On the 10th of January 1852 my Great-Great-Grandparents boarded the ship Kennebec to cross ‘the pond’ for a new adventure. Thomas Hepworth was twenty five years old, his bride of three years, Mary Fletcher was nineteen years old, she celebrated her twentieth birthday at sea.They had one child Sarah Julia who was ten months old. Mary was three months pregnant.
Traveling with them was John Hepworth, Thomas's older brother age twenty eight and John's bride of almost two years Francis Amelia (she was known as Amelia on most all vital records) Fletcher; sister to Mary. Amelia was twenty three almost twenty four and is four months pregnant with her second child. John and Amelia's first child Samuel died 10 months ago at age seven months of pneumonia.
Thomas and John left behind; parents, Samuel and Sarah (Jackson) and several brothers and sisters. Mary and Amelia's parents; James Fletcher and Julia (Lightfoot,)I don't know if they were living or dead because at this writing I do not have death dates for them. I do suspect Julia had died. Also, I have not found any other children in the John Fletcher family other than Mary and Amelia. Both Thomas and John were butchers by trade and could read and write as well as Mary but, I find Amelia uses an X as her signature.
i don't know of any personal histories written by the Hepworth family so the following information about their voyage across the sea and about the happenings right after they arrived in New Orleans comes from others that traveled with them.
The Kennebec was described as a "unusually spacious and commodious vessel." On board were three hundred and thirty three Saints. Sixty--nine Saints were the very first who immigrated by the means of the Perpetual Emigration Fund. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_Emigration_Fund The Hepworth's paid their own way. I do have ancestors who did leave England with help of the Perpetual Emigration Fund so I find this fact very interesting that it was on this voyage with the Hepworth's were the very first Saints using these funds.
Several Saint's account of this voyage write; "a number of Irish emigrants on board who were not supplied with sufficient provisions to last them till the end of the voyage;but in order to lay a sufficient supply, they stole all they possibly could from the Mormon emigrants, who consequently had to go short themselves, and were compelled to subsist on half rations the last four or five days before landing." But, I guess there was no hard feelings; "Peace and harmony prevailed among the latter as a rule."
One account is about the Scotch Saints and the English;" provisions and water were good, and wholesome, and included oatmeal and pork; but as the English did not like oatmeal and the Scotch could not relish Pork, they exchanged these articles of food with each other, with the great satisfaction of both parties." There was one incident where an Irishman was washed overboard and was saved. The weather was mostly stormy which "produced much seasickness among the passengers indeed it seemed at one time that nearly every person was sick." Another account writes that the voyage throughout "was safe and pleasant with the exception of one terrific hurricane, which swept the deck clean of cook houses, water barrels, and everything else that could be washed overboard." After two months and nine days at sea the ship anchored off the shore of New Orleans on March 19, 1852.
From New Orleans the Saints continued their journey on board a small boat called The Pride of the West, to St. Louis, Missouri. I am unsure how long the Hepworth's stayed in St. Louis before traveling to Council Bluffs to get ready for their journey crossing the plains for the Utah Territory. A number of Saint eager to get to Council Bluffs "took passage on an old dilapidated steamboat, the Saluda." Sadly this steamboat met with disaster around the town of Lexington when the "engineers carelessly let the boilers get dry"; the results was the boilers burst to pieces with a tremendous explosion. "The explosion, which was heard and felt in every part of the city of Lexington, completely wrecked the whole boat." The boat sank ten minutes later. "We have not heart to attempt a description of the scene, writes the editor of the Lexington Express. 'Twenty-six mangled corpses collected together, and as many more with limbs broken and torn off, and bodies badly scalded - wives and mothers frantic at the loss of husbands and children - husbands and bereaved orphans engaged in searching among the dead and dying for wives and parents - are scenes which we can neither behold or describe, yet such a scene was presented to the citizens of Lexington on Friday - good Friday - a day forever memorable in the annals of Christianity as the day that witnessed the redemption of man from endless death, and which will long be remembered by the passengers on that ill-fated Saluda as a day of sorrow and privation."
I can imagine the gratefulness of Thomas, Mary, John, and Amelia that they escaped such a disaster and the sadness felt for the families that died and the survivors of their great sorrow.
Next: Crossing the plains.