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Autobiography of James Ririe
From "Utah, Our Pioneer Heritage"
Published by International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1996
By James Ririe
I, James Ririe, was born on the 24th day of January 1827 near Castle Fraser, Parish of Cluny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. My father had five sons and four daughters. I was the youngest. My oldest brother, Alexander, died the 18th of July 1829 at the age of 17 years. My youngest brother, William, died in infancy, the 30th of August 1823. My father, David Ririe, died the 20th of August 1830 at the age of 52 years. In the month of November, following my father's death, my mother moved about three miles east in the same parish. When I was five years old, I was sent to school. When I was eleven, I was sent to service, in the summer seasons, on the agriculture line. I was taken home in winters to school until I was thirteen years old. I then went to the milling of wheat and continued two and a half years.
My mother died on the 1st of May 1845 in the 56th year of her age. Her name was Isabell Shirris Ririe. She was buried in the same place as were my father and brother, the Burying Ground of Kinnernie, Parish of Midmar. In the same burying ground lay my father's father, Alexander Ririe, and his wife, Isabell Steel, and my mother's mother, Margret Smith of Baeor Millne. She died about the 6th of January 1835 at about 80 years of age.
About the end of June 1845 I went to a place in the town of Aberdeen and stopped in it nearly two years. I was engaged to a Mr. Eddie at the Lower Justice Milles, Aberdeen, at under wages. During this time I began to inquire more after truth. I was at the time in communion with the Free Church of Scotland. I believed it was the church nearest to the truth. I was taught that if I could feel myself to be a sinner and put my trust in Jesus Christ, for salvation, I was sure to be saved. I lived to the pitch that they said constituted a Christian. Yes, so much so, that on one occasion after I had had my mind greatly troubled, the minister, whose name was William Mitchel, spoke of my experiences so exact and said, at the end, that one that had had such experience was in Christ, and once in, never out. So confident was I, that I could take heaven and earth to witness that if I was not in a safe state, my blood be on His head. However, after I had this testimony that I was in a safe state, I was very desirous of having a knowledge for myself. I thought I could suffer anything if I knew that I was right before God. In the spring of 1847 I was in the custom of attending fellowship meetings. I neglected few or any opportunities that I had of doing and attending on those things that I thought was accepted before God.
At the same meeting one night, one remarked that if there were a millennium, there was a passage in the third chapter of Acts, verse 20-21, that they would take as proof of the personal reign of Christ on earth. When I went home I was greatly troubled whether it be true or not. Many passages of scripture struck my mind. Some of these passages were:
"Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go away."
"This so, till I come again."
"They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
These and such like passages struck me with awful power, so I went and prayed unto the Lord that I might not resist truth, but receive it, from whatever source it came. I also prayed that He might lead me by His providence, in such a way that I might come in connection with the truth. In answer to my prayer, the place I was in was shut and I could no longer stay in it. No place opened to me in Aberdeen. Having no view of a situation, my brother, George Ririe, and I prepared to go south to Leith, Edinburgh. We set sail on the 7th of June 1847 for Edinburgh.
We took lodgings in Edinburgh that night and next day went in search of employment, but found none. We continued there for several days but got no employment. Sometimes, we were almost expecting to get into a situation, then would be disappointed. Our means went down and we had to send home for more. By and by, it was wasted also. Our prospects were nothing better than the first week we were there.
About the first of July we proposed leaving to try some other place. On the 6th of July I was going between Granton and Leith, when I observed a placard on a wall intimating that William Gibson, minister of the Gospel from Edinburgh, was to deliver a lecture in the lower room of a Leith store on Wednesday evening at 8 o'clock, July 7, 1845, on the Messiah's personal reign on the earth. I did not understand if he was to be for or against that doctrine, but as my mind was troubled about the same, I was desirous to hear for myself what his views were. I had never heard of the name of Latter-day Saints, but once in Aberdeen. There, a woman said her brother in Dundee had taken up with some creatures that they called the Latter-day Saints. Fortunately for me, my mind was not prejudiced against them. However, I was a firm believer in the traditions of my father. Yet, being inquiring after truth, I was willing to receive it when it was laid before me.
I went to the meeting and sat convinced that every word Mr. Gibson spoke was truth. He referred to many of the passages that before had troubled my mind. Lest we should not understand it, he gave us a criterion to judge it by. No prophecy is of any private interpretation. He brought forward so many proofs that I had never thought of, so reasonable and harmonizing them as he went along. Although I had been taught to the contrary, yet I was convinced that such a thing was to happen. One man stood up to oppose, but he only confirmed what had been spoken. I was fully satisfied that such an event was to take place, but how it was to be brought about I could not tell.
This minister intimated that they were to be at this place three times on the Sabbath. When the Sabbath came, I was afraid that I would be committing a sin by going to any new sect and not knowing anything about them. In the forenoon, I went to a meeting of my religion in Infirmary Street. But I did not find the satisfaction that I used to have. In the afternoon, I went back to hear this new people. The sacrament was dispensed and then William Gibson preached unto us. They had placards through the town again, showing that the lecture was to be delivered on the necessity of apostles and prophets in our own day and age. I went back in the evening to hear it. He showed us the ancient order of the Church, referring us to the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians and the 4th chapter of Ephesians. He then showed us the order of the Church as it did exist with its 12 apostles, prophets, evangelists, and all holding their different offices, and possessing their different gifts of the Spirit. He showed us that Peter stood at the head of the Church and held the keys of the Kingdom to bind and loose on earth as it was to be bound and loosed in heaven.
Gibson referred us to the case of Cornelius. The angel came to him and as good a man as he was, yet the angel did not tell him what to do to be saved, but only told him where to send for the man who could and had authority to tell him. Peter is the first one that is mentioned in the opening of the door to the Gentiles, and standing up with the eleven to preach the Gospel after the ascension of Christ. After showing us that the order of the Church and Kingdom of Christ was as organized by Christ himself, he showed us how long this order was to be continued, by referring us to the 4th chapter of Ephesians, 13th verse. It was until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. While he was laying before us the order of the Church of Christ, he laid my church to the ground. I saw clearly that my church was not according to the pattern set forth by Jesus Christ and His apostles.
I said to myself, "If such a Church is in existence as he shows us, I shall not be long in being in connection of such." Before the meeting dismissed, he said if there were any who wanted initiation into the Church, that was now organized on the earth again, they were their servants at any time; or if any wanted to inquire further into their principles, to stay after the meeting was dismissed, and they would be willing to converse with us.
The people rose and went out, all of them which astonished me much, for I was so taken with the truths that I was desirous to know more of them. I did rise and made to go out, but lingered about the door. Then, he said, "Don't go away." I and my brother sat down and waited a little. In a few minutes he came around and said, "Well, what do you think of our strange principles?" We said, "We did not think them strange." After conversing some time in the hall, we had an opportunity of conversing with him alone. I put some questions to him which troubled my mind very much. "What has become of all our forefathers who have done so much and even shed their blood for the cause that they held so dear?" He then asked me a question. "What would you do with all the heathens that have never heard of the name of Jesus? Would you send them all to hell?” “Well," I said, "I could not send them to heaven for there was no other name given among men whereby they could be saved, but Jesus Christ." “No," he said, "He would not be so, in like manner, with our forefathers. Sin is the transgression of law, but where there is no law given, nothing required. They will be judged by the light they live under."
After conversing with him that night, we appointed to meet him next day in the house of John Anderson in Leith, which we did. When I did as he desired me to do, brought up all the arguments I could against them, it had no effect for such a flood of light had sprung into my mind that I could not resist the truth. The arguments that I tried to bring up, I saw before I mentioned them that they were no arguments at all.
Many things he told me were like balm to my troubled soul, concerning my forefathers, such as that ordinance that is mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:29. One thing troubled me very much. Was it possible to be in Christ at one time and fall away? I could not bear the idea of such. I was willing to lay aside all my firm righteousness and begin anew again. I thought I was on the way before, although, now I had found I had been building on a sandy foundation. Yet I thought it would be awful to be in Christ and continue for awhile and then at last be cast away. Then again, I reasoned, what am I, it is truth, I see it to be truth and will not my believing it make it error? We appointed to go forward that night and be baptized. First George and then I were baptized in the Sea at Porto-bello near Edinburgh by John Anderson. As I went forward to be baptized, I saw that although I had prayed that my sins might be forgiven, yet I had not certain knowledge that they were. I had done the best I could and many a time had the answer of a good conscience. Now I saw the way to get my sins remitted. All my former righteousness was as nothing to me. I was most willing to be baptized, believing I was to have my sins remitted by obeying that ordinance.
When he asked me if I were willing to enter into covenant with God and to keep His commandments in as far as they should be made known unto me, my whole soul replied, "I am." As he laid me below the water, I think it was the happiest moment that ever I had had in all my life.
As we had no employment in Edinburgh, it was our intention to try and make our way back to Aberdeen. We planned to leave on Wednesday, July 14th. This was the 12th of July 1847 that I was baptized. I was confirmed by the waterside the same evening by Robert Menzie, elder and president of the Edinburgh Branch. In my confirmation he told me I would yet be sent to another portion of the world to roll on the work of God there. On the morrow, my brother went to a place where he had the promise of getting employment. He accordingly got a situation that night, which caused us to stop and not move from Edinburgh. On the following Friday, I got work with a Mr. Taylor, a grocer and wine merchant in Edinburgh, as a light porter.
I continued in the same situation and in the same Branch of the Church that was in Leith. I knew I was in the true Church of God and my soul was rejoiced in knowing the truth for myself. I then wrote home to my people and acquaintances. So delighted with the truth was I that I thought I had nothing to do but just tell them of it and they would be as happy as I. To my great disappointment, I found they treated it with contempt and did not answer my letter at all. Some of them did later, and told me it was "the worst of the worst I had joined." This astonished me much, knowing it could be but little or nothing that they knew about it. Some of them went to my old minister and took my letters with them. He generously told them not to mind me, for if it were of man it would come to nought, but if it were of God it would prosper.
I had also one sister nearly seventy miles from us. When we wrote to her, she was sorry for us and came to see us. I had my mind made up that she would be one with us, but alas, I was disappointed to find her opposed and so unwilling to receive the truth. She continued some time with us but I was obliged to let her go without making much impression on her. For my own part it continued to expand. The more opposition I met with the more convinced I became that it was the work of God. When conversing with people, the Spirit of God wrought mightily in me, in bringing things to my remembrance and throwing light on the future. The first conference I was at, was held in No. 2 Drummond Street, Edinburgh. It was held about the end of September. Orson Spencer favored us with his company. We had a happy time of it. The next was held in the same place about the end of December. I think I never was so happy in all my life.
I would mention about Brother Wheelock, who testified of the truth of the Latter-day Prophet. Said he, "I had the honor to go, yes the honor to go to the prison with him. I heard him say how long it would be ere the Messiah would come. 'Yes,' said he, 'but I am not to tell you, however, there are some here who may not be old people when it takes place.'" About the month of January 1848, my brother, George Ririe, left Edinburgh for Aberdeen. Before he left he was ordained to the office of an elder and commissioned to build up a branch in Aberdeen. As we did not succeed in Leith, the Leith Branch was united to the Edinburgh Branch. Shortly after we were united to the Edinburgh Branch, I was in the meeting one Sabbath afternoon, when a Brother stood up to bear testimony. He spoke in an unknown tongue. I had never heard the like before. I sat with a great solemnity on me. He stood up and said, "Be it known unto all that God hath raised up His Church." When the Tongue ceased, the interpretation came in quick succession. When he came to the end of it, he stood a few seconds and then sat down.
Sometime after my brother was in Aberdeen, he got a situation for me. Although not one of the best, yet I hoped to be of some use to someone in bringing them into the Gospel of Jesus. On the 19th of March 1848 our Conference was held in No. 2 Drummond Street. I was ordained elder by Elder William Gibson, President of the Edinburgh Conference. We enjoyed a happy time of it.
I had a very good situation in Edinburgh with Mr. Taylor. It was the best situation I had ever had and the best pay, so that I was saving money. However, being asked to go to Aberdeen to assist in getting the Gospel introduced there, I left. They were very unwilling to part with me, as I had given them great satisfaction. They told me that if I did not succeed, to let them know and Mr. Taylor would give me my place again. Said Mrs. Taylor, "You know, Mr. Taylor has a very peculiar temper and he never had one that suited him as you have done." I then left Aberdeen the same night and having received the address of a family in the Church went in search of them on Wednesday and found them.
At Aberdeen I commenced storekeeping with my brother George. But my ways and his in running business were not the same, so in May I hired to Mr. Eddie again to work for him for a year. Mr. Eddie found I had learned something of storekeeping so he took a store and put me in as salesman which I ran for fifteen months. The month of April passed away ere we got ourselves organized into any sort of meetings. At last we got up a little meeting in our house. It was a little garret room at 19 Chapel Street, Aberdeen. Here, I first opened my mouth to preach in a meeting, yet it was a very small group. There were only four and myself, yet I felt the Spirit of God bringing things to my remembrance, although nothing was thought on before what I should say. We kept up the meetings in the same place, twice on the Sabbath. In the afternoon, we met in the house of John Henderson until the month of June was about done. Then we moved to a sister's house of the name of Ann Davidson. By this time, we had five or six baptized. On July 23 we opened a small hall in Castle Street. We were not long in our hall, when one Sabbath evening one of the name of Mower opposed the truth by making a noise and speaking at the end of the meetings. However, our own people became more confirmed in the truth.
During the summer, I, along with Elder John Henderson, went out to a village about three miles out and preached to the people in the open air. We got very attentive meetings, with the exception of two or three fellows who tried to oppose the truth. They would not receive, yet could not resist. About the 9th of September, Elder Hugh Findlay came to us. He was with us on Sabbath, the 10th. On the following day, we took the old Union Hall and on Wednesday the 13th, he commenced lecturing in it. It was generally three nights each week and on Sabbath until about the 20th of October 1848.
During the lectures many opposed and continued asking questions until between eleven and twelve o'clock. Lectures commenced at eight. Brother Findlay, seeing the lateness and disturbance it made, would not enter into discussion with them except they would appoint an individual and a night for the purpose. When he would not answer the questions, they made an awful noise. They started breaking the seats, pulling them and dancing on them at an awful rate. They pulled down one of the chandeliers, making manifest what sort of spirits they were. Yet we baptized five or six during what time we were with them. Mostly through the exhortation and preaching of Brother Hugh Findlay, we had succeeded in getting a branch of The Church of Latter-day Saints organized with near one hundred members.
About that time I went to old Aberdeen and delivered tracts among the people and preached to them on the street. We were desirous of getting a house to hold meetings in. A brother of the name of Alex Melvine asked an acquaintance of his, if he would give us his house for that purpose. He was willing. As we were conversing about the principles on a Sabbath forenoon, one of his daughters came in. We continued to lay the principles before them and I felt by the Spirit that there were some of them receiving them. She promised to come to the meeting that night. But ere we left the house her other sister was not willing for a meeting being in the house, so we did not get a meeting in it.
Toward the end of January 1849 Brother Alex Melvine, his wife and child, and Ann Davidson emigrated to the land of Zion. They left Aberdeen about the middle of January. We had a happy time of it. We had Brother Findlay and Brother Matheson with us. Brother Matheson was on his way North to offer the Gospel to the people in that region. We took our farewell of them at the shore of Aberdeen, on board the steamer. Shortly after they left, something came in the way that stumbled some of those in the Church, such as the diagram of the Kingdom of God and some teachings that they had not been accustomed to. They would not believe them. There were some who stumbled so, that they were desirous of being cut from the Church. This caused great grief among us. The work of God ceased to roll on among us for a time. Even those who did stay got into a misunderstanding with each other, and there was a lack of that love and confidence which ought to exist among the people of God.
In the spring, the first or second Sabbath of April, as Brother Findlay proposed, I was re-baptized. Several more of the brethren and sisters followed the example. When Brother Findlay left us, Brother David Cook was sent unto us, yet we made little progress in adding to the Church. I had assisted in preaching in and around Aberdeen. Brother Findlay and President William Gibson wanted me to go out as a missionary. But I could not go until my engagement was out with Mr. Eddie. At the turn of Whitsunday, I would not re-engage with Mr. Eddie. He coaxed me very hard but I would not make a year's engagement. He raised my wages three fold and over, but I would only stay by the month. Our hall rent was behind. I had to give over one-third of my six months' wages to help to clear that. I also had to keep a room for the traveling elders. All other rooms, because of the apostacy, were shut off from them.
I stayed with Mr. Eddie until one day Brother Cook, our presiding elder, called at my store for the use of a pen and ink to address a letter. I may here say that by this time, many were much opposed to Mormonism and Mr. Eddie among the rest. Particularly a William Gragehead, that kept store next door to me, was opposed. It was the same kind of a store and Mr. Eddie furnished him with stuff. Mr. Eddie was in his store for his pay that day that Brother Cook called on me. Said Mr. Gragehead to Mr. Eddie, "There goes their preacher into your store." Mr. Gragehead had another fault about me than Mormonism. I had got a great deal bigger run for the same kind of goods than he, although he had been there longer. Nearly all the Latter-day Saints bought from me.
That day, Mr. Eddie came in and very roughly asked Brother Cook what he wanted in there. Said Brother Cook, Nothing, only the loan of a pen to address a letter. Said Mr. Eddie, "Go out of here Sir, and don't come and interfere with my servant again."
That night, I handed in my warning in writing that I would leave in one month from then, on August 18, 1849. On the day after I gave in my warning, my master and I had some words about the affair. He would not believe in the Power of God. He said people who believed, were the lowest of character. I said we were no worse than the people of God in all ages. As regard to character, I would try their character and mine along side of his any day. I would also try the principles of the Church along with the principles of his church, judging them by an infallible standard, namely the Bible. Mr. and especially Mrs. Eddie were much vexed at my leaving. They did all they could to get me to stay, but I said "No." I learned later that Mr. Gragehead gave up his store and hired to Mr. Eddie to keep his but the two stores had not as many customers as I had had for Mr. Eddie.
On Sabbath, the 22nd of July, Brother Henderson and I went out to the street to preach. We stood up on Denburn, the side near the Infirmary. After I had preached awhile, Brother Henderson preached. Toward the end, he was interrupted by some fellows who believed in the originalism on little children sufficient to damn them. After Brother Henderson had finished, one, a Baptist, stood and started something. He asked to see miracles or produce two or three witnesses out of the Church who had seen them. He said the servants of God attested their mission by the miracles they wrought. Some called for proof and living witnesses. He said he took the testimony of God for it. The scriptures were the superiority of all truth. He said also that the scriptures were completed and no more to be added. Turning around to one, he said, "Whosoever shall add to the word of that Book, God shall add to him the plagues that are written therein." After this man had finished speaking, Brother Cook said as it was too late to enter upon a lecture tonight, he would deliver a lecture on the morrow night at the same place and on the points the Baptist had touched on. The night following, it rained. But on Tuesday night, he delivered a lecture in the said place. He was interrupted by one of the name of Peter Bird, who had interrupted Brother Henderson the Sabbath before. He wanted to see a miracle. Brother Cook got on with his lecture without much interruption. But so mean was the crowd. Some were on our side, others were against us. We finally left them in their own confusion to make the best of it.
August 1849 I left my situation to go out to preach the Gospel. On Sunday the 19th I preached in the forenoon to the Saints in Aberdeen. Tuesday the 21st I went and got settled. On the 30th of October, 1849, I was ordained an elder by President William Gibson, assisted by Brother Hugh Findlay. We went to Forfar, Brechin and Montrose. We got a hall to preach in in Montrose. I had taken a few shillings with me, but ere that two weeks were past, we had to sleep by the side of a straw stack and pick wild berries from the woods, and steal at night, green horse beans from the fields for our food. I was then sent to the Blairgowrie District. It was about 30 miles by 15 miles. In Blairgowrie, there were three members, a man and his wife and a single man. Nine miles from there at Glenniey, there were four or five members. I succeeded in baptizing twelve or thirteen, which added to those already there, and made a Branch of about twenty members.
I will relate one conversion. I had left tracts at a house and as I went to lift them and leave others, if wanted, the lady of the house came to the door in answer to my knock. Said she, "The minister is here, but come in." I did so. The minister, a Mr. Herdsman, was there praying. When he was done, the master of the house introduced me as one of his (the minister's) brethren, a missionary. The minister asked me first thing what denomination I belonged to. I told him The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He invited me to call on him at his manse of the Rattray Parish, which I did in a few days. He had read the books and I believe from what he said, believed some of the doctrines to be true. He asked me what I thought they would do with him if he joined. "Oh," said I, "I don't know, but they might make an elder of you and send you out to preach the same as they have done by me." He then asked me what salary I had. "Oh," I said, "we have no salary. We are just sent as Jesus sent His disciples of old, without purse or scrip. We depend on those we go among for our food and raiment." Said he, "That would never do with me, I have a large family dependent on me for a living." He was the minister of the Rattray Parish. Other subjects we also discussed. After the interview I delivered all the tracts I had with me. He, though, gave in to several of our principles being right. He also asked a great number of questions about my own history and about the gathering, which I answered him according to my knowledge. Also asked how I came to know that it was the work of God.
I left Kirkinch quite early one morning because I had a big day's work before me in lifting and distributing tracts. I had a long way to travel before I would get to the next lodging house where I could stop. It was Kirriemuir, a town of between three and four thousand inhabitants. I had no friends there, never having been able to get a place to preach in, but some had received my tracts to read. I had sixpence in my pocket, I counted on supper, breakfast and fourpence for my bed. When I got to the house where I used to lodge for fourpence, they were full. As there was snow on the ground, I could not well sleep outdoors. I had to go to the next cheapest lodging-house for a bed, but that was sixpence so there was no supper nor breakfast. I was quite hungry, not having had anything from early breakfast at Mr. Irland's. It took me to near noon to finish my tracting in Kirriemuir. Then I started for Brother Robertson's at Glenillery, a distance of twelve or fifteen miles. On the way I got quite hungry and tired. I went into two or three houses on the roadside in purpose to ask for something to eat, but I never could ask. I could ask for a drink of water, because that was quite gentlemanly, but I never in all my travels could ask for bread. Why, a missionary preacher with good clothes on and to ask for bread. But at that time I do not think if I could have asked, I would not have been refused once. To increase my troubles, about half way the road forked, but as I had never been that road before, I took the wrong road and went four or five miles, ere I found my mistake, and had to go back as tired and hungry as I was. I met a man and he told me of a foot path and footbridge that crossed the river, so it was not so bad, as it led me to the right road. I got to the Robertson's just before supper time. How glad I was to see Elizabeth Edwards Robertson getting supper ready. Mrs. Robertson was a widow and not yet in the church. But her sons were, and they had instructed their mother how to treat the traveling elders when they came around, and she did. No elder had to ask for something to eat. On the 9th of October 1849 I baptized her. She had a small farm and a public house with large rooms in it. We got the use of it to preach in. Mrs. Robertson's lease of her place ran out at the next term and her sons were anxious for her not to renew the lease, but to sell out and go to the Valley of the Salt Lake. With some persuasion, she did and they started from Dundee on the first of January 1850 toward Salt Lake. They stopped at Council Bluffs for some time. She died there. The sons all went on finally to Utah. When the Robertson family went, it made quite a talk, for they were quite a respectable family. There was the mother, six sons and a hired woman. The six sons were James, William, Thomas, John, Alexander, and Charles.
I got some good sized meetings after that in the neighborhood, with them going away to the Mormons in far off America. It made the people inquire. After they had gone, there were yet four or five Latter-day Saints left in the near neighborhood and some others interested, so I still went there.
On Friday, January 4, 1850, we went to Edinburgh for the Conference. Brother Gibson was to leave for the Manchester Conference, and we got Brother Crandall Dunn as president of our conference. A good spirit prevailed and good prospects in general. Some 1,400 added since Brother Gibson got the presidency. May the Lord bless his future career. He was the first I ever heard preaching the Gospel. About eighty added since last conference.
On Friday May 17th I got a letter in the morning from Brother Findlay that Brother Erastus Snow, one of the twelve, was to be in Perth at half past twelve. I went and told the most of the Saints about it. Ordered bills to be printed for the opening of the hall. I met Brother Snow, Brother Dunn and Brother Findlay at the railway station. We enjoyed Brother Snow's company till one-half past three. He then went away to Glasgow.
I traveled, preached, distributed tracts from Perth to Glenilley from Dunkeld, to Kirriemuir. The 17th of April I was appointed to preside over the Perth Branch and continue traveling the above mentioned district as my wisdom might dictate. A Mr. James Cramb, who had joined the Church about a year before, had been very active in the Church, seemed to, or expected to be put to preside. When I, a partial stranger was called, he soon became dissatisfied and talked against the principles of Mormonism. He succeeded in getting quite a few of the Saints dissatisfied also. Some repented and some had to be cut off. It was quite a trial for me, but some of the Saints in Perth were very good to me. I would mention Brother and Sister Graham and family. I had a standing invitation to come to their place whenever I needed a meal. Also good to me were Brother and particularly Sister Sprunt, also Brothers Miller and Murdock. However, none of these had bed room. I got a bed at a Mrs. McDonald's who kept a lodging house. Although a staunch Catholic herself, her husband, son and daughter were members of our Church, but they were not at home. I used to pay her when I had it. Perhaps it would be sixpence or a shilling when I could. Money was not very plentiful. With me, I could not do as some did; ask for bread.
From Perth to Blairgowrie, one road was fifteen miles, but on this road there was a toll bridge for foot passengers. It cost me half a penny to cross. The other road to Blairgowrie was nineteen miles. I often had to go that road, four miles extra for the want of that half penny. As I was appointed to preside over the Perth Branch, I had to be there every Sunday the summer of 1850. From Perth to Dunkeld was twelve or fifteen miles. There were two roads to Blairgowrie, a lower and upper road. About the same distance, they were. On the lower road there was a big shed for the farmer's fuel. As the house was some distance off in the dark, no one could see me, and I used to make that shed my bedroom and walk off at daylight.
One time that I took the upper road, I came to a farm place. The cart shed fronted on to the road. In one of the carts was green hay cut for the horses' feed at the farm. When I saw that, I thought what a good bed. I got into the cart and covered up among the hay and was soon asleep. How long I slept, I know not, when one of the men that had been off to see his girl came home. He was going to feed his horses ere he went to bed. When he came to lift the hay, he gathered up my feet and legs which brought me into a sitting position. I do not know whether he or I was the most scared. However, after I got awake enough to make explanations, he said "I sleep alone and you can sleep with me, but don't make much noise, as I don't want the boys to hear when I come in." He took me to his chambers and I had a good bed and stayed until 5 a.m. when they got up to work, and I went on my way to Blairgowrie.
Thus I worked, until the forepart of September. Someone sent me word that the proprietor had threatened to take my furniture in Aberdeen for rent. I asked Brother Dunn for leave of absence for one Sunday to go get that fixed. I did not get to Aberdeen until Saturday night. When I got there, there was a letter from Brother Dunn, saying as Brother Andrew McFarland required help in Aberdeen, if I could get work to stay and help Brother McFarland. I then tried to get work, but it was an uncommon time of slackness of work. For seven weeks I tried without success. I had a hard time of it. There were but few Saints or friends where I could get a meal. I had no money. I was running in debt every night for my lodgings. I visited my friends until I thought I would wear my welcome out. I walked the streets in Aberdeen so that in passing the bakery shops, the smell of the bread made me sick.
I visited my old employer, Mr. Eddie, but knew better than to ask him for work, having offended him so in going off to preach. His son, William, told me after, that his mother and he had tried to get Mr. Eddie to get me a place. He said, "No, I will not. Just as soon as he gets money enough, he'll be off to Salt Lake." I had work ere William told me this. I said "Your father is quite correct, for as soon as I get money enough, that's my next move." I could have gone back to my old master, Mr. Taylor, in Edinburgh, but Brother Dunn wanted me to stay in Aberdeen and assist Brother McFarland in the Church.
At last, through the influence of Ann McKenzie, who used to attend the same prayer meeting that I did before I was a Mormon, I got work at Sturd and Rolls Co. Combworks on Hutcheon Street, Aberdeen. My first two weeks' wages were four shillings and eleven-pence. I got board at Lizzie Norvel's, but she charged me four shillings a week, so I was getting in debt. I then learned of a garret room to rent for ten shillings for six months. As the Saints in Aberdeen had redeemed my household things ere I got there, I thought I would rent this room. The rent had to be paid beforehand. I wrote to my sister Margret in England, if she would loan me a pound. She did, so I rented this room. I paid the ten shillings, paid my debts, got a shilling's worth of coal, some oatmeal, some molasses and started housekeeping. I had only two weeks' pay at the Comb works, as they kept ten day's laying in time, when they shut for repairs on engine and holidays. This was a great loss to me, having to learn the work and it was piece work. I made very small wages. I lived on oatmeal and molasses until I got more wages and then I treated myself to one cent's worth of skim milk a day. I thought if I could get by during the winter, I would get a place in May at my old work, but ere May came, I found I could make as much at the Comb Works, as at milling or storekeeping. There were about 700 hands worked at the Comb Works. There were all kinds of people. I was a target to some of them to shout at, when the work was dismissing on the street outside the Works. I would hear such as "There goes Joe Smith. There goes the Book of Mormon." I never let them know I heard them.
In 1852 we got into a real bad state. The meetings were stiff. About April, Elder Andrew Ferguson was sent to travel and preside. A good many of us were rebaptized. By this time, the summer of 1852, I was making better wages at the Comb Works. Brother Ferguson stopped with me at nights and had one meal at least, or more, with me daily. However, he got jealous of me because some of the Saints that I had been the means of bringing into the Church of a long acquaintance, came to me with their little troubles for counsel and not to him. He and I did not see eye to eye in government and especially in money matters. I had commenced to put money for my emigration in the Savings Bank. He did not approve of that way, and said anyone that has more confidence in the banks of the world, than in the Church is weak in the faith. Our disagreement came to a fracas one time when he called a council meeting at which he wanted a day's wages of each member of the Branch, if I remember right, to stereotype the Book of Mormon. There were several Saints out of employment at the time and some only getting a day or two of work at a time. I suggested a voluntary contribution. For myself, I could and would give two days' wages, but I did not think it would be right to make those pay who did not have it.
Brother Ferguson got mad and asked the rest of the council, one by one. He and four of us constituted the council. One would pay, the others were in debt and could not promise. He then said, "Brethren, do you know what you're doing? You're legislating for the 'Kingdom of God.'" He said he would put some questions to us in the name of the Lord and then said "I'll try Brother Ririe first. What do you believe concerning the authorities of the Church?" By this time I was quite vexed, say mad. I answered, "I believe there are good men in authority in the Church and also that there are some who give wrong judgment and unrighteous judgment." Said he, "Who is good?" I mentioned several. "Who is bad?" I told him some that I said I believed had not acted a straight-forward course in the decision of some cases. Said he, "That's not it. What do you believe about the Apostles?" Said I, "What do I know about the Apostles? I never saw but one, Erastus Snow. He's all right." He then moved that I be cut off the Church for believing that there is corrupt men in authority in the Church. Brother Brown seconded it and the three agreed. He also asked Brother Robb what he believed about corrupt men in the Church. Brother Robb answered "I'll not give you an answer to that question at all." He then moved that Brother Robb be cut off for believing similar as I did. I then told Elder Ferguson to keep a correct account of that transaction in their record book as I would appeal it to the authorities the first opportunity. Said he, "We can write what we please in that book."
Ferguson was removed from Aberdeen. A Brother William Bird was sent there. In the Fall of 1851, a Brother Hugh Gowans from Arbroath came to visit Aberdeen. He and I had had some acquaintances. He had heard of my great apostacy by Brother Ferguson, so he came to see me. When he went back to Dundee, he told the president my version of the story and that I had not apostatized from the principles of the Church at all.
From Brother Gowan's report to President McNaughton, he came to Aberdeen to see about it and reinstated me in the Church by baptism. I was baptized and confirmed by him on the 23rd of January 1853. Before that he asked me if I would forgive Brother Ferguson for his conduct toward me. I said I would try. He said that was the easiest way of settling it. I had been often asked to join before then, but I said "No." I must first be fully reconciled to those who had to do with my cutting off.
By this time, I was making at the average of 11 shillings per week. I had commenced to save up to get away to the Valley. On the 24th of January 1852, I had put into the bank, two pounds and ten shillings as a commencement. I still continued to save all I could. On the 26th of January I agreed with President McNaughton to go to the Valley, and about the first of February 1852 gave President McNaughton 6 pounds to be my deposit money and to pay for my outfit on the plains in the Ten Pound Company.
Here I would like to say that I did quite wrong in opposing Elder Ferguson. He was my leader and I ought to let him collect the day's wages from each of the Saints, if he could. That was not my business. I did not learn till later that he did collect it, but that he cut off fourteen members ere he stopped. Thus, our Aberdeen Branch, once numbered one hundred, with the apostacy under Robert Hill and the fourteen Andrew Ferguson cut off, there were but few left of all the members in the Branch.
At that time only eleven made their way to Utah: Mrs. Mitchell and three daughters, Brother Robb and wife, Brother Brown and wife, Brother Noble and wife and myself. On the 24th of January 1853 I drew from the bank my money, 17 pounds, and on the 8th of February I left work to go. I left Aberdeen on the 12 of February 1853. Before leaving, I took farewell of my friends and relatives. Some of them were very opposed, also some of them in the Church. I also promised to do my best to take out Helen Mitchel the following season.
I arrived in Edinburgh by train at half past 12 noon. I went to Brother Waugh's and left my portrait. I took dinner in a cook shop on High Street, and then went to Mr. Focktrit's. To my astonishment, I there met my sister Margret. I got a kind of a promise that she might yet come to America to me. On Monday 14th I got a number of presents from her for my comfort. There was a top coat, shirts, etc. and a genuine silver watch No. 13484–87–13417. I asked her if she would loan me six pounds to take Helen Mitchel with me, but she not being a Mormon and not understanding our faith in the command of God to gather to Zion said "No sir, you're going to a country that you know nothing of and to take a girl there, perhaps to starve, no. You go there and see if you can make a living. Then write me and I will then help her out to you." I had to go with that promise. I parted with her on the 15th at Edinburgh.
The same afternoon that I parted with Margret, I arrived in Glasgow. I met my brother George at the Glasgow Station. I went to his house. On Friday 18th I got a letter from Liverpool that I could not be included on the International which was to sail on the 23rd of February, but that I would be notified in a few days for the next vessel. On Saturday 12th of March I got notification to be in Liverpool to sail with the Falcon on the 28th of March. Sailing vessels were very scarce that year as the Gold Fever had broken out in Australia and all were going there.
On Saturday 19th, I left Glasgow with about 100 Saints to sail on the same vessel. I was a little sick on the way to Liverpool. I watched the luggage at night on the steamer. On the 20th we arrived in Liverpool where I found lodgings at Mrs. Gellian's. On March 21st we removed our luggage to sheds on the Bramly Moor Dock. I watched the luggage part of the night. That same day I went to the office and paid the other four pounds for my passage. We watched our luggage by turns until Monday the 28th of March when we sailed out of Liverpool. It was a fine day but cold.
Tuesday 29th, a cold but calm day. Some wind in the afternoon.
Wednesday 30th, the wind rose and we sailed on well.
Thursday the 31st, a strong gale at night. A complete storm. The trunks were rolling, tumbling, breaking. The ship was cracking, children and women crying. I never was in such a scene. I was very sick. The ship rolled fearfully. I thought we would go to the bottom. My mind was calm as a summer morning, yet I was sorry to lay down my salvation there. Yet, thought I, the will of the Lord is done. In the excitement I asked of the Lord if we should be saved or not. I got a manifestation of the Spirit that we would all be saved and that the storm would abate in two or three days and then general fair weather would ensue after that.
Friday April 1st. The storm was a little over, yet the sea still rather high and the ship rocked much at night, very much. I was very sick. I was scarce able to be up and so were most of the company.
Tuesday the 5th, my sickness abated a little, but I had a sore boil on my neck. It pained me a great deal. All things else went very well with us.
Wednesday, May 4th. This morning we were awakened by the salute that there was land in view. It was half past three in the morning. It was Abaco Island with a lighthouse up to warn ships.
All has gone on very well. The weather is fine in general. Favorable winds and general good health has been, since the seasickness has gone. It has almost all abated. Four children died. One died of teething, two of diseases in the head, one of inflammation of the windpipe. Very interesting are the meetings on Sabbath day. Also meetings on Thursday and prayers at 8 a.m. and at 8 p.m. This night, Wednesday, we sighted the Gulf of Mexico.
On Thursday the 5th we had an awful experience of thunder and lightning.
Monday 16th. We have been in the Gulf of Mexico since the 4th. We've seen some rocks and lighthouses. Everything is much becalmed. We only this day came in sight of the lighthouse at the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi. At 3 p.m. the pilot came on board. At 4, we were in tow of a steamer. About half past 4 a second steamer had hold of us. About 5, we came in sight of land and houses. Could see the grass. A particular feeling of gratitude and joy prevailed to the Providence of Heaven in being brought safely through thus far. About 6, we scraped the bar. About half past 7 we started with another ship, both in tow of one steamer up the river.
Tuesday 17th. This morning scenes of delight passed us on each side of the river. To see the fruit fields was a beautiful experience. We arrived at New Orleans on the 17th of May, 7 weeks and two days from Liverpool.
We lay three days at New Orleans. We then took passage up the river on a steamer. We were six days and one night in getting to St. Louis. That day we changed vessels and started for Keokuk. Next night we landed at Keokuk so our sailing was done with. We lay three days at Keokuk and then started for the plains. Such bad roads I have never seen. We went 13 miles from Keokuk and lay over. We lightened up and burnt boxes and goods. I threw away about 100 pounds of clothing, etc.
On Sunday, about twenty of us went across the Mississippi River to Nauvoo. We saw the ruins of the Saints' homes, the ruins of the Temple and we visited the Nauvoo Mansion. We saw Mr. Bidamon, the man who married Emma Smith. We saw Lucy Smith, the Prophet's mother, and also Emma. We also saw his three sons, Joseph, Frederick, and David. David was then in his 9th year and Joseph was 21. We also saw Mr. Bidamon's little girl about the same age as David. They were all playing together about the house. We crossed back to camp that night. This was about the first of June 1853. Near Montrose, we lightened up our loads. The understanding before we left Liverpool being, that each ten of the Ten Pound Company would have a wagon, four oxen, two cows and each could take 100 pounds of luggage besides being furnished enough provisions for the journey. But we had to take twelve in a wagon and consented to reduce our extra luggage to seventy-five pounds and if possible to fifty. There was no way to hire our extra luggage taken to the Valley so we burned our boxes and extra weight. We put our clothes in sacks. The captain of the company was Jacob Gates. There were 33 wagons in the company and 400 people. The four milk cows proved to be mostly dry cows or heifers. We had one milk cow among thirty-six of us and she died on the Sweetwater.
Across Iowa the roads were very bad and we greenhorns poor teamsters. I did not know how we could get through the Rocky Mountains with wooden axles, oxen and a stick across the oxens' necks to pull by. I had never seen any such outfit. American ways were all new to us. We had thirty pounds of flour each to take us to Council Bluffs. It had to last us thirty days. But it did not do us. When the flour gave out, there were chances to buy, so I called at a mill. They had no flour. I asked if they had corn meal. Yes, plenty. When they showed it to me, I said "That's not corn meal." They said it was Indian corn meal. "Oh," said I, "It's corn meal made from oats." "I wouldn't call oats, corn!" the man said. I bought the meal and asked how to cook it. They said the same as flour. But they did not tell us to sift it, so we cooked it, bran and all. It was not very good.
We got to Council Bluffs the 30th of June, but as the 4th of July was near, the ferrymen had to celebrate, so we did not get started to ferry until the 11th of July. All got over by the 16th inclusive. While laying near the Bluffs, I found the George McKenzies, late of Dundee and Aberdeen. I called on them and was invited to stop and sleep there. I did for four nights. It was so good to sleep with mosquito bar around the bed.
When we did get started to cross the river, we had to cut willows, fill up the sloughs, make a road three quarters of a mile, to pull the boat up by hand. Then ere it got across, it had to be pulled up on the other side to the landing. In getting the ferrying done, I had overworked myself. When we did start the afternoon of July 16th I had to lay in the wagon sick, the only time I did ride from the Mississippi to Salt Lake. We got all our provisions rationed out to us at Council Bluffs. 100 pounds of flour, one pint of sugar, one pound of tea for 12, and 10 pounds of bacon to grease the wagon, one bucketful of salt for 12 and to feed the cattle. The salt, sugar and tea were all gone ere we got to Laramie. At the Bluffs I asked President Haight if I could take 25 pounds of flour extra with me, as I had seen that in coming from Keokuk to the Bluffs, a pound a day was not sufficient. Abruptly he said "We won't haul it for you sir." By the time we got to Laramie halfway from the Bluffs to Salt Lake some had all their flour eaten up. From then on it was divide, divide until within ten days travel to Salt Lake the captain called for all the flour in the company to be brought in and the last division was made which was two and one-half pounds each and had to last us to Salt Lake. From the Black Hills on our cattle began to give out. When they could no longer work they were driven ahead of the train. When they could not walk any longer, they were butchered for beef and divided among the company. But such beef! It did keep the most of us alive until we got to Salt Lake. The only man in the wagon with me, a Brother Crossland from London, was taken sick on Green River with mountain fever and died west of Bridger. He was buried at the crossing of Bear River and Evanston. I had a rough time of it then having to take care of the cattle, get wood and water for the wagon, stand guard half the night each fourth night. When Brother Crossland was unmanageable by his wife, he being light-headed with the fever, I had to have the tent close to the wagon to be ready to help Mrs. Crossland to calm her husband. He said to me one day "If I die, I should like to write my own epitaph." "What would you write, Brother Crossland?....I should write, "I am murdered by the unwise procedure of the Ten Pound Company.'" He had pinched himself to save it for his children.
Captain Jacob Gates gave his horse, the only horse in the company, to Brother Waddington to go to Salt Lake to get us supplies. When Brother Waddington got plenty to eat himself, he took a long time to hunt up the authorities to send us help. We were at the west foot of Little Mountain, when Brother Waddington met us with two hundred pounds of flour. It was not much for four hundred starving people. As I was getting up the Big Mountain on the east side, Brother William Walker came past me with a watermelon rind in his hand. He handed the rind to me. Said he "Watermelon, watermelon!" This was the first watermelon rind I had ever seen. I ate the rind good! That night Brother Walker, as he slept in my tent, gave us six potatoes, one to me and the other five to Mrs. Crossland and her four children. That was all we had for supper. Parley P. Pratt brought out the melon and the potatoes to Brother Walker, his father-in-law. Next night we each got our half pound of flour that Brother Waddington brought out from Salt Lake.
When we got to Salt Lake we could buy plenty, and I still had one English sovereign besides some silver in my pocket. I have been disgusted ever since to hear about the precious gold. It, we could not eat, when there was nothing to buy. I managed to buy two pounds of deer fat at Bridger, but that was all the woman would sell. When Brigham heard how we had been pinched for food, he said that was the last of the Ten Pound Emigration Business.