Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1855 (age 23), McFarland, Archibald

I was born on the 17th of December 1832 in the village of Sinclair Town in the parish of Dyart Fifeshire, Scotland. My father's name was William McFarland and my mother's name was Margaret McCormick. My father was twice married, my mother being his second wife; his first wife's name being Catherine Boyd. She bore my father two children. One died when he was quite young, and my other brother, whose name was Charles, enlisted in the British Army when he was eighteen and I was a boy of eight years. There were ten years difference in our ages. He went to India and died there in the year 1852. He was born on April 23, 1823.

My father's first wife was a widow when he married her. She had one daughter whose name was Elizabeth McDonald. She was born in 1818 and died when I was about fifteen years of age. She left three children, two girls and a boy.

To America
After I got married, I commenced the most eventful period of my life, for I, with all my father's family started to the gathering place of the people of God in Utah. We left Liverpool, or I should have said we were going to leave Liverpool on the ship Helious, but after we embarked and had been on board two nights during a storm she broke loose from her anchor in the river and ran aground, and the government officers would not let her go to sea until she had been inspected on the dry docks, so we were put ashore again, and had to stay one month. She was advertised to sail on December 20, 1854, but we didn't get to sail until sometime in January 1855. We then sailed on a ship called the Charles Buck, and as there was some dispute between our shipping agent, Franklin D. Richards and the captain of the Helious, we did not get the provisions that were provided for us, and the consequence was that before we got half over the sea our provisions began to run short, and we had rather a hard time. Needless to say, we were greatly blessed of the Lord in our journey and arrived all safe in New Orleans on March 5, 1855, and from here we took a steamer to St. Louis up the Mississippi River. We were eleven days on the river between New Orleans and St. Louis. We stayed here some eight days and met some of our old friends who were very kind. I will just mention some of their names. Foremost among them was Alexander Dow, who has since come to Utah, apostatized and gone back. James and Thomas Adamson from the Boreland who were very kind. James never came to Utah, but Thomas gathered that same year and is now a faithful man of God. From St. Louis we took a steamboat for Atcheson, Kansas. We were nine days on this journey. There were then but few inhabitants in this part of the west only three houses in the town. We moved out some six miles from the river and took up a section of land. That is to say, the brethren who were in charge of the emigration for that year, and we emigrants commenced to build houses, fence and plow the land.

The Trek
We stayed here until July 2nd when we organized into a company with Richard Ballantyne as captain. While we were camped here cholera broke out in the camp, but through the blessings of the Lord not many died. There were eleven persons to each wagon to travel across the plains, and there being nine of our own family there were only two other persons traveling in our wagon. The cattle and wagons belonged to the P Emigrating Company and the emigrants paid so much for their use. Our wagon contained my father and mother, myself and wife, I being the only married one at the time, my brothers James, William and Robert and sisters Mary Ann and Janet, a young woman named Jane Pilkinstin and a motherless girl named Eliza Pinder. Our traveling from the Missouri River with the exception of the wagon tracks that former companies had made, was a trackless desert. We saw the first herd of buffalo the second day after we started, and if I remember right, killed one the third day. We would average about fifteen miles per day, and we saw herds of buffalo and deer almost every day, and when we got on the Platte River the whole country seemed alive with them. We killed what we wanted for use but never wantonly destroyed any. Our journey across the plains and through the mountains was very laborious and wearying, and I have many times thought there was no comparison between us and ancient Israel, for with them the Lord preserved their shoes and clothes, but with us when we arrived in the valley of Salt Lake most of our clothes were worn out and our shoes worn off our feet.

Salt Lake Valley
We arrived in the Valley on September 25, 1855, almost worn out but we were full of hope and full of the spirit of our Holy religion. In coming across the plains we had two of the sisters shot, and both died. The one was shot through the carelessness of a young man in handling a gun around camp while a band of Indians were around. Her name was Palmer. The other was shot when her husband, who had been hunting, brought in his gun and threw it down on the bed in the wagon, and when she went to make the bed she pulled the gun out by the barrel, and it went off. The shot lodged in her shoulder.

We did not expect to see anyone we had been acquainted with, but Brother John Bowen was looking out for us, and took us to his house and treated us with great kindness. We stayed several days with him. I went to work for a man named Alexander Wright, but as I thought he wanted to impose upon me I left him and went to work for John Sharp in quarrying and making a canal for the Church. I worked for him one year for the sum of $150.00 and our board, but as I was married he paid me double or $300.00 and board for myself and wife. During the winter and spring we suffered considerably for want of food as there was not much in the country. The grasshoppers ate up almost everything the summer previous. My wife especially suffered as she was then carrying her first child and could not eat everything that came along, as I could. There were weeks she hardly ever tasted bread. I must say that through it all we were greatly blessed by the Lord for I never felt like complaining, and the spirit of the Lord bore me up and I felt to rejoice that I Was gathered among the people of God and had the privilege to help to build up Zion in the last days.

There was a man, a neighbor from almost the same place in Scotland that we were from, I will not tell his name, who got to grumbling and complaining. He had more to eat than we had and did very little work. He never quit grumbling, but apostatized and took his whole family out of the Church. My brothers and I, out of our small wages, saved enough to buy us a new wagon and yoke of steer calves. The population of Salt Lake City was then about four or five thousand. The house where I lived was in the Twentieth Ward of the city. There were only a few houses, and women and children would come up there from the lower wards of the city in the spring to dig segos and eat them. There was also a thistle that grew in the lower parts of the city that we used to dig the roots and boil to eat.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.