Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Faceby Mormons leave Philadelphia for Kansas Territory

More than half the Mormon emigrants on board the Siddons were stopping in the eastern states, to earn money to make the rest of the journey later – the Wake family from Faceby among them – but the rest of the Faceby Saints were going through to the Valley that season.

President Fullmer took the advice of the Elders in Philadelphia and arranged for the travellers to go by train on the Pennsylvania Central route to Pittsburgh, intending to take a packet ship from there.  They were able to negotiate a price for the travellers, of $4.50 per adult, with 80lb baggage free.

So on Monday 23 April, the emigrants got up at 5 am to get their baggage ready for the Customs inspectors and at last reached the railway station at 11 o'clock.

They would be travelling throughout Monday and Tuesday, arriving at Pittsburgh at 4.15 in the morning.

Henry Stocks wrote:
“I may say that we are nearly all the time traveling through woods, thousands & thousands of acres of timber… I viewed the engine … Not so neat as the English engines, they seem great & clumsy.  Carriages is about 18 yards long, same width as English … Inside there is a passage from one end of the train to the other & seats with backs two feet high.  A stove & potty (or necessary) & a water barrel …”

Jane Charters Robinson found it very hard to sleep sitting upright on the train and she was concerned for her sister Helena, whose feet were now so swollen that she could not walk.

On arrival in Pittsburgh, Henry Stocks was obliged to search for a sympathetic minister to arrange for the burial of a child who had died on the train.  He was glad to find a kindly Methodist minister and an English family to take on the task, and he returned to the train to find his wife and their four young children, so that they could get down to the quayside for the next stage of their journey.

They were now to travel by steamship along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.  It would take 11 days.

President Fullmer had bargained ahead for passage on the steamboat at $3 per adult, with children half-price and a charge of 35c for every 100lbs of extra luggage.

Henry Stocks wrote that the ship
“was in great confusion & I may say we slept on iron bars on the floor.  We were all disappointed at such confusion.  Outside of vessels, they have a noble & grand appearance four high of decks, two large iron chimneys fired with wood & coal”
Charles Hogg remembered:
“Many had to make their beds on iron that the boat was loaded with, some on a barge he had in tow.  We were treated like so many cattle”
Jane and her sister, with private means, were able to hire a cabin at a cost of $12 each.

The boat left Pittsburgh at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday 26 April.

Henry Stocks sought to earn a little extra money:
"28th April Keep watch 2 hours last night. I engaged to work a few hours. I was much fatigued. Payed us short. Captain & mate of vessel is very mean men."
Jane Charters Robinson was very ill that night.  Her sister, frightened to be alone with her, went to find a doctor on board.  Jane describes the illness as 'cholera', by which she may have meant a bad bout of some stomach upset, rather than the cholera morbus.  The next day she was recovered enough to write
“The scenery on both sides of the river is quite delightful.  Everything appears in the highest state of civilisation, especially on the right hand side.  The other being a slave state is not so good.  Helena went out a-riding with the captain and some more ladies and gentlemen as the boat stopped all day at a pretty little town called Marietta ...”
(Many emigrants wrote with horror of what they saw in the slave states.)

The heat was now so oppressive that Jane could hardly sleep and when they stopped at Louisville it was too warm to walk.  Nevertheless, some of the passengers could not resist going to see the Kentucky Giant, who was said to be nearly 8 feet tall.  In 1855 he had not yet become famous for his war record as a Confederate soldier, and for his years touring in a circus.  (Queen Victoria gave him a wedding present when he married his giant wife Anna.)

On Monday 7 May they arrived in St Louis, Missouri and transferred their baggage to the Polar Star, a steamboat which would take them up the Missouri river.  They were bound for Atchison in Kansas Territory, which they would reach on Saturday morning.  This was to be their outfitting place for the plains.

On Tuesday 8 May, they set off from St Louis at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but on Friday 11 May Jane recorded
"May 11th. Cholera has appeared again. The lady in the stateroom is dead and is taken ashore."
The lady had fallen victim to the cholera pandemic.

Charles Hogg remembered that two women died of the cholera.  The Polar Star arrived in Atchison at 6 o’clock in the morning on Saturday 12 May.  Hogg wrote:
"Good food was provided here for the company the first time since we left England. The Cholera broke our in the camp the last day we were on this boat. Two of the sisters died; I helped to bury a sister Monsome as soon as we landed. We camped out all night on landing at Atchinson that had been made by Mormon Emigrants that had been here five weeks in charge of Elder Ballantine. Commenced raining about three o'clock which gave us a good wetting with our bedding. This was a starter for crossing the plains."
The travellers, many of them by now very tired and unwell, found themselves sleeping in tents and enduring heavy rain and thunderstorms more terrifying than anything they had previously experienced.

Over the following days, they were transferred from the levee to Mormon Grove.  This was the main camping ground, a vast and orderly tented encampment.

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