Friday, October 23, 2009

Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle
Ship: 1736 tons: 215' x 42' x 21'
Built: 1853 by Trufant & Drummond at Bath, Maine
A famous clipper packet, the full-rigged Emerald Isle carried a total of 1280 Mormons in three voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.

The first passage began on 30 November 1855 at Liverpool with 350 Saints on board. Elder Philemon C. Merrill and his counselors, Elders Joseph France and Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, presided over the emigrant company. Captain George B. Cornish, a veteran mariner, commanded the vessel. In 1848 he was listed as master of the 895-ton ship Sheridan. The crossing was marked by some damage caused by high winds and heavy seas, the deaths of two children, and three marriages. After a relatively fast crossing of twenty-nine days the ship arrived on 29 December at New York harbor.

Almost four years later, on 20 August 1859, the Emerald Isle again skippered by Captain Cornish sailed out of Liverpool with fifty-four Saints aboard-fifty from Switzerland and Italy and four from England. Elder Henry Hug was in charge of the company. After a forty-two-day passage, of which there are no details, the vessel arrived on 1 October at New York.

This same ship began her third voyage with Mormon emigrants on 20 June 1868 at Liverpool. There were 876 Saints in the company, of which 627 were from Scandinavia and the rest from the British Isles. Elder Hans Jensen Hals presided over the company. His counselors were Elders James Smith and John Fagerberg. On this crossing the ship was commanded by a Captain Gillespie. After six days the square-rigger put into Queenstown harbor to take on fresh water, since the equipment to distill sea water for culinary use had broken down. On 29 June the voyage resumed, but life on shipboard became increasingly unpleasant. The officers and crew treated the Saints harshly, and Elder Hals protested to the captain and reminded him of the contractual and legal rights of the passengers. On one occasion a mate attacked a Sister Saunders, and a "Brother Jensen" pulled the mate away and chastised him. Soon a group of sailors threatened violence but were subdued after the master reprimanded the offender. According to the Church Emigration record, no other emigrating company was known to have received such bad treatment. "Fortunately this is the last company of Scandinavian Saints which crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing vessel." However, it was not just the treatment from the ship's of officers and crew that created unpleasantness, but the water became stagnant and unfit for use, causing much sickness among the emigrants. No less than thirty- seven deaths occurred. Although many children died of measles, it was felt that the drinking water contributed to the high death rate. During the three days of quarantine in the New York harbor thirty-eight sick emigrants were taken ashore. On 14 August-after a fifty-five-day passage-the Saints landed at Castle Garden.

From Ships Saints and Mariners by Conway B. Sonne