Lawson, Andrew Nesbitt, [Autobiographical Sketch], ca. 1934.
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My Parents were members of the Mormon Church and at the age of 8 years I was Baptized and Confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter day Saints. My Father and Mother were very religious and taught their Children to honor and obey the Gospel as had been taught them by the Mormon Elders.
Both were very anxious to come to Zion where they could worship God as had been taught them. On June 2, 1868 we bid our old home and dear friends in Scotland goodby and turned to the west with Utah as our goal.
We arrived in Liver-pool, England and from there we set sail across the ocean in the good ship John Bright. The sorrow of parting with our loved ones left us all feeling blue and sad. The Elders tried very hard to cheer us up by holding meeting and various gatherings every day. There was some dancing on board but only those who were good sailors joined in.
We arrived in New York, July 14, 1868, from there we continued our journey by railroad to Council Bluffs. We were met here by oxen and mule teams. We were assigned to the company headed by Bishop John Murdock.
The wagons were loaded with cooking utensils bedding and grub for that memorable journey across those countless miles of desert waste called the “Plains.” The weather was pleasant there being a cool constant breeze blowing from the west, making it cooler to walk. We never traveled on Sunday observing it as a day of rest.
The Captains of different companies gave instructions to the effect that a horn would be blown at Five A.M. when ever[y] man should attend to prayers before leaving his wagon. After eating breakfast and feeding the cattle, they should be ready to move at 7 o’clock.
The live stock were to be kept inside an encloser formed by backing the wagon[s] together after a custom of the plains, all wagon tongues were placed outside with the for[e] wheel of one wagon locked in the hind wheel of the next wagon. Both ends of the corral thus formed were used as gateways and were always carefully guarded.
Some times the camps would be made near a lake or river and in this case the corall would be formed by the wagons being backed in a half moon shape from two points near the water. The banks forming sufficient protection on the water edge.
After the first few days were passed it became quite an easy task for us to strike camp and when the order was given for the days rest it would be but a short time when all would be in readiness for the night, and out on the prairie would arise a city.
We were never to[o] weary after the days traveling to join in the dancing and singing. Accordions, Guitors, Violins and Harmonica’s were soon brought forth and the prairies would ring with the sound of merryment. When the music would stop for a short time some one in the crowd would start a song. It led from one to another, “Praise God, From whom all Blessings flow”, was a favored one and very often sung. But the main song that was always sung just before retiring at night was as follows;
Come, Come Ye Saints, no toil or labor fear,
But with joy wend your way;
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
‘Tis better for us to strive,
Our useless cares from us to drive,
Do this and joy your hearts will swell,
All is well; All is well;
Why should we mourn, or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right;
Why should we think to earn a great reward,
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well all is well.
We’ll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away in the West;
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints will be blessed.
We’ll make the air with music ring.
Shout praises to our God and king;
Above the rest, these worlds we’ll tell—
All is well, All is well.
And should we die before our journey’s Through,
Happy day; all is well:
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell,
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints, Their rest obtain,
O’ how we’ll make this chorus well—
All is well; All is well.
At first the singers voices were weary, but as the song continued the voices grew stronger, and it seemed as though their whole heart’s and soul were in the song.
At six different times we were called to stop while a grave was dug for one who had been called home. We were told not to mourn for those that peacefully lay their wearied bodies down to seek a fadeless crown.
The hard ships attending the trip across the plains were many and often during the long watches of the night, the guards had ample time to peer into the future and fully realize for the first time the danger that confronted them in their advance into a new and unknown country.
Often a herd of Buffaloes were sighted. I never missed much of the sights and enjoyed seeing the wild buffalo on the plains. We had plenty of fresh meat killed by the hunters of the camp and often when our camp was made by a stream we would have fish as well.
We arrived in Salt Lake City on Wednesday August 19, 1868. As I stood and gazed upon the vast valley of the Great Salt Lake, I saw the waters of the Great Salt Lake glistening in the sun. I saw the mountains towering to the skies and the streams of pure water running through the valley. I saw the houses of the Pioneers who had put their trust in God as over that trackless waste of dessert called the plains they had crossed with all their hardships, pains and sorrow. It was a very inspiring sight to see, it thrilled me to think that whatever had been the hardships we had been repaid a thousand fold.