The Emigrating Fund in Europe
Source: Prelude to the Kingdom by Gustive O. Larson
Pages 155-167

The immediate purpose of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund was to relieve the pressure of "poor Saints" gathered on the Pottawattamie Lands in Iowa. But clearly it was also intended to reach its helping hand overseas, and this it did, hardly waiting for the completion of its primary objective.

On October 14, 1854, the Presidency wrote to Orson Pratt, presiding in England, as follows;

"Dear Brother, . . . We have thought proper to write you more particularly in relation to ... the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the poor Saints. This fund we wish all to understand, is perpetual, and in order to be kept good, will need constant accessions. To further this end we expect all who are benefitted by its operations, to reimburse the amount as soon as they are able, facilities for which will, very soon after their arrival here, present themselves in the shape of Public works. Donations will also continue to be taken from all parts of the world and expended for the gathering of the poor Saints. This is no joint Stock company arrangement, but free donations. Your office in Liverpool is the place of deposit for all funds received either for this or the tithing funds for all Europe and you will not pay out only upon our order, and to such persons as we shall direct'."

The joint Stock Company referred to is of interest at this point as a reflection of earlier thought on the question of aid to foreign immigration. The company, known as the British and American joint Stock Company, had been organized in England by Reuben Hedlock, Thomas Ward and others who had been left in charge of the Mission when the Apostles were called home during the Nauvoo crisis. Its expressed objective was to aid in building up Zion and promote emigration to it through development of a world wide commercial business. Initial capital was to be obtained through selling stock to church membership.

The company was organized under the laws of Great Britain with privileges of trading as merchants between England and America, or hiring or purchasing ships and constructing factories2. The members were urged to buy its stock so that they might be aided in future emigration to America through company earnings. The pages of the Millennial Star during 1845 carried frequent announcements and exhortations to support the enterprise. "The Glory of God, the Building up of Zion, the Gathering of the Saints," it said, "have been the grand motives that have led to its origin and establishment3." Without official sanction the organization was presented as a subsidiary of the Mormon Church.

As a result of mismanagement of funds the company suffered reverses4 and dissatisfaction among stockholders spread. In July 1846, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor were appointed by the Church authorities at Council Bluffs, Iowa to make investigation of the whole affair. Their first action upon arriving in England was to declare the joint Stock Company wholly independent of the Church and to advise the members to discontinue patronage to it. Upon Hyde's appointment to preside in England in October of 1846, the Company was dissolved. Examination of the books revealed that the people's means had been squandered, and settlement was made with a payment of one shilling, three pence on the pound5. Both Hedlock and Ward were dropped from fellowship in the Church.

Franklin D. Richards arrived in England on March 29, 1850, to commence operations of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund in that country. Until the end of that year he acted in concert with Orson Pratt, succeeding the latter as president of the Mission on January 1, 1851. Immediately upon introducing the subject of assisted emigration to the British "Saints" the Fund began to grow. Contributions, ranging from a few shillings to four hundred pounds, were made, reaching the sum of 1,440 pounds in 1852. This was approximately the amount raised in Utah6.

Continued donations to the Fund in Britain brought the total amount subscribed to 6,832 pounds in July 1854. Missions on the Continent also responded, depositing 280 pounds with the British Agency, thus raising the European total to 7,113 pounds7. This sum was added to the increasing Fund in Utah to be administered jointly from Salt Lake City and Liverpool to assist the "poor Saints" to emigrate to Zion. The company agents served strictly in the capacity of missionaries without salary or remuneration8.

The removal of the exiles from the Pottawattamie lands on the Missouri resulted in a temporary decrease in European immigration. Heretofore, the British members had been urged to migrate to America regardless of whether they had the means to continue the journey direct to "the Valley" or not. The Mormon settlements in Iowa had served as stopping places where they might accumulate the necessary equipment to complete the journey at a later season. But evacuation of the Pottawattamie lands contemplated cessation of such stop-over migration. Also it was hoped to discontinue immigration by way of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers altogether. The Fifth General Epistle of the Presidency, issued in April, 1851, expressed high hopes in the advantages of a proposed new route:

"It is wisdom for the English Saints to cease emigration by the usual route through the States, and up the Missouri River, and remain where they are until they hear from us again, as it is our design to open up a way across the interior of the continent by Panama, Tehuantepec, or some of the interior routes, and land them at San Diego, and thus save three thousand miles of inland navigation through a most sickly climate and country9."

Anticipating the success of the new plan, a colony was established at San Bernardino, California, to receive the immigrants from the West Coast. Franklin D. Richards was directed by the Presidency to make investigation in Britain relative to transportation facilities between Liverpool and San Diego and check comparative costs. However, the British agency found no satisfactory connections available and that costs involved were prohibitive. This report, resulted in restoration of emigration over the old route. But, said the Sixth General Epistle of September 22, 1851, "Although emigration is again opened on the old route it is not opened on the old plan. Let those only leave England who can go through either on their own means or by means of the emigrating fund10."

These instructions came as a keen disappointment to the thousands of British "poor Saints" heavily charged with the spirit of gathering. The extent to which the new plan would limit emigration from England can be appreciated by reference to a letter written two years earlier when the "through journey" plan was first suggested. Wrote Orson Pratt at that time: "There has been much inquiry amongst the Saints of late whether it is their privilege to go from this country unless they have sufficient means to carry them through to Salt Lake Valley. We answer that if none were to go only such as have sufficient funds to perform the whole journey there would not be much gathering from this Island. We would hardly judge that there were a hundred families among the Saints in Great Britain who are able to go direct from this to the Salt Lake Basin.... We are in hopes that the time will soon come when there will be capital sufficient to enable the Saints to pass on to the place of their destination without any delayll."

That hoped for assistance had now arrived in form of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. While the total Mormon emigration from England in 1852 dropped sharply to 760, it included 251 beneficiaries of the Emigrating Fund. These 159 were the first to share its benefits in Europe. They sailed, together with the regular emigrants, in two chartered vessels (the Kennebec and Ellen Maria) on January 10th. John S. Higbee and Isaac C. Haight were in charge of the companies.

The Emigrating Fund in Europe in 1852 amounted to 1,410 pounds and the total cost of shipping two hundred and fifty-one emigrants under its provisions exceeded that amount by more than one thousand pounds. The shipping agent was able to make up the deficit temporarily and Abraham O. Smoot, a missionary of wide experience, was sent ahead to the American Frontier to purchase necessary outfits for crossing the plains. The immigrants arrived at New Orleans late in March and early April and proceeded by River steamers to St. Louis where Smoot awaited them with supplies. Here Isaac C. Haight, who had cooperated with Smoot in the purchase of equipment left his company and returned to England while the latter remained to assist the immigrants up the Missouri River to Council Bluffs. It was one of these groups which suffered in the Saluda explosion referred to previously.

At Council Bluffs the European P. E. F. emigrants found themselves in the midst of the evacuation process of 1852. Their own company, under the continued leadership of Abraham O. Smoot, was added to the great overland exodus of twenty-one companies averaging fifty wagons to the company and totaling not less than ten thousand people. This imposing procession of migrating Mormons left the Missouri River during the month of June and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley during August and September. The following excerpts from the Deseret News of September 18th, with reference to the P. E. F. immigrants reflects the spirit of the Gathering movement:

"Captain A. O. Smoot's Company of thirty-one wagons was escorted into the city by the First Presidency of the Church, some of the Twelve Apostles, and many of the citizens on horseback and in carriages.

"Captain Pitt's band, in the President's spacious carriage, met the company at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, where the Saints of both sexes.... danced and sang for joy, and their hearts were made glad by a distribution of melons and cakes; after which the band came in the escort and cheered the hearts of the weary travellers with their enlivening strains.

"Next in the procession came a band of pilgrims - sisters and children, walking, sunburnt, and weather beaten, but not forlorn; their hearts were light and buoyant, which was plainly manifested by their happy and joyful countenances.

"Next followed the wagons. The good condition of the cattle, and the general appearance of the whole train, did credit to Bishop Smoot, as a wise and skilful manager who was seen on horse, in all the various departments of his company during their egress from the Canyon to encampment.

"As the escort and the train passed the Temple Block, they were saluted with nine rounds of artillery, which made the everlasting hills to shake their sides with joy; while thousands of men, women, and children gathered from various parts of the city to unite in the glorious and joyful welcome.

"After corralling on Union Square, the emigrants were called together and President Brigham Young addressed them as follows:

" ' . . . First I will say, may the Lord God of Israel bless you, and comfort your hearts. (the company and bystanders responded Amen.)

"'We have prayed for you continually; thousands of prayers have been offered up for you, day by day, to Him who has commanded us to gather Israel, save the children of men by the preaching of the Gospel and prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. You have had a long, hard, and fatiguing journey across the great waters and the scorched plains; but, by the distinguished favors of heaven, you are here in safety....

"'You are now in a land of plenty, where by a reasonable amount of labor, you may realize a comfortable subsistence.

"'You have had trials and sufferings in your journey, but your sufferings have been few compared with thousands of your brethren and sisters in these valleys. We have, a great many of us, been under the harrow for the space of twenty-one years. I trust you have enjoyed a good measure of the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of your toils; and now, as you have arrived here, let your feelings be mild, peaceable, and easy, not framing to yourselves any particular course that you will pursue, but be patient until the way opens before you.

"Be very cautious that you do not watch the failings of others, and by this means expose yourselves to be caught in the snares of the devil; for the people here have the failings natural to man, the same as you have; look well to yourselves, that the enemy does not get the advantage over you; see that your own hearts are pure, and filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and you will be willing to overlook the faults of others, and endeavor to correct your own.

" ' . . . No person here is under the necessity of begging his bread, except the natives; and they beg more than they care for, or can use. By your labor you can obtain an abundance; the soil is rich and productive. We have the best of wheat, the finest of flour; as good as was ever produced in any other country in, the world. We have beets, carrots, turnips, cabbage, peas, beans, melons, and I may say, all kinds of garden vegetables, of the best quality.

"'The prospects are cheering for the fruits of different kinds. " ' ... With regard to your obtaining habitations to shelter you in the coming winter - all of you will be able to obtain work, and by your industry, you can make yourselves tolerably comfortable in this respect before the winter sets in. All the improvements that you see around you, have been made in the short 'space of four years. Four years ago this day, there was not a rod of fence to be seen, nor a house, except the Old Fort as we call it, though it was then new. All this that you see, has been accomplished by the industry of the people; and a great deal more that you do not see, for our settlements extend two hundred and fifty miles south, and almost one hundred miles north.

" 'We shall want some of the brethren to repair to some of the other settlements, such as mechanics and farmers; no doubt they can provide themselves with teams, etc., to bear them to their destinations. Those who have acquaintances here, will all be able to obtain dwellings, until they can make accommodations of their own.

"'Again, with regard to labor - don't imagine unto yourselves that you are going to get rich, at once, by it. As for the poor, there are none here, neither are there any who may be called rich, but all obtain the essential comforts of life.

"'Let not your eyes be greedy. When I met you this afternoon, I felt to say, this is the company that I belong to the "poor company," as it is called, and I always expect to belong to it, until I am crowned with eternal riches in the celestial kingdom. In this world I possess nothing, only what the Lord has given to me, and it is devoted to the building up of His kingdom....

" 'Don't any of you imagine to yourselves that you can go to the gold mines to get anything to help yourselves with; you must live here; this is the gathering place for the Saints....

"'I will say to this company, they have had the honour of being escorted into the city by some of the most distinguished individuals of our society, and a band of music, accompanied with a salutation from the cannon. Other companies have not had this mark of respect shown to them; they belong to the rich, and are able to help themselves....

"'No man or woman will be hurried away from the wagons; but you may have the privilege of living in them until you get homes.

"'I hope the brethren who live near by, or those who live at a distance, will send our brethren and sisters some potatoes and melons, or anything else they have, that they may not go hungry; and let them have them free of charge, that they may be blessed with us, as I exhorted the people last Sabbath12.' "

The first year's foreign operations of the Emigrating Company having proved successful, except for the financial deficit, interest in the gathering reached new heights for the coming year. The Church leaders fanned the enthusiasm of prospective emigrants into a clamor for action. "Let all who can procure a loaf of bread and one garment on their backs, be assured there is water plenty and pure by the way, and doubt no longer, but come next year to the place of gathering, even in flocks, as doves fly to their windows before the storm13."

Such urging found the spirit more than willing but the flesh bound by circumstances from which it could not escape. Many appeared before President Franklin D. Richards begging for the privilege of going in companies organized to walk the entire overland distance, if need be. It became necessary to lay a restraining hand upon their ambitions lest, in the extremities of the gathering spirit they pay too dearly for their coveted freedom. The fund could not begin to meet the demands upon it with the result that a new plan was evolved for the coming year to supplement it. This was known as the "ten pound plan." It was estimated that through judicious purchasing at the outfitting point in the States, the journey could be made to Utah for ten pounds each for adults and five pounds for those under one year. In other words this class would buy passage at reduced rates. Nine hundred and fifty-seven availed themselves of this plan but the cost of transportation had been greatly under estimated and a loan was necessary to help this group complete the journey14.

Another important provision of the fund allowed members in Utah to send for friends and relatives in foreign lands wherever agencies of the company were established. This was done by making deposits with the P. E. Office in Salt Lake which in turn directed its agent abroad to forward the parties designated. This practice became increasingly popular in Utah as well as an annoyance to the President of the company. The desire on the part of many to extend "the blessings of the gathering" to friends and relatives too often led them to the company's office with only good intentions in their hearts. With no desire to dampen their interest in sending for friends, Brigham Young urged that they support their requests with something more substantial, "In the midst of war and distress of nations," he wrote, "it is the highly commendable duty of every lover of truth in the valleys of the mountains to extend all reasonable aid for gathering the oppressed Saints from every clime where they are to be found. But to do this requires cash, and indebtedness on the part of the Church, or available articles than can at any time be converted into money. This fact should be constantly borne in mind by those who are desirous of sending for their friends or relatives, and then they will not waste their time or ours by continually running to the President's office to know whether, this, that, or the other person can be sent for, until they have deposited, or have in hand the full amount necessary for the transportation of those desired to be sent for, and that, too, in money or its equivalent. The necessity of this course is obvious to all who feel disposed to assist in the great work of gathering and in relieving their brethren from a deep and untold distress which is constantly increasing. . . . With this plain statement to the people it is expected that no one will again present requests to send for their friends without being prepared with requisite means15."

There were now four classes of emigrants coming from Europe to Utah - the P. E. Emigrants sent for from Salt Lake, the P. E. Emigrants selected in the missions by presiding officers there, the ten pound Emigrants, and those who paid their own way. This latter class sent money through the company to its outfitting agent on the frontier for the purchase of teams and equipment. The total Mormon emigration for the year was 2,312 from the British Isles and 314 from the European mainland. Nine hundred and fifty-five of the British emigrants either arranged for their own outfit or sent money ahead with the P. E. Agents16. Of the Continental emigrants 297 were Scandinavian and 17 German. The entire expenditure of the P. E. Company in 1853 was thirty thousand pounds17.

The next year (1854) brought further changes. The ten pound scheme having proved inadequate, the sum was raised to thirteen pounds. But the number who availed themselves of the plan was reduced to eighty-six. Another plan proved more attractive. Many who could neither pay their own way at thirteen pounds nor qualify as immediate beneficiaries of the P. E. Fund accepted a third alternative. They donated what funds they had to the Emigration Company in return for transportation to Utah. Then they signed a note to pay back the full cost of the journey. In other words their donations assured them a company loan. The amount thus contributed in 1854 was 1,800 pounds and eight shillings18. This sum was further swelled through urging the "Thirteen pound Emigrants" to accept a company note for all their surplus funds. This relieved in a measure the need for cash to purchase equipment.

The various districts in England contributed one thousand, two hundred19 pounds to the fund in 1854. Three thousand one hundred and sixty-seven emigrated, of whom in addition to the eighty-six Thirteen Pound passengers, 1,075 came under the Fund and 875 paid the regular emigration rates20. The increase in price of teams to forty-five pounds was a major factor in the reduction of L. D. S. emigration from England in 1854. It is estimated that the total emigrating cost for the years 1853-1854 was seventy thousand pounds21.

Emigration increased sharply in 1855 over that of any preceding year. This in spite of the fact that cost of teams had reached fifty-five pounds. Out of a total of 4,225 emigrants, 1,161 came under the fund and three hundred and seventy-three furnished their own teams. The sum of fifteen pounds for each adult and nine pounds for those under one year was paid for each P. E. F. passenger. The total operating cost for the year was approximately thirty thousand pounds22.

The period from 1852 to 1856 marked the high point of the British
L. D. S. Mission, both in membership increase and in numbers emigrated annually. At this time the mission also enjoyed its peak of financial credit when, during the seasons of emigration, its deposits in London and Liverpool amounted to some thirty thousand pounds ($150,000). Says Franklin D. Richards' biographer, "The credit of the mission was so sound and confidence in it so complete that the great shipping companies dealt with it very much as they would have done with the government of a nation with first class credit. This gave President Richards power to deal with the shipping companies on the most advantageous terms for the emigrating people. The vessels chartered by him were for the time being, in the service of the Church; and sea captains and their officers held the Saints in special charge. 'Upon the shoulders of the Philistines Israel was flying toward the west23.'"

1  Linforth, James, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, p. 8.

2  Ibid.

Millennial Star, VII:72.

Millennial Star, VII:88.

Millennial Star, VIII:36. "Hedlock, anticipating the arrival of the investigators, fled to London, but Ward continued to urge support for the enterprise and wrote on August 15, 1856: 'Again with regard to the objects of the company, we fear that some have not fully comprehended but have supposed that it was merely an emigration society, by which the Saints might be enabled to reach their destination in the West. This is altogether a mistake. The spirit of the company in the first place is to employ the capital thereof in trade and commerce for the mutual benefit of the shareholders, that they may receive interest for their money deposited in the same; but in the second place it is intended to provide a means of emigration for the Saints at the same time that we are seeking by commerce to promote the interests of the company. But the grand object of the same is to assist our brethren in their new location, by trading with them and others, and by taking out instruments of husbandry, machinery, manufactured goods and other articles which otherwise might cause them years of labor to produce, and thus to facilitate the building up and establishing a permanent home for the people of God."'

Millennial Star XIV:27.

7  Linforth, James, Route From Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, pp. 7-9.

Millennial Star, XL:57. "It is often enlarged by donation and in rare instances by bequest, and none of it is frittered on high toned officers by way of salaries or emolluments."

Millennial Star, XIII:209.

10  Millennial Star, XIV:27.

11  Millennial Star, XI:278.

12  Deseret News, August 21, September 18, 1852.

13  Millennial Star, XIV:325.

14  Jensen, Andrew, Contributor, XIII: 124, 125. 15  Deseret News, Volume V: 157.

16  Linforth, James, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, p. 9.

17  Jensen, Andrew, Contributor, XIII: 124, 125.

18  Jensen, Andrew, Contributor, XIII: 136.

19  Millennial Star, XVII:322.

20  Linforth, James, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, 120. Also Contributor XIII: 137. In 1854 Scandinavia sent 678 converts of whom two came under the fund. It is estimated that it cost no less than 10,000 pounds to remove these 678.

21  Jensen, Andrew, Contributor, XIII:137.

22  At the close of 1855, 21,911 European immigrants had responded to the call to gather to "Zion." Of these 5,000 had arrived at Nauvoo, Illinois before the exodus from that place in 1846. 16,911 of them sailed from Liverpool between 1848 and 1855, bound for Utah. Follow- ing the commencement of P. E. F. operations in 1852, the immigration was aided as follows: 2,887 came under the provisions of the fund; 957 came under the ten pound arrangement; eighty-six under the thirteen pound plan. The balance, while paying for their own transportation, enjoyed the benefits of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company through its purchasing agencies and its supervisory functions. It is estimated that at least 125,000 pounds ($625,000) were expended by the Company during the four years from 1852 to 1855 in emigrating the "poor saints" from Europe to the Rocky Mountains.

23  West, Franklin L., Life of Franklin D. Richards, pp. 132-133.