Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Helping the Poor Saints Emigrate from England: Perpetual Emigration Fund

 Chapter Five
Mormon Emigration Roster Ship Horizon:
“Martin Company, Isaac Wardle, 20, Collier, England, PEF yes, p 10” (Handcart)

The Perpetual Emigration Fund by John Lyon

Come on, ye rich, with all your gifted store;
Give to the poor, and God will give you more!
Your feeling hearts, responsive to His call,
Will find His love and blessing best of all:
Yea, tenfold, int’rest on the things you have,
And more than all your charities e’er gave!
Why should not help the lab’ring poor?
Both are compell’d to knock at mercy’s door!
As well the river scorn the stream and brook
From which it all its swelling greatness took;
Nor give one drop to quench the parched shore;
As wealth withhold accumulated toil,
And say to Poverty,--Starve on the while!
Let richer Saints pour in their glitt’ring gold,
‘Twill pave your way to Zion’s mountain fold!
Ten thousand hearts, with prayerful ardour, seek
The means to live, yet mourn from week to week,
Who could be blest through your beneficence,
To go where labour gains a recompense!
Oh, then!  Let love your names in sums record
What you will do for Zion, and the Lord!
Ye poor who labour, learn with pure delight,
How much in value was the widow’s mite!
How farthings multiplied to pence make pounds,
And pounds, to hundreds, thousands—have no bounds!
Till every Saint reliev’d and sinner stunned,
Will shout,--LOOK HERE!  At this Perpetual Fund! (Lyon, John)

Helping the poor to emigrate was long a concern of the Brigham Young and the Church.  The Church supported immigration in several ways.  The first was to encourage the Saints to do whatever they could to prepare for their emigration.  Andrew Olsen explained that even the poorest of Saints was encouraged to do whatever they could towards their own migration. President Richards taught, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”  (Olsen p 18)  President Richards further taught:

We ask all the Saints who are desirous of gathering, have you, during the past season, made it your study and business to accomplish something towards your emigration?  Or have you carelessly passed it by, leaving it to some mere chance of fortune?  Have you acted as though you expected the Lord to do for you which you have not considered worthy of your own exertions?  Or have you laboured faithfully to accomplish your own salvation on the principle that “the Lord helps those who help themselves?”

As strong as the desire of the Saints is almost universally to gather, there are comparatively few who have gone to work systematically to accomplish it. …If they would carefully take their expenditures into consideration, they might save from one to ten shillings a-week without curtailing themselves in the needful comforts of life.  Eighteen pence a-week saved for one year, would generally pay passage of one person to the United States.  There are many Saints who with care and consideration could save from that to five times as much.  In this way, through the blessings of the Lord, they could have already accomplished their deliverance. (Millennial Star XVII p 601)

That this teaching was effective is manifested in the stories of those who emigrated.  Many did all they could in preparing.  For example, one pioneer woman, 13 at the time, later wrote, “The spirit of gathering to Zion was strong upon us and we worked at our looms by day, and our fancy works by night, and saved the proceeds.  By this means, we gathered enough in six months to pay our passage across the sea; and in many ways we realized that God helps those who help themselves. (Olsen, 42) Betsy Goodwin Smith wrote in her life history, many years later, “For the benefit of the youth of Zion who may read this, I bear testimony that I know God hears and answers prayers, and the Lord will help those who help themselves.”  (ibid p 19)
This type of teaching must also have had some effect on Isaac.  In his own history he talks of leaving his family home for Walsall, where for whatever reason he was able to make more money until he had enough for the journey to America. (Wardle, Isaac)  This may have been an inconvenience, but Isaac was doing what he could to emigrate.  Even so, he took advantage of the Perpetual Emigration Fund.

Perpetual Emigration Fund

 Mormon immigration was hindered by a lack of resources on the part of the Saints. Traveling could be expensive.  As early as 1847, Brigham Young and the Quorum of 12 Apostles were looking at this problem. “It is the duty of the rich Saints every where, to assist the poor, according to their ability, to gather; and if they choose, with a covenant and promise that the poor thus helped, shall repay as soon as they are able.”  (Millennial Star X p 86)
This was the basic philosophy behind The Perpetual Emigration Fund which was established in 1849:

The first Church plan for large-scale aid to foreign converts appeared in 1849 when the gold rush was adding so nobly to Utah’s resources.  A conference at Salt Lake City ratified a proposal for a perpetual emigration fund.  (Taylor, P.A.M. p 131)

  The Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, commonly referred to as the Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF), was a corporation established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1849. The purpose of the corporation was to provide economic assistance to more than 30,000 individuals who sought to emigrate to Utah and surrounding regions.
   The PEF used both church assets and private contributions to aid impoverished converts to the LDS faith when they moved west. As funds were limited, converts seeking aid were ranked by their useful skills and by the duration of their membership in the church. Limits on funds led to innovative preparations and travel methods, including the establishment of handcart companies, to reduce expenses. Once established in their new homes, the converts were expected to repay the funds to the company in cash, commodities, or labor, with minor interest, so others could receive help.  (Wikipedia)

In addition to fulfilling the purpose of gathering the Saints, the PEF fulfilled another purpose, that of populating, and providing strength to the Mormon community:

The first great task to which the Mormons devoted themselves in the 1850’s was the build-up of population through the Perpetual Emigrating Company.  As he result of the initial operations of that company, the Mormon population in the Great Basin soared from some 6,000 persons in the spring of 1849 to approximately 20,000 persons in 1852.  The new task to which it now turned was the emigration of approximately 30,000 Latter-day Saints in England.  The primary motive of this emigration, of course, was the theological principle of gathering, but there is no question that economic goals also were important. (Arrington p 97)

Brigham Young said the purpose of the fund was to “Help the honest poor from localities where poverty is a crime,… where every avenue to rise in the scale of being to any degree of respectable joyous existence is forever closed.”  (op19__) Initially the PEF was used to help the scattered Saints in the Eastern United States; those who chose to migrate but did not have the means.  In 1853, it began to assist those from foreign lands.  The PEF was established during the gold rush period, when there was an economic boon in the Intermountain West as a result of travelers going through Salt Lake, and needing to purchase horses, or willing to trade to unload goods.  As a result the fund was able to pay traditional means of transport for those who wanted to emigrate, first from the eastern United States, and then from overseas.  However, as 1856 approached these conditions had changed. 
In 1856 the Church faced some serious concerns.  Most of the members who could afford to emigrate had already done so.  Many were dependent on the Perpetual Emigration Fund, and this was exhausted.  Crop failures in Utah in 1855 had dwindled donations.  The greatest expense on the Church was immigration, and many thought this should be postponed. 
James Willie expressed the importance of the PE Fund in a letter to Franklin Richards.  …but I am certain the only source the Saints here can look to for deliverance and escape from Babylon is the P.E. Fund…I can truly say the emigration spirit is universal here, and most of the Saints appear to be impressed with the belief that “God helps them that helps themselves.”  (Millennial Star xviii p 18)
Brigham Young proposed donating his own property, if there were a buyer, to finance the emigration.  “It will be remembered that in 1856 the great yearning and benevolence of our Prophet towards the poor of this Mission were manifested by large appropriations of property for their emigration.  In this he was seconded by the liberality of others in Zion towards the same end, while on this side of the Atlantic a similar spirit was manifested, and a hearty co-operation of efforts made for the emigration of the poor.”  (Millennial Star xxii p 72)
A Millennial Star editorial talks about the special relationship between Jesus and the poor.  It then talks about the poor and the Church:

The great object has been continually to gather the poor and provide for them.  For this brother Brigham and the faithful in Zion labour and contribute liberally of their substance, for they realize that of such is the kingdom of heaven.  It matters not how wealthy a man is when he obeys the Gospel, or how much of the world’s good he may take to the gathering place with him, in common with his brethren he must learn by experience if necessary, to feel for the wants of the poor, before he receive a fullness of the blessings which the Lord has in store for the faithful.  (Millennial Star XVIII p 73)

The buyer for a great deal of the property was found in the person of a British land owner, and convert to the Church, Thomas Tennant.  “Before leaving England, Thomas Tennant paid $25,000 to buy a home that Brigham Young offered for sale to help replenish the Perpetual Emigration Fund. This purchase provided the greatest single contribution to financing the 1856 emigration.  (Olsen pp 227-228)
John Beecroft noted this with regards to “Squire” Tenant who was next to them on one of the legs of the journey aboard a train:

Before we changed carriages and when we got into the other carriages we had Mr. Tenant for our nearest neighbor. He had his wife, her mother, and his child. What had Mormonism done? Such a spectacle was scarcely ever witnessed as to see one who has been so rich, so high in life, to come to be huddled together with the poorest of the poor and see how patiently he endures all things is truly wonderful.  (Beecroft, BYU)

Millen Atwood, who was in the Willie Company, and second-in-command, was a missionary in England when the handcart plan was announced.  “But when Br. Brigham offered his property so liberally, and the word came that they should gather from England, it ran like fire in dry stubble and the hearts of the poor Saints leapt for joy and gladness; they could hardly contain themselves.  (Atwood)
75 percent of those who would take the voyage aboard the Horizon with Isaac were traveling with the Perpetual Emigration Fund.  (Handcart)  As beneficial as these additional donations were to the PEF, it still wasn’t enough to allow all those who wanted to, to travel.  Resources where still spread too thin.

The Handcart Plan

A member of the Manchester Branch in England summed up the immigration problem thusly:

A great many people joined the church. The question was how to get them to Utah. There were hardly enough teams to carry all the emigrants. Finally, however, it was decided to form handcart companies to cross the plains from the end of the railroad in Iowa to the valleys of the mountains. The plan looked hard, but not impossible, and the people were so eager to get to Zion with the Saints that nothing seemed too difficult.  (Harrison, BYU)

Leroy and Ann Hafen described the Hancart plan as “the most remarkable travel experiment of Western America.  Nearly three thousand men, women and children, pulling their worldly possessions in hand-made, two-whelled cars, trudged some thirteen hundred miles to the Zion of their hopes.  Across prairies and mountains, rivers and deserts, creaked their fragile vehicles, motored by muscle and fueled with blood.” (Hafen and Hafen p 11)  The handcart plan was further described:
Most of the home seeking families who set out for Oregon, California, or Utah in the 1840s traveled by wagon, but between 1856 and 1860, when Mormon funds for bringing new converts to Utah Territory grew short, hundreds of families walked all the way to the promised land, drawing behind them handcarts that held all their belongings.  Unlike the majority of emigrants who had chosen to go west, these were not hearty frontier families used to rural living but were mostly immigrants from factory towns in England.  In these “handcart companies” women generally outnumbered men, and many people of both sexes were elderly.”  (Peavy and Smith)

 “According to the Mormon Church’s ‘divine plan’ European Saints were to sail to America and proceed by train to Iowa City, Iowa, the starting point for the long trek to Utah.  From there they would walk, pushing or pulling all their possessions in handcarts.  Hundreds of European families responded to the plan.”  (Kimball)
This idea was not new to Brigham Young.  He had pondered on it since seeing Forty-niners travel through Salt Lake with their possessions on their back, or in a wheelbarrow. (Roberts, p 89)  The Millennial Star of December 22, 1855 announced the plan in a published letter from Brigham Young to Franklin Richards:

   I have been thinking how we should operate another year.  We cannot afford to purchase wagons and teams as in times past, I am consequently thrown back upon my old plan—to make hand-carts, and let the emigration foot it, and draw upon them the necessary supplies, having a cow or two for every ten.  They can come just as quick, if not quicker, and much cheaper—can start earlier and escape the prevailing sickness which annually lays so many o our brethren in the dust… The carts can be made without a particle of iron, with wheels hooped, made strong and light, and one, or if the family be large, two of them will bring all that they will need upon the plains. 
   If it is once tried you will find that it will become the favourite mode of crossing the plains… I want to see it fairly tried and tested, and I think we might as well begin… and save this enormous expense of purchasing wagons and teams—indeed we will be obliged to pursue this course, or suspend operations, for aught that I can see at the present. (Millennial Star XVII p. 813)

            Brigham Young may have been overly optimistic in his appraisal theorizing “They will only need 90 days’ rations from the time of their leaving the Missouri River,… A company of this kind should make the trip in sixty or seventy days.” (ibid)
            In the same Millennial Star Franklin Richards, Apostle and President of the European Mission editorialized:

…The plan about to be adopted by the P.E. [Perpetual Emigration] Fund Company, of substituting hand-carts for ox-teams in crossing the plains, has been under consideration for several years.  The plan proposed is novel, and, when we allow our imaginations to wander into the future and paint the scenes that will transpire on the prairies next summer, they partake largely of the romantic.  The plan is the device of inspiration, and the Lord will own and bless it.  Those who are ready to adopt it in faith and confidence will find that many supposed obstacles will disappear, and real ones be readily overcome…

We do not but that a multitude of the faithful are ready to do anything, or gather to the Mountains in any way that may be opened before them,  and that will best subserve the interests of the work.  The sacrifices and exertions they are willing to make are the constant measure of their faith and appreciation of the blessings of salvation.  Those who are willing to do anything required of them to get to Zion are the very ones most likely to obey counsel after they arrive there.  And every difficulty which the increase of the work and the perils of the times throws in the path of the emigrating Saints, is another guarantee that fewer hypocrites and apostate spirits will be mixed up with the Saints in Utah, to work iniquity and prove enemies in the day of trouble…

It would be much more economical both in time, labour, and expense, if, instead of spending several weeks to obtain, and accustom to the yoke, a lot of wild, ungovernable cattle, impairing the health of many of the brethren by excessive labour and fatigue, and bringing disease and death into the camps by long delays… [if] on the arrival of a company of Saints on the frontier they could have the necessary hand-carts ready, and load them, and be 200 or 300 miles on their journey, with the same labour that would otherwise be expended in getting started.    (Millennial Star XVII p 809-810)

            Brother Richards pointed out other advantages to traveling by hand-cart.  Not having to yoke the oxen every morning which could take two hours to get ready, not having to look for lost oxen, not being a temptation for Indians as there would be less livestock, having more time for sleep and refreshment and less for guarding, and being able to make the trip more quickly.  He also mentions that the cost for the trip will be decreased by two-thirds, which would decrease the indebtedness of the emigrating Saints. (ibid) He continued:

Now the time has arrived when the funds of he Company can be applied to their legitimate object, and the faithful, long suffering poor are the special objects of regard.  Plans are being devised to effect the deliverance of the greatest possible number of these with the means at the disposal of the Company.  This is the great object to be attained, and for which hand-carts are to take the place of ox-teams. (ibid p. 811)

            He lastly comments that making such a trip can be compared to other religious pilgrimages, The Mahomedan to Mecca, The Roman Catholic enduring severe penance, the Hindoo and self-inflicted tortures.   “Then shall not the Saints,…be ready to prove by their works that their faith is worth more than the life of the body…” (ibid)
            Josiah Rogerson, wrote a series of articles on the handcarts.  He explains the dilemma in this way:

There are several reasons why the emigration of 1856 was augmented in numbers above that of many years previous …, but the main reason in memory now was, that hundreds of the first converts to Mormonism, in 1837, 1840 and till 1850, had been so whole-souled in their importunities to President Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards and other prominent elders that first went to England, Scotland, and Wales, with the gospel for “deliverance form the British Isles,” that President Young became determined to meet the emergency with the handcart experiment. 

One of the reasons for the church to promote the handcart plan was cost.  It could cost 600 dollars to outfit a family of three for the plains by the traditional methods.  (Kimball) Benjamin Platt and his wife were hampered by the cost, and the handcart plan was suited to them:
...In the latter part of the year 1855 President Brigham Young wrote to Franklin D. Richards then presiding over the British Mission that First [p.1] Presidency had decided to have company of handcarts organized to cross the plains the coming season and that he, Brigham Young, would sell a house and barn and stables if anyone in England would buy them and he would turn the proceeds into the Emigration fund for the benefit of the gathering Saints.
 It was thought this would be a little cheaper way of gathering the Saints. I wrote to Brother Richards at Liverpool that I would like to go by this way by handcarts as my money was limited and there was two of us and I had £ 12.10 S or about $60, sixty dollars and if I could not go to Utah I would go to the states. [-] the cost by hand carts was £ 9 or, $45 dollars each so he arranged for us to go by hand carts that is me and my wife.  (Platt, BYU)
The Church considered alternatives; including having families immigrate to the Eastern United States, where they could get jobs and earn money for the final part of the journey.  However the risk of losing these members was too great:
   Even the emigration journey proved an ordeal too severe for many; and while no precise calculation can be made, it seems that although most of the emigrants who went straight through to Utah arrived as loyal Church members, most of those who for any reason broke their journey in the eastern United States found the attractions of local American life too strong to ever face that last thousand miles. “(Taylor, P.A.M. p 74)
   Another policy which had to be kept in mind was emigration by stages.  It was plausible to argue on economic grounds that, with emigration to Utah so costly, families should go to the eastern States, take advantage of the higher wages there, and save for the final stage of the journey.  But Mormon emigration was not a purely economic enterprise.  It was useless for a convert to reach America if, under the influence of Gentile society, he lapsed form the Church. (ibid p 128)

With the announcement of the handcart plan, those who were able to travel by wagon were asked to make even more sacrifice.  They were asked to consider going by handcart, and using the difference to help other Saints gather.  Francis Webster was one brother who chose to do this.  He had been a gold prospector in California, and then returned to England and eventually became a branch president in London.  He set an example by using the money saved to pay the way for other Saints.  With the money that would have supplied a wagon for he and his wife, they were able to go by handcart themselves, as well as nine other Saints.  (See Olsen, p 1)
The returning missionaries would play a major role in the handcart plan.  Franklin Richards reminded the Elders of their duty to the immigrants:
The poor have particular demands on you.  On your journey home you should constantly seek how you can aid them by your experience, direct and comfort them by your counsels, cheer them by your presence, strengthen their faith, and keep the spirit of union and peace in their midst…

On our arrival in the United States, instead of feeling as though you had nothing to do but to get home yourselves, be in readiness to render any assistance or assume any responsibilities which those having charge of the immigration may see fit to place upon you.   Make the interest of the gathering poor your interests, and be as anxious to see them safely home as yourselves.

Traveling across the plains with teams has always been trying to the patience and perseverance of the inexperienced, and traveling with handcarts cannot be expected to be any less so.  You cannot crown your mission with a labour more befitting your calling, or more consonant with the spirit of the Gospel you have been preaching, than to consider it your duty and privilege to assist the poor in gathering home. (Millennial Star___OP49)

Isaac would have been hampered in his efforts to travel to Utah by his own illiteracy.  However he wasn’t the only member to have this problem. “The authorities in Conferences and Districts were expected to ensure that members understood the instructions, since many were illiterate as well as inexperienced.”  (Taylor, P.A.M. p 161)

Complexities of the immigration

The immigration was a large, complicated undertaking.  It was spread out over 5000 miles and their were emigrants from 14 nations.  (See Olsen p 50.)  There were large numbers immigrating in 1856, 4400, and almost half of them were using the Perpetual Emigration Fund.  Scheduling was complex and involved coordinating on both sides of the ocean when mails were slow:

The organization required to coordinate sea, train, river, and overland travel for thousands of emigrants took masterful planning, especially in the days before the telegraph.  LDS emigration agents …carried a tremendous responsibility for chartering ships, purchasing railroad tickets, preparing schedules, meeting emigrants at arrival and departure points, buying and distributing equipment and supplies, and keeping financial records in order. (Arrington)___op51
John Southwell gave an idea of how the migration was organized.  “In the Spring … the annual call was made for a number of the oldest members of the church to emigrate to the land of Zion…. Those who could pay their fare and those who needed help were instructed to forward their names with a recommend to the president of the European Mission in Liverpool.  The presidents of the different branches of the church having this part of the business to attend to.”  (Southwell, BYU)
Isaac traveled with the PEF Fund.  The Millennial Star included a sample of the papers he would have signed.  (See Illustrations)  Later, aboard the Horizon the PEF passengers would sign papers for their passage.  “P.E. Fund passengers signed receipts for their passage to Boston.” (Jaques, Bell)

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