3. On Board the Buena Vista

Ronald D. Dennis, The Call of Zion: The Story of the First Welsh Mormon Emigration (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1987).

On Board the Buena Vista

Many of the Welsh Saints were so poor that even after liquidating all their meager assets they still did not have sufficient money to pay the fare of £3 12s 6d for each member of their families. This amount is equivalent to about $18 or perhaps $100 by today’s standards. And although that may sound quite reasonable, one must bear in mind that over one-third of a laborer’s annual wages was required to transport himself, his wife, and a few children across the Atlantic. Once he reached he would have to pay another ten shillings per person to go by steamer upstream to St. Louis. Yet another £1 sterling each would be required for the steamer from St. Louis to Council Bluffs. And the immigrant would need to purchase food for his family while on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Once he arrived in Council Bluffs he would face the expense of buying a wagon and oxen plus more provisions for the thousand-mile, three-month journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley. All these considerations in addition to the prospect of about eight months with no income made emigrating a sobering challenge.

The Perpetual Emigrating Fund was established later in 1849 and would be used by many Welsh Mormons. But those on board the Buena Vista and the Hartley had to use other means. Some intended from the outset to proceed only as far as Council Bluffs, where they would work and save until they could buy themselves a “fitout” to continue westward. Some had just enough to go the full distance. And some made arrangements to earn their way by going as maid or servant to a family that could afford to pay for their services. Elizabeth Lewis, a wealthy convert from Kidwelly, states in a brief autobiographical sketch that she paid passage across the ocean of forty persons and provided expenses of thirty-two persons from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake City (Tullidge, 461–62). Not all of these were maids or servants; there appears to have been an agreement of eventual reimbursement with some.

Of the 249 passengers on the Buena Vista, 52 percent (130) were male and 48 percent (119) were female. Table 1 shows the distribution of age groups:

Table 1: Age Distribution of Buena Vista Passengers

Age

0–10

11–17

18–30

31–50

51 +

 

Total

59

36

71

62

21

——

249

Percentage

23.7

14.5

28.5

24.9

8.4

——

100.0

 

Most of the 249 were part of complete or partial family units as shown by table 2:

Table 2: Family Units among Buena Vista Passengers

Part of a complete family unit (husband, wife, and children[if any])

Total

179

Percentage

71.9

Part of an incomplete family unit (father or mother and children)

37

14.8

No apparent family attachment

33

——

249

13.3

——

100.0

Nearly 87 percent were emigrating as part of a complete or an incomplete family unit. Eleven of the thirty-three with no apparent family attachment were listed as servants or maids, thus putting them under the supervision of a family head.[1] Only twenty-two individuals on board were “on their own.”

A wide variety of occupations was listed under the column “Occupation, Trade or Profession.” Family members usually received a ditto mark in this column under the occupation indicated for the family head. An occasional “widow” or “son” was written in this space, and for Sarah Davis and Eliza Williams, the two who died on board the Buena Vista, the clerk entered “deceased.” All the other passengers, in varying numbers, had earned their way in life by performing one of the following occupations:

Blacksmith

Lime burner

Puddler

Butcher

Locksmith

Saddler

Carpenter

Maid

Servant

Clerk

Mason

Schoolmaster

Collier

Milliner

Schoolteacher

Dressmaker

Miner

Shoemaker

Engineer

Moulder

Stone cutter

Farmer

Nailer

Tailor

Joiner

Pattern maker

Wheelright

Laborer

Plasterer

Whitesmith

Only a few of these occupations required classroom training or literacy. Most of the Welsh, including women, were literate, however, thanks to the “circulating schools” from the previous century. These schools consisted of brief training in reading skills from various nonconformist ministers who traveled the countryside out of an intense desire to get people to read the Bible.[2] Their idea was to teach small groups of individuals who in turn would instruct others in their newfound skill. Little attention was given to writing, since the major thrust had to do with reading. Consequently, many of the Welsh could read or quote the scriptures, while at the same time being totally incapable of writing their names. Formal schooling of any kind in the early nineteenth century was deemed a luxury enjoyed only by the well-to-do. Children of the working class nearly always stayed within that class. Occasionally a young lad would be apprenticed to learn a trade and thus was able to rise a notch or two above his father’s level, but social mobility was very unusual. The idea of becoming a landowner staggered the imagination. Since this prospect was held out to converts, one would have to assume that it constituted at least part of their motivation for joining the Church and going to the Rocky Mountains.[3]

Initial enthusiasm for the adventure combined with devotion to their newly acquired beliefs perhaps kept some of the emigrants from turning back at Liverpool. Only a few had ever been out to sea before, and had they possessed a clear concept of what was involved in not walking on terra firma for seven weeks, they might well have had second thoughts. Although described in idyllic terms by the letter writers, a crossing of the Atlantic was fraught with numerous inconveniences and hardships which would try the patience of even the most stalwart. Not that the Welsh were strangers to hardship-they had had long years of experience. But the hardships encountered on board a ship were of a variety most had never before dealt with.

Cramped conditions would become a way of life for the next fifty days:

Four to six persons were packed into berths of wooden slats measuring six feet square. Two people might share a berth six feet long and three feet wide. The berths were arranged along both sides of the ship in double or triple tiers. The passenger would sleep with his feet towards the center aisle, where provisions for the voyage, hand luggage, and items too fragile for the hold would be stored. Tin utensils and other light items would hang on the sides of the berths and the beams above. The hatches had to be closed during storms, but it might be wet below even in less violent weather, particularly if the cargo consisted of iron rails, which might cause greater rolling. The berths were sometimes made of green wood and would creak horrendously as the ship rolled. In a storm, temporary berths were known to come tumbling down. (Pratt, 5)

Jim Warner, an emigrant on board another ship, complained:

Their is not room in the beds only for 2. We must mind our heads when we crawl in our “dogkennels” for you must go [in] headfirst and out the same or you will knock your head against the top. A botom hamock is the best. . . . We have to get lamp and oil. The place is very dark. We can’t see to read only by the small light that comes in the door. . . . The single folks have a curtain, goes over 8 births. We go to dress and undress. (Warner)[4]

Under these conditions privacy was an unknown luxury. Nowhere on the ship could two people really be by themselves, no doubt a genuine concern to Caleb and Catherine Parry, who were married on the day of departure. Fortunately, the Buena Vista passengers had church and country in common and were nearly all attached to a family. These circumstances combined to diminish somewhat the shortage of personal space during the fifty days of togetherness.

Stench and sanitation were ever-present challenges, especially at the outset when seasickness was rampant. William Clayton on board the North America in 1840 observed: “The wind blew hard the vessel rock and many were sick all night. This was a new scene. Such sickness, vomiting, groaning and bad smells I never witnessed before and added to this the closeness of the births [berths] almost suffocated us for want of air” (Clayton, 173). Even the best of modern-day imaginations strain at conjuring up such scenes.

Seven weeks of being without fresh foods or means of refrigeration made preparation of appetizing meals particularly difficult. The law specified that each passenger over the age of twelve months be furnished with the following items:

Good navy bread

33 lbs.

Rice

10 lbs.

Oatmeal

10 lbs.

Wheat flour

10 lbs.

Peas and beans

10 lbs.

Potatoes

35 lbs.

Vinegar

1 pint

Fresh water

60 gals.

Good salted pork

10 lbs.

Sufficient supply of fuel for cooking

 

(Prophwyd y Jubili,October 1848, 151, trans.)

 

       

Lest these quantities should prove inadequate during the voyage, Dan Jones recommended they be supplemented for all over the age of fourteen with the following provisions:

10 pounds of hard bread at 3 pence a pound

2 pounds of rice at 3 pence a pound

4 pounds of sugar at 3 1/2 pence a pound

1/4 pound of tea at 2 shillings a pound

2 pounds of coffee at 6 pence a pound

4 pounds of treacle at 2 1/2 pence a pound

4 pounds of raisins or currants at 4 1/2 pence a pound

3 pounds of butter at 1 shilling a pound

3 pounds of cheese at 8 pence a pound

At the quantity-buying prices in Liverpool these provisions would cost the emigrants about 13 shillings. Captain Jones gave a further suggestion about food: “To those who can prepare oat bread, good butter of their own, cheese, preserves, pickles, or other things they may desire, it will be very good for them to take such things with them from home” (Prophwyd y Jubili, November 1848, 166, TD2). These were words of wisdom from “an old tar,” as Jones often called himself, who had spent many years on the sea, and the variety such additional commodities would provide was no doubt a welcome relief after a steady diet of the rather unexciting staples provided by the shipping line.

All these supplies were kept at the back of the ship in a storeroom which was dubbed “The Company Shop.” Jones and his three assistants—William Morgan, Rice Williams, and William Davis—were assigned the important task of apportioning allotments to each family. The family or groups of families then prepared and cooked the food by using the cooking facilities in shifts.

Aside from the normal problems germane to being restricted to the microcosm of a sailing vessel for several weeks, much of the time passed rather uneventfully. On board the Horizon in 1856 was John Jaques, who described passenger life in the following manner:

Sea-sailing is very pleasant at times. I could sit for hours on the forecastle, and watch our noble vessel dashing through the briny waves, and lashing them into an innumerable variety of fantastic forms of spray and foam. But then, who can possibly like to be continually rocked about. . . . Who admires treading on a platform that seems the plaything of an everlasting earthquake? I have no great taste for these things. I can make myself, with a little exertion, tolerably comfortable at sea, whenever it is advisable for me to go there, but when I have the privilege of choosing, I like to be where I can enjoy myself more naturally. . . . The idea of waiting, day after day, on the idle wind is bad enough, but the reality is much worse. It makes one feel like getting out and pushing behind. Then the wind comes with a bit of a vengeance, as if to make up for lost time, just as people hurry when they have been loitering on the way. Then the willing ship dashes through the waters like a mad thing, at the rate of a dozen miles or more an hour. We tack to the right and tack to the left, and, after sailing so heartily for 200 or 300 miles, the captain takes an observation and finds that we are 20 miles worse for all our trouble, or perhaps we are in about the same place as when becalmed. (Millennial Star, 30 August 1856, 553–57)

One of the biggest challenges Dan Jones had to deal with during the crossing was the contention which developed between a small group of passengers who eventually apostatized and the bulk of the more committed. He placed the blame on an uninvited passenger:

Also the devilish foe, himself, asserted his right with Neptune (the god of the sea) to journey with us, though his company was not so sweet; nevertheless, it was hard work to cast him overboard because of his cleverness. And not infrequently in hard times he would turn himself into an angel of light and as such would occasionally hide in the pocket of an officer. Of everyone who may be left behind in Babylon let this one be the last! He is a poor sailor, a troublemaker, and a worse guide than Ahithophel. Not to the swine, not to the sea, but to some of the Babylonians he escapes at times. And the next time that I cross the sea with a group of the Saints to Zion the other two kinds can stay home! (Jones, 18 April 1849, 13, TD7)

The day before leaving Liverpool, this unwelcome meddler had already marred the Sunday meetings held on board the Buena Vista by possessing one of the sisters “until she was driven out of her senses, causing her to scream and utter inhuman things and frightening curses” (Jones, 18 April 1849,5, TD7). But after a blessing, the sister was calmed and peace restored.

Hardly any escaped the almost immediate onset of seasickness. The evening of the first night at sea saw all go willingly to their beds after prayer services. But for most, sleep was not to be had, rather they would divide their time between vomiting and agonizing. Though the wind was not stormy and the sea was not rough, just the normal rocking and swaying of the ship was sufficient to create the image of a violent tempest to this lot of landlubbers. Jones and a few others who had their sea legs from previous experience spent the night rendering what assistance and comfort they could to the sufferers. And, although Jones makes no specific reference to such a thing in his letter, the assistance no doubt meant countless clean-ups for and around those whose debilitated condition did not allow them to conduct their regurgitations over the guardrail on deck—a task certainly not to be envied!

The next morning after such a memorable night no one had even the least desire to move out of bed, much less to expend the gargantuan effort required to go on deck and breathe the healthful air, as Captain Jones was insisting they do. Assisted by Daniel Daniels and William Jenkins, Jones prepared some gruel from oat flour. This was better to stay in the shrunken stomachs than anything else, but hardly anyone gave any more than a groan for Jones’s efforts. Thomas Jeremy reported that Jones would jokingly threaten to get the pulley down from the deck and put ropes around the recalcitrants to pull them to the top (18 April 1849, 22, TD8). Not wanting to sound negative, Jeremy declared that the sickness had actually been a benefit to the emigrants by cleansing their stomachs!

Jeremy’s infant daughter, Mary, was not sick during the entire journey, although some had predicted back in Wales that she was likely to die at sea, because she had not been weaned. However, emigrants were counseled to refrain from weaning their small children just before embarking for fear the adjustment from mother’s milk to ship’s food would be more than a little constitution could abide.

When the vomiting was reduced to mere agonizing, Dan Jones was allowed a little more time to himself, during which he accomplished much of his pondering and writing. Thus, he began to compose the letter he would eventually send John Davis from New Orleans.[5] He reflected on the scenes he had recently left in Wales as the Buena Vista sailed southward between the coasts of Ireland and Wales. Four days previous to his departure from Merthyr Tydfil to meet with the emigrating Saints in Swansea, his wife Jane had given birth to their daughter Claudia; at this time Claudia was their only child, as several others had died previously, including two in Wales during his first mission. In view of the situation Jones deemed it wise to entrust Jane and Claudia to the care of fellow Saints in Merthyr Tydfil until he could return for them after delivering all safely to the Salt Lake Valley. Jane did not applaud this plan, but she could do little about it until after her confinement. Two weeks after the Buena Vista left Liverpool, however, Jane had made her way to the same place and booked passage on the Emblem, a sailing vessel which would take her and her daughter to . From there she would take the steamer up to Council Bluffs and rejoin her husband for the trek to Zion.

But as far as Jones knew at the time, he would not see Jane and Claudia for another two or three years or more. This prospect, together with the threats on his life while back in Merthyr Tydfil, caused him to become a bit nostalgic and reflective in his letter:

And is it a fact or just a dream that I have escaped on the water from the midst of my Welsh brothers with my life by the skin of my teeth? If so, why? If not, why all the persecution, the slander, and the false accusations I suffered for years from the press and the pulpits? Why did my residence have to be guarded for weeks? Why was my life safe only among guards? Why did I have to flee in secret before the time? Why was I not able to bid farewell to my dear wife and my baby? (18 April 1849, 8, TD7)

Just about the time that the passengers were getting accustomed to being in a constant state of motion, all were surprised and saddened at the unexpected passing of Sarah Davies from Liverpool. Although she was sixty years of age and in poor health at the outset, her desire to accompany her husband and daughter was greater than her fear of being buried at sea. The ship became a house of mourning. A prayer meeting was held that evening (6 March), and plans were made for the funeral. At two o’clock the next afternoon burial services were held on the deck. Jones preached the funeral sermon in which he endeavored to answer the question “How are the dead raised up and with what body do they come?” Jones described the event in his account of the crossing:

After the sermon, the coffin was placed on a large plank, the ship was stopped, and after the Saints had sung a hymn the sailors raised the inward end of the plank so that the coffin slipped down the other end to the salty deep, which, because of the weight of the stones which were placed in the coffin to sink it, opened up to swallow its precious treasure and to keep it safe until the day when the command shall be given for the “sea to yield up the dead which are in it.” . . . After the sea had closed its jaws on its morsel, and after our little ship had stood for us to be able to behold this majestic sight for a few minutes, her sails were filled with breezes and she galloped across the waves as if nothing had ever happened. (18 April 1849, 11, TD7)

Jones’s sermon became the topic of discussion for almost every meeting held during the rest of the voyage. Much fear and many “misconceptions” existed among the group about being buried at sea. In addition to speaking about the resurrection in general, Jones endeavored in his sermons to dispel fears and clarify mistaken ideas. With his oft-exercised gift for rhetoric he depicted a sea burial as something to be preferred over the customary ground burials:

Some think they would float on the surface, a prey to the fish. Even if it were so, it is no worse than rotting in the cold gravel and being food for grave worms; but the fish do not have those who are buried in the sea; the purpose for putting weights with the body is so that it will sink down quickly and lower in the ocean than the fish ever go and lower than they can live. And there it will float in peaceful salt water, which will keep it from decomposing or rotting forever. Yes, until the day of their rising, when the “sea will boil,” they will be kept better than the best of the Egyptians were kept through embalming. (18 April 1849, 11, TD7)

Throughout his letter Jones availed himself of every opportunity to reemphasize that the emigrants were being guided by divine powers. One of these opportunities arose on 16 March after eighteen days at sea. Because the wind had been so strong against the ship, Jones called a special prayer meeting so that all might pray for fair wind. Characteristic of the fervent attitude which he had displayed ever since his baptism in the Mississippi River six years before, Jones announced he felt like going on deck and not returning until the fair wind was granted. When he had put his foot on the first rung of the ladder, one of the brethren asked him what he wanted most. He replied he would most like to hear the mate on the deck shouting, “Haul in the weather braces!” (the order to set the sails across the ship, an order which meant fair wind). With obvious contentment Jones announced to his compatriots back in Wales: “And before I had moved my foot, I, and the others who had heard my wish, heard the mate above our heads shouting loudly, ‘Haul in the weather braces!’—yea, word for word as I had said” (18 April 1849, 12, TD7). The fair wind came; the grateful Saints gave thanks. Gradually the passengers developed more and more expertise in traversing the rocking deck, although they frequently observed that one of their legs was longer than the other or that the other was shorter. At times, however, the strong winds made it impossible for anyone to lie or stand in place. Jones compared the ship to a door on its hinge which continually swayed those who were reclined. “But as for those standing,” he wrote, “it was throwing them along the deck with the boxes and their crockery as recklessly and without warning as the wild horse throws its unskilled rider across the hedge and leaves him there. But without any pity when the rider got up, the ship would throw him somewhere else until he crawled home” (18 April 1849, 10, TD7).

Often, however, the wind was fair and the weather was lovely so that it was “almost like Wales in June.” Jones describes the activities that would take place whenever sheer survival was not the focus:

It is beautiful to see the children playing across the deck and entertaining their parents. Some singing here, others talking or reading there; some walking arm-in-arm while others prepare foods of as many kinds almost as could be obtained in any cookshop. The musicians did their best to beautify the atmosphere. Also the harp with its pleasant sounds alone in the evening entertained us as it sang farewell to the king of the day as he lowered his red head into the western sea. (18 April 1849, 12, TD7)

One other activity, engaged in for the first time by many, Jones mentions a bit apologetically and by first holding up a revered Old Testament prophet as precedent:

No wonder that scenes less wondrous than this excited the heels of David of old to the point that he even took off his garment in the temple-and for what? Hush! shall we reply? What is the use of hiding the fact; did he not do this in order to dance? Yes, yes, and there was hardly anyone in our midst, except for an occasional dry sectarian, who did not prefer to imitate him rather than to find fault. At least it would be hard to deny that it was so here at times, and it did not even cause a storm. (18 April 1849, 12–13, TD7)

On 7 April, after thirty-nine days at sea, the emigrants sighted land. The little ship had arrived at the Bahamas and the Welsh passengers were jubilant. Because this area was one of the most dangerous places in the world for navigation, a number of small ships called “wreckers” sailed around continually waiting for the opportunity to profit from the misfortune of other ships. The wreckers were well acquainted with the dangers presented by the many islands and would offer their services for a handsome fee to the ships which became lost in the maze. And often, much like today’s dishonest mechanic who creates problems with an engine so he can repair it, the wreckers would send deceptive signals to lead ships into difficulty so they could go to their assistance. The Buena Vista passed through the area without any such assistance.

Cuba was not far to the south. Its proximity brought to mind the “ridiculous and loathesome prophecy” which had appeared in the Seren Gomer that Dan Jones would sell his followers into slavery. All on the deck scornfully discussed the absurdity of such a prediction. Jones observed:

That correspondent has immortalized his foolishness with poor taste and has brought Cuba more notoriety than anything else. This now serves to bring to the recollection of the emigrants the lies and false accusations which were said and published about them and their dear religion by their fellow nation until it loosened their love, knot by knot, even from the country of their birth. And instead of thinking of turning back, it prompted them to turn their faces not toward the east but into the sunset for freedom to worship God, and for those rights of which they were deprived by “zealous Christians” of their own country! Yes, the constant prayer of everyone throughout the ship is, “Blow, east wind, blow us fiercely to the western ocean.” (18 April 1849, 17, TD7)

Something which marred the crossing was the council’s having to excommunicate William Jones and his wife, Marian, both nineteen. The young couple had been at odds with other passengers and especially with the religious leaders on board from quite early on in the voyage. They did not manifest the proper commitment to the teachings of their new religion to satisfy Jones and other members of the council (William Morgan, Rice Williams, and William Davis). It is quite possible that the two recalcitrants had used the Church and the emigration plan simply as a vehicle to transport them to America, as such things were not uncommon. Perhaps their intentions initially had been pure. In any event, they stayed with the Saints until they all reached St. Louis on 1 May, fifteen days after their excommunication for causing “much worry to the Saints through their false accusations to the captain, disgracing. . .[their] religion, etc.” (Jones, 18, April 1849, 20, TD7). Upon landing at St. Louis, William and Marian, along with several others, left without uttering a word to Jones.

William and Marian Jones were deprived of their membership in the Church just two days prior to arriving at . The infraction which precipitated this action by the council occurred 5 April during the Thursday night “Saints’ Meeting.” It was on this occasion that the Saints first “put the gifts into practice.” Exactly what this phrase was meant to imply is not clear, but it appears to have reference to a special kind of communication with divine powers. Jones describes the collusion and the collision which ensued:

Great was the commotion this caused up and down the ship amongst the Babylonians![6] They clustered along with the officers of the ship at the entrance of our place and listened in amazement. We wondered greatly what had caused this; then we perceived that “Achan”[7] was in our midst-that two or three of the Saints who had transgressed were there with them, translating for them and causing them to believe evil things about us, so that the officers of the ship and the captain also were more bitter toward us then than ever before, and I had a hard time calming him down.

Jones laments the confusion caused by traitors in their midst:

To our dismay their interference obliged us to cease practicing the gifts in the middle of the meeting, but not before we had received great comfort through them and learned some things about you, yourselves, there in Wales, etc. We were informed that the party of those who failed in their designs on me as I was about to leave Wales is plotting revenge on my dear fellow officers who were left behind me; but they will not succeed. (18 April 1849, 17, TD7)

One further event which caused sorrow among the emigrants was the passing of Eliza Williams, age seventy-seven, just six days before the Buena Vista landed at . She had been ill several days prior to her demise. After fifty-five years with the Methodists, she rejoiced on her deathbed at the honor of dying a Mormon and bore strong testimony to the truthfulness of Mormonism. Sister Williams’s funeral was similar to the one held five weeks earlier for Sarah Davis.

A few days before reaching , Jones recorded:

More water was apportioned out for washing, as we have plenty on board to last for another month. And I cannot liken this bustling scene with the sisters all around the deck doing their washing any better than to the scenes I remember seeing by the hot waters of the iron furnaces in Merthyr on washday! . . . More food was offered from the “company store,” but everyone had such an abundance that they did not come to get it. They said that all their sacks and vessels were full so that they had no room to hold any more. And many said that they had never before had such a variety or abundance of food in their lives. And I maintain that anyone who is not happy with this food should be shut in the oven for a while, like the lap dog of the gentle lady. (18 April 1849, 18, TD7)

Thomas Jeremy’s wife Sarah was reported by her descendants to have had a somewhat less enthusiastic attitude concerning the food and water situation at the end of the Atlantic crossing:

After seven weeks aboard the Buena Vista, they ran out of oatmeal, bread and water and had to eat hardtack and drink water full of slime, called “ropey water.” (Sarah Jeremy, 8)

Numerous emotions welled within the breasts of the sojourners as they neared : relief at the prospect of ending their fifty-day voyage on the Atlantic; joy in anticipation of being on land once again; frustration at having had such poor relations with the small group of cabin passengers (five men and two women in their twenties and one thirteen-year-old girl), one of whom had succeeded in “bemusing and confusing” one of Elizabeth Lewis’s maids; anger toward the small group of disenchanted Mormons who had fought against the faithful; gratitude toward the captain and crew, despite the strained relationship with them, for their having brought them safely to the journey’s end; and doubtless much nostalgia rife with homesickness as the Saints contemplated their virtually irreversible decision to begin a new life in a new land with, for most, a new language.

One the morning of 16 April two steamers went toward the Buena Vista in a frantic race to reach the ship first so as to be the one selected to tow her into New Orleans. The winner was given a large rope which was then used to lead the Buena Vista into the mouth of the Mississippi and then to the docks.

The weary emigrants arrived at their destination the next day. The long sea voyage was finished. Two rivers, however, had to be ascended and the plains had to be traversed before their final destination was reached.

Notes



[1] See appendixes for further information on the passengers.

[2] The Welsh “protestants” were in opposition not only to the Catholic church but to the Anglican church as well. Consequently, they referred to themselves as “nonconformists,” or those who refused to conform to the religious policies of King Henry VIII.

[3] Writers often attribute a “college education” to Captain Dan Jones, but such a distinction is utterly impossible for him to have had, given the circumstances of his laboring-class background. He had gone to sea by age seventeen and somehow had acquired a high degree of polish in speaking and writing. Had he been university trained in nineteenth-century Wales, however, he would have taken his place as a “gentleman” and would never have soiled his hands with such things as anchors and riggings.

[4] Warner’s spelling has been maintained.

[5] Jones had intended the letter to be published in Udgorn Seion (Zion’s Trumpet); because of its length, however (nearly 10,000 words), Davis combined it with Thomas Jeremy’s smaller letter (about 1,800 words) and a foreword of his own and published a twenty-four-page pamphlet which he entitled Hanes ymfudiad y Saint i Galifornia (An Account of the Saints’ Emigration to California).

[6] In Wales the term Babylonians was used by Mormons to refer to all other Welsh citizens; used here it refers to the eight non-Mormon cabin passengers.

[7] This is a reference to Achan in the Old Testament, who because of his disobedience causes much consternation among the Israelites following the seige of Jericho (see Joshua 7).