Thomas Edwards Leaves Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

My 3rd great grandfather who had courage enough to leave his home in Wales, left for America in 1854. Actually, it saved his life because it took him from being a worker in the mines to becoming a farmer in Ogden, Utah.

Thomas Edwards

It took years to save enough money for this voyage. Thomas Edwards boarded a train for Liverpool, England, where they booked passage on on the Clara Wheeler. This ship was a three-decker ship with a square stern and a billet head at the bow. Captain J. F. Nelson reported that there were 422 Mormon passengers.  On Thursday, November 13, 1854, the Edwards family of seven boarded the Clara Wheeler. The next day the ship left dock and lay out in the River Mersey. It continued to lie in the River for the next two days and finally on Monday November 27, 1854, they set sail at 3 PM.  They had not been able to clear the Irish Channel because of the incessant head winds against the ship and extremely rough weather. 

Clara Wheeler

All of the passengers suffered considerably from seasickness.  They returned to port after three days. After taking on more provisions, they waited seven days for the wind to change.  On December 6, the saints held a fast and prayed that their voyage could continue. The next day on December 7, at 1 PM a tugboat retrieved them and pulled them past all of the docks. The Captain of the ship finally returned to the ship and they sailed onward and cleared the Irish Channel in three days.  

One child was thrown overboard and lost at sea. Soon after leaving port, measles broke out among the passengers (20 children and two adults died at sea).  It was very painful to watch. When the children died, they were sewn up in a bag and tossed into the ocean for burial. The journey was one of sickness and sorrow. Neither the president nor his counselors held meetings or gave instructions to cheer the passengers. Brother Franklin D. Richards said that every passenger would have three pounds of butter and two of cheese and when it was given out, the butter was 160 pounds short and the cheese was a quarter pound short for each adult. There were a total of 22 deaths, one birth and 8 marriages whilest on the ship. Upon arrival at New Orleans on January 12, 1855, one more child died. After finally setting sail, it had taken five weeks to get to New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.

Elizabeth Lewis Edwards

This was only the start of their long journey.


4 thoughts on “Thomas Edwards Leaves Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

  1. June

    What a moving tale – of people who tried to better their lives and died along the way and so many of them children – how terribly sad. Looking forward to the next instalment of the journey.June

  2. Anne

    How brave they all were Ruth for undertaking such a long and arduous journey, but thank goodness they did because you and your family have lived and prospered in USA.You are so lucky that you have so much documented family history to draw on, fascinating stories that are wonderful to read.

  3. Cranberry Morning

    What a fascinating post! These people were obviously not part of the 'Occupy Wall Street' crowd. 😉 People worked hard, had a goal, took responsibility to make the change, sacrificed to achieve their goals, etc. Is that kind of perseverance a thing of the past?


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