THE VOYAGE FROM ENGLAND TO AMERICA
“When the first missionaries were sent to the British Isles, the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith instructed them to ‘remain silent concerning the gathering…until such time as the work was fully established, and it should be clearly made manifest by the Spirit to do otherwise.’ By 1840 about 2,000 converts had been made in the British Mission. In April of that year the apostles…with Brigham Young, announced the doctrine of the gathering. From that time the missionaries preached and the Saints practiced the doctrine.” (Saints on the Seas, Sonne, p 27)
“The movement of the Mormons from the Old World to Zion was a formidable challenge. Complex planning was necessary…to cross thousands of miles of water and land to settle in Illinois and eventually Utah” (Ibid, p. 28)
The Saints “represented over 300 professions and occupations of the emigrants sailing from Liverpool.” (ibid, p. 29) Miners, farmers, shoemakers, tailors, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, engineers, joiners, sawyers, clerks, bricklayers, butchers, physicians, dentists, schoolmasters, gardeners” and other occupations were included.
Mormon Emigrants were organized into companies both on ship and in wagon trains. There were leaders of companies and one leader over all. Often Emigrants were organized by language, with English on one side of the ship and other language speaking Saints on the other side. They were highly organized.
The cost of steerage to New Orleans from Liverpool was 4 pounds. The Perpetual Emigrating Fund had donated to it 6,800 pounds to assist those who had nothing.
The Liverpool Port was crescent shaped and nearly 20,000 ships entered and left each year. (Ibid, p.33)
Of the voyage, a Danish convert said her six weeks at sea was the most miserable of her life including the trek to Utah.
“In bad weather hatches were battened down, and one reporter wrote that ‘men, women, and children screamed all night in terror’ ‘. William Clayton said ‘the wind blew hard… many were sick all night…Such sickness, vomiting, groaning and bad smells I never witnessed before and added to this the closeness of the births almost suffocated us for want of air’…’This night the child which was frightened died.’” (Ibid, p 53)
Burials were common at sea. The Tapscott voyage of 1862 lost ten people and they were buried at sea. Many had not been at sea and that was a frightening thing.
The Tapscott Ship Line was a company who listed Mormon Emigrants as their cargo. The William F. Tapscott, was a three mast ship of American Registry, it was built in New England.
William Tapscott –U.S. Registry – 1525 tons – J.Bell, Master –807 passengers –left Liverpool 5/14/62 –arrived New York 6/25/62 – 42 passage days (longer time, average time 37 days) – W. Gibson was the company leader
The medium sized Sailing Ship in 1860 was 1,152 tons, the Tapscott in 1862 was 1,525 tons, the largest sized vessel in 1860 1,979 tons.
The Tapscott was built in Maine in 1852 by W. Drummond.
The Tapscott carried 2,262 Mormon Emigrants on three voyages.
When the Tapscott landed in New York harbor, it was quarantined in the harbor due to smallpox on board. Many ships were required to quarantine and passengers had to remain on board until medical authorities cleared passengers to leave ship.
Until 1890 emigrants landed at Castle Garden, New York. After 1890 Ellis Island was used. Castle Garden was a small island just off Manhatten very near the location of the Trade Towers, destroyed by terrorists. Castle Garden is known today as Castle Clinton, for the former Governor Clinton of New York. It is a circular stone structure with cannon ports around it. The cannon provided protection for New York. Land Fill from excavations for buildings in New York was dumped between the two islands in modern times and unite the two islands as one land mass, Manhatten.
Emigrants disembarked and cleared through authorities at Castle Gardens. They had to be cleared medically and financially to be permitted to leave. Emigrants had to be very careful as scam artists of every conceivable type tried to take advantage of them. An example was lodging. If the emigrants were staying in New York for any length of time there were economical lodgings available but scam artists would try to lure them to very expensive accommodations further in the city. Another example was food and what was charged for it with scam artists trying to bilk the emigrants. Generally companies on board ships stayed together as they disembarked and made their way west.
Once cleared, the early Emigrants including the I.W. Fox family, traveled by train up the east side of the Hudson River to near Buffalo. There was a suspension bridge in Buffalo to cross the river. There of course were costs involved in moving belongings from the train, across the river to the next train station. Emigrants then traveled by train, poor emigrants rode in drafty, sometimes open cars to the “jumping off point west”. I.W. Fox family took the train to Florence, Nebraska. Their story is documented in this work of the rest of the trip west.
The William F. Tapscott, on a subsequent voyage to Europe, sank of unkown reasons in the English Channel where it rests today. It was a relatively well managed ship compared to others.