Remember also the seafaring pioneers

The intrepid souls who journeyed across the seas should be honored along with the overland pioneers during this sesquicentennial year, according to Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy.

Elder Morrison, president of the Utah North Area, prepared an address for the 25th annual Days of '47 sunrise service, held in the Tabernacle at 7 a.m. July 24th. However, because Elder Morrison recently underwent knee surgery, he spent Pioneer Day in the hospital convalescing. He asked Elder O. Brent Black, Area Authority Seventy, to deliver his address.Included in the early morning program were six musical numbers performed by the combined Choral Arts Society of Utah directed by Sterling S. Poulson and the Sierra Nevada Master Chorale under Richard Lee. Dennis Johnston, president of the Pioneer Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, conducted, and narrator to the musical selections was Garland Dennett. The flag ceremony and pledge of allegience was presented by Col. Paul Madsen and members of the Mormon Batallion.

Elder Morrison's address related the events of four ships involved in maritime misadventures: the Julia Ann, shipwrecked in the Pacific in 1855; the Olympus, caught in a terrible storm at sea in 1851; the Athena, in which many Saints died of illness in 1862; and the Saluda, a paddle wheeler on the Mississippi that exploded in 1851 and cost many Latter-day Saint lives.

"Each has a common theme - obedience and faith coupled with courage and perseverance combine to make a mighty people," Elder Black read from Elder Morrison's text. "How great is our debt to the sacrifice of those who have gone before us. They learned to know God on their journeys. Their heritage belongs to us all."

Julia Ann

"The Julia Ann recounts a tale of suffering, privation and distress seldom equaled in the annals of maritime disaster." The Julia Ann left on her last voyage Sept. 7, 1855, from Sydney, Australia, with 56 passengers, 28 of whom were LDS. On Oct. 3, the ship smashed head on into a coral reef.

"There was no hope to save the ship," noted Elder Morrison's address. Five members were drowned in the accident, and the remainder of the passengers climbed on the reef in waist high water and waited for dawn. Supplies were taken from the ship and "finally, utterly exhausted and terribly thirsty the wretched survivors eventually made it to dry land."

The group survived on flour from the ship, and on crabs and turtle meat.

"Almost seven weeks after the wreck, Captain Pond and nine other men left in [a repaired] boat to try to get help. After four days of hard rowing night and day, they reached Bora Bora in French Polynesia."

When they returned in a schooner, the 41 castaways still on the island were rescued. One, John Eldredge, an original pioneer and a returning missionary from Australia, wrote: "I need not attempt to describe our feelings of gratitude and praise which we felt to give the God of Israel for His goodness and mercy in His working a deliverance for us."


"Perhaps no crisis is more frightening than a storm at sea, which pits awesome powers of nature against man's puny efforts," according to Elder Morrison's text. "The Olympus was caught in such a storm, and saved only through prayer and priesthood power. She left Liverpool March 4, 1851, bound for New Orleans, with 245 Latter-day Saints and 60 other passengers."

Elder John Taylor, then presiding over the French Mission, was in England on business and saw them off. He predicted that despite storms, God would preserve them and lead them to a harbor of safety.

"Reeling under the lash of hurricane force winds, the Olympus trembled and shook like a drumhead. . . . The seams of the vessel sprang open under the stress and water began to flood into the hold rising within two hours to a level of four feet.

"At midnight, the captain in despair ordered the second mate to go below with a message to presiding Elder William Howell: `Tell him if the God of the Mormons can do anything to save this ship and the people, they had better be calling on Him to do so, for we are now sinking at the rate of a foot every hour . . . and if the storm continues we shall all be at the bottom of the ocean before daylight.' "

The members began praying, Elder Howell wrote, and "I noticed a material change in the motion of the ship, for instead of rolling and pitching . . . she seemed to tremble as one suffering from the effects of a severe cold . . . The storm had miraculously ceased immediately around the ship, while in the distance the billows were still raging."

The ship survived, and so powerful was the influence of the members that 50 passengers and crew were converted and baptized on the voyage. A number of them became pioneers.


With 484 Scandinavian Saints aboard, the Athena left Hamburg toward New York on April 21, 1862, under a tyrannical captain who provided only putrid water and inferior food, badly cooked.

"Disease broke out and 33 children died of measles . . . At the end of the 47-day passage to New York, 38 passengers had died, one of the highest tolls of any emigrant company," according to Elder Morrison. "Several more died as the Saints waited in Nebraska to begin the journey westward to the Valley."


The most tragic river journey in Mormon history happened April 9, 1851, as an old, dilapidated side wheeler, the Saluda, left St. Louis bound for Council Bluffs, Iowa. Aboard were about 175 people, including about 90 Latter-day Saints.

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