June 20, 1868

On this day, June 20, 1868. The Thorsted family along with around 877 souls departed from the harbor at Liverpool on the Emerald Isle to begin their journey to America.

No other company of emigrating Saints from Scandinavia are known to have met with such bad treatment as this on board any ship in crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately it was the last company of Scandinavian Saints which crossed the Atlantic in a sailing vessel. From that time on only steamers were employed in the transportation of the Saints.

Embarkation Of The Saints At Liverpool In 1851

Embarkation Of The Saints At Liverpool In 1851

There was one other sailing ship called the Constitution that sailed a few days after the Emerald Isle from Liverpool, which technically was the last sailing ship chartered by the Mormon church, but it actually arrived in New York nine days before the Emerald Isle. They had a fairly uneventful journey unlike our Thorsted’s on the Emerald Isle.

The British Mission recorded the Emerald Isle departure in their mission history. They recorded 869 total passengers, 521 from Denmark, which included 375 adults, 125 Children & 21 infants. Click here to see the document. Also click here to see the document from the Scandinavian Mission.

Deseret News List of Passengers

Departure of 700 Mormons (England Newspaper article)

Under Sail to Zion, Ensign Magazine article 1991 – PDF with Pictures

Travel under sail was always difficult; however, in time, shipboard conditions improved. Yet some things were never overcome: overcrowding and its indignities, disease, and tedium. With some emigrant companies exceeding eight hundred people, the realities of squalid living often tested the stoutest hearts.

A famous clipper packet, the full-rigged Emerald Isle carried a total of 1280 Mormons in three voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Described by her owners-Tapscott’s Line-as a half clipper in model and a packet clipper in rig, the Emerald Isle hailed out of New York and was the largest vessel built at Bath, Maine, until the 1860s. She was somewhat full bodied, sharp, and heavily sparred. She was a three-decker but also had a forecastle deck with two large houses for a galley, storerooms, and crew’s quarters and a small cabin abaft the main hatch. The first lower deck contained a steerage cabin with a double tier of staterooms on each side running forward to the main hatch. Each of these staterooms had eight berths. This graceful ship had a figurehead of a dog in the act of leaping. Her stern was half round with a carved moulding which had the Harp of Erin in the center, an American Eagle on the right, and a dog on the left. Underneath were written the mottoes on the Irish and American coat of arms-Erin-go-Bragh and E Pluribus Unum. The Emerald Isle was among the first vessels to have standing rigging of wire. – Quoted from here.

From the book Saints on the Seas by Conway Sonne

In 1868 the Emerald Isle left Liverpool carrying 876 Mormons, including the last Scandinavians to cross the Atlantic in a sailing vessel. This clipper ship had transported two previous emigrant companies. The earlier voyages had been made under Captain George B. Cornish, a well-known mariner who apparently got along well with the Saints. However, a Captain Gillespie commanded the ship on this third crossing. According to the Millennial Star, no other emigrating company was known to have been so mistreated by the ship’s officers and crew, and it became necessary for presiding elder Hans Jensen Hals to protest and remind the captain of the contractual and legal rights of the emigrants. On one occasion a mate attacked a woman passenger. When a Mormon came to her rescue and chastised the mate, the crew threatened violence until the master restored order. Not only were the Saints treated harshly, but bad drinking water caused much sickness. Measles also broke out among the children; 37 passengers died on shipboard, and 38 were taken ashore ill. It was felt that the drinking water contributed to the high death rate, and the Saints-rightly or wrongly-placed much of the blame for their troubles on Captain Gillespie.

Excerpt from the autobiography of Christian Larsen

I was ordained an elder and appointed to labor in the North Zealand Branch where I labored until the spring of 1868 when I was released to emigrate to Zion. We left Copenhagen on Saturday June 13 and seven days later (June 20) we embarked on the packet ship Emerald Isle at Liverpool. We had a most unpleasant voyage of eight weeks. I shall never forget the horrors of the weeks; the worst, it is said, of all other emigrations.

Elder Hans Jens Hals noted the follow on that day

Saturday, 20 — President Franklin D. Richards and Elders William B. Preston and Charles W. Penrose, from the Liverpool office, came on board and a meeting was held, on which occasion the vessel was blessed and dedicated to bring the Saints safely across the mighty deep. President Richards gave me instructions as the leader of the company… The visiting brethren then addressed the Saints under the influence of the Spirit of God and every heart was touched by the words uttered and the pleasant influence which pervaded the assembly. As the brethren left us to go ashore, we gave them several ringing cheers. Soon afterwards the anchor was weighed and a small steamer tugged us out into the open sea. I was very busy assisting the Saints in finding their baggage, which was scattered all over the ship, and showing the Saints their berths and getting them settled down. Thus I succeeded in bringing some little order out of chaos. I also appointed guards to protect the Saints against the sailors, who seemed to take delight in annoying and insulting us in every way possible. . . .

June 19, 1868June 26, 1868

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