Vol. 14


The Journey to Utah

c. 1852; Lexington, Missouri, USA

On the steamboat The Saluda I never suspected that my life would get any worse. I had lost my mother due to typhus1 when I was very young. A hurricane had hit The Kennebec, the ship we journeyed on when my family was traveling over the Atlantic from Liverpool, England. When we had landed in New Orleans in March of 1852, we had been persecuted for being Mormons.2 But when the steamboat The Saluda stopped in Lexington, Missouri, the worst was still to come.

I was sleeping in my bed on The Saluda until I woke suddenly to a haunting boom. I could smell smoke and fire. The boat suddenly began shaking. I stayed on my bed, crouched in terror. My father came rushing toward me. “Louisa!” he shouted. “Go with John, Ellen, and Sarah Ann. I will get Joseph.” He rushed to get my little brother.

As I was leaving, I saw the horrific sight of burning metal and smoke. I turned to run until I felt excruciating pain in my left leg. I looked down to see a burning gash in my lower calf. The world spun around me. In a fuzzy daze I saw my siblings — Ellen, John, and Sarah Ann — running towards me.

“Get her off the boat!” John shouted at my two sisters. “Help me carry her out!” My vision was fuzzy. I saw glimpses of the destroyed boat, and people screaming in terror.


I awoke in a bed. I felt bathed, and my wound had been attended to. “Breakfast!” I heard a voice shout. I left my room and went to the strange kitchen. At the table I saw Ellen, John, and Sarah Ann, plus a man and a woman sitting at the end.

“Good to see you all up, children,” the woman said. “You are all welcome to stay here in our home due to the loss of your father and brother.”

That hit me like a bullet. My pa was dead? How could this happen? I wasn’t ready to be an orphan. I was only ten years old.

“However,” the woman continued, “you can stay here on one condition: Give up being with those Mormons.”

This comment also hit me hard. I didn’t know what to do at all. I looked around and looked at John, who shook his head at me.

“I’ll stay and do what you ask,” Ellen spoke up.

“Wonderful! Anyone else?” the woman asked.

We all shook our heads.

“Well, then you can all leave immediately!” the woman cried. So we did. It was unbearable leaving Ellen.

“Do we have any money?” I asked John.

“No, Louisa, it was robbed from Pa,” replied John.

We were orphaned and broke. Eventually we joined up with the pioneers and traveled across the plains with the Kelsey Company to Salt Lake City, Utah, in October of 1852. The journey was mostly good until I fell and the wagon rolled over my jaw. It was a difficult trial, but it didn’t stop me from reaching Utah.

Xander Patterson, fourth-great-grandson of Louisa; Idaho, USA


1. Typhus is a group of infectious diseases generally transmitted by fleas, lice, or mites. Typhus is now easily treated with antibiotics.

2. A Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the mid-1800s many Mormons traveled across the continent, sometimes in large groups such as the Kelsey Company, to what is now Utah, where they hoped to be able to worship freely.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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