Joseph crossed the Atlantic with his parents and siblings on the ship Windermere in 1854. His father died at St. Louis, Missouri in 1856. According to Joseph's death notice in the Deseret Evening News his family crossed the plains with a handcart company in 1857. The first contemporary documentation to place them in Utah are records of church ordinances performed in March 1858. Further research is needed to identify the name of the pioneer company with which they traveled. In the 1860 Utah census he is Joseph "Fenn" (His mother had married William Fenn in 1859.