Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Faceby Mormons cross the Atlantic: February to April 1855

1855: Faceby to Liverpool

In the bitter cold of early February 1855, the Faceby Saints made ready to leave.  Charles Hogg
"delivered up books with Branch record to Elder Smith, traveling elder in that part.  Left this part of the world Feb 14, 1855, with a conscience void of offence toward God and all men, free from debt to anyone.  I visited father, mother, and what family there were at home here at Deighton … I could not stay with my beloved father and mother but a few minutes, bid them goodbye, off to catch the train." 
Ann Stanger Hogg's descendants record that,
"it was extremely difficult for them to leave their home and bid their loved ones goodbye, never to see them again, and depart for a strange new land.  It was only their firm belief in the Gospel that gave them such strength."
At the Mission Office in Liverpool the Faceby Saints registered to travel on the Siddons, a sailing ship bound for Philadelphia.

Twelve of the Etherington family were signed up to go.

John Etherington (61) and his wife Elizabeth (56) were accompanied by their son Thomas (19) and daughter Mary (20) and by two of their married daughters. 

Their daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Pugh had apparently come north to Faceby at some point in the preceding months ready to emigrate – at the time of sailing they had a daughter aged nearly two and a baby of 8 weeks. 

Ann Etherington and her husband Thomas Heslop had also been living in Faceby with their two year old son for a little while.  They came with the rest of the party to Liverpool and put their names on the passenger list.  Ann was heavily pregnant on arrival and her baby was born in the Emigration Home at Liverpool on 19 February.  Thomas however changed his mind – his name was crossed out and he was listed as "not going" – perhaps he was not fit to travel, or had changed his mind.

Three of the Stanger family were to leave with their children.

The Stanger party consisted of George (22), his brother Thomas (24) with his wife Jane Wilson Stanger and one year old Annie, and their sister Ann Stanger Hogg (26) with her husband Charles and two year old James.  Ann was pregnant with her second child.  Jane Wilson's brother Thomas (29) was also of the party. 

Also on the list is Mary Thompson (20) – her address is given as "at Mr Etherington's", but she is marked "declined to go".  Perhaps the sight of the sea and the shipping made her change her mind, or possibly her family followed her and persuaded her not to go.  She may have been a neighbour in Faceby, or a relation of Elizabeth Thompson Wake, or of Isabella Thompson Stanger.

Thanks to the generosity of the other Branch members, Charles and Elizabeth Wake and their two children were also able to go.

Lastly there was the Simpson family.

George Simpson, his wife Mary Ann and daughter Selina (12) also travelled with the Faceby party. 

Simpson was a 41 year old potter, never mentioned by Hogg but considerably senior in the church to Hogg himself.  In the 1840s he worked in the Staffordshire potteries, and in spring 1845 was a Mormon missionary at the Staffordshire Conference and attended the General Conference in Manchester that April.  In 1854 he was a missionary in the Sunderland ward, possibly working in the Wearside potteries.  He and his family gathered in Faceby with the others, whom he may have met at the Newcastle Conference or through his work as a travelling elder.

Having left two of their party behind, 26 people from Faceby took ship.  Apart from John and Elizabeth Etherington and the middle-aged Simpsons, most of them were young people in their twenties – and in the party there was one pregnant woman, six small children and two babies, one a newborn.

At some point before departure, George Stanger and Mary Etherington were secretly married. 

They planned - successfully - to to travel in their separate family parties to Utah and reveal their secret when they could begin their proper married life together.  Perhaps it was Mary's mother who disapproved.  She might well have felt that she had enough to deal with, with both married daughters already pregnant.  Elizabeth's baby was only two months old when they set sail, and it was probably fortunate that Ann gave birth in the Emigration Home rather than on board ship.  The prospect of the journey, which was always formidable, must have been truly daunting in these circumstances.

According to family records on the IGI, George and Elizabeth were married in Stokesley on 13 February 1855 shortly before leaving, but no record of this has been found to date. 

Sailing was late because the freezing weather delayed the loading of cargo.  It had not been so cold on the Mersey for 20 years, and canals and rivers were frozen over.  Some passengers could no longer afford to stay in Liverpool while they waited to sail, and lived on board ship during the delay.  Charles Hogg and his wife and son were more fortunate, as they were looked after by his sisters.

Sailing on the Siddons
The emigrants had been told to be in Liverpool by 15 February in order to sail on 17 February.  But because of the weather it was not until Friday 23 February that, after passing the medical examination, they all boarded their ship ready for departure.

They were sailing on the Siddons, a packet ship of the Dramatic Line.  Packet ships were the workhorses of the Atlantic, constantly crossing the ocean, owned by Americans and crewed by Europeans.

The Siddons was about 20 years old.  Her sister ship, the Garrick, was the fastest packet of her day; her quickest westbound crossing was completed in 18 days, though her average was 32 days.

The Siddons was a ship of 895 tons measuring 158 feet by 35 feet, with a depth of hold of 21 feet.  Her master was Captain John S Taylor.

Under the poop deck there was a cabin which contained twenty or so ‘staterooms’ and an area called the Second Cabin, where passengers would have a table to themselves and more comfort than those travelling in Steerage.

Steerage took up the whole of the tween decks.  Here the people slept and lived on bunks that were fitted up along the sides of the ship.

The Siddons was carrying, in this confined space, 430 Mormon passengers.

The Siddons came out of Waterloo Dock and anchored two miles down the river, still taking on cargo.  Here they lost their first passenger – a child of five months who had caught cold on the train journey to Liverpool.

On Monday 26 February the Siddons was towed out to sea, and some people began to be sick …

An Atlantic crossing at this time could be an appalling experience.  An Irish emigrant ship of 1847 was described to a House of Lords Select Committee as holding
"hundreds of poor people, men, women and children, of all ages … huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth and breathing a foetid atmosphere, sick in body, dispirited in heart, the fevered patients lying between the sound." 
Difficulty in enforcing the provisions of the Passenger Acts made improvements slow. 

The Faceby party, however, were in good hands.  The Mormons had developed a much admired system to take care of their emigrants and this was the peak of their emigration – between 1840 and 1890 at least 85,000 Saints made the crossing, and in 1855 our party were among the 4,225 who crossed to America. 

The Mormon system was highly organised and continual reporting back by the Elders in charge enabled the system to develop and improve. 

The Liverpool agent would charter a seaworthy vessel and send out instructions to those who had applied for passage, with details of when to arrive in Liverpool, how to look after themselves there, the provisions they should bring, etc. 

On board ship, the agent would appoint a committee from among them, usually of experienced Elders, and they would create an organisation on the lines of the church with which they were all familiar.  Their aim was to keep the emigrants healthy, safe and as occupied as possible.

The President of this company was John Solomon Fullmer, a man in his late forties who was returning to America from mission.  From the elders and returning missionaries, Fullmer chose one man to be in charge of the Second Cabin, and three to be in charge of Steerage – one for the aft part of the ship, one for the mid part, and one in charge of the young men who were berthed forrard in the steerage.  (Single young men were kept apart from the families and young women.)

These elders were to hold meetings every night (weather and sickness permitting) to instruct and encourage the people.

Then President Fullmer divided all the able-bodied men into seven divisions.  Each division would be responsible for one day’s duties: getting everybody up early, cleaning the ship (that is, emptying the slop pails overboard etc) and being officers for the day.

On Tuesday 27 February at 7 o’clock in the morning, the Siddons set sail.  It was a very calm sea, but sickness was increasing amongst passengers.  Passengers on deck could see the mountains of Wales on their left, and, if they were still feeling able to enjoy the scenery the following day, Ireland could be seen to their right.

President Fullmer’s diary breaks off for several days at this point – as he was being terribly sea-sick.

On Thursday 1 March, a head wind had got up and the 50 year old returning missionary Osmyn Merritt Deuel recorded
“Such a scene of sickness I never see … This morning, we got the most of the sick up on deck, many had to be carried up and laid on the deck … We had to force many out of their berths or they would lay and die.  I have to cook and make beds, nurse the sick…”
The following day, Friday, was no better.  Osmyn Deuel had made the crossing before and did not suffer from seasickness himself.  He had warned the people around him to copy him in making all their things fast, but they did not take his advice and so
 “the charts and boxes and tinware and cooking utensils and slop pails began to tumble about soon after they were all in bed ..."
By Tuesday it was worse.  Osmyn Deuel wrote
“Blowed again all day, sails mostly reefed and we seemed at the mercy of the waves … We had a rough night”.
At last, on the Thursday, the winds finally dropped. It had taken them seven full days to get out into the open Atlantic.  Charles Hogg was to remember being very sick for nine days.

The weather being fine and sunny, the captain – in a sunny mood himself – had a place cleared on deck so that the invalids could come up to sun themselves.  He supplied a rope so that the youngsters could have some fun and exercise skipping on deck, and even turned the skipping rope himself for an hour for the children.

But now that the passengers had stopped feeling sick, they began to complain and some to misbehave – there were complaints of thieving.

Henry Stocks, a family man aged 33 from Lancashire, in charge of the middle part of Steerage, found that he had to tell the priests under him not to keep lecturing people about their faults, but instead to build them up in order to bring love and union.  The thieves, he said,  would be found out and would get their just desserts.

Unfortunately, at this point the weather worsened once more.

Osmyn Deuel wrote:
“we are tossed to and fro and making no speed … The sea running mountains high … Saints tumbling about in every direction.  Boxes and water cans tumbling about from one side to the other … slop pails and night vessels … then the water rose in upon us through the hatchways … Women and children screaming and climbing onto their berths … When we had fair wind it was so stormy that we could not carry sail for about 3 weeks”.
They were now two weeks into the voyage and feelings were beginning to run high about the provisions.

Henry Stocks spoke to his section about
“being satisfied with the provisions that we receive from the ship & that we will live without a murmur, in order that the Lord may bless us”.
A sentiment which was seconded and agreed by all. 

By the middle of March it was quite cold, with showers of hail.  The Siddons was making little progress against the head wind, travelling only 240 miles in 10 days, and “tossing about like a log on the water” as President Fullmer recorded.

The elders began to get concerned about the food lasting out, and Elder Allred talked to the company about the need to obey advice and instructions and to live without murmuring, and to
“try to live without so much cooking & eating & that two meals cooking was sufficient instead of three”.
Tempers were beginning to fray.  When an old man from Preston had his dish knocked over at the cooking galley, he responded by hitting the man he thought responsible with his pan, and the man retaliated by hitting him with a fire poker

The following day it was decided that one man should stand by the galley and take in the food to be cooked, and another should give it back out, and they should both keep order so as to prevent further incidents.

Three weeks into the voyage, they were issued with canvas for the emigrants to make tents and waggon covers for the plains.  President Fullmer noted that the English and the Scots were not very efficient at the job - they had to be closely supervised and sometimes made to do it again.

The captain, meanwhile, could be heard frequently commenting on how tedious and slow the crossing was proving to be.

There was a fine day when the passengers were thrilled to watch a shoal of dolphins, but the weather worsened once more and the crew had to batten down the hatches.  The sails were torn and the water began to run low.

William Atkin remembered: 
“One night when the wind was blowing we were all aroused by the guard between decks giving the alarm that water was in the ship and it was thought that the ship had sprung a leak below water mark.  So, sufficient male passengers were placed on deck to man the pumps and all the others were ordered below and the hatchways fastened down and there was great excitement among the passengers.  When all was in commotion the second mate, who was very rough man both in language and action, opened the hatchway and at the top of his voice shouted, ‘The ship is sinking and we are all going to hell together.’”
Osmyn Deuel wrote:
“on the 30th of March we were on the same latitude we were on the 23rd, having been tossed to and fro and gale after gale, and at one time these six sails blowed to pieces and some blowed away … the sea run mountains high and the ship fall and tumble about like a cork on the water …”
People were still sick, and now the Siddons was nearing Newfoundland and icebergs could be seen.  Jane Charters Robinson, aged 27 and travelling in one of the staterooms with her younger half-sister, discovered that the water had got into her luggage and spoiled it considerably.

It was now April and the weather was still cold, stormy and sometimes foggy.  There were hailstorms to endure and icebergs to avoid. 

Provisions were becoming more and more of a problem:

Osmyn Deuel: 
“It is difficult to get our cooking done … as our coal is nearly gone.  I find it very hard to eat the sea biscuits as I only have 2 teeth to eat them with.  I boil rice to last 2 or 3 days and eat it cold mostly … Our rations is per week 1 pound flour, 2 pounds rice, and 2 pounds oatmeal, and 2 pounds sea biscuit, 1 pound [salt]pork and 2 ounces of tea, and 3 pounds butter, and half a pint vinegar … together with salt, our provisions is very good especially the pork, rice and flour.  Our water is sometimes not very good but we have no reason to find fault”
Charles Hogg remembered:
“I had provided plenty for my family of our own to last us across the ocean, but we divided the last biscuit with our brethren and sisters.  We lived three weeks on rice and butter, oatmeal, and had very little water to cook it with”
On the 6 April, which was Conference Day in Utah, President Fullmer was glad to be able to organise a dance on deck in the evening.  The roof of the Second Cabin was the only place the passengers could gather together, and it had been occupied all day with sailors mending the torn sails, but as the sun went down the young people had music and dancing on deck.  As Fullmer said,
“Anything to enliven them from the monotonous gloom of a long and tedious voyage mixed up with a good deal of sickness and consequent inactivity”.
By Easter Sunday, 8 April, Osmyn Deuel could note:
“Making about 10 knots … Some sickness, mostly bowel complaint and had it not been for untiring exertions of the captain and presidency, together with elders, to keep the ship clean and see that every nuisance was removed immediately and the vessels [slop pails &c] all cleaned and scoured, no doubt we should have had a terrible time … am getting tired of the ship rations as the biscuit is so hard … and the boiled rice I get tired of .. and to beg among the saints I cannot, and am not able to buy [missionaries were poor men] … Peace and union seems to prevail generally.  We have a mean, dishonest captain and his assistants which causes much dissatisfaction”
During all this time, there were births and deaths.  Three babies had been born, and one of them had died.

And at last the Siddons began her run south, the weather became warmer and the wind was favourable.

Osmyn Deuel wrote:
“Very fine, pleasant breeze.  All is peace.  Ship rides very smooth and moderate.  Some of the Saints is getting their breakfast.  Some eating, some getting their water, some in bed.  I am writing, laying on my belly at one of the skylights at the stern of the ship …”
Provisions continued to be a problem, as he noted:
“Our butter is all served out and mostly gone.  Pork is all served out and flour mouldy or all served.  Coal very scarce for cooking, but we get along very well”.
(He was evidently an optimistic and stoical fellow)

At last the passengers began to see other ships for the first time for a long while, but then the wind turned against them again and progress once more became slow.

On Tuesday 17 April, Osmyn Deuel wrote that the ship had been forced to tack every hour during the night, and that fourteen of the brethren were taking the sailors’ place on duty in the day, so that the crew could sleep – but that the pilot flag was up.

It was a beautiful calm morning and President Fullmer had the Preston Choir sing and play for the people, and there were recitations.    He wrote
“… Our friends have been looking for us in port for at least three weeks so we will be sure to be well received almost as though we were from the bottom of the mighty deep”.
Unfortunately, the fog came down and the pilot was unable to come on board for some hours.

At last on Thursday 19 April, everything was in the Siddons’ favour.  At 2 o’clock in the afternoon a steam tug came to take them into port.

This was not a moment too soon for Osmyn Deuel, whose lack of teeth was causing him great difficulty:
“I have cold rice for breakfast and tea.  Same for dinner without tea.  The same for tea with tea and no sugar.  Hard getting it down”.
Jane Charters Robinson wrote
“Saw land for the first time.  Hope to get on shore in the morning.  The prospect before us now is beautiful beyond description.  Surrounded as we are by small fishing boats sailing along in the unruffled water as far on my right as the eye can reach.  There are houses and trees to be seen and who but one who has passed two long tedious months on board the broad Atlantic knows how grateful that sight is”.
On Friday 20 April, Henry Stocks set his people in Steerage to clean up the ship, set everything in order, and then get their own baggage organised for arrival. 
“Passed a town named Delaware”
Stocks wrote
“Most delightful scenery on either side.  Now in sight of Philadelphia & the desired blessing was gained at 3 o’clock on Friday 20th April 1855 making a long & tedious voyage of 8 weeks & 1 hour, a distance of 3500 miles from Liverpool to Philadelphia.”
At last the Siddons put into port.  The doctor came on board to inspect the passengers for fever.  (They all passed – it was common practice to hide any passengers who were not feeling well).

They had been 57 days on board.  Technically, the voyage lasted 52 days – but other Mormon crossings that year took no more than 36 days.

While President Fullmer dealt with customs and finished his report on the voyage, some passengers went about the city of Philadelphia during the day.  Henry Stocks wrote
“Streets are all very orderly set out.  Can see two or three miles at once very straight & cleanly.  The docks is nothing to compare with Liverpool”.
Some went to see family and friends.  President Fullmer’s wife took Jane Charters Robinson and her sister to a hotel.  Most of the passengers stayed on board ship at night, even if they explored the port during the day.  This saved money, but meant that, as Charles Hogg bitterly remembered
“we lived on board ship for two days.  Those in charge of company never provided one mouthful of food to the starving company of poor saints for that time”.
Provisions had run out because the crossing had lasted more than a fortnight longer than anyone had expected.

Mormon organisation was highly praised, but passengers – possibly unaware of how dreadful conditions were elsewhere – were not always entirely grateful.  It depended largely on their background, as the poorer passengers expressed gratitude for conditions which others found intolerable.  Many personal accounts tell of complaints and arguments. 

Charles Hogg was left with some bitter memories, but there is of course no way of knowing whether this was because of failures of organisation or is a reflection on his own character.  He seems to have had little idea of the complexity of organisation involved and the hard work required of the Mormon agents.  Personal accounts tend to depict a degree of disorganised confusion which, while inevitable in the circumstances, was probably not expected by the emigrants.  Perhaps Hogg had believed too thoroughly in the rosy picture painted by some preachers, and his unrealistic expectations left him unprepared for the hardships of the journey.  The strangeness of the new life and his lack of control over his circumstances may have made him uneasy and intolerant.

The Wake family were to remain in Philadelphia under the guidance of the Elders responsible for the care of those emigrants who would have to work in the East to earn enough money to go on to Utah.

The rest of the Faceby party were among the 197 on board the Siddons who intended to go through to the Valley that season.

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