Shearman, W. H., [Letter], Deseret News [Weekly], 12 July 1865, 322.
DEAR BROTHER:—I trust you have received my previous letter, written on board the "Belle Wood," giving an account of our voyage, and I thought you would be anxious to learn of our safe arrival at this point. We anchored in New York Harbor, the 31st of May, and landed at Castle Garden the following day. We experienced no difficulty in passing the Doctor and Custom House Officers, who were very courteous and accommodating.
In consequence of unwillingness on the part of Railway Contractors to fulfill their engagements with Elder Thomas Taylor, we were detained in Castle Gardens between five and six days. The weather was intensely hot, the Saints suffered much from various sources of annoyance, and disease made its appearance and began to spread rapidly. I am thankful, however, to be able to say, that, by the blessing of the Lord, we escaped with the loss of but one child, who died of the croup. Under these circumstances br. Taylor had no alternative but to take steps to obtain legal redress, and when the contractors found he was determined to do so they concluded to fulfill their agreement. We accordingly left New York for Albany, by the Hudson River R. R., at 8 p.m. on the 6th.
We arrived safely at this place on the 15th inst., having had a very agreeable trip, without any material detention, with the exception of the short distance between Quincy and the Palmyra Junction, which we had to ride in miserably dirty cattle tracks. At the latter place the Saints—men, women and children—were turned out into the pitiless storm without shelter. We remonstrated with the officials in vain, until I told them we should certainly send our following company by some other route, where they would be treated with something like decency and humanity. The Station Master then concluded to let us into the depot, where the people were tolerably comfortable till they proceeded to St. Jo. About a mile east of St. Jo. the flood, during the night, had washed away a portion of the Railway, causing a detention of a few hours.
We experienced no material difficulty along the route, and were treated with great courtesy and kindness by nearly all with whom we came in contact.
We have had a great many cases of measles, but all have done well, with two or three exceptions. We buried one infant at St. Joseph, and 2 children since our arrival here.
During the journey from New York to this place every possible attention was given to the sick and feeble, the best railway carriage was always appropriated exclusively to their use, and the preference was given to them in all things.
It has been very stormy ever since we have been here, making the country very muddy and disagreeable. The thunder and lightening have been of that fearfully grand and, to me, sublimely magnificent character peculiar to America.
Elder J. G. Holman has done everything in his power to make the Saints comfortable and to provide for their necessities. Several merchant trains for Great Salt Lake City are starting from Nebraska City, 7 miles below this place, to whom Bro. Holman is engaging many of our single brethren as teamsters, at $50 per month. Twenty-five men engaged and went to Nebraska to-day under the presidency of Elder William Willes. Elder Holman has selected 20 more men who, he expects, will start with another train on Monday, under the presidency of Elder E. F. Bird. From present appearances it is likely that more will be wanted, and br. Holman hopes to be able, in this manner, to get off many who would otherwise have been unable to go to Zion this season. We all feel very grateful to the Lord for thus opening the way for the gathering of His poor Saints. Bro's Naisbett, Hampton, Bassett, and others have done all in their power to ensure the comfort and welfare of our brethren and families who go with them.
In consequence of the fall of gold and the high prices of every article needed for emigration, bro's. Holman and Taylor are seriously embarrassed for means. Bro. Holman called a meeting of the brethren who wished to drive teams over the plains, and stated the case to them, when nearly every one nobly and cheerfully volunteered to give their wages to the Church to assist in forwarding the emigration, as there are many here without means. I do not think there has ever been a company of Saints come from Europe who have been more generally united and willing to obey counsel than this one.
Provisions are very high here at present; flour is $5 per 100 lbs., Bacon 18 to20 cts, Sugar 25 to 30, Coffee 45, Tea 2.50, and other things in proportion.
The health of the returning Elders is generally good. Matthew Lyon has greatly improved, as also father [Alfred] Lee. Bro's. C. B. Taylor, and F. [Fredrick] W. Cox have gone to see their relatives in the States, but we are expecting them here in a few days. Br. T. Taylor was very anxious that I should accompany the Saints to this point, and I am now waiting the arrival at Nebraska of bro's W. S. Godbe (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at New York) and George Reynolds, when we expect to take stage together for Great Salt Lake City.
While detained in New York, we had some excellent meetings at Williamsburgh, in the Adelphi Hall, at which a great number of the Saints from Castle Gardens attended. By the liberality of br. W. S. Godbe, and the kindness of Elder T. Taylor and others, a very refreshing and substantial repast was provided, for all who had come from Castle Gardens, consisting of rich, sweet milk, new bread, and good fresh butter, spread in our liberal American style. The food was very acceptable and refreshing to the bodies of the fatigued Saints, and the kindness that prompted the movement was still more grateful and invigorating to their spirits, as it showed an interest in their welfare and comfort that can only be fully appreciated under such circumstances.
Br. Holman says he hopes to be able to get the last of the Saints off by the 10th or 15th of next month.
Bro's Holman, W. S. S. Willes, George Sims, and the Elders generally join me in love to yourself, Pres. Kimball, br. Cannon, and the brethren of the Office.