Transcript for Jenkins, Mary Ann Williams, [Autobiographical sketch], in Raymond R. Martin and Esther Jenkins Carpenter, comp., The Samaritans , 140-41
We were allowed just a certain amount of provisions each day. We would fix it the best we could and take it up on deck to be cooked. We had oatmeal, split peas, bacon out of brine, hard tack, which is great big, flat biscuits as big as saucers and as hard as iron, very few potatoes, brown sugar and a very small portion of flour. The water was in large wooden kegs which got very stale before the end of the journey. There was a man that used to come every day through the ship to clean and gather up trash, etc. Articles he picked up were put in a barrel and then that afternoon were held up to be identified or sold. One day mother missed her black dress. She looked everywhere then she thought of the man that cleaned. She rushed up on the deck just in time to see her black dress being held up. She was certainly glad to get her best dress back again. I remember a lady getting buried in the sea and seeing the husband and the small children weeping. In after years I met this man because he had married an aunt of my husband.
A steamer came out from land to get us from the ship. We landed in Castle Garden, now called Ellis Island, in New York harbor. We were examined by doctors. Then we were put on the steamer again and taken to the harbor of New York. We landed on the pier. The pier was out over the water with no railing but a shed over it. We were there overnight and slept on the ground as we had to have our own bedding. That evening Mother went up town to get bread and cheese. She saw some tomatoes and thought they were some nice fruit, so she bought some. We tried to eat them but couldn't. That was our first experience with tomatoes. We saw our first bar of ice here, also. Next day brother Sammie [Samuel John Williams] came up missing. We were terribly worried as he could have easily fallen over the side of the pier. We looked everywhere when finally I ran along by the side of a railroad track and there he was across the track playing with some children. I was surely glad to get hold of his fat, dimpled hand, although I also felt like shaking him for running away. I saw a woman and a child crying. The husband had gone up town and drank too much beer, when coming back he walked off the pier and was drowned.
Next day we boarded the train. When on the train we had to buy our food whenever the train stopped long enough. At one stop Father sent me after fresh water. The stream coming from the fountain was small, and it took quite a little time to fill the container. I thought they expected me to get it full. Just as I turned I could see the train starting to move. I ran and a man reached down and grabbed me and lifted me onto the moving train. It was a close call. I often wondered what would have happened had I been left behind because I couldn't speak a word of English. We crossed the Mississippi River on a steamboat. We then got on the train again. Some people died because of the heat after we crossed the river. We came as far as Laramie on the train traveling night and day. We stayed in Laramie a couple of days. The boys from Utah were there with wagons and mules to take us to Salt Lake City.
We left Laramie July 27th and arrived in Salt Lake August 24, 1868. All that were able to walk did so. Sometimes the man driving our wagon pointed for me to ride beside him for a while. We traveled over mountainous country. Sometimes there was sand up to the hub of the wagon. We crossed the Platte and Green rivers, also other small streams. The drivers had brought supplies to feed us, also a herd of cattle. A beef was killed every day. Each family was allowed an amount of food according to the number in the family. Food was cooked on bonfires made with buffalo chips. We had to travel every day until we could get water.
We saw a herd of buffalo at a distance. We saw an antelope one day when passing through a hollow. I saw no snakes. We saw some choke cherries and gooseberries in the hollows. The stage used to pass carrying the mail. We would have to turn out for it to go by. At night they formed a circle with the wagons and in the morning the mules were driven into the circle to be harnessed. The mules were allowed to graze out at night under guard.
We arrived in Salt Lake at the old tithing yard. It was where the Hotel Utah now stands. I had started to come down with measles on the way across the plains so had to stay a week in the tithing yard.