The McCleve Ocean Crossing

And the Mormon migration from Europe to Utah

Prepared by the McCleve Family Organization

as edited by Gordon Bates


“It doesn’t matter whether your computer is able to compile all the family group sheets for everyone that ever lived on the earth, it remains the responsibility of each individual to know his kindred dead.....Even if the work is done, then it is still each person’s responsibility to study and become acquainted with his ancestors.”

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation)

Our Irish Ancestor Converts, the McCleve Family

Taken from the John McCleve, Jr. And Nancy Jane McFerren Book, McCleve (1984)

John McCleve Jr was born 18 August, 1807 in Ballymoney, Down, Ireland, son of John McCleve Sr. and Catherine Lamb.  He was a shoemaker by trade; they were very important people in those days and not to be confused with the “cobblers” of today. They were independent shoe merchants and manufacturers of their own goods.  Eliza Wakefield said she remembers her father,  Alexander Gilmore McCleve, repairing their shoes, using the hammer and awl that came from Ireland and had belonged to his father, John McCleve Jr.

                                                            A Sketch of the Life of My Grandmother, Nancy Jane McFerren McCleve

(by Jane M. Jackson)

Nancy Jane McFerren was born May 1, 1815 at Crawfordsburn, on Skelly Hill, near Belfast, Ireland, the only child of William McFerren and Margaret McHarry; a lassie from the “Highlands,” raised in culture and refinement. Her father died when she was two years old. Then she and her mother went back to Crawfordsburn where Nancy Jane grew up among her mother’s people, the McHarrys.  According to her cousin, James McHarry, of Oakland, California, Nancy Jane was a general favorite, always pleasant, gracious and kind to all and she was greatly loved by all her people.  Her people belonged to the Presbyterian Church.

Nancy Jane was educated according to the times and was an expert in dressmaking and fine sewing and needlework, a skill that she taught her daughters. She wrote a beautiful hand. In spite of the hardships of pioneering, she instilled the desire for education and refinement in her children, besides the sterling qualities of character which are everlasting.  Many of her descendants have been, and are still, leaders in Church and government and have a great love for humanity.

John and Nancy were married on June 27, 1833.  Nothing is known where the young couple made their home but their first child, a daughter, Sarah, was born at the old McHarry home at Crawfordsburn

To this couple were born the following children:

Sarah, 29 Oct 1834,  married John Young Jr

Catherine, County Down, 17 Sep 1836married (1) Phineas Wolcott Cook, (2) David Dudley Russell

Margaret, near Belfast, County Down, 17 Sep 1838,  married Mosiah Lyman Hancock

Mary Jane, Belfast, County Down, 21 Aug 1840,  married Dr. Preddy Meeks

Isabel Wilkins, Crawfordsburn, 29 Jan 1843, married (1) Danial Richmond Mott, (2) Jabez Erastus Durfee

John “T,” 29 March 1845, died 5 June 1857

Joseph Smith, Bangar Moss, County Down, 29 July 1847, married (1) Susan Oler, (2) BetsyCrandell(Brewer)

Eliza Roxey, Belfast, County Down, 3 May 1849,  married James Henry Ellsworth

Daniel Bell, 22 Aug 1851, died 25 Mar 1852

Alexander Gilmore, County Down, 24 Feb 1854,  married Emma Cecelia Jennings


John and Nancy Jane heard the gospel taught in 1841 and were baptized in June of that year. Their baptismal date was taken from the records in the Saint George Temple as Nancy Jane gave it when she did her temple work there, May 9, 1877. That was when the temple first opened for work for the dead. We are truly thankful for the work she performed and the records she gave in the temple. We have been able to complete some of the work she began, which has been a great joy, for we have records of some of our ancestors and relatives that we could not have had otherwise.

This courageous couple, with their children,  were the only members of their respective family to accept the gospel.  John’s folks were very bitter and cast him off; but Nancy’s people were tolerant and kind. It made no difference in their love for her. It is hard to miss the time of day while considering  the children’s baptismal date, as recorded on the family group record. The four oldest were all baptized on the same day, 26 August 1850, in County Down, in the Irish Sea—after dark. This was nine years after their parents’ baptisms. Five years later, three more children were baptized together. We find the reason that these baptisms were so far apart is that there were no missionaries in that area for a period of time because of the great persecution.

The following excerpt from the diary of John D. T. McAllister was copied and sent to the McCleves for the McCleve history by his grandson of Los Angeles, California, who was the recorder and historian for the McAllister family: “Among those baptized August 28, 1855, I baptized Isabel Wilkins McCleve, John T. McCleve and Joseph Smith McCleve. The following Sunday I confirmed them members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Bangar Branch.”

In July, 1841, the month following Nancy Jane’s  baptism, her mother, Margaret McHarry McFerren  passed away. About this time, Nancy Jane’s grandmother wrote to her grandson, James McHarry  of Richmond, California, grieving over the death of her daughter, Margaret, and the fact that so many of her loved ones had gone far off to America.  She wrote, “Nancy Jane has joined the Church and will be leaving with the saints for Utah and I am afraid there will be none of my loved ones left near me to close my eyes when I pass away.” We learn from the records we have, that Nancy Jane did not leave for Utah until 1856. Her dear old grandmother passed away in 1846, so it is comforting to know that Nancy Jane must have been with her at the last.

At this time John and Nancy resided at 29 Great George Street, Belfast, Ireland.  I have heard Aunt Margaret [Margaret McCleve Hancock] tell many times of their beautiful surroundings and of the happy times they had. She spoke of the Irish Sea. She also told us what an event it was for them and what a delightful time they always had when they could go to Crawfordsburn [for] a visit with the McHarry’s.

At this point, we will depart from Jane M. Jackson’s account, to insert some connected material. 

Vignette added by Gordon Bates:

Nancy Jane McFerren McCleve kept a journal of the trip to Zion. In it, she detailed the events from the time the family left their Irish home, which included the ocean voyage and handcart trek across the plains,  until they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. This journal, which was discovered in 1951 “behind the stacks” in the Brigham Young University Library, unfortunately, cannot now be found, neither in the library or elsewhere. A descendent of Jane’s—one of the  Perkins boys, who’s name I have not been able to trace, and who was   attending B Y U at the time—found it there and made some typewritten copies. One of the copies was given to my cousin, Kent Hansen, who gave it to me, Gordon Bates.  I, in turn, foolishly as it turned out,  gave it to one of the older cousins, one of the married girls paying Hilde and I a visit in Provo, who was then actively engaged in the family’s genealogy—with the understanding that she would make duplicates and circulate them among family members. That didn’t happen and I’ve regretted the day I let that record pass out of my hand.

While it was in my possession, I read it twice, but can now, after fifty-five years,  remember only two or three of the experiences recorded. One of them was hardly worth mentioning, but is one of those details only a man would typically remember. As I recall the incident, one of Nancy Jane’s brothers accompanied the family as far as Liverpool, remaining with them until their departure. One morning, while still

there, her brother went out to get food and was “accosted by five Englishmen who he soundly whipped before breakfast.”

Another incident remembered was mention of a horrendous storm while at sea. In order to keep the ship afloat, much cargo was thrown overboard for the sake of lightening the load. Among the cargo tossed out to the raging sea were five barrels of precious Irish linen belonging to Nancy Jane.

While on the ocean, Nancy Jane’s constant prayer and great concern was for her sick little son, Alexander. During most of the voyage she had to conceal his illness because of a foolish, threatening thing the captain had said when the sharks kept following the ship.

To Zion

The McCleves, now a family of  twelve souls, were very anxious to get to Zion and although the father had a good job, it cost a great deal for so large a family to make the trip. For a few years before they left Ireland John  was overseer on the plantation for an Irish Lord by the name of Alexander Gilmore, a very fine man, who was kind and gracious to them and for whom they named their youngest son. This pleased him and he gave the baby many fine presents, one, a little velvet suit that he sent to him after they were in Utah.

They were delayed in March of 1852 by the death of their baby, Daniel Bell. It was determined then that the two oldest daughters would leave for Zion, the remainder of the family to follow as soon as possible. The following from the sailing records in the Church Historian’s office in Salt Lake City: “Among the passengers sailing on the Ship FALCON, 28 March 1853, were Sarah McCleve, 20, and Catherine McCleve, 18.”  Soon after reaching Salt Lake City, Sarah married John Young, brother of Brigham Young,  and Catherine married Phineas W. Cook.

Two years later,  the rest of the McCleve family was able to leave their homeland by aid of the Perpetual Emigration Fund made available to them by the saints in America. On the 19th of April, 1856, their names were placed on the ship’s log of the Samuel Curling. Besides the parents, were the children: Margaret, 17;  Mary Jane, 15;  Isabel Wilkins, 13;  John “T”, 11;  Joseph Smith, 8;  Eliza, 6; and Alexander Gilmore, 2..



I go aboard my emigrant ship......But nobody is in an ill temper, nobody is the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word, nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping, and down upon the deck in every corner where it is possible to find a few square feet to kneel, crouch, or lie in, people, in every unsuitable attitude for writing, are writing letters.

Now, I have been in emigrant ships before this day in June. And these people are so strikingly different from all the other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen, that I wonder aloud, “What would a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!”

The vigilant bright face of the weather-browned captain of the AMAZON is at my shoulder, and he says, “What, indeed! The most of these came aboard yesterday evening. They came from various parts of England in small parties that had never seen one another before. Yet they had not been a couple of hours onboard, when they established their own police, made their own regulations, and set their own watches at all the hatchways. Before nine o’clock, the ship was as orderly and as quiet as a man -of-war!.....

“A stranger would be puzzled to guess the right name of these people.....,” says the captain.

“Indeed he would.”

“If you hadn’t known, could you ever have supposed-----?”

“How could I! I should have said they were in their degree the pick and flower of England.”

“So should I,” says the captain.

“How many are they?”

“Eight hundred in round numbers.........Eight hundred Mormons.”

I afterwards learned that a dispatch was sent home by the captain before he struck out into the wide Atlantic, highly extolling the behavior of these emigrants, and the perfect order and propriety of all their social arrangements.......But I went on board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it; and my predispositions and tendencies must not affect me as an honest witness. I went over the AMAZON’S side, feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known influences have often missed.          

                                                                                        (In his book, The Uncommercial Traveller, Charles Dickens)

The famous Captain Dan Jones was President of these 707 Latter-day Saint voyagers. He also shepherded, aboard another ship, THE SAMUEL CURLING,  the very shipload of emigrants which included those nine members of the McCleve family listed above.

Captain Dan Jones (Some background)

Born in North Wales in 1810, Dan Jones went to sea at age seventeen and for the following ten years spent most of his time away from Wales. Shortly after he married Jane Melling in 1837, he took her to America, where he became an American citizen and operated a steamboat on the Mississippi River. It was while he was captain of the little steamer Maid of Iowa that he first heard of the Mormons. Incredulous at the scurrilous stories then being printed in the Warsaw (Illinois) Signal and elsewhere, Jones sought out the missionaries to obtain firsthand information. The result was his conversion, and in January of 1843 he accepted baptism in the icy waters of the Mississippi. He had not as yet met the Prophet Joseph Smith but did so just a few months later in April after transporting a group of British immigrants from St. Louis to Nauvoo. The friendship that resulted between the Prophet and the Captain continued right up to Joseph's martyrdom at the Carthage Jail in Illinois. Jones was the recipient of Joseph's last prophecy, which was that the Welshman would return to his native land and fulfill the mission to which he had been called some months earlier. After three narrow escapes from death during the next thirty-six hours, Jones proceeded to make preparations to journey back to Britain.

                                                                                                                  CALL OF ZION by (Ronald D. Dennis)

A small steamer arrived, commanded by Captain Dan Jones, and was finally chartered for Nauvoo, and filled with Saints, including my family. I passed by land to Alton, and there went on board.

Captain Jones was a good and kind hearted Welshman, and was much interested in the fulness of the gospel. He soon joined the Church, and was finally ordained and appointed a mission to Wales, where he preached the fulness of the gospel and gathered thousands into the Church. (Parley P. Pratt)

John Taylor wrote of that last night in Carthage Jail: “I do not remember the names of all who were with us that night and the next morning in jail, for several went and came; among those that we considered stationary were Stephen Markham, John S. Fullmer, Captain Dan Jones, Dr. Willard Richards, and myself.”                                                            (John Taylor)

Joseph Smith’s Last Prophecy 

(In Carthage Jail two days prior to his martyrdom)

They retired to rest late.  Joseph and Hyrum occupied the only bedstead in the room, while their friends lay side by side on the mattresses on the floor.  Dr. Richards sat up writing until his last candle left him in the dark. The report of a gun fired close by caused Joseph to arise, leave the bed, and lay himself on the floor, having Dan Jones on his left, and John S. Fullmer on his right.

Joseph laid out his right arm, and said to John S. Fullmer, "Lay your head on my arm for a pillow Brother John;" and when all were quiet they conversed in a low tone about the prospects of their deliverance. Joseph gave expression to several presentiments that he had to die, and said "I would like to see my family again." and "I would to God that I could preach to the Saints in Nauvoo once more." Fullmer tried to rally his spirits, saying he thought he would often have that privilege, when Joseph thanked him for the remarks and good feelings expressed to him. Soon after Dr. Richards retired to the bed which Joseph had left, and when all were apparently fast asleep, Joseph whispered to Dan Jones, "Are you afraid to die?" Dan said, "Has that time come, think you? Engaged in such a cause I do not think that death would have many terrors." Joseph replied, "You will yet see Wales, and fulfill the mission appointed you before you die."

While some had previously made the journey individually, the first collective emigration of Utah-bound Welsh Latter-day Saints occurred in 1849. They were led by Dan Jones, a Welshman who had joined the Church in Nauvoo and was one of the last persons to see Joseph Smith alive. The three-hundred-plus emigrants in the two ships were part of the three thousand or so souls brought into the Church during this energetic and enthusiastic mission president's first ministry in Wales.

The Reverend H. W. Jones, publisher of Seren Gomer, was not enthusiastic at the prospect of so many Welsh men and women—many former Baptists—turning their backs on their homeland. In his periodical he warned the Welsh Mormons with an ominous prophecy:

After receiving enough money to get a ship or ships to voyage to California, their Chief-President [Dan Jones] will sail them to Cuba, or some place like it, and will sell them as slaves, every jack one of them. It would serve them right for having such little respect for the book of Christ and giving it up for the books of Mormon. (Seren Gomer, October 1848, 305, trans.; the article was signed "Anti-Humbug,"

                       (From BEST LOVED STORIES OF LDS PEOPLE by Jack M. Lyon and his group of writers)

The following letter from Dan Jones to Franklin D. Richards is included in its entirety because Elder Jones  was there on this very ship with our McCleve ancestors. He describes the voyage, the people, the way they were organized, the conditions and hardships. Towards the end of his letter he gives the most  delightful  testimony about  personal revelation that I have ever read:

Letter of Dan Jones’ from the ship, Samuel Curling,

sent to Franklin D. Richards, then  president of the British Mission,

Boston: Ship S. Curling, May 21st 1856.

President [Franklin D.] Richards.

{The Brother Franklin, Dan Jones addresses here is Franklin D. Richards, nephew of Willard Richards, pioneer leader apostle and counselor to President Brigham Young.  At the time of this writing he was president of the British mission and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was the original compiler of the Pearl of Great Price which was published in England in 1851.}

My dear brother-While the passengers are on tiptoe, stretching their necks over the bow of the ship, watching for Cape Cod to raise his hoary head above the blue lip of ocean, I though no less anxious than they to see the long looked for welcomer of all pilgrims to “ the land of the free and the home of the brave,” retire to my cabin to inform you of some of the incidents of our voyage.

In a few hours after I was loosed from your parting grip, and that of the other faithful and highly esteemed brethren at your office door, on April 19, which parting has not yet been or will be for sometime forgotten, I found myself mustering the passengers on board the S. Curling, in the open sea, being towed by a steamer.  All this over, to the astonishment of the inspecting officers, in less time and with less trouble, they said, than they ever had with any other ship; and after the tug had taken our worthy Brother Daniels and other faithful escorts back home, I availed myself of the first opportunity to organize the passengers.

Having conversed with my counselors, J. [John] Oakley and D. [David] Grant, and some dozen presiding elders, Brother [Patrick Twiss] Birmingham was chosen secretary; the ship was divided into eleven wards, and suitable presidents appointed to each, whose duties, although defined to them emphatically, would only be a repetition to you of what you have often heard.

For the first three days gentle breezes and tides wafted us to Cape Clear; four days more of strong northeast wind hurried us at the rate of twelve or more knots per hour to the westward, which had so flattered us with a speedy passage, that it took two weeks of adverse wind to erase it from our minds.  During this time the S. Curling, though called a mammoth of her species, with her 700 passengers and luggage, crew, and withal 2,000 tons of iron in her bowels, rocked like a crow’s nest on a lone sapling in the gale, nor paid deference to Saint more than to sinner, all in turn.

Amidst the wreck of berths wholesale, the passengers grappled to be uppermost, which position was no sooner gained, than they were again reversed with beds uppermost.  Of course, pots, pans, kettles, and everything that could make a noise joined as usual in the music, and the medley dance.  Upon the deck, also, where we enticed, helped, carried or hoisted all we could, true affection bound them in heaps or piles to each other; all had one leg too short or too long every step, but amid such a throng ‘twas as difficult for one to fall alone as it would be for a tenpin to fall alone amidst its tottering throng; and here, before they learned to walk alone, all felt the power of the adage, “Once a man and twice a child.”  More than once, in the meantime, the power of the priesthood curbed the fury of old Boreas, who, as soon as the bits were out of his mouth, like a prancing steed, again would snort in the gale, requiring all the faith on board to rein him in, until, at length a certain few, in an indescribable circle, fettered him, and ever since stubborn old Boreas has been more tractable to his riders, and promises to continue so until he lands them.

Notwithstanding the roughness of this wintry passage, we continued to be quite a devotional people.  At 5 a.m. each day the bugle called the men out to clean their wards, and then to retire on deck while the ladies were dressing for morning prayers, at a quarter to six o’clock.  At dusk the bugle called all hands to prayer again, by wards, and it pleased me much to see, by the almost universal willingness to go below, that the call was duly appreciated, nor was the scene less interesting to see seven hundred Saints on their way to Zion, pent up in so small a space, all bow the knee, and, with their hearty Amen, lift their hearts in aspirations of praise to him who deserves our all.  Instructions suitable to the circumstances were freely given at such times, by the presiding elders; and, to their praise be it said, were as freely received and promptly carried out.

Our evenings, after meetings until bedtime, were spent in singing the songs of Zion; after which the men retired on deck, while the families retired to a better place.

Sundays, at 10 a.m., I have enjoyed myself much in council with the presiding elders, where undisturbed union has always reigned.  At 2 ½ p.m., we held public meetings on deck, where we had Captain and crew among the audience.  The sisters, especially through the various wards, being ever preaching their favorite topic--the celestial order of marriage--it was deemed ungenerous in the elders not to help them in such a laudable undertaking.  Consequently, according to previous announcement, myself and counselors volunteered our services to help them, and did our best for a couple of hours, the two last Sundays; in return we received the thanks of the sisters for doing it so much better, they say, than they could do it themselves.

At 8 p.m. the bugle again called to sacrament meeting in the wards, when many could not refrain from testifying of the goodness of God and their love of “ Mormonism.”   Tuesday and Thursday evenings, prayer meetings convened in the wards.

Thus, from day to day, blow high, blow low, in the bonds on love and union, whether English, Irish, or Britons --of the latter we had about 560--has this noble band of Zion’s pilgrim served their God, on the wide ocean; nor do I believe that any people could do better, under the circumstances, than they have done.

In the cooking department, where I have seen in the experience of years, others, “whose God is their belly,” have a “bone of contention” in every kettle, and fight with bones, kettles, and pans, these quiet and self denying people have sanctified even the galley--the seat of war--with their harmony.  Two words at a time have half an hour for cooking breakfast, three quarters for dinner, and half of hour for supper, reversing alternately, and the intervals between meals for baking, &c.  This dispenses with the throng around the

galley, and each know his turn by seeing the number of his ward over the door.

The health of the passengers, although good in the main, considering the weather, has not been without grievous exceptions.  I regret to say that, notwithstanding myself, counselors, and others devoted all our time to nourish the sick, especially the old, and the mothers of infants, by preserves, soups, sago, arrowroot, and all the well assorted stock you furnished, owing to a lack of energy in some to contend with and overcome seasickness, by coming to the air themselves and babes suffered much, six of the later have died, namely Joseph J. Davies, son of George W. Davies, of Cardiff, aged one year and five months, of inflammation of the lungs, on 28th of April; Hyrum Basset, son of John Basset, of Wales, 29th of April, aged ten months, of inflammation of the lungs; Joseph Thomas, son of William Thomas, of Milfordhaven, on the 8th of May, aged nine months and five days; Parley R. Lewis, son of John Lewis, of Tredegar , of cancer in the breast, aged seven months, on the 9th day of May; John Davies, son of Evan D. Davies, of Glamorganshire, of consumption, on the 17th of May; and Joseph Price, son of John Price, of Pembrokshire, May 21st, of consumption, aged twelve months.  Three of the former, however, were so weakly, that the doctor said while inspecting them at Liverpool, they would not live ten days.  Mothers might prolong the lives of their babes, did they keep them half the time on the deck in the fresh air, but they keep them smothered up in their arms in blankets, inhaling each other’s breath.  Owing principally to this chicken-pock broke out among the children, and in despite of all efforts to checks its progress, in which the doctor of the ship and Captain Curling distinguished themselves, it spread throughout the whole of the ship, yet, by steady perseverance, and the blessings of God upon the ordinance of his gospel, it has not proved fatal, but by this time all have either recovered or are recovering.

To change the topic from our decrease to our increase, I have the pleasure of saying, that our company has been augmented by the inauguration of two little cherubs from the spirit world, who are already the favorites of all, and all say, they must come to Zion with us.  They would have one called Dan Curling Dee, son of Thomas Dee, Llanelly, Wales.  The other is called Claudia Curling Reynolds, daughter of Brother Reynolds, England; mothers and babes are doing well, and the former say they would come a long way again to be rocked in so easy a cradle with their infants, and especially so as to bequeath upon their infants the rights of cosmopolites or citizens of the world.  We are kept on the alert, by the signs, waiting for Neptune in his carriage to bring us some more seaborn “Mormons.”

But, hark!  What means the tumultuous throng of hasty feet that press along?  The word is passed--Land oh!  I cannot stay, I must up to see it too.  Well, there it is sure enough, the grey old Cape Cod, some dozen miles to the windward; passengers, old and young, lame, maimed, halt, and blind, shouting out, “There it is!  There it is! There are houses, trees, and men walking!”  Some wish for wings to fly to it, yet they have to wait for them to grow.

It affords me much pleasure to say, that my gratitude to you is still increased, commensurate with the able and efficient aid I have received, in all things, from the good men whom you gave me to be counselors--ever ready, always willing, and one in all things, I cannot speak too highly of them; nor will the services they have rendered to this people be soon forgotten.

The conduct of Captain Curling has demanded our praise; generous, courteous, and philanthropic, he has shared his commiseration indiscriminately among the greatest sufferers, and all have received comforts from his liberal hand.  He has vouchsafed to us the freedom of his commodious and splendid ship, fore and aft, and be in our devotions as well as our amusements and recreations, for which, as well as for gentlemanly, humane, and parental conduct, the Saints, in public meeting assembled, of all people first and foremost to appreciate and reciprocate favors, were pleased with the privileges given them, to express, with an uplifted hand, their gratitude to him; and many are the invocations for their Father to repay him with the blessings he merits.  As for myself , we have spun yarns together for hours, as we paced the quarter deck eagerly scrutinizing the horizon, lest a treacherous squall should take us unawares, and disturb the repose of the sleepers below.  At home among the stars, born in a storm, cradled on the ocean, few things escaped his eagle eye, with such a one, hours have I spent with a pleasure known only to weather beaten old tars.  May he moor his barque, yes, his fleet in Zion’s snug harbor, ere the equinoctial gales of life beset him.

I ought to further add, that the provisions you furnished were of a superior quality, and so abundant that few drew their rations.  You would be reminded, by the meat, &c., which was hung up to [p.429] the deck below, of a huge butcher’s shop, and, sometimes, when the overstrained cords gave way beneath the ponderous mass, some felt the strength and hardness of bones, which did not, luckily, however, prove fatal.

Boston, May 25th.  On the 22nd, pilot boarded, us; light winds offshore kept us off until daylight of the 23rd, when the tug, “Enoch Train,” came alongside and towed us to Quarantine Ground.  In a few hours the Inspectors came aboard, welcomed by the spontaneous three cheers of 700 people, and, strange as it may seem, called the names of all, and passed them, in less than one hour and a half, without any further complaint than that “I was taking all the handsome ladies to Utah.”  The passengers were all remarkably clean, as well as the ship, which commanded the admiration of all.  In proof of the latter I would say, that I had made a wager with Captain Curling, upon leaving Liverpool, that the lower decks would whiter than his cabin floor, and the Quarantine Doctor decided in my favor.

Noon, we moored alongside the wharf, and had the great pleasure of meeting my worthy friend, N.H. Felt, whose judicious counsels I had learned to appreciate before, while taking a company through St. Louis, but now more welcome than ever.

24th.  Concluded a contract with the railway, to take about 400 to Iowa city direct, fare $11, under 14 half-fare, and under 6 years free, with 100 lbs of luggage free: $3.50 per cwt for freight; to leave Monday, 11 a.m.  Got the privilege from our ever kind Captain Curling, to remain on board until that time.  Sent all luggage except bedding up to the station in safety, and without aid of either mates, loafers or any but ourselves. 

Our arrival created quite an excitement through the city, and the wharf is thronged with inquisitive and astonished spectators, including reverends, ladies, officials, and editors.  A delegation from the tract society waited on me, petitioning the privilege of distributing Testaments, tracts, &c., to enlighten the benighted “Mormons,” and they were as much astonished as pleased when informed that their charity was highly appreciated, and that they were at perfect liberty to say or introduce anything they pleased, to any and all of the passengers--that we could investigate, and, if they could decoy any away from “Mormonism” I could thank them for it, and be glad to get rid of them.  They gazed wildly when informed that these people’s actions were predicated upon actual knowledge, by the revelations of God to each for himself, and not upon mere belief.  I informed them that if they would pronounce in their churches, and attend tomorrow on the wharf at 11 a.m. and at 5 p.m. I would endeavor to tell them what “Mormonism” really is, and invited all the Bostonians to come and hear our own representations of ourselves, which seemed to please them much, and by all prospects there will be a good turnout.  May the spirit of  “Mormonism” manifest its wanted power for their good.

I have been treated very respectfully, even courteously, by our Consignees, officials of the city, and government, and in fact, without exception, and even after critical examination on principal, have been highly complimented.  Thank the Lord that “Mormonism” is looking and marching upwards through the snares of darkness with which hireling priests and editors have endeavored to ensnare it.

The “Enoch Train” arrived 12 days before us, and the  company is highly spoken of for cleanliness and order, the best ever here, ourselves excepted of course!

I was much disappointed in my expectation of meeting President Taylor or Spencer, here, they are both out west, I am informed.

I am endeavoring to dispose of the surplus provisions to the best advantage, but have not as yet had an offer to my mind.

Having said so much hurriedly Brother Franklin and being called upon by an assembled throng to preach for them, I bid you, and the beloved brethren in the office adieu, praying the Lord to bless you with health, influence unbounded, and all our heart’s desires in time and eternity, and beg to remain as ever, truly your brother in the gospel.

  1. D.[Dan] Jones.


BIB:Jones, Dan, [Letter], Latter-day Saint’s Millennial Star 18:27 (July 5, 1856) pp. 427-30.  (HDL)

After arriving in Boston, the McCleves, along with the rest of the traveling saints, boarded the “Emigration Luggage Train” to Iowa City, Iowa.

We again take up our record from Jane M. Jackson’s account:

During this leg of the trip [on the Emigration Luggage Train] our people lost part of their luggage which they never recovered.  It contained many prized and valuable things.  In Iowa City preparations were made to cross the plains.  On June 11, 1956 they left Iowa City in the second Hand Cart Company under Captain Daniel D. McArthur.  The company consisted of 222 souls, with 48 hand carts, four wagons, 12 yoke of oxen and 12 cows.

The following letter from Elder William Woodward to Heber C. Kimball is taken from The Handcart Companies, by Andrew Jensen

Iowa City, June 11,  1856

Heber C. Kimball

In the first place, our camp ground is about two miles west of Iowa City, on a rising point of land.  It is a good location and was selected in the early part of May, and has been an important place of business for making hand carts, ox yokes, ox bows, etc. The first hand cart company rolled from this place on the 9th of June, 1856, in fine spirits.  This company has a band with it and is led by Captain Edmund Ellsworth.  The second hand cart company left this point today about 11 A.M. led by Captain Daniel D. McArthur, assisted by S. W. Crandell, and T. Leonard.  The company left in good spirits singing the hand cart song.  The chorus is as follows:

For some must push and some must pull

As we go marching up the hill,

Then merrily on the way we’ll go

Until we reach the valley, O!

They traveled near the first company under Captain Edmond Ellsworth all the way across the plains which took more than three months of trial and struggle.  The long hard journey of thirteen-hundred miles across the plains and mountains from Iowa City to Zion, pulling and pushing their two-wheeled carts laden with all their worldly possessions and weighing approximately 300  pounds, seemed almost beyond human endurance with all the trials, troubles and hardships of the way. But [John and Nancy Jane]  were upheld and sustained with the hope of reaching Zion to reunite  with their daughters, Sarah and Catherine, now with families of their own, who they were so anxious to see.

Near the end of the journey, a great sorrow came to the family. The father, John,  succumbed to the hardships of the journey and died September 24, 1856. Nancy Jane, her mind racing through grief, prompted her to scream out, “No, no, no, it isn’t  worth all this sacrifice!” But in her heart came the peaceful assurance that the Lord had led them, “the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and, yes, it is worth it all!” They buried him in a beautiful grassy spot near Bear River.

Nancy Jane comforted her children, picked up the shafts of the cart, and with little Alexander riding on top, she mustered her courage and strength to catch up with the rest of the company. The night before they reached the Valle, the family and their company camped in sight of the lonely grave.

Two days later they reached Salt Lake Valley.  President Brigham Young and many others went out to greet them. No doubt Sarah and Catherine were there to meet their loved ones who were in deep sorrow over the death of their beloved father.

{Note:  These very first Mormon handcart companies to cross the plains, left Iowa City two days apart and traveling right next to each other along the way,  arrived in Salt Lake City on the same day. The first company to leave  was led by Captain  Edmond Ellsworth , the second by Captain Daniel D. McArthur. To pioneer means to take the lead; to be innovative. The McCleve family, then, is established forever among those honored pioneers of pioneers.} 

An Extract from the Deseret News, September 26, 1856:

The arrival of  Captain Ellsworth’s and McArthur’s handcart companies in Salt Lake City was reported as follows in the Deseret News:

The First Handcart Companies

Having learned that Captain Edmund  Ellsworth’s Company camped at Willow Springs on the evening of the 25th instead of ton the 26th, President Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, Lieutenant General Daniel H. Wells and many other citizens and carriages and several gentlemen and ladies on horseback with part of Captain H. B. Clawson’s company of Lancers and the brass band under Captain William Pitt, left the governor’s office at 9 A. M. With the view of escorting them into the city. 

Within about a mile and a half of the foot of the Little Mountain, President Young ordered the party to halt until the hand carts should arrive and with President Kimball drove on to meet them.  Ere long the anxiously expected train came in sight, led by Captain Ellsworth on foot with the aged veterans pulling the front cart, followed by a long line of carts attended by the old, middle-aged and young of both sexes.

When opposite the escorting party, a halt was called and their captain introduced the newcomers to Presidents Young and Kimball, which was followed by the joyous greetings of relatives and friends and an unexpected treat of melons.  While thus regaling, Captain Daniel D. McArthur came up with his hand cart company, having traveled from the east base of the Big Mountain.

From the Halt to the public Square, the following order was observed under the supervision of Captain  Clawson: Lancers, Ladies on horseback, Presidents, Young’s, President Kimball’s and Lieutenant Daniel Well’s carriages, the bands, Captain Ellsworth’s and McArthur’s companies, citizens in carriages and on horseback. The line of march was scarcely taken up, before it began to be met by men, women and children on foot, on horses and in wagons, thronging out to see the first hand cart companies and the numbers rapidly increased until the living tide lined and thronged South Temple Street.

The procession reached the public square about sunset, where the Lancers band and carriages were formed in a line facing the line of hand carts and after a few remarks by President Young, accompanied by his blessing, the spectators and escort retired and the companies pitched their tents at the end of a walk and pull of upwards of 1200 miles.

The journey had been performed with less than the average amount of mortality usually attending o-trains and although somewhat fatigued, stepped out with alacrity to the last, and appeared buoyant and cheerful. They had often traveled 25 to 30 miles a day, and would have come through in a much shorter time had they not been obliged to wait upon the slow motion of the oxen attached to the few wagons containing the tents and groceries.

(Andrew Jensen)

Nancy Jane took up the double burden and responsibility of a fatherless family in a strange land and faced the future with faith and determination.  On March 27, 1857, she was married to David Ellsworth and went to live in Payson, Utah. While here, on June 5, 1857  Nancy Jane experience another  great sorrow, the tragic death of her eldest son John, age 12. .  But she was comforted by Apostle Erastus Snow, who promised her that her son John would yet stand in his allotted place in his father’s family. . She had two more children, Diana Jane Ellsworth born May 14, 1858, and Davesel Ellsworth born April 2, 1860. Nancy Jane and David moved later  to southern Utah, settling in Harrisburg.

When the St. George Temple first opened for work for the dead in 1877, Nancy Jane went into the house of the Lord and was sealed to her husband, John McCleve, for eternity. She also performed work for many of her kindred dead. She died in Toquerville, Utah, at the home of her daughter Diana Allen.

Payson, Utah

March 4, 1859

A Patriarchal Blessing by Isaac Morley, Patriarch, upon the head of Nancy Jane McFerren McCleve, daughter of William McFerren and Margaret McHarry McFerren, born May 1, 1815 in Crawfordsburn, County Down, Ireland.

Sister Nancy Jane, I place my hands upon thy head and seal a father’s blessing, that it may be a seal of God to continue with thee.

Thou hast come from afar to dwell with the people of God which will be salvation to thee, both temporally and spiritually.  Thou hast passed through trials for the gospel’s sake. Be comforted, my daughter, for the seal of God will illuminate thy mind and thou shalt be blessed in the midst of the daughters of Zion and live to see many of thy kindred and friends thou has left behind.  Many will see their folly and come inquiring after thee, which will greatly relieve thy sorrow and thy trials.

Thou hast taught many by thy faith, thy troubles and thy perseverance.

Thou shalt be blessed with the blessings of the earth. It is necessary that the Saints should pass through trials to test their fidelity and their love for righteousness. Be patient in all thy trials and they will become thy blessings.

Thou art laying the foundation whereby thy heart will be sanctified.

Thou shalt be blessed and have thy name preserved from generation to generation. Thy native countrymen shall honor thee for the integrity of thy heart. Let thy life be devoted to prayer and meditation.

Thou art a descendent of Jacob through the loins of Benjamin.

I seal this upon thee to enjoy the blessings of endless life.

In the name of Jesus, even so. Amen and Amen.

Mosiah Hancock wrote in his oft quoted journal, “On the 9th of January in 1857,

I took a handcart girl to wife by the name of Margaret McCleve, in the town of  Payson. I had stayed by father and got his blessings, and attended his sick wife for I thought she needed tender care. I had done by my father as I would wish my sons to do by me. I certainly tried to do my duty faithfully. I had chances to marry stylish girls, but my great desire was to raise up children in the true spirit of the gospel.”