Marise Brooks died on February
27 (two and a half weeks before Burton said the smallpox broke
out) and Francis Brooks, a male, died on March 7. Burton also
related that on the last portion of the journey across the Gulf
of Mexico the provisions and water nearly ran out and the rations
consisted of a biscuit a day. While the fire that broke out near
the galley may have consumed part of the rations, and forced short
rationing it would certainly have been placed into effect much
earlier than the last two weeks of the voyage as the fire occurred
relatively early. If rations were extremely short the Captain
would have stopped at Cuba or Haiti for replenishment as the ship
passed in sight of both islands. If not, surely Elden Goon who
was in charge of the emigrants would have required him to stop
at one of these islands.
As a result of these discrepancies, the writer has concluded
that he can only accept Burton's account as it can be verified
from other sources - an unfortunate fact since it deprives us
of much of the eye witness account of the voyage of the Windermere.
A transatlantic passage in any of the old wooden sailing vessels
must have been exceedingly trying to the passengers. The control
which the Mormons maintained over their ships was aimed at increasing
the chances of survival and only incidentally at making the voyage
more comfortable. However, no one was expecting a pleasure cruise
and Abraham and Lydia in particular had work to do. Simply keeping
their children together and guarding them against the many hazards
of the ship was a time consuming task. There were wagon covers
to be made for use on the overland trek, and Abraham and Lydia
found their tailoring skills in much demand as they instructed
and assisted their brethren who were less familiar with shears
and needle. In addition, Abraham had many yards of textile material
which he fashioned into clothing, the better to avoid the duty.
Since Abraham was an ex-conference president, the passengers
naturally came to him in time of stress when they wanted comfort
and courage to face the unknown. There were a total of seven conference
ex-presidents on the Windermere, including, besides Abraham, Robert
Menzies, Job Smith, John T. Hardy, John A. Albisten, J. V. Long
and Graham Douglas. But with 477 saints aboard, there was plenty
of work for all. Six marriages were solemnized during the voyage
including that of John Meek and Elizabeth Stout of Worcestershire
which was performed by Abraham. Six babies were born and (according
to the Ships Passenger List) nine deaths occurred. Andrew Jenson
The writer wishes he could record a typical day's events - the
hour of arising, the morning prayers, caring for the children,
assisting the brethren with their troubles, working as a tailor,
conducting lessons on the principles of the gospel, and all of
the many details that must be looked after when large numbers
of people are thrown into close quarters.
Even with good sailing life would have been full and arduous,
but the trip of the Windermere was one of the most difficult crossings
in the history of the Mormon emigration.
Burton's statement that seven vessels went down in the channel
on February 21st may or may not be true, but it is an example
of the kind of story that was circulating aboard the Windermere
as the ship prepared to cast off. Such rumors cast a pall on the
passengers that was not dispelled by the shouts of bon voyage
from friends on shore nor by the hymns which the passengers struck
up a the lines were cast off and the ship slid away from shore.
The voyage began on February 22, 1854.
Inevitably one of the first experiences of most of the passengers
was sea sickness. As the protected waters of the harbor gave way
to the open seas, the ship's rolling became more and more pronounced,
and practically all of the passengers were affected by sea sickness.
The ship had been at sea a few days when small pox broke out.
A young lady, Marise Brooks, who was one of a family of two sisters
and a brother, was the first fatality and probably the first person
to contract the disease. She died on the 27th of February, on
the fifth day out of Liverpool. The following day a year old baby,
Cyrus Smith, died. The disease spread rapidly throughout the ship
and the acrid smell of closely packed humanity took on the more
deadly stink of fever and rotting flesh.
It is a mark of Abraham and Lydia's progressive point of view,
that they had the older children vaccinated for small pox, but
Lydia and some of the younger children contacted the disease wile
crossing the ocean. Abraham assumed a share of the burden for
caring for the sick. He not only administered to the sick but
also assisted in preparing the bodies for burial at sea, and conducted
the last rites.
A week passed between the second and third deaths, and then on
March 6, Charles Lee, a young man of 25, died and a day later
Francis Brooks, Marise's brother. There was nearly a weeks respite,
then on March 12, old Father Squires, aged 68, died and he was
followed by two year old John Long. On March 17, the 18 year old
Ann Read died and on March 25, two girls, one aged five and the
other an infant, passed away. These were the last deaths of the
voyage. In his account, Andrew Jenson simply said "After
37 passenger and two of the crew were attacked
was suddenly checked in answer to prayer." During the last
month no more deaths occurred, but after the Windermere arrived
in New Orleans, eleven of the passengers were committed to the
Luzenborg Hospital on order of the port Health Officers.
Smallpox was only one of the ordeals encountered on the voyage.
The ship took fire under the galley and momentarily panic raged.
The well trained crew manned the bucket brigade and the passengers
joined the lines and the fire was quickly checked. The worst fear
of sea-going men in the days of wooden ships was overcome with
no serious casualty. Burton suggests that a share of the rations
were lost, but if so there was plenty left for a rapid voyage.
The voyage was not rapid, the seas were heavy and the winds were
contrary. Heavy gales were encountered, which Burton described
as follows: "An exceedingly fierce storm arose. The wind
roared, the masts cracked and the sails were cut in pieces."
The captain of the Windermere expressed fears that the ship could
not stand so heavy a sea, and in speaking with Daniel Garn, the
President of the Saints said, 'I'm afraid the ship cannot stand
this storm, Mr. Garn. If there be a God, as your people say there
is, you had better talk to him if he will hear you. I have done
all that I can for the ship, and I am afraid with all that can
be done she will go down.'
"Elder Garn went to the Elders, who presided over the nine
wards in the ship and requested them to get all the Saints on
board to fast, and call a prayer meeting, to be held in each ward
at 10 A.M. and pray that we might be delivered from the danger.
The waves were lashed with white foam, the storm continued in
all its fury, but precisely at 10 A.M. the prayer meeting commenced
and such a prayer meeting few have ever seen.
"The ship rolled from side to side. On one side the Saints
were hanging by their hands, and on the other side they were standing
on their heads. Then the ship would roll on the other side which
would reverse their positions. About this time the large boxes
which were tied with ropes under the berths broke loose and with
pots, pans and kettles rolled with terrible force on each side
of the vessel.
"Although the prayers were fervent and earnest, as the pleadings
of poor souls brought face to face with danger and death, they
ceased their prayers to watch and dodge the untied boxes, and
great confusion prevailed for some time. The wind roared like
a hurricane, sail after sail was torn to shreds and lost. The
waves were very large and as far as the eye could reach seemed
to be one angry mass of rolling white foam. The hatches were fastened
down. This awful storm lasted about 18 hours, then abated a little,
but it was stormy from the 8th of March until the 18th. Observations
taken by the quadrant on the 18th showed that the ship on in the
latitude as it was on the 8th."
Not until nearly the end of March did they encounter a favorable
wind and then in four days the ship made 1,000 miles.
Two-thirds of April had passed before the ship approached the
mouth of the Mississippi River, and according to Burton, during
the last part of the voyage the passengers were placed on short
rations - a small biscuit and a measure of water. This is a distinct
possibility if part of the rations were destroyed by the fire.
On the morning of April 20, 1854 the sip entered the mouth of
the Mississippi and during the next two days sailed up the deep
muddy stream, past broad well-kept plantations, and tangled steamy
semi-tropical jungles into New Orleans.
We know nothing of the impression that the squat French town
made on the emigrants. Certainly the vegetation was exotic compared
to the more sedate greenery of England, and the April sun beat
down as intense as during the hottest day of mid-July in England.
Emigrants entering the United States through the port of New
Orleans certainly found nothing there to prepare them for the
remainder of the journey. But as they proceeded up the Mississippi
and West across the plains, the vegetation and topography gradually
took on a quieter appearance more resembling that in England,
although to be sure the landscape lacked the orchard-like appearance
of the well-kept English woods. As the journey was continued this
was gradually replaced by an almost barren desert and finally
the rich Salt Lake Valley appeared as an oasis at the end of the
Whatever the impression that New Orleans and the Mississippi
delta made on the travelers, it was only fleeting. On April 27th,
after a four day stop, the passengers, other than those who were
held back by smallpox, boarded a Grand Tower Steamer and continued
the journey to Saint Louis. Abraham stopped in St. Louis to dispose
of the clothing made while crossing the ocean.
It must not be supposed that the journey up the Mississippi and
Missouri rivers was without its difficulties and problems. Two
years earlier one of the worst tragedies of the Mormon emigration
had occurred at Lexington Missouri when the river steamer Saludo
blew up, killing or badly wounding about 100 emigrants.
No such tragedies occurred in 1854, but abnormally low water
in the Missouri River made the river passage exceedingly difficult
and increased the fare from one dollar, which it had been previously,
3 to 5 dollars, with an even greater increase in the cost of luggage.
Although the Marchants were spared the cholera, others of their
fellow passengers aboard the Windermere were not so fortunate
during that plague year. Andrew Jenson reports that there was
considerable cholera during the river passage and later during
the overland trek. It hit the Scandinavians worse and of a company
of 700 who sailed from Copenhazen, [Copenhagen?] nearly 200 had
perished before the survivors arrived at Salt Lake City.
After their arrival in Kansas City, the Marchants verified a
disturbing rumor that equipment for the overland passage would
cost nearly twice as much as was expected. Elder William S. Empey,
assisted by Horace S. Eldride [Eldridge?], superintended the emigration
business on the frontier. They found that oxen cost from $75.00
to $110.00 a yoke, cows were $25.00 to $40.00 a head and wagons
were $67.00 each. Thus, the independent emigrant companies were
made dependant upon Perpetual Emigration funds for means to complete
their outfits since the necessary outlay far exceeded their expectations.
Empey gave an interesting account of the difficulties of outfitting
in a letter which he wrote on June 16, 1854 to President S. W.
Richards. After recounting the high costs which he attributed
to the immense emigration to California and Salt Lake he said:
"Elder Daniel Garn has arrived with the information that
three hundred Saints had arrived in St. Louis. A council was called
at St. Louis by Elder O. Pratt to examine the state of affairs
pertaining to the general immigration of the Saints in which he
advised that none of them should receive their outfit for the
valley after 25 instant on account of the late arrival of the
"The Saints this season, as annually, have encumbered themselves
with a vast amount of unnecessary luggage in the shape of boxes,
feather beds, etc. The most part of which has been disposed of
at a very great sacrifice. I would advise the Saints who may emigrate
the following season not to provide themselves with heavy boxes
but to dispose with their iron-bound nests, feather beds, and
other such cumbrous articles, where thy may be disposed of to
a far greater advantage than they possibly can in this country."
The first company to start West from Kansas City was the Scandinavian
company which started on the 15th of June. At about the same time
three English companies, consisting of those who crossed the Atlantic
in the Golcondo, the Windermere, the John M. Wood and the Old
England were organized. Soon after other emigrants arrived in
Kansas City and started for the valley in three or more companies
under the leadership of Daniel Garn, Robert Campbell, William
Empey and perhaps others. Empey's company remained at the outfitting
place until the emigration business was finished and started towards
the close of June. Abraham, Lydia and their family were in the
Robert L. Campbell company.
At this point there was still 1200 miles left to go. Abraham
may have paused to reflect on what had occurred and what he had
to look forward to. His early training as a tailor had been of
some value aboard ship, but from now on out, skill with teams,
wagons, firearms, and scouting would be far more useful. If he
made such reflections he was keenly aware that he and most of
his company were very ill-prepared for the overland trip. Yet
they were determined to make the trip and had their trust in God
and the counsel of their leaders.
As Robert L. Campbell's company was organized, Richard Cook was
first counselor and James J. Woodard second counselor. Brother
Richard was Captain of first ten; Thomas Fisher, Captain of second
ten, and Brother Ballif, Captain of third ten. Thomas Southerland
was clerk and historian.
Most emigrants hitched up six wild steers to a wagon, put the
family inside and headed West as fast as the steers could run.
For the first few days it was each outfit for itself, but the
men and steers soon became accustomed to trail life and settled
down into trains. Abraham was fortunate in that he had been able
to obtain two steers that were broke to put on the head.
As the wagon train prepared for the trip, a thorough check was
made to determine that every family had sufficient provisions
for the journey. All had enough except one family and they had
money to purchase more at Fort Laramie.
Fortunately the initial part of the trail was relatively easy,
with smooth country, good grass and plenty of water. As a result
the drivers had a chance to get accustomed to the ways of the
trail, the heat of the July sun on a Kansas plain, the task of
making and breaking camp under conditions where the animals could
recuperate from mistreatment at the hands of inexperienced teamsters.
This shaking down is one of the most interesting parts of any
trip and we can only wish that he had an account of what happened
and how Abraham and Lydia and their family adjusted themselves.
Many mishaps occurred to the company of emigrants who where from
one of the most highly civilized countries in the world as they
adjusted themselves to pioneer life in a trek through a primitive
As the party made its way West, they had to take more and more
care to avoid Indian trouble. As a general rule the Mormons expected
to avoid trouble with the Indians by being on the guard and by
being friendly, a combination that worked even in the summer of
1854 when the Indians were unusually troublesome. A cow from H.
P. Olsen's company, the head Mormon company of the summer, strayed
into a Sioux Indian camp, where the critter was received as Manna
from heaven and promptly eaten. Upon his arrival in Fort Laramie,
Olsen reported the loss to Lt. Gratten who sent a detachment of
soldiers to the camp and demanded that the man who had killed
the cow be given up. Even though the Indian chief offered to pay
for the cow and the warrior who had killed it indicated he would
relinquish his share of the annuity money which was then due,
the Lieutenant judged that this was unsatisfactory and ordered
the troops to open fire. In the resulting fight the company of
soldiers which numbered over thirty men were killed. Before then
the Sioux tribe had been relatively peaceful, but this incident
made them angry and many traders fled expecting a general war.
The immigrants, as a result of the unrest, had to take every possible
precaution to escape death and destruction.
Because of their alertness the threat of Indian attack never
materialized, and the only serious loss of cattle occurred when
wolves raided the stock.
There were three deaths in the company during the journey including
two elderly people and a Fisher child. The latter was thrown from
the wagon and run over. Such few deaths and little Indian trouble
are indications of a well-organized and tightly-run wagon train.
Additional evidence of this point is the fact that a group of
California emigrants requested and received permission to join
the company and go with the Mormons to Salt Lake City.
During the first part of the journey, camps were selected because
of their nearness to water and firewood. As wood became scarcer,
buffalo chips were frequently used for fuel, and as the prairie
turned into foothills and mountains "sage wood" was
frequently used. After the companies left Fort Laramie the going
became more and more difficult. Water was no longer plentiful,
and many of the streams were bitter and some of them were poisonous
as evidenced by the large number of skeletons and carcasses which
surrounded them. During this portion of the journey a few stray
cattle were picked up, probably enough to make up for the number
On August 21, Campbell wrote to Brigham Young from Fort Kearney,
Nebraska that feed was good, the cattle were fat and that Brother
Empey with the rear company was only a few days behind. They were
making good headway and hoped to escape inclement weather. On
October 4, when this appeared in the Deseret News the reporter
added they were probably west of the South pass by now and perhaps
this side of the Green River. As a matter of fact they were only
three weeks out by the time that the announcement did appear.
The fall had been very open but with October slipping by bad
weather could start at any time. Accordingly, Brigham dispatched
relief from Salt Lake who met the Campbell Company about the 9th
of October. They were the last company on the road as Empey had
passed them by. The most jaded of the animals were replaced with
fresh ones, and all enjoyed the taste of fresh provisions. Abraham
was one of those who obtained an oxen replacement. A few days
after his coupling broke, and time was taken to repair it. As
the journey neared its end, a stop was made at Cache cave to pick
up supplies that the relief company had stored there on the way
out. In the trip down Emigration Canyon Abraham's wagon tipped
completely over and did much damage.
On October 26th, it snowed and turned bitter cold for the last
two days of the trip. On the 28th of October the teamsters made
their last double, arrived at the summit of the hill and looked
into the Salt Lake Valley. They quickly moved on into the North
Part of the City where the company was dissolved. The various
families were dispatched to their winter accommodations and they
became a part of the Mormon settlement in the great basin.