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Autobiography of James Ririe - Part
From "Utah, Our Pioneer Heritage"
Published by International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1996
By James Ririe
I, James Ririe, was born on the 24th day of January 1827 near Castle
Fraser, Parish of Cluny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. My father had five
sons and four daughters. I was the youngest. My oldest brother, Alexander,
died the 18th of July 1829 at the age of 17 years. My youngest brother,
William, died in infancy, the 30th of August 1823. My father, David Ririe,
died the 20th of August 1830 at the age of 52 years. In the month of
November, following my father's death, my mother moved about three miles
east in the same parish. When I was five years old, I was sent to school.
When I was eleven, I was sent to service, in the summer seasons, on the
agriculture line. I was taken home in winters to school until I was thirteen
years old. I then went to the milling of wheat and continued two and
a half years.
My mother died on the 1st of May 1845 in the 56th year of her age. Her
name was Isabell Shirris Ririe. She was buried in the same place as were
my father and brother, the Burying Ground of Kinnernie, Parish of Midmar.
In the same burying ground lay my father's father, Alexander Ririe, and
his wife, Isabell Steel, and my mother's mother, Margret Smith of Baeor
Millne. She died about the 6th of January 1835 at about 80 years of age.
About the end of June 1845 I went to a place in the town of Aberdeen
and stopped in it nearly two years. I was engaged to a Mr. Eddie at the
Lower Justice Milles, Aberdeen, at under wages. During this time I began
to inquire more after truth. I was at the time in communion with the
Free Church of Scotland. I believed it was the church nearest to the
truth. I was taught that if I could feel myself to be a sinner and put
my trust in Jesus Christ, for salvation, I was sure to be saved. I lived
to the pitch that they said constituted a Christian. Yes, so much so,
that on one occasion after I had had my mind greatly troubled, the minister,
whose name was William Mitchel, spoke of my experiences so exact and
said, at the end, that one that had had such experience was in Christ,
and once in, never out. So confident was I, that I could take heaven
and earth to witness that if I was not in a safe state, my blood be on
His head. However, after I had this testimony that I was in a safe state,
I was very desirous of having a knowledge for myself. I thought I could
suffer anything if I knew that I was right before God. In the spring
of 1847 I was in the custom of attending fellowship meetings. I neglected
few or any opportunities that I had of doing and attending on those things
that I thought was accepted before God.
At the same meeting one night, one remarked that if there were a millennium,
there was a passage in the third chapter of Acts, verse 20-21, that they
would take as proof of the personal reign of Christ on earth. When I
went home I was greatly troubled whether it be true or not. Many passages
of scripture struck my mind. Some of these passages were:
"Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye
have seen him go away."
"This so, till I come again."
"They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand
These and such like passages struck me with awful power, so I went and
prayed unto the Lord that I might not resist truth, but receive it, from
whatever source it came. I also prayed that He might lead me by His providence,
in such a way that I might come in connection with the truth. In answer
to my prayer, the place I was in was shut and I could no longer stay
in it. No place opened to me in Aberdeen. Having no view of a situation,
my brother, George Ririe, and I prepared to go south to Leith, Edinburgh.
We set sail on the 7th of June 1847 for Edinburgh.
We took lodgings in Edinburgh that night and next day went in search
of employment, but found none. We continued there for several days but
got no employment. Sometimes, we were almost expecting to get into a
situation, then would be disappointed. Our means went down and we had
to send home for more. By and by, it was wasted also. Our prospects were
nothing better than the first week we were there.
About the first of July we proposed leaving to try some other place.
On the 6th of July I was going between Granton and Leith, when I observed
a placard on a wall intimating that William Gibson, minister of the Gospel
from Edinburgh, was to deliver a lecture in the lower room of a Leith
store on Wednesday evening at 8 o'clock, July 7, 1845, on the Messiah's
personal reign on the earth. I did not understand if he was to be for
or against that doctrine, but as my mind was troubled about the same,
I was desirous to hear for myself what his views were. I had never heard
of the name of Latter-day Saints, but once in Aberdeen. There, a woman
said her brother in Dundee had taken up with some creatures that they
called the Latter-day Saints. Fortunately for me, my mind was not prejudiced
against them. However, I was a firm believer in the traditions of my
father. Yet, being inquiring after truth, I was willing to receive it
when it was laid before me.
I went to the meeting and sat convinced that every word Mr. Gibson spoke
was truth. He referred to many of the passages that before had troubled
my mind. Lest we should not understand it, he gave us a criterion to
judge it by. No prophecy is of any private interpretation. He brought
forward so many proofs that I had never thought of, so reasonable and
harmonizing them as he went along. Although I had been taught to the
contrary, yet I was convinced that such a thing was to happen. One man
stood up to oppose, but he only confirmed what had been spoken. I was
fully satisfied that such an event was to take place, but how it was
to be brought about I could not tell.
This minister intimated that they were to be at this place three times
on the Sabbath. When the Sabbath came, I was afraid that I would be committing
a sin by going to any new sect and not knowing anything about them. In
the forenoon, I went to a meeting of my religion in Infirmary Street.
But I did not find the satisfaction that I used to have. In the afternoon,
I went back to hear this new people. The sacrament was dispensed and
then William Gibson preached unto us. They had placards through the town
again, showing that the lecture was to be delivered on the necessity
of apostles and prophets in our own day and age. I went back in the evening
to hear it. He showed us the ancient order of the Church, referring us
to the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians and the 4th chapter of Ephesians.
He then showed us the order of the Church as it did exist with its 12
apostles, prophets, evangelists, and all holding their different offices,
and possessing their different gifts of the Spirit. He showed us that
Peter stood at the head of the Church and held the keys of the Kingdom
to bind and loose on earth as it was to be bound and loosed in heaven.
Gibson referred us to the case of Cornelius. The angel came to him and
as good a man as he was, yet the angel did not tell him what to do to
be saved, but only told him where to send for the man who could and had
authority to tell him. Peter is the first one that is mentioned in the
opening of the door to the Gentiles, and standing up with the eleven
to preach the Gospel after the ascension of Christ. After showing us
that the order of the Church and Kingdom of Christ was as organized by
Christ himself, he showed us how long this order was to be continued,
by referring us to the 4th chapter of Ephesians, 13th verse. It was until
we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of
God. While he was laying before us the order of the Church of Christ,
he laid my church to the ground. I saw clearly that my church was not
according to the pattern set forth by Jesus Christ and His apostles.
I said to myself, "If such a Church is in existence as he shows
us, I shall not be long in being in connection of such." Before
the meeting dismissed, he said if there were any who wanted initiation
into the Church, that was now organized on the earth again, they were
their servants at any time; or if any wanted to inquire further into
their principles, to stay after the meeting was dismissed, and they would
be willing to converse with us.
The people rose and went out, all of them which
astonished me much, for I was so taken with the truths that I was desirous
to know more of
them. I did rise and made to go out, but lingered about the door. Then,
he said, "Don't go away." I and my brother sat down and waited
a little. In a few minutes he came around and said, "Well, what
do you think of our strange principles?" We said, "We did not
think them strange." After conversing some time in the hall, we
had an opportunity of conversing with him alone. I put some questions
to him which troubled my mind very much. "What has become of all
our forefathers who have done so much and even shed their blood for the
cause that they held so dear?" He then asked me a question. "What
would you do with all the heathens that have never heard of the name
of Jesus? Would you send them all to hell?” “Well," I
said, "I could not send them to heaven for there was no other name
given among men whereby they could be saved, but Jesus Christ." “No," he
said, "He would not be so, in like manner, with our forefathers.
Sin is the transgression of law, but where there is no law given, nothing
required. They will be judged by the light they live under."
After conversing with him that night, we appointed to meet him next
day in the house of John Anderson in Leith, which we did. When I did
as he desired me to do, brought up all the arguments I could against
them, it had no effect for such a flood of light had sprung into my mind
that I could not resist the truth. The arguments that I tried to bring
up, I saw before I mentioned them that they were no arguments at all.
Many things he told me were like balm to my troubled soul, concerning
my forefathers, such as that ordinance that is mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:29.
One thing troubled me very much. Was it possible to be in Christ at one
time and fall away? I could not bear the idea of such. I was willing
to lay aside all my firm righteousness and begin anew again. I thought
I was on the way before, although, now I had found I had been building
on a sandy foundation. Yet I thought it would be awful to be in Christ
and continue for awhile and then at last be cast away. Then again, I
reasoned, what am I, it is truth, I see it to be truth and will not my
believing it make it error? We appointed to go forward that night and
be baptized. First George and then I were baptized in the Sea at Porto-bello
near Edinburgh by John Anderson. As I went forward to be baptized, I
saw that although I had prayed that my sins might be forgiven, yet I
had not certain knowledge that they were. I had done the best I could
and many a time had the answer of a good conscience. Now I saw the way
to get my sins remitted. All my former righteousness was as nothing to
me. I was most willing to be baptized, believing I was to have my sins
remitted by obeying that ordinance.
When he asked me if I were willing to enter into
covenant with God and to keep His commandments in as far as they should
be made known unto
me, my whole soul replied, "I am." As he laid me below the
water, I think it was the happiest moment that ever I had had in all
As we had no employment in Edinburgh, it was our intention to try and
make our way back to Aberdeen. We planned to leave on Wednesday, July
14th. This was the 12th of July 1847 that I was baptized. I was confirmed
by the waterside the same evening by Robert Menzie, elder and president
of the Edinburgh Branch. In my confirmation he told me I would yet be
sent to another portion of the world to roll on the work of God there.
On the morrow, my brother went to a place where he had the promise of
getting employment. He accordingly got a situation that night, which
caused us to stop and not move from Edinburgh. On the following Friday,
I got work with a Mr. Taylor, a grocer and wine merchant in Edinburgh,
as a light porter.
I continued in the same situation and in the
same Branch of the Church that was in Leith. I knew I was in the true
Church of God and my soul
was rejoiced in knowing the truth for myself. I then wrote home to my
people and acquaintances. So delighted with the truth was I that I thought
I had nothing to do but just tell them of it and they would be as happy
as I. To my great disappointment, I found they treated it with contempt
and did not answer my letter at all. Some of them did later, and told
me it was "the worst of the worst I had joined." This astonished
me much, knowing it could be but little or nothing that they knew about
it. Some of them went to my old minister and took my letters with them.
He generously told them not to mind me, for if it were of man it would
come to nought, but if it were of God it would prosper.
I had also one sister nearly seventy miles from us. When we wrote to
her, she was sorry for us and came to see us. I had my mind made up that
she would be one with us, but alas, I was disappointed to find her opposed
and so unwilling to receive the truth. She continued some time with us
but I was obliged to let her go without making much impression on her.
For my own part it continued to expand. The more opposition I met with
the more convinced I became that it was the work of God. When conversing
with people, the Spirit of God wrought mightily in me, in bringing things
to my remembrance and throwing light on the future. The first conference
I was at, was held in No. 2 Drummond Street, Edinburgh. It was held about
the end of September. Orson Spencer favored us with his company. We had
a happy time of it. The next was held in the same place about the end
of December. I think I never was so happy in all my life.
I would mention about Brother Wheelock, who testified
of the truth of the Latter-day Prophet. Said he, "I had the honor to go, yes the
honor to go to the prison with him. I heard him say how long it would
be ere the Messiah would come. 'Yes,' said he, 'but I am not to tell
you, however, there are some here who may not be old people when it takes
place.'" About the month of January 1848, my brother, George Ririe,
left Edinburgh for Aberdeen. Before he left he was ordained to the office
of an elder and commissioned to build up a branch in Aberdeen. As we
did not succeed in Leith, the Leith Branch was united to the Edinburgh
Branch. Shortly after we were united to the Edinburgh Branch, I was in
the meeting one Sabbath afternoon, when a Brother stood up to bear testimony.
He spoke in an unknown tongue. I had never heard the like before. I sat
with a great solemnity on me. He stood up and said, "Be it known
unto all that God hath raised up His Church." When the Tongue ceased,
the interpretation came in quick succession. When he came to the end
of it, he stood a few seconds and then sat down.
Sometime after my brother was in Aberdeen, he got a situation for me.
Although not one of the best, yet I hoped to be of some use to someone
in bringing them into the Gospel of Jesus. On the 19th of March 1848
our Conference was held in No. 2 Drummond Street. I was ordained elder
by Elder William Gibson, President of the Edinburgh Conference. We enjoyed
a happy time of it.
I had a very good situation in Edinburgh with
Mr. Taylor. It was the best situation I had ever had and the best pay,
so that I was saving
money. However, being asked to go to Aberdeen to assist in getting the
Gospel introduced there, I left. They were very unwilling to part with
me, as I had given them great satisfaction. They told me that if I did
not succeed, to let them know and Mr. Taylor would give me my place again.
Said Mrs. Taylor, "You know, Mr. Taylor has a very peculiar temper
and he never had one that suited him as you have done." I then left
Aberdeen the same night and having received the address of a family in
the Church went in search of them on Wednesday and found them.
At Aberdeen I commenced storekeeping with my brother George. But my
ways and his in running business were not the same, so in May I hired
to Mr. Eddie again to work for him for a year. Mr. Eddie found I had
learned something of storekeeping so he took a store and put me in as
salesman which I ran for fifteen months. The month of April passed away
ere we got ourselves organized into any sort of meetings. At last we
got up a little meeting in our house. It was a little garret room at
19 Chapel Street, Aberdeen. Here, I first opened my mouth to preach in
a meeting, yet it was a very small group. There were only four and myself,
yet I felt the Spirit of God bringing things to my remembrance, although
nothing was thought on before what I should say. We kept up the meetings
in the same place, twice on the Sabbath. In the afternoon, we met in
the house of John Henderson until the month of June was about done. Then
we moved to a sister's house of the name of Ann Davidson. By this time,
we had five or six baptized. On July 23 we opened a small hall in Castle
Street. We were not long in our hall, when one Sabbath evening one of
the name of Mower opposed the truth by making a noise and speaking at
the end of the meetings. However, our own people became more confirmed
in the truth.
During the summer, I, along with Elder John Henderson, went out to a
village about three miles out and preached to the people in the open
air. We got very attentive meetings, with the exception of two or three
fellows who tried to oppose the truth. They would not receive, yet could
not resist. About the 9th of September, Elder Hugh Findlay came to us.
He was with us on Sabbath, the 10th. On the following day, we took the
old Union Hall and on Wednesday the 13th, he commenced lecturing in it.
It was generally three nights each week and on Sabbath until about the
20th of October 1848.
During the lectures many opposed and continued asking questions until
between eleven and twelve o'clock. Lectures commenced at eight. Brother
Findlay, seeing the lateness and disturbance it made, would not enter
into discussion with them except they would appoint an individual and
a night for the purpose. When he would not answer the questions, they
made an awful noise. They started breaking the seats, pulling them and
dancing on them at an awful rate. They pulled down one of the chandeliers,
making manifest what sort of spirits they were. Yet we baptized five
or six during what time we were with them. Mostly through the exhortation
and preaching of Brother Hugh Findlay, we had succeeded in getting a
branch of The Church of Latter-day Saints organized with near one hundred
About that time I went to old Aberdeen and delivered tracts among the
people and preached to them on the street. We were desirous of getting
a house to hold meetings in. A brother of the name of Alex Melvine asked
an acquaintance of his, if he would give us his house for that purpose.
He was willing. As we were conversing about the principles on a Sabbath
forenoon, one of his daughters came in. We continued to lay the principles
before them and I felt by the Spirit that there were some of them receiving
them. She promised to come to the meeting that night. But ere we left
the house her other sister was not willing for a meeting being in the
house, so we did not get a meeting in it.
Toward the end of January 1849 Brother Alex Melvine, his wife and child,
and Ann Davidson emigrated to the land of Zion. They left Aberdeen about
the middle of January. We had a happy time of it. We had Brother Findlay
and Brother Matheson with us. Brother Matheson was on his way North to
offer the Gospel to the people in that region. We took our farewell of
them at the shore of Aberdeen, on board the steamer. Shortly after they
left, something came in the way that stumbled some of those in the Church,
such as the diagram of the Kingdom of God and some teachings that they
had not been accustomed to. They would not believe them. There were some
who stumbled so, that they were desirous of being cut from the Church.
This caused great grief among us. The work of God ceased to roll on among
us for a time. Even those who did stay got into a misunderstanding with
each other, and there was a lack of that love and confidence which ought
to exist among the people of God.
In the spring, the first or second Sabbath of April, as Brother Findlay
proposed, I was re-baptized. Several more of the brethren and sisters
followed the example. When Brother Findlay left us, Brother David Cook
was sent unto us, yet we made little progress in adding to the Church.
I had assisted in preaching in and around Aberdeen. Brother Findlay and
President William Gibson wanted me to go out as a missionary. But I could
not go until my engagement was out with Mr. Eddie. At the turn of Whitsunday,
I would not re-engage with Mr. Eddie. He coaxed me very hard but I would
not make a year's engagement. He raised my wages three fold and over,
but I would only stay by the month. Our hall rent was behind. I had to
give over one-third of my six months' wages to help to clear that. I
also had to keep a room for the traveling elders. All other rooms, because
of the apostacy, were shut off from them.
I stayed with Mr. Eddie until one day Brother
Cook, our presiding elder, called at my store for the use of a pen
and ink to address a letter.
I may here say that by this time, many were much opposed to Mormonism
and Mr. Eddie among the rest. Particularly a William Gragehead, that
kept store next door to me, was opposed. It was the same kind of a store
and Mr. Eddie furnished him with stuff. Mr. Eddie was in his store for
his pay that day that Brother Cook called on me. Said Mr. Gragehead to
Mr. Eddie, "There goes their preacher into your store." Mr.
Gragehead had another fault about me than Mormonism. I had got a great
deal bigger run for the same kind of goods than he, although he had been
there longer. Nearly all the Latter-day Saints bought from me.
That day, Mr. Eddie came in and very roughly
asked Brother Cook what he wanted in there. Said Brother Cook, Nothing,
only the loan of a pen
to address a letter. Said Mr. Eddie, "Go out of here Sir, and don't
come and interfere with my servant again."
That night, I handed in my warning in writing
that I would leave in one month from then, on August 18, 1849. On the
day after I gave in my
warning, my master and I had some words about the affair. He would not
believe in the Power of God. He said people who believed, were the lowest
of character. I said we were no worse than the people of God in all ages.
As regard to character, I would try their character and mine along side
of his any day. I would also try the principles of the Church along with
the principles of his church, judging them by an infallible standard,
namely the Bible. Mr. and especially Mrs. Eddie were much vexed at my
leaving. They did all they could to get me to stay, but I said "No." I
learned later that Mr. Gragehead gave up his store and hired to Mr. Eddie
to keep his but the two stores had not as many customers as I had had
for Mr. Eddie.
On Sabbath, the 22nd of July, Brother Henderson
and I went out to the street to preach. We stood up on Denburn, the
side near the Infirmary.
After I had preached awhile, Brother Henderson preached. Toward the end,
he was interrupted by some fellows who believed in the originalism on
little children sufficient to damn them. After Brother Henderson had
finished, one, a Baptist, stood and started something. He asked to see
miracles or produce two or three witnesses out of the Church who had
seen them. He said the servants of God attested their mission by the
miracles they wrought. Some called for proof and living witnesses. He
said he took the testimony of God for it. The scriptures were the superiority
of all truth. He said also that the scriptures were completed and no
more to be added. Turning around to one, he said, "Whosoever shall
add to the word of that Book, God shall add to him the plagues that are
written therein." After this man had finished speaking, Brother
Cook said as it was too late to enter upon a lecture tonight, he would
deliver a lecture on the morrow night at the same place and on the points
the Baptist had touched on. The night following, it rained. But on Tuesday
night, he delivered a lecture in the said place. He was interrupted by
one of the name of Peter Bird, who had interrupted Brother Henderson
the Sabbath before. He wanted to see a miracle. Brother Cook got on with
his lecture without much interruption. But so mean was the crowd. Some
were on our side, others were against us. We finally left them in their
own confusion to make the best of it.
August 1849 I left my situation to go out to preach the Gospel. On Sunday
the 19th I preached in the forenoon to the Saints in Aberdeen. Tuesday
the 21st I went and got settled. On the 30th of October, 1849, I was
ordained an elder by President William Gibson, assisted by Brother Hugh
Findlay. We went to Forfar, Brechin and Montrose. We got a hall to preach
in in Montrose. I had taken a few shillings with me, but ere that two
weeks were past, we had to sleep by the side of a straw stack and pick
wild berries from the woods, and steal at night, green horse beans from
the fields for our food. I was then sent to the Blairgowrie District.
It was about 30 miles by 15 miles. In Blairgowrie, there were three members,
a man and his wife and a single man. Nine miles from there at Glenniey,
there were four or five members. I succeeded in baptizing twelve or thirteen,
which added to those already there, and made a Branch of about twenty
I will relate one conversion. I had left tracts
at a house and as I went to lift them and leave others, if wanted,
the lady of the house
came to the door in answer to my knock. Said she, "The minister
is here, but come in." I did so. The minister, a Mr. Herdsman, was
there praying. When he was done, the master of the house introduced me
as one of his (the minister's) brethren, a missionary. The minister asked
me first thing what denomination I belonged to. I told him The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He invited me to call on him at
his manse of the Rattray Parish, which I did in a few days. He had read
the books and I believe from what he said, believed some of the doctrines
to be true. He asked me what I thought they would do with him if he joined. "Oh," said
I, "I don't know, but they might make an elder of you and send you
out to preach the same as they have done by me." He then asked me
what salary I had. "Oh," I said, "we have no salary. We
are just sent as Jesus sent His disciples of old, without purse or scrip.
We depend on those we go among for our food and raiment." Said he, "That
would never do with me, I have a large family dependent on me for a living." He
was the minister of the Rattray Parish. Other subjects we also discussed.
After the interview I delivered all the tracts I had with me. He, though,
gave in to several of our principles being right. He also asked a great
number of questions about my own history and about the gathering, which
I answered him according to my knowledge. Also asked how I came to know
that it was the work of God.
I left Kirkinch quite early one morning because I had a big day's work
before me in lifting and distributing tracts. I had a long way to travel
before I would get to the next lodging house where I could stop. It was
Kirriemuir, a town of between three and four thousand inhabitants. I
had no friends there, never having been able to get a place to preach
in, but some had received my tracts to read. I had sixpence in my pocket,
I counted on supper, breakfast and fourpence for my bed. When I got to
the house where I used to lodge for fourpence, they were full. As there
was snow on the ground, I could not well sleep outdoors. I had to go
to the next cheapest lodging-house for a bed, but that was sixpence so
there was no supper nor breakfast. I was quite hungry, not having had
anything from early breakfast at Mr. Irland's. It took me to near noon
to finish my tracting in Kirriemuir. Then I started for Brother Robertson's
at Glenillery, a distance of twelve or fifteen miles. On the way I got
quite hungry and tired. I went into two or three houses on the roadside
in purpose to ask for something to eat, but I never could ask. I could
ask for a drink of water, because that was quite gentlemanly, but I never
in all my travels could ask for bread. Why, a missionary preacher with
good clothes on and to ask for bread. But at that time I do not think
if I could have asked, I would not have been refused once. To increase
my troubles, about half way the road forked, but as I had never been
that road before, I took the wrong road and went four or five miles,
ere I found my mistake, and had to go back as tired and hungry as I was.
I met a man and he told me of a foot path and footbridge that crossed
the river, so it was not so bad, as it led me to the right road. I got
to the Robertson's just before supper time. How glad I was to see Elizabeth
Edwards Robertson getting supper ready. Mrs. Robertson was a widow and
not yet in the church. But her sons were, and they had instructed their
mother how to treat the traveling elders when they came around, and she
did. No elder had to ask for something to eat. On the 9th of October
1849 I baptized her. She had a small farm and a public house with large
rooms in it. We got the use of it to preach in. Mrs. Robertson's lease
of her place ran out at the next term and her sons were anxious for her
not to renew the lease, but to sell out and go to the Valley of the Salt
Lake. With some persuasion, she did and they started from Dundee on the
first of January 1850 toward Salt Lake. They stopped at Council Bluffs
for some time. She died there. The sons all went on finally to Utah.
When the Robertson family went, it made quite a talk, for they were quite
a respectable family. There was the mother, six sons and a hired woman.
The six sons were James, William, Thomas, John, Alexander, and Charles.
I got some good sized meetings after that in the neighborhood, with
them going away to the Mormons in far off America. It made the people
inquire. After they had gone, there were yet four or five Latter-day
Saints left in the near neighborhood and some others interested, so I
still went there.
On Friday, January 4, 1850, we went to Edinburgh for the Conference.
Brother Gibson was to leave for the Manchester Conference, and we got
Brother Crandall Dunn as president of our conference. A good spirit prevailed
and good prospects in general. Some 1,400 added since Brother Gibson
got the presidency. May the Lord bless his future career. He was the
first I ever heard preaching the Gospel. About eighty added since last
On Friday May 17th I got a letter in the morning from Brother Findlay
that Brother Erastus Snow, one of the twelve, was to be in Perth at half
past twelve. I went and told the most of the Saints about it. Ordered
bills to be printed for the opening of the hall. I met Brother Snow,
Brother Dunn and Brother Findlay at the railway station. We enjoyed Brother
Snow's company till one-half past three. He then went away to Glasgow.
I traveled, preached, distributed tracts from Perth to Glenilley from
Dunkeld, to Kirriemuir. The 17th of April I was appointed to preside
over the Perth Branch and continue traveling the above mentioned district
as my wisdom might dictate. A Mr. James Cramb, who had joined the Church
about a year before, had been very active in the Church, seemed to, or
expected to be put to preside. When I, a partial stranger was called,
he soon became dissatisfied and talked against the principles of Mormonism.
He succeeded in getting quite a few of the Saints dissatisfied also.
Some repented and some had to be cut off. It was quite a trial for me,
but some of the Saints in Perth were very good to me. I would mention
Brother and Sister Graham and family. I had a standing invitation to
come to their place whenever I needed a meal. Also good to me were Brother
and particularly Sister Sprunt, also Brothers Miller and Murdock. However,
none of these had bed room. I got a bed at a Mrs. McDonald's who kept
a lodging house. Although a staunch Catholic herself, her husband, son
and daughter were members of our Church, but they were not at home. I
used to pay her when I had it. Perhaps it would be sixpence or a shilling
when I could. Money was not very plentiful. With me, I could not do as
some did; ask for bread.
From Perth to Blairgowrie, one road was fifteen miles, but on this road
there was a toll bridge for foot passengers. It cost me half a penny
to cross. The other road to Blairgowrie was nineteen miles. I often had
to go that road, four miles extra for the want of that half penny. As
I was appointed to preside over the Perth Branch, I had to be there every
Sunday the summer of 1850. From Perth to Dunkeld was twelve or fifteen
miles. There were two roads to Blairgowrie, a lower and upper road. About
the same distance, they were. On the lower road there was a big shed
for the farmer's fuel. As the house was some distance off in the dark,
no one could see me, and I used to make that shed my bedroom and walk
off at daylight.
One time that I took the upper road, I came to
a farm place. The cart shed fronted on to the road. In one of the carts
was green hay cut for
the horses' feed at the farm. When I saw that, I thought what a good
bed. I got into the cart and covered up among the hay and was soon asleep.
How long I slept, I know not, when one of the men that had been off to
see his girl came home. He was going to feed his horses ere he went to
bed. When he came to lift the hay, he gathered up my feet and legs which
brought me into a sitting position. I do not know whether he or I was
the most scared. However, after I got awake enough to make explanations,
he said "I sleep alone and you can sleep with me, but don't make
much noise, as I don't want the boys to hear when I come in." He
took me to his chambers and I had a good bed and stayed until 5 a.m.
when they got up to work, and I went on my way to Blairgowrie.
Thus I worked, until the forepart of September. Someone sent me word
that the proprietor had threatened to take my furniture in Aberdeen for
rent. I asked Brother Dunn for leave of absence for one Sunday to go
get that fixed. I did not get to Aberdeen until Saturday night. When
I got there, there was a letter from Brother Dunn, saying as Brother
Andrew McFarland required help in Aberdeen, if I could get work to stay
and help Brother McFarland. I then tried to get work, but it was an uncommon
time of slackness of work. For seven weeks I tried without success. I
had a hard time of it. There were but few Saints or friends where I could
get a meal. I had no money. I was running in debt every night for my
lodgings. I visited my friends until I thought I would wear my welcome
out. I walked the streets in Aberdeen so that in passing the bakery shops,
the smell of the bread made me sick.
I visited my old employer, Mr. Eddie, but knew
better than to ask him for work, having offended him so in going off
to preach. His son, William,
told me after, that his mother and he had tried to get Mr. Eddie to get
me a place. He said, "No, I will not. Just as soon as he gets money
enough, he'll be off to Salt Lake." I had work ere William told
me this. I said "Your father is quite correct, for as soon as I
get money enough, that's my next move." I could have gone back to
my old master, Mr. Taylor, in Edinburgh, but Brother Dunn wanted me to
stay in Aberdeen and assist Brother McFarland in the Church.
At last, through the influence of Ann McKenzie,
who used to attend the same prayer meeting that I did before I was
a Mormon, I got work at Sturd
and Rolls Co. Combworks on Hutcheon Street, Aberdeen. My first two weeks'
wages were four shillings and eleven-pence. I got board at Lizzie Norvel's,
but she charged me four shillings a week, so I was getting in debt. I
then learned of a garret room to rent for ten shillings for six months.
As the Saints in Aberdeen had redeemed my household things ere I got
there, I thought I would rent this room. The rent had to be paid beforehand.
I wrote to my sister Margret in England, if she would loan me a pound.
She did, so I rented this room. I paid the ten shillings, paid my debts,
got a shilling's worth of coal, some oatmeal, some molasses and started
housekeeping. I had only two weeks' pay at the Comb works, as they kept
ten day's laying in time, when they shut for repairs on engine and holidays.
This was a great loss to me, having to learn the work and it was piece
work. I made very small wages. I lived on oatmeal and molasses until
I got more wages and then I treated myself to one cent's worth of skim
milk a day. I thought if I could get by during the winter, I would get
a place in May at my old work, but ere May came, I found I could make
as much at the Comb Works, as at milling or storekeeping. There were
about 700 hands worked at the Comb Works. There were all kinds of people.
I was a target to some of them to shout at, when the work was dismissing
on the street outside the Works. I would hear such as "There goes
Joe Smith. There goes the Book of Mormon." I never let them know
I heard them.
In 1852 we got into a real bad state. The meetings were stiff. About
April, Elder Andrew Ferguson was sent to travel and preside. A good many
of us were rebaptized. By this time, the summer of 1852, I was making
better wages at the Comb Works. Brother Ferguson stopped with me at nights
and had one meal at least, or more, with me daily. However, he got jealous
of me because some of the Saints that I had been the means of bringing
into the Church of a long acquaintance, came to me with their little
troubles for counsel and not to him. He and I did not see eye to eye
in government and especially in money matters. I had commenced to put
money for my emigration in the Savings Bank. He did not approve of that
way, and said anyone that has more confidence in the banks of the world,
than in the Church is weak in the faith. Our disagreement came to a fracas
one time when he called a council meeting at which he wanted a day's
wages of each member of the Branch, if I remember right, to stereotype
the Book of Mormon. There were several Saints out of employment at the
time and some only getting a day or two of work at a time. I suggested
a voluntary contribution. For myself, I could and would give two days'
wages, but I did not think it would be right to make those pay who did
not have it.
Brother Ferguson got mad and asked the rest of the council, one by one.
He and four of us constituted the council. One would pay, the others
were in debt and could not promise. He then said, "Brethren, do
you know what you're doing? You're legislating for the 'Kingdom of God.'" He
said he would put some questions to us in the name of the Lord and then
said "I'll try Brother Ririe first. What do you believe concerning
the authorities of the Church?" By this time I was quite vexed,
say mad. I answered, "I believe there are good men in authority
in the Church and also that there are some who give wrong judgment and
unrighteous judgment." Said he, "Who is good?" I mentioned
several. "Who is bad?" I told him some that I said I believed
had not acted a straight-forward course in the decision of some cases.
Said he, "That's not it. What do you believe about the Apostles?" Said
I, "What do I know about the Apostles? I never saw but one, Erastus
Snow. He's all right." He then moved that I be cut off the Church
for believing that there is corrupt men in authority in the Church. Brother
Brown seconded it and the three agreed. He also asked Brother Robb what
he believed about corrupt men in the Church. Brother Robb answered "I'll
not give you an answer to that question at all." He then moved that
Brother Robb be cut off for believing similar as I did. I then told Elder
Ferguson to keep a correct account of that transaction in their record
book as I would appeal it to the authorities the first opportunity. Said
he, "We can write what we please in that book."
Ferguson was removed from Aberdeen. A Brother William Bird was sent
there. In the Fall of 1851, a Brother Hugh Gowans from Arbroath came
to visit Aberdeen. He and I had had some acquaintances. He had heard
of my great apostacy by Brother Ferguson, so he came to see me. When
he went back to Dundee, he told the president my version of the story
and that I had not apostatized from the principles of the Church at all.
From Brother Gowan's report to President McNaughton,
he came to Aberdeen to see about it and reinstated me in the Church
by baptism. I was baptized
and confirmed by him on the 23rd of January 1853. Before that he asked
me if I would forgive Brother Ferguson for his conduct toward me. I said
I would try. He said that was the easiest way of settling it. I had been
often asked to join before then, but I said "No." I must first
be fully reconciled to those who had to do with my cutting off.
By this time, I was making at the average of 11 shillings per week.
I had commenced to save up to get away to the Valley. On the 24th of
January 1852, I had put into the bank, two pounds and ten shillings as
a commencement. I still continued to save all I could. On the 26th of
January I agreed with President McNaughton to go to the Valley, and about
the first of February 1852 gave President McNaughton 6 pounds to be my
deposit money and to pay for my outfit on the plains in the Ten Pound
Here I would like to say that I did quite wrong in opposing Elder Ferguson.
He was my leader and I ought to let him collect the day's wages from
each of the Saints, if he could. That was not my business. I did not
learn till later that he did collect it, but that he cut off fourteen
members ere he stopped. Thus, our Aberdeen Branch, once numbered one
hundred, with the apostacy under Robert Hill and the fourteen Andrew
Ferguson cut off, there were but few left of all the members in the Branch.
At that time only eleven made their way to Utah: Mrs. Mitchell and three
daughters, Brother Robb and wife, Brother Brown and wife, Brother Noble
and wife and myself. On the 24th of January 1853 I drew from the bank
my money, 17 pounds, and on the 8th of February I left work to go. I
left Aberdeen on the 12 of February 1853. Before leaving, I took farewell
of my friends and relatives. Some of them were very opposed, also some
of them in the Church. I also promised to do my best to take out Helen
Mitchel the following season.
I arrived in Edinburgh by train at half past
12 noon. I went to Brother Waugh's and left my portrait. I took dinner
in a cook shop on High Street,
and then went to Mr. Focktrit's. To my astonishment, I there met my sister
Margret. I got a kind of a promise that she might yet come to America
to me. On Monday 14th I got a number of presents from her for my comfort.
There was a top coat, shirts, etc. and a genuine silver watch No. 13484–87–13417.
I asked her if she would loan me six pounds to take Helen Mitchel with
me, but she not being a Mormon and not understanding our faith in the
command of God to gather to Zion said "No sir, you're going to a
country that you know nothing of and to take a girl there, perhaps to
starve, no. You go there and see if you can make a living. Then write
me and I will then help her out to you." I had to go with that promise.
I parted with her on the 15th at Edinburgh.
The same afternoon that I parted with Margret, I arrived in Glasgow.
I met my brother George at the Glasgow Station. I went to his house.
On Friday 18th I got a letter from Liverpool that I could not be included
on the International which was to sail on the 23rd of February, but that
I would be notified in a few days for the next vessel. On Saturday 12th
of March I got notification to be in Liverpool to sail with the Falcon
on the 28th of March. Sailing vessels were very scarce that year as the
Gold Fever had broken out in Australia and all were going there.
On Saturday 19th, I left Glasgow with about 100 Saints to sail on the
same vessel. I was a little sick on the way to Liverpool. I watched the
luggage at night on the steamer. On the 20th we arrived in Liverpool
where I found lodgings at Mrs. Gellian's. On March 21st we removed our
luggage to sheds on the Bramly Moor Dock. I watched the luggage part
of the night. That same day I went to the office and paid the other four
pounds for my passage. We watched our luggage by turns until Monday the
28th of March when we sailed out of Liverpool. It was a fine day but
Tuesday 29th, a cold but calm day. Some wind in the afternoon.
Wednesday 30th, the wind rose and we sailed on well.
Thursday the 31st, a strong gale at night. A complete storm. The trunks
were rolling, tumbling, breaking. The ship was cracking, children and
women crying. I never was in such a scene. I was very sick. The ship
rolled fearfully. I thought we would go to the bottom. My mind was calm
as a summer morning, yet I was sorry to lay down my salvation there.
Yet, thought I, the will of the Lord is done. In the excitement I asked
of the Lord if we should be saved or not. I got a manifestation of the
Spirit that we would all be saved and that the storm would abate in two
or three days and then general fair weather would ensue after that.
Friday April 1st. The storm was a little over, yet the sea still rather
high and the ship rocked much at night, very much. I was very sick. I
was scarce able to be up and so were most of the company.
Tuesday the 5th, my sickness abated a little, but I had a sore boil
on my neck. It pained me a great deal. All things else went very well
Wednesday, May 4th. This morning we were awakened by the salute that
there was land in view. It was half past three in the morning. It was
Abaco Island with a lighthouse up to warn ships.
All has gone on very well. The weather is fine in general. Favorable
winds and general good health has been, since the seasickness has gone.
It has almost all abated. Four children died. One died of teething, two
of diseases in the head, one of inflammation of the windpipe. Very interesting
are the meetings on Sabbath day. Also meetings on Thursday and prayers
at 8 a.m. and at 8 p.m. This night, Wednesday, we sighted the Gulf of
On Thursday the 5th we had an awful experience of thunder and lightning.
Monday 16th. We have been in the Gulf of Mexico since the 4th. We've
seen some rocks and lighthouses. Everything is much becalmed. We only
this day came in sight of the lighthouse at the bar at the mouth of the
Mississippi. At 3 p.m. the pilot came on board. At 4, we were in tow
of a steamer. About half past 4 a second steamer had hold of us. About
5, we came in sight of land and houses. Could see the grass. A particular
feeling of gratitude and joy prevailed to the Providence of Heaven in
being brought safely through thus far. About 6, we scraped the bar. About
half past 7 we started with another ship, both in tow of one steamer
up the river.
Tuesday 17th. This morning scenes of delight passed us on each side
of the river. To see the fruit fields was a beautiful experience. We
arrived at New Orleans on the 17th of May, 7 weeks and two days from
We lay three days at New Orleans. We then took passage up the river
on a steamer. We were six days and one night in getting to St. Louis.
That day we changed vessels and started for Keokuk. Next night we landed
at Keokuk so our sailing was done with. We lay three days at Keokuk and
then started for the plains. Such bad roads I have never seen. We went
13 miles from Keokuk and lay over. We lightened up and burnt boxes and
goods. I threw away about 100 pounds of clothing, etc.
On Sunday, about twenty of us went across the Mississippi River to Nauvoo.
We saw the ruins of the Saints' homes, the ruins of the Temple and we
visited the Nauvoo Mansion. We saw Mr. Bidamon, the man who married Emma
Smith. We saw Lucy Smith, the Prophet's mother, and also Emma. We also
saw his three sons, Joseph, Frederick, and David. David was then in his
9th year and Joseph was 21. We also saw Mr. Bidamon's little girl about
the same age as David. They were all playing together about the house.
We crossed back to camp that night. This was about the first of June
1853. Near Montrose, we lightened up our loads. The understanding before
we left Liverpool being, that each ten of the Ten Pound Company would
have a wagon, four oxen, two cows and each could take 100 pounds of luggage
besides being furnished enough provisions for the journey. But we had
to take twelve in a wagon and consented to reduce our extra luggage to
seventy-five pounds and if possible to fifty. There was no way to hire
our extra luggage taken to the Valley so we burned our boxes and extra
weight. We put our clothes in sacks. The captain of the company was Jacob
Gates. There were 33 wagons in the company and 400 people. The four milk
cows proved to be mostly dry cows or heifers. We had one milk cow among
thirty-six of us and she died on the Sweetwater.
Across Iowa the roads were very bad and we greenhorns
poor teamsters. I did not know how we could get through the Rocky Mountains
axles, oxen and a stick across the oxens' necks to pull by. I had never
seen any such outfit. American ways were all new to us. We had thirty
pounds of flour each to take us to Council Bluffs. It had to last us
thirty days. But it did not do us. When the flour gave out, there were
chances to buy, so I called at a mill. They had no flour. I asked if
they had corn meal. Yes, plenty. When they showed it to me, I said "That's
not corn meal." They said it was Indian corn meal. "Oh," said
I, "It's corn meal made from oats." "I wouldn't call oats,
corn!" the man said. I bought the meal and asked how to cook it.
They said the same as flour. But they did not tell us to sift it, so
we cooked it, bran and all. It was not very good.
We got to Council Bluffs the 30th of June, but as the 4th of July was
near, the ferrymen had to celebrate, so we did not get started to ferry
until the 11th of July. All got over by the 16th inclusive. While laying
near the Bluffs, I found the George McKenzies, late of Dundee and Aberdeen.
I called on them and was invited to stop and sleep there. I did for four
nights. It was so good to sleep with mosquito bar around the bed.
When we did get started to cross the river, we
had to cut willows, fill up the sloughs, make a road three quarters
of a mile, to pull the boat
up by hand. Then ere it got across, it had to be pulled up on the other
side to the landing. In getting the ferrying done, I had overworked myself.
When we did start the afternoon of July 16th I had to lay in the wagon
sick, the only time I did ride from the Mississippi to Salt Lake. We
got all our provisions rationed out to us at Council Bluffs. 100 pounds
of flour, one pint of sugar, one pound of tea for 12, and 10 pounds of
bacon to grease the wagon, one bucketful of salt for 12 and to feed the
cattle. The salt, sugar and tea were all gone ere we got to Laramie.
At the Bluffs I asked President Haight if I could take 25 pounds of flour
extra with me, as I had seen that in coming from Keokuk to the Bluffs,
a pound a day was not sufficient. Abruptly he said "We won't haul
it for you sir." By the time we got to Laramie halfway from the
Bluffs to Salt Lake some had all their flour eaten up. From then on it
was divide, divide until within ten days travel to Salt Lake the captain
called for all the flour in the company to be brought in and the last
division was made which was two and one-half pounds each and had to last
us to Salt Lake. From the Black Hills on our cattle began to give out.
When they could no longer work they were driven ahead of the train. When
they could not walk any longer, they were butchered for beef and divided
among the company. But such beef! It did keep the most of us alive until
we got to Salt Lake. The only man in the wagon with me, a Brother Crossland
from London, was taken sick on Green River with mountain fever and died
west of Bridger. He was buried at the crossing of Bear River and Evanston.
I had a rough time of it then having to take care of the cattle, get
wood and water for the wagon, stand guard half the night each fourth
night. When Brother Crossland was unmanageable by his wife, he being
light-headed with the fever, I had to have the tent close to the wagon
to be ready to help Mrs. Crossland to calm her husband. He said to me
one day "If I die, I should like to write my own epitaph." "What
would you write, Brother Crossland?....I should write, "I am murdered
by the unwise procedure of the Ten Pound Company.'" He had pinched
himself to save it for his children.
Captain Jacob Gates gave his horse, the only
horse in the company, to Brother Waddington to go to Salt Lake to get
us supplies. When Brother
Waddington got plenty to eat himself, he took a long time to hunt up
the authorities to send us help. We were at the west foot of Little Mountain,
when Brother Waddington met us with two hundred pounds of flour. It was
not much for four hundred starving people. As I was getting up the Big
Mountain on the east side, Brother William Walker came past me with a
watermelon rind in his hand. He handed the rind to me. Said he "Watermelon,
watermelon!" This was the first watermelon rind I had ever seen.
I ate the rind good! That night Brother Walker, as he slept in my tent,
gave us six potatoes, one to me and the other five to Mrs. Crossland
and her four children. That was all we had for supper. Parley P. Pratt
brought out the melon and the potatoes to Brother Walker, his father-in-law.
Next night we each got our half pound of flour that Brother Waddington
brought out from Salt Lake.
When we got to Salt Lake we could buy plenty, and I still had one English
sovereign besides some silver in my pocket. I have been disgusted ever
since to hear about the precious gold. It, we could not eat, when there
was nothing to buy. I managed to buy two pounds of deer fat at Bridger,
but that was all the woman would sell. When Brigham heard how we had
been pinched for food, he said that was the last of the Ten Pound Emigration
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