Friday, September 4, 2009

Steamboat: St. Louis to Nauvoo

December 8, 1842 (Thursday):

[Alexander Wright] 8th We then went down to the boat and related our journey.

December 9, 1842 (Friday):

[George Cannon] Our next meeting was on the 8th of December and postponed to the 9th through the non-attendance of the members. Brother Richards addressed the meeting and said that he held a paper in his hand which was copied from one of the St. Louis journals, wherein the editorial remarks were false and likely to do an injury to the boat we came up the river in the "Alex Scott"; and he wished us to contradict it. This was a letter signed, ‘John Greenhow, passenger on board the "Alex Scott", who stated that the passengers were in a state of destitution, and wishing the company to forward them up the river. This caused the editor to make some remarks, tending on the whole, as far as I can conceive, to bring us sooner up the river; for if the Scott could not go up, we should have been sent by a lighter-draught boat. Upon the meeting being called, a few officers attended. They were asked whether they were in a ‘a state of destitution.’ It was then duly proposed and asked that those who were not in a state of starvation should hold up their hands; when to astonishment there were only four out of perhaps fourteen. I had seen some of these sell things that they could ill spare, to purchase the necessaries of life. I had seen some of them eat potatoes and salt. I had relieved some myself from famine, and still they said they were not destitute. I state my feelings, as I always do when I think a brother is to be the sufferer, and suggested to Brother Richards that perhaps Brother Greenhow had the advice of Brother Hyde on this subject, as I was convinced Greenhow had done it for our good. Brother Richards said if Brother Hyde had done it, he would be whipped. May the Lord forgive me if I have done wrong, but I could lose an arm for Greenhow rather than sign against him, knowing his principles--that he has beggared himself and would die for the Church."

[Alexander Wright] 9th Today I and father Johns [John] Wright and Spenc [Spencer] went with me to see the saw. Father stayed overnight to come down with him [-] in the morning with the meal and we went home and found that the boat was going to start tomorrow for St. Louis.

December 10, 1842 (Saturday):

[Alexander Wright] Dec. 10 This morning I started early and went to Squire Jeffres [Jeffries] to bring home father and the squire came with us and brought us some corn meal. The fires we had the boat raised her steam and backed down the river. All the cargo luggage and passengers were taken out and carried up above the mouth of Mary River, half a mile by horse boat. I stayed on the steam boat to assist the men as they were but few, so after getting over the bar we took the cargo and luggage aboard.

December 11, 1842 (Sunday):

[John Greenhow] …When we arrived at St. Louis we had to look out for houses, as it was by this time about the depth of winter, and the river was frozen up about St. Louis, but we all got houses to shelter in, and provisions in abundance. We had honey at two cents a pound, beef from seven to ten pounds for five cents, and the finest geese in the market at fifteen cents each, butter five cents a pound, and every thing in the same proportion. The brethren were mainly well when I left St. Louis, and anxiously waiting for a general breakup of the river that they might make another start for Nauvoo. I believe, sir, that the abominable lies, which are in circulation, over the whole land, would turn any man out but a Latter-day Saint, and we know we have not followed cunningly devised fables, and therefore are not to be carried away with the cunning craft of men whereby they lay in wait to deceive. But I must now conclude at present, for I had neither pen, ink, or paper when I begun this letter so just took my stick to give you the news in the best way I could. And I thank God, that after journey of more than nineteen weeks, I am safe in Nauvoo, and feel myself out of the reach of oppression, and my mind in perfect peace.

[Alexander Wright] 11th Being Sabbath, we started for St. Louis and got a flat boat in tow with us and when we came to shoals the passengers went on to the flat boat. We passed some grand scenery on the Missouri side. The rocks looked like the doors and pillars of ancient towers and 3 shot towers and passed a sunk steamboat. We landed at St. Louis a little after dark. Elder Greenhow came aboard for he had gone before us and told me that William Donald was in St. Louis and 4 of his children was dead and he had one born. Elder Greenhow left us to go to Nauvoo but he stopped at St. Louis and he put a piece in one of the St. Louis newspaper stating that a number of the passengers were starving and implicating the captain and officers for not getting the boat up which was not the case and Elder Richards felt it his duty to contradict it by putting a letter in the same paper stating the circumstance as it was signed by as many as was willing to give their names as I did for one. Elder [John] Greenhow took me to William Donald's house when I was glad to them and mother. After spending a short time we returned to the boat for the night.

[Ann Cannon Woodbury] The river was frozen over and we had to stay there [St. Louis] until spring.

December 12, 1842 (Monday):

[George Cannon] I had my trials in the ship Sidney, but they were nothing to the cold and anxiety I experienced on board the steamer "Alex. Scott." We reached New Orleans on the 11th of November, left on the 15th and were at St. Louis on the 11th of December. While on board the packet we had to sleep on the deck between the machinery, the greater part of us, and this was mine and Brother Greenhow’s situation, with a wind going through the vessel and a keen frost. I have been six nights without having my clothes off, watching my little ones and keeping them covered.

[Alexander Wright] 12th Today we went to W. [William] Donald's and found [them] about as we left them, his wife poorly and the child very weak being born in the 8 month. Their room was very uncomfortable and their week out today, so that they had to move at [-] so we went to find out if we could get up the river. We found that we could only get up to Alton a distance of 29 miles and that there was only one boat, the "Inda" going up so I went to the captain of her and father and W. [William] Donald went to look at a house but not to settle with it until I returned. I found that the "Inda" was going and I agreed with the captain to carry us and our luggage for a dollar per head. I returned to W. [William] Donald's as I agreed to meet them [came] and waited some time but none of them so I went down to the "Alex Scott" steamboat and Misters Richards Hareson [Harrison] and others and by inquiring we found that wood and rent was cheaper at Alton than at St. Louis, so they concluded to go up and as many as was a mind to go with them. As I started with them to go to the boat again to see the captain and he agreed to take as many as could go at a dollar per head and carry their luggage free. We met Elder John Greenhow as we went and he assailed Elder Richards for opposing his letter in the St. Louis paper. He, Elder Greenhow, manifested a very bad spirit. I left Richards, Harison [Harrison] and Carter who came on the 2 ship with him as I was hurried to let them know that we could get a boat and to see if they were to go or if they had taken a house. When I came to the boat I found that they had taken a house for a week and paid it but that they could get it back if they wanted. So W. [William] Donald and a Scotsman of the name of Rossarho [UNCLEAR POSSIBLY: Rosnaho] pretended to be their friend but took them in as they found out afterwards. Elder Richards went with the "Inda" boat to Alton and Hareson [Harrison], Kay and Nixon and Smith with their families went with him and the rest stayed at St. Louis. We got a dray and took up our beds and provisions to our room in 7th street.

[Alexander Wright] 12th I went again in search of work, heard of some wood to cut. After making further inquiry I found that they had engaged all the hands they wanted was offered at the levee several squares of wood that lay in a float in the river, but I had to wade in the river to the knees, so I did not take it.

[Robert Crookston] Our President chartered a large steamer which took us up the river 1200 miles to St. Louis. We rented a house for a month as the river up to Nauvoo was frozen over. When our month was up we took a steamer to Alton, twenty-five miles up the river and got employment in a packing house there. They killed 38,000 hogs during the winter. The people there were very friendly and treated us fine. the wages were low but everything was cheap. Flour was $3.00 per barrel, sugar 18 lbs. per $1.00, and everything else in proportion.

December 13, 1842 (Tuesday):

[Alexander Wright] 13th I went in search of work but found none.

[Cannon Family Historical Treasury, page 56] The father was successful in establishing a fairly comfortable home for his children, and in such time as he could spare from attendance upon them, he had no difficulty in finding employment. During these inclement months he sought to increase their opportunities for education, and the three older ones were placed in school; but of the details of the family’s general activities and condition, we have no further record. Knowing their detention to be only temporary, they naturally were keenly impatient for spring when the northward journey could be resumed.

December 15, 1842 (Thursday):

[Alexander Wright] 15th I continued my search and went to all the quarries that I could find but found no more so I returned and went to 4 uncans [UNCLEAR] and found them uncenen [UNCLEAR] at one dollar and 6 bits for strong butts and other cloths as cheap as in Britain.

December 16, 1842 (Friday):

[Alexander Wright] 16th I and by Brother James Wright started for Alton, crossed at upper ferry, paid a picayane for crossing the river. Walked to Alton, got there and was conducted to the Mansion House by Brother Price and Peter Murphy. Got supper with Brother Nixon and I slept with Elder [Levi] Richards. . . .

December 19, 1842 (Monday):

[Joseph Smith [1]] The Mississippi froze up on the 19th of November last, and still continues so. Wagons and teams constantly pass over on the ice [from Nauvoo] to Montrose.

March 19, 1842 (Sunday):

[Joseph Smith] Received a letter from Elder Parley P. Pratt, giving a synopsis of his mission to England since August, 1839…He left England October 20, 1842, and, after a voyage of ten weeks, arrived in New Orleans, being ice-bound on the river; and having a dislike to the outlaws who govern Missouri, he wintered at Chester, Illinois.

March 20, 1842 (Monday):

[Joseph Smith [2]] A letter appears in the Millenial Star, giving particulars of the passage of the ship Swanton, from Liverpool, and arrival at New Orleans, loaded with Saints, in which the power of the holy priesthood was manifested in the healing of the sick:…The stewart of the vessel was so injured by a blow from one of the crew, that his life was despaired of…The captain had administered to him all that he could think of in the way of medicine, but to no effect; and after they gave up all hopes of his recovery…he sent for Elder Lorenzo Snow, and by anointing him with oil, and the laying on of hands, in the name of the Lord, he was there and then raised up and perfectly healed…

April 1, 1843 (Saturday):

[Parley P. Pratt [3]] Brother Lorenzo Snow arrived at St. Louis last Wednesday, from England with about two hundred and fifty emigrants. They are now lying on a boat bound for Nauvoo as soon as the river opens. They sailed from England some time in January…The Saints in England seem to be still rejoicing in the truth and increasing in numbers. The emigration to Nauvoo is gathering as a cloud, yea, they are flocking as doves to their windows from all parts of England and the United States. The ice remaining so late in the river has congregated them in St. Louis in great numbers, some from Ohio and the East, and from various places. I think that thousands will land in Nauvoo in the course of the spring. Yes, as soon as the ice is out, they will throng to Nauvoo in swarms…

[Parley P. Pratt [4]] A small steamer arrived, commanded by Captain Dan Jones, and was finally chartered for Nauvoo, and filled with saints, including my family. I passed by land to Alton, and there went on board. Captain Jones was a good and kind hearted Welshman, and was much interested in the fullness of the gospel. He soon joined the Church and was finally ordained and appointed a mission to Wales, where he preached the fullness of the gospel and gathered thousands into the Church.

[Ann Cannon Woodbury] In the spring we took the Maid of Iowa as cabin passengers. It was a small boat belonging to Brother Joseph Smith. [5] All the berths were occupied and the floor was covered with beds.

April 7, 1843 (Friday):

[Joseph Smith [6]] The ice, which had made a bridge across the [Mississippi] river since last November, moved away in immense masses.

April 8, 1843 (Saturday):

[Joseph Smith [7]] A strong west wind; ice floating down the Mississippi seen from the stand.

April 10, 1843 (Monday):

[Joseph Smith [8]] At 10 a.m. a special conference of elders convened and continued by adjournment from time to time till the 12th. There were present of the quorum of the Twelve, Brigham Young; president; Heber C. Kimball, William Smith, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards. The object of the conference was to ordain elders and send them forth into the vineyard to build up churches…

April 12, 1843 (Wednesday):

[Robert Crookston] When the river opened up we started for Nauvoo, a distance of 300 miles. As we approached the landing place to our great joy we saw the Prophet Joseph Smith there to welcome his people who had come so far. We were all so glad to see him and set our feet upon the promised land so to speak. It was the most thrilling experience of my life for I know that he was a Prophet of the Lord.

[Ann Cannon Woodbury [9]] Joseph Smith, the prophet, met us at Nauvoo, and shook hands with all on board. I thought he was a grand-looking man. We met Aunt Leonora Taylor and she made us very welcome.

[Joseph Smith [10]] Before the elders’ conference closed, the steamer Amaranth appeared in sight of the Temple, coming up the river, and about noon landed her passengers at the wharf opposite the old post office building, consisting of about two hundred and forty Saints from England, under the charge of Elder Lorenzo Snow, who left Liverpool last January, after a mission of nearly three years. With a large company of the brethren and sisters I was present to greet the arrival of our friends, and gave notice to the new-comers to meet at the Temple tomorrow morning at ten o’clock, to hear instructions. After unloading the Saints, the Amaranth proceeded up the river, being the first boat up this season.

About five p.m. the steamer Maid of Iowa hauled up at the Nauvoo House landing, and disembarked about two hundred Saints, in charge of Elders Parley P. Pratt and Levi Richards. These had been detained at St. Louis, Alton, Chester, etc, through the winter, having left Liverpool last fall. Dan Jones, captain of the Maid of Iowa, was baptized a few weeks since: he has been eleven days coming from St. Louis, being detained by ice. I was present at the landing and the first on board the steamer, when I met Sister Mary Ann Pratt (who had been to England with Brother Parley,) and her little daughter, only three or four days old. I could not refrain from shedding tears. So many of my friends and acquaintances arriving in one day kept me very busy receiving their congratulations and answering their questions. I was rejoiced to meet them in such good health and fine spirits; for they were equal to any that had ever come to Nauvoo.

[Parley P. Pratt [11]] April 12th we landed in Nauvoo, and were kindly welcomed by President Smith and scores of others, who came down to the wharf to meet us.

[George Q. Cannon [12]] Men have crossed ocean and continent to meet [Joseph Smith], and have selected him instantly from among a multitude. It was the Author’s privilege to thus meet the Prophet for the first time. The occasion was the arrival of a large company of Latter-day Saints at the upper landing at Nauvoo. The General Conference of the Church was in session, and large numbers crowded to the landing place to welcome the emigrants. Nearly every prominent man in the community was there. Familiar with the names of all and the persons of many of the prominent Elders, the Author sought, with a boy’s curiosity and eagerness, to discover those whom he knew, and especially to get sight of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum, neither of whom he had ever met. When his eyes fell upon the Prophet, without a word from any one to point him out or any reason to separate him from others who stood around, he knew him instantly. He would have known him among ten thousand. There was that about him, which to the Author’s eyes, distinguished him from all the men he had ever seen.


[1] History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 292.

[2] History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 308.

[3] Letter from Parley P. Pratt written in Alton, History of the Church, Vol. 5, pages 319-320.

[4] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 405.

[5] The Maid of Iowa was actually purchased by the Church some time after this.

[6] History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 339.

[7] History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 345.

[8] History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 347.

[9] CFHT, p. 162.

[10] History of the Church, Vol. 5, pages 353-354.

[11] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 405.

[12] George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, 1888, page xxvi

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