Sailing on the Amazon
On June 4, 1863, the Amazon set sail for America with the Brown family on board. Eliza, her father, John and brother, George were among the 800+ Mormon immigrants bound for a new life. As the ship left the dock, the mood was one of celebration and excitement. However, they soon discovered that they would face some real challenges on the slow sailing vessel.
Raw provisions were dealt out each week in meager quantities and they took turns using a small number of stoves that were available for cooking. Included in their provisions was their daily ration of a pint of “fresh” water. They mainly used the water for cooking since they could hardly drink it because it was so foul and blackish. The passengers’ water supply had been put in new barrels, and after a short time it became warm and stagnant and practically undrinkable. It tasted like the new wood and gave off a terrible odor. Eliza said that she only had one drink of good water during the whole trip, and that drink was given to her by a kind-hearted sailor who got it from the crew’s limited supply.
The trip took 44 days, and sea sickness was common. Some days the wind would blow the ship in the right direction, but then would change direction and blow the ship back towards England for a couple of days. But the travelers knew they would eventually reach land, and this helped keep their spirits up.
Eliza and her family arrived in New York on July 18, 1863, right in the thick of the Civil War. They took a boat up the Hudson River and then began their land travel to the west. Many of the railroad passenger cars were being used to transport soldiers and were not available for civilian travel. The Saints were continually delayed because of the War, and the atmosphere was one of tension and excitement. They were ten days making the trip from Albany, New York to St. Joseph, Missouri, including two days and a night they had to stand up in filthy cattle cars since they couldn’t get a passenger train. From St. Joseph they traveled up the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska where they were met by a caravan of ox-teams and made ready to continue their journey across the American plains to Utah.