Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer 1847 Companies

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1841-1850: Immigration, Great Britain

In an Epistle of the Twelve Apostles, dated Manchester, (Eng.) April 15, 1841, and signed by eight members of that body, Elder Amos Fielding was appointed an agent of the Church, to superintend the fitting out of the companies of emigrants from Liverpool, and to protect them from being victimized while waiting in port to sail. Elder Fielding being a man of much experience and good judgment, no doubt performed, with every satisfaction, the duties assigned to him. He acted in concert with Elder P. [Parley] P. Pratt, until the departure of the latter from this country, Oct. 29, 1842, when the business was conducted by himself and Hyrum Clark, who left Nauvoo for that purpose, on the 23rd of June, 1842, under instructions from the Church authorities. We believe the details of the emigration effected by the last two agencies are nearly complete.

The next person who had the charge of the emigration was Elder Reuben Hedlock, who was appointed in Nauvoo, by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, on the 23rd of May, 1843. The details during his agency are not complete, but again we are fortunate in having a statement made by himself, in February, 1846, to the effect that he had shipped 990 persons, 113 of whom were allowed to pay their passage in Nauvoo; the amount of which was £466 12s....

Up to the time of Elder Hedlock's agency, and during a part of it, nearly the whole tide of emigration poured into Nauvoo, but still some of the emigrants settled in other towns and villages of Illinois, and in the then territory of Iowa, the south-west corner of which had been very favourably reported upon in July, 1840, by George Miller and John A. Mikesell, a committee appointed to examine it and report its advantages, and the facilities it offered for settlers. The main object, however-that of building up Nauvoo-was never lost sight of, and the authorities, Joseph Smith and the Twelve Apostles, constantly exhorted the immigrating Saints who had capital, to establish manufactories in that city, that employment might be given to the labouring classes as they arrived, and the interests of all be enhanced; but the continual law-suits which the Saints in Nauvoo were engaged in to defend the Prophet Joseph; and the effects of speculation in land, by some monied men from without, who bought lands at a low rate, and sold them again at enormous prices, exhausted the pockets of the Saints, crippled all manufacturing interests, and left the city, after the Prophet's assassination, in an almost helpless condition, in a pecuniary point of view. The Twelve Apostles, nevertheless, still desired that Nauvoo should be built up, and that employment should be given within the city to artizans, and recommended that every lawful means be used to bring it about; but, in the meantime, the Saints emigrating from Great Britain, who were wholly dependent upon their labour for support, were advised to emigrate to New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Salem, Boston, and other large towns in the eastern states, where branches of the Church existed, and where employment could be procured, which would give the emigrants the means to go west, when the way should open.

In February, 1846, the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo commenced, and as they had no permanent location, until their arrival at Council Bluffs, in the June following, the emigration from Great Britain was suspended. The ultimate destination ... was from the first intended to be beyond the Rocky Mountains, and, in the meantime, the Saints from Great Britain, were directed to make for the bay, or port of San Francisco. Elder Hedlock, in an address, in February, 1846, intimated that a company would leave in the following September for California; and in another address, in April, stated that, following the instructions given by Elder Woodruff, previous to his departure, and the voice of the General Conference, held in Manchester, he should submit to the next General Conference, the formation of the first company of emigrants, that all things might be prepared to send out a vessel on the 10th of September. These arrangements, however, were never carried into effect; but on the arrival of Elders O. Hyde and John Taylor, on the 3rd of October, and P. P. Pratt, on the 14th, the emigration was further suspended. Having been appointed to come to England, these three Apostles left Council Bluffs in the previous summer, and on their arrival took charge of the British Mission.

The following elders were in charge of the mission during the remaining years of Pioneer Period: Franklin D. Richards, 1851-52; Samuel W. Richards, 1852-54; Franklin D. Richards, 1854-56; Orson Pratt, 1856-57; Samuel W. Richards, 1857-58; Asa Calkin, 1858-60; Nathaniel V. Jones, pro tem., 1860; Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 1860-62; George Q. Cannon, 1862-64; Daniel H. Wells, 1864-65; Brigham Young, Jr. 1865-67; Franklin D. Richards, 1867-68; Albert Carrington, 1868-70.

By 1850 Franklin D. Richards, who replaced Orson Pratt as mission president, was able to present the Church's solution to the problem, the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. Contributions soon began to pour in from English Saints, opening the way for long awaited emigration of thousands of British, Scandinavian and other converts. And while the great majority of the emigrants were hastening toward Zion in full belief of the gospel and the latter-day kingdom, there were some whose underlying purpose in reaching American shores was purely materialistic. These became impatient when financial aid was not immediately forthcoming, and apostatized. It was a period of frustration for Church authorities in Britain, culminating in the adoption of a policy of screening these individuals by excommunication.

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.