1861 (age 20), Grimshaw, Duckworth (Wales)
I was born in Tottington, Lancashire, England, on March 3, 1842, about four years after the first Mormon Elders were sent from America to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in England. Many hundreds received a conviction of the truth and accepted the gospel; among that number were my father, John Grimshaw, my mother, Alice Whittaker Grimshaw, and my two oldest sisters. They all retained the faith and died in full fellowship of the gospel. My parents were very zealous in the work and attended services and required the children to attend church and Sunday School. I was christened and given the name of Duckworth. My grandmother's maiden name was Duckworth, and she had a son named Duckworth, so I was called after my uncle and grandmother, but I have not cared much for the name.
My parents" family consisted of two boys and five girls, five of whom married and raised families, two died in infancy, myself being the only boy to survive childhood. My parents were poor and depended upon weekly wages, and paid a weekly rent for thirty years previous to coming to America. When seven years old, I was put to work in printing work. Men used a block about eighteen inches long and about ten inches wide which was dipped in a sieve, covered with dye, and printed on the white cloth. My work was to use a brush and keep the color even on the sieve. This was at night when I could hardly keep awake; as I became older I was advanced a step higher to the bleach croft and dye house, where I, with other boys, had to carry heavy bundles of wet cloth on our shoulders, up three or four flights of stairs to the dyeing room. We were expected back in five to ten minutes so as to take another load. I was not very strong at this time but did the best I could, but it was beyond my strength and I received many a kick and cuff for not being back in time. About this time my father was disabled and I being the only boy found it quite a task to keep things going. I had the coal to wheel about ten rods up a narrow path to the house, most of the water we used had to be carried much further than that and for culinary purposes fully a quarter of a mile, and I had most of the family provisions to carry from the village. My mind reverts to a time when I fell and broke my collar bone. My sister Elizabeth, two years older than I, had gone for milk and fell on the pitcher and broke her wrist so we were both taken to Bolton to Doctor Sampson. One day while walking on a path along a reservoir, the snow being deep, I thought I was on the path when I was on the reservoir and the ice broke with me so I went to the bottom. It was about eight feet deep. It so happened that I did not struggle and came up at the place I broke through. I grabbed for something and was fortunate enough to get hold of a bunch of grass and pull myself out. It was a very close call for me.
While I was working at the factory I saw many terrible accidents which I shall never forget. When I was thirteen years old and had worked eighteen months as an apprentice, I was given looms to myself. I soon got three looms, then four, and in the course of time six looms with two learners. Then I made twenty-one shillings a week. This was about as far as I could advance until I became a loom jobber. I was well up in the matter of weaving and fixed all my own looms and some of my neighbor's. My two sisters worked at the same factory and we had a mile to walk to our work in the morning and a mile back at night in all kinds of weather. It was my custom to rise at 5 o'clock, light the fire, make tea for three of us while the girls dressed. We were soon on our way and we were often two or three minutes early, never one minute late so there was no complaint on that score. Brooks Bottoms weaving shed had one thousand cotton looms under one roof. It would be a wonderful sight for Utah boys and girls to hear clatter of all those looms which required buildings covering five acres of ground.
In the course of time, Hoyle and Sons Factory Masters built a weaving shed at Tottington, a little closer to home, so we went to work for them; they were men of families and experience. About this time my father's sister, Aunt Faith and Aunt Susana and her husband William Robinson, also John Robinson and wife, Joseph and Henry Tattersal converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were about to leave for America, and if permitted, finally to arrive in Utah. My Uncle Duckworth Grimshaw, not a member of the Church, thought he would like to accompany his sisters to Liverpool and see them set sail, which he did; but to their surprise he sailed with them and two or three days later came out from the luggage where he had been hiding. The captain of the ship took the matter up and was going to put him to hard labor as a deck hand but his sisters and friends, with a charitable hand, made up a purse by donation and the captain accepted it as his fare to New York. A letter was sent to my father by his wife's brother-in-law, and they were shocked to think he would desert a good wife and six children and leave them to the mercy of the public. He sent letters from New York and some money a few times but finally dropped out of sight and no more was heard of him except that he had married. I have tried but could get no tidings of his family left in England.
Previous to going to Hoyle's to work, I had not felt impressed with a desire to join the Mormon Church as they were so much against and opposed by other denominations. I had companions of my age who were kind and pleasant company for me; during our boyhood days they would come to our home and we would recite and read pieces out of choice books. We would take turns and stand while performing our parts. There were three of us, and in all our associations together for several years, I cannot think of any unpleasantness. As the opposition to the Mormons grew more intense, I felt that the stories about them were not true and the people telling them were not very sincere in their religion or they would not be running others down with such false and flimsy accusations. I did not believe them and refuted them as best I could. I began investigating and plied elders from Utah with my questions. I made up my mind that I would do right, live a good life, and observe the laws of God if they were made known so I could understand them. I wanted to be kind and treat everybody right, and I was impressed that God alone could help me. One night I knelt down and offered the first prayer I had ever offered in the spirit of prayer, and in humility and sincerity I asked God to make it known to me if the doctrines taught by the Latter-day Saints were true, and if true I was ready to receive them and to so impress me that nothing could come in my way of receiving them, but if not true I might so be impressed that nothing could induce me to accept them. I did believe in all sincerity that God would answer my honest request. I arose from my knees with a testimony of the gospel and a doubt has never entered my mind since then.
Preparations to Leave England
During the week, I met my very dear boyhood chum, John Scowcroft, and told him of my discovery of the truth of Mormonism and that I was going to join the Church. He said, "I too am convinced of it's truth and we will go and be baptized together." So on the 26th of June, 1860, we were baptized and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Elder Thomas Schofield in Tottington, Lancashire, England. I began at once to make preparations to go to America, determined to leave within six months. I was required to give a week's notice before I could leave the factory and the news soon got out that I was going to Utah. The week finally passed but it was the longest week I ever saw. While making preparations for (the) voyage, an elder from Utah, William H. Dame, then on a mission, told me of a brother in the Church and his family of girls, all of marriageable age. He said the man told him he would give me any one of the three and pay my way and hers to Utah. We had been raised in the same neighborhood and they were a very respectable family and well-to-do people, but my mind was on other things and I did not accept the proposition.
Saturday, my last day at the factory, Mr. Hoyle and a loom jobber accosted me and said, "We understand you are going to Utah. They say that Brigham Young opens all the letters and reads them; if they are good and favorable to the Mormons, he will let them pass; if truthful but unfavorable to Utah and the Mormons, he will write one to suit himself and put it in a different envelope. Now we want you to do us a favor and write us a letter when you get there and tell the true conditions and we want you to put a big cross inside the envelope. That way we will know if it is your letter or not." (I did so and sent the letter back but received no answer.)
Well, it seemed that I had more things to think of than was possible for me to attend to, but I went and paid for a berth on the ship John J. Boyd. John Scowcroft went with me to Bury. He said, "Oh, I wish I had the money I would secure a passport and go with you." At this time I had not let my father know that I was leaving for Utah, but my mother knew all about it and told Father while I was away. On going into the house Father said, "I think you had better stay here another year, then we will go with you." I told him that it was too late, that I had given up my job at the factory and had secured my ticket. I also told him that I couldn't think of remaining. I would go now and wait for them to come later.
The Walsh family had arranged to give a farewell social before I left. The members of the Church and some friends were invited, and the night before I began my journey they all gathered and we had a jolly time together singing, chatting, and dancing. All wished me a pleasant voyage and a safe arrival. They kept the party up until quite late but I was advised to retire about midnight as I was to be ready to leave at five o'clock in the morning. A number of those present at the party went to Liverpool with me to see me set sail. Among those as I remember were my father, brother-in-law, William Atkinson, Mrs. James Walsh and her daughter Mary Ann. As Mrs. Walsh shook hands with me she left three pounds, equivalent to fifteen dollars, in my hand. I asked her what that was for and she said it would help me on my journey to Utah. I thanked her and asked when she expected it back and she said, "Don't mention it, but if I ever come to Utah you might return the favor."
The John J. Boyd set sail from Liverpool on April 22, 1862, with seven hundred passengers on board. During the six-week voyage, we had some very rough weather and I was seriously ill and could scarcely eat anything for almost four weeks. I became very weak and pale. I met a young sister who suggested that I put my rations with hers and take them to the cook room and prepare them and eat together. This I did and soon began improving. A friendship sprang up which lasted through the years, and on my visits to Salt Lake, I always called on her and we had many pleasant visits together. We knew her as Mrs. Haslam.
On arriving in New York I had lots of chances to work but I told them nothing short of Utah would satisfy me. The Civil War was on and we saw companies of soldiers at different points. At Niagara railroad bridge the train stopped and we had an hour or more to visit Niagara Falls, which was truly a treat. We passed through miles of timberland being cleared for farming purposes and this timber was being destroyed like so much rubbish. It was very pleasant sailing on the river and seeing the Great Lakes.
While in Chicago I bought a large ham for three cents a pound and all the eggs we wanted for five cents a dozen. We sailed up the river to Florence, Nebraska, to wait for the Church train. I waited here for two weeks and all my money and provisions were gone. I met a man who wanted someone to drive an oxteam to Utah. In return he would provide me with food, such as they had, and his wife would do my washing. He had three cows and I said I was very pleased when he said I might have the milk to sell or do with as I wished. While we remained in Florence, he said that he was going into an independent company where all furnished their own outfits, teams, wagons, etc. I weighed the matter like this, if I go with him I will have my board but if not I will have to draw from the Church store and be in debt for provisions and expenses across the plains. I felt too, that I would get experience in driving cattle which would prove profitable in the future, so I accepted his offer even though I had never even seen an oxteam before. I told a girl friend, whom I had met on the ship, of my decision. She said, "You do not need to go." But I told her my money was gone and I would be obligated to go in debt to the Church. She put her hand in her pocket and brought out a gold sovereign and said, "I am not out of money and I will share with you as long as I have any left." I have often thought of that what a free heart and liberal hand but I could not accept her kindness. I commenced to distribute milk to the emigrants in Florence and the two weeks that I remained there I took two buckets with strainers in them and the people came with their cups and basins and got milk. I could not take a cent from any of them. It was a pleasure for me to do this and the people appreciated it greatly.
Across the Plains
The time arrived to move out of Florence to our first camp ground. In going up the street with a yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows with a big whip in my hands about twelve feet long I was met by John W. Young who was in charge of the immigration company for the Church, who said, "My young man, I see you have not been accustomed to driving cattle. Let me take your whip and I will give you a lesson." He took the whip and brought it down on the ox leader then gave the nigh leader a prog in the ribs with the whip stock and this brought the cows up in good style. I thought, well they seem to understand that sort of driving, but when I tried it I found the lash around my own neck and decided that to become efficient in driving required practice like everything else.
The trip across the plains was one of hardship. We encountered a great deal of storm, and the thundering and lightning was most terrific. At times the Indians were quite troublesome and we had to take turns guarding the cattle. This was not a pleasant task, especially when the nights were dark and stormy. We found wild grapes, currants, gooseberries, and other fruits in some parts of the country. While the cows were giving milk we would put the night and morning milk together in the churn and would have butter by night. But the cows soon dried up because of the hard work they had to do, so the boss traded them for another yoke of oxen. Soon after, one of these died. I had sold a new pair of boots that were too small for me for eleven dollars so my boss borrowed this money and bought another ox, with the promise he would pay it back when we got to Salt Lake, which he did.
Adjusting to Utah
I had not shed a tear on leaving home and had not given any serious thought to it, being busy all the time, but on arriving in Salt Lake City on September 26, 1862, and after taking the cattle to the big field south of the city, I had no place to go and began thinking of home and Mother. It was a beautiful evening, the moon was shining clear and bright; there was a young man with me who pulled out his knife and cut some stubble of sugarcane and picked nubbins of corn which had been left. This was all new to me. He peeled the cane stubble and began to eat so I did the same. We sat there eating and I looked at the beautiful bright moon; then I began wondering where I was going and what I was going to do. I spent that night with this young man in a tent and next morning I went to a house nearby and asked if I could get breakfast. The lady said yes and told me to be seated. After breakfast I asked what I was owing her and offered her the only twenty-five cents I had left, but she said she wouldn't take anything for my breakfast. I thanked her, then visited around the city and made some inquiries for a place to work.
I found plenty of work but no money. They could pay only in produce such as flour, molasses, fruit, etc. I said: "What can I do with such things? I have no family; I am alone and have no home to take them to." However, I finally hired out a month for flour and molasses to George Washington Mousley, a schoolteacher in the Sixteenth Ward. I was getting along nicely until one evening when his boy asked me to get on the other horse and go with him to water the horses. I said I didn't know how to ride, but he insisted, so I got on and immediately he whipped up his horse and mine followed. It was all I could do to hold on by hanging to the mane I was not able to hold him in check. His father heard the clatter of the horses" feet on the hard ground and waited for us to come around the block. He was angry and said: "So, that's the kind of fellow you are! I'll let you understand that you can't run my horses that way." Instead of involving the boy, I took the blame myself, but I was determined to leave him at the end of the month. When the time came he hated to see me leave but my mind was made up.
I started to walk to South Weber where I had an acquaintance by the name of Ely Smith. By the Warm Springs I was given a ride by a man with horses, team and wagon. When I told him where I was going he said he lived not more than two or three miles from there. We chatted along the way and soon became very good friends. It was getting dusk when we came to the canyon where he had to turn off. He expressed regret that he only had a lean-to and no accommodations to offer me, but pointed out a place where I might get to stay. He waited while I went to inquire. I found these people very crowded four beds in a little room about ten feet square and not even standing room between the beds. They were willing but unable to take me in. I went back to my friend and, said he, "There is only one other place; you must get in there. They are two old people and don't let them put you off." I went there and found that the old man was very deaf and couldn't understand. The lady made every excuse possible but this was in November and the weather was cold, and there were no stacks where I could find shelter, so I finally prevailed on her to let me stay by telling her it was dark and I might fall in the river and be drowned. I was given supper of bread and milk and permitted to lie on the rug by the fireplace, as they had no bedding. We had a long talk that evening and when I left the next morning we were warm friends. They invited me to call whenever I passed that way, which I did, and on one of my calls I gave them five dollars for some bound volumes of the Millennial Star, as they were too old to be able to see to read them.
I found Ely Smith and he took me to the second George Washington that I had met in my month in Utah, but this time it was George Washington Hickerson. He took me on a month's trial and put me to plowing and picking up potatoes. I could drive the cattle team but had done no plowing, but soon got on to that. At the end of two weeks, he was ready to hire me for twelve months and give me two hundred bushels of wheat and gave me a written agreement to that effect. He had a large family about my age. They found that I had a little education, most of it gained through study and attending night school for a short time, so they requested that I teach them reading, writing and arithmetic; which I did during the long winter evenings. It was a pleasure for me to renew my old studies while instructing them. The father became very interested also and I remember advancing him in problems of compound proportions. One day he brought a problem he could not work. I tried and failed so I told him to take it to the district schoolteacher, but when he failed it encouraged me to make another effort. I worked and studied on it until I succeeded. I then sent it to the teacher who said it had been worked correctly. The old father was so pleased he wanted me to apply for the position of teacher of the South Weber School, saying that I was as well qualified for the position as any teacher they had ever had. I told him I didn't pretend to be an able teacher and would rather not apply for it. I continued to help in his studies and remained with him until the year was up.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.