MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER
Great Grand Mother Matta Jonsson
On January 1, 1859 the Millennial Star announced to the Saints in Europe that emigration was again open for those who had money to pay their expenses across the ocean, from their landing place to the frontier, then across the plains to Utah. Many responded, for James Brown, one of the Captains, in his record claimed that in his company he had people from nearly every country in Europe.
On Monday, April 11, 1859 the ship "William Tapscott" sailed from Liverpool, England with 725 British, Scandinavian, and Swiss Saints on board. The Scandinavian portion of the company, consisting of 355 souls, had sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark, on the steamer L. N. Hvedt, April 1, 1859 in the charge of Elders Carl Wedirborg and Niels Wilhelmsen, and reached Grimsby, England on the sixth, after a rather long and stormy passage over the North Sea. From Grimsby the emigrants continued by rail to Liverpool, England, when they, on the seventh, went on board the William Tapscott, and were joined by the British and Swiss emigrants. Elder Robert F. Nelson was appointed president of the company, with Henry H. Harris and George Rowley as counselors.
After going through the process of government inspection, clearing, etc., President Nelson, in connection with his counselors, proceeded to organize the company into wards, ten in all, five English and five Scandinavian, appointing a president over each to see to the faithful observance of cleanliness, good order, etc.
The Scandinavian Saints occupied one side of the vessel and the British and Swiss the other. Songs of joy resounded from all parts of the ship as it left the dock. The company was blessed with a most pleasant and agreeable voyage, which lasted only thirty-one days. The health of the passengers was exceptionally good, which as demonstrated by the fact that only one death occurred on board, and that was a Swedish sister by the name of Ignar Olsen Hagg, sixty-one years of age, who had been afflicted for upwards of five years previous to her embarkation. This was counter-balanced by two births. In the matrimonial department the company did exceedingly well, as no less than nineteen marriages were solemnized on board; of these, five couples were English, one Swiss and thirteen Scandinavian.
During the long voyage the people were called together for prayer every morning and evening at eight o'clock. On Sunday three meetings were held on deck, and fellowship meetings in each ward two nights a week. The monotony of the voyage was also enlivened by singing, instrumental music, dancing, games, etc. in which as a matter of course, the junior portion took a prominent part, while the more sedate enjoyed themselves in seeing and hearing the happy recreation.
About fifty of the saints stopped temporarily in New York and other parts of the United States after their arrival at New York on May 14.
In 1859 the first attempt was made to send teams from the valley back to the Missouri River and back again the same season. The possibility of the plan, when first introduced by Elder Joseph W. Young, was doubted by many on the grounds that two thousand miles was too great a distance to go during one short summer, considering the late and early snowfall in the mountains, and scarcity of grass. President Young, decided in favor of the experiment, and early in May an ox-team left Salt Lake City for Florence with orders to load back with mill machinery and other goods stored on the frontiers, and also with emigrants.
This train, which became known in the history of emigration as the Church Train, arrived at Florence in safety, and started (back) on the trip some time in June, in the charge of Elder Horton D. Haight and Bishop Frederick Kesler. During the return journey the company lost about sixty head of cattle, principally or wholly from disease, out of four hundred and forty-eight with which they left Florence. Only a few families (154 souls) crossed the plains in this train, as it was freighted with merchandise, machinery, etc. for the First Presidency, the public works and others. Several wagons were also loaded with printing material and paper for the Deseret News Office, etc. On Thursday, September 1st the company arrived in Salt Lake City in good condition.
In the beginning of June the handcart emigrants who had crossed the Atlantic on the William Tapscott ship and a few others, were organized for the overland journey; the company consisting of two hundred and twenty-five souls with sixty handcarts, broke up their encampment at Florence on the ninth of June and started for the mountains under the direction of Captain George Rowley. For each cart there were four or six persons, twenty pounds of baggage and half the provision needed for the journey. Eight wagons drawn by oxen, followed with supplies.
Several members of the company were excellent singers and their songs helped keep up the morale during their long journey. The company arrived in the valley September the fourth 1859.
This information was taken from Volume Three, "Our Pioneer Heritage" complied by Kate B. Carter. This is the company with which our Great Grand Mother Matta Jonsson came from Sweden with her four children to Zion.