Sloan, E. L., [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 10 Oct. 1863, p. 653-54
Dear Brother,—Having arrived thus far on our journey, I embrace the privilege of writing you a brief note, knowing that you will be pleased to learn of the welfare of the emigrating Saints, and anxious to know something further of their progress.
Our journey from New York to this place was of the usual character. The change from the monotonous life on shipboard, where the same broad expanse of sky and water, the same ropes, spars and planks, met the eye morning, noon and night, to the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Hudson, close alongside of which we journeyed in the cars, and variety of nature's beauties spread around in seemingly inexhaustible profusion, produced feelings of an exceedingly agreeable character. But travelling by rail becomes tiresome when continued for days and nights consecutively, no matter how beautiful the country through which the traveler journeys; consequently, all welcomed the steam-boat at St. Joseph's, and were equally as glad to leave it and commence an experience in camp life at or near to Florence.
I have not time to write anything descriptive. To you it would be like an oft-told tale, and those who wish to appreciate it must make a personal acquaintance with its trials and pleasures. They must view, to realize that they are in a country great beyond islandic and untravelled conception,—the broad and majestic rivers silently gliding on towards the mighty ocean, bearing seas in their volume; the vast and all but impenetrable forests through which the tireless "firehorse" snorts and shrieks and thunders hour after hour, with its living freight of priceless worth speeding on to fill the uncultivated prairies and mountain vales with a thrifty, hardy and industrious population, or speeding the traveler on his journey towards the east or west; they must look upon the broad prairie-lands of Missouri and Illinois to form a just conception of nature's "parks," as they stretch around almost as far as the eye can reach, fringed with trees, intersected with small rivers and studded with beautiful little patches of timber-cases of shade and beauty in the midst of green and wide-spread wastes. All these and other things of a similar nature I must leave alone, although they awakened within me feelings of a peculiar character.
The emigration is all safe here, with the exception of those who died and a few who concluded to remain at different points by the way. The latter, I am happy to say, are but few. General good health and spirits prevail among the people. The last of the Cynosure's company has just reached, having been detained behind with the freight. In the Amazon's company we had one birth (still-born) at New York, and three deaths between that city and here, all children—two belonging to brother George Taylor, from Birmingham, and one to brother William McLacklin, from Essex Conference.
I am sorry to say we lost a young man at St. Josephs', by drowning, while bathing in the river, Henry Day, son of brother and sister Day, of the town of Luton, Bedfordshire. A little boy was also drowned, off the steamboat, while traveling up the river with us, by the name of Cunningham, from Scotland, belonging to the Cynosure's company. If people emigrating understood the dangers that surround them while traveling on the cars and up the river—dangers which might be easily avoided—less carelessness would be evinced, and more watchfulness exercised to preserve life.
Brother Eldredge has just reached from the east; brother Staines has gone on west. The brethren are all busy loading up the wagons, and everybody is full of life. I got Stars from Liverpool to-day and was much pleased. We start from the campground to-morrow in the "Dixie" train. Four have gone a-head; five more are to follow. All will start in about six days. My family are pretty well. May the Lord ever bless and be with you.
I could not get time to mail this at Florence, so add a line previous to posting, to say that we are so far and feeling firstrate. We are making good time and calculate being in by Conference. There has nothing of importance transpired since leaving, save that three more children have died, the third one having just expired. These were all very ill on board ship and not expected then to live there is no much sickness in camp. Our captain is Elder D. D. [Daniel D.] McArthur; the train numbers about three hundred and fifty adults, exclusive of teamsters and independents, and counts 62 wagons.
With kind love, ever yours faithfully,
P.S.—Brother Samuel H. B. Smith, in company with some other, has just reached from Florence. He is well and sends kind love to you, and reports all well behind as he came along. Captain [Horton D.] Haight's train is 1 1/2 days behind, the rest following close, two sometimes camping almost together.