9 Immigration

                                          William Warner Major


Jill C. Major, Author

Swanton: 1843 passage

Picture of William Tapscott, ship with a square-rigger,  square stem and billethead like the Swanton




On February 11, 1844 William, Sarah and seven year old son, William Jr., set sail on the Swanton. 1 Little is known about this voyage, but from other ship records we learn that the Mormons were well organized. For example, during the previous year's voyage of the Swanton, Elder Lorenzo Snow led the emigrant company. "The Saints were divided into two groups with twelve men appointed to be responsible for their comfort and cleanliness. At six o-clock every morning the clang of a bell awoke the passengers, and at seven each evening a prayer meeting was held. There was preaching every Tuesday and Thursday nights and twice on Sundays."2

Nothing was recorded about the Swanton's 1844 voyage, however, it is interesting to note that six of the adults that William Warner Major baptized in the Newbury branch also emigrated February 1844. It is likely they and their families sailed on the same ship as the Major family. One doesn't need to expand the imagination too far to hear William preaching and encouraging the tiny flock in Newbury and London to go to the land of Zion.3

The apostles had already sailed away from England and returned to Nauvoo. In the Spring of 1844 the Church leaders were preparing to travel to the Eastern States to campaign for Joseph Smith who had announced his candidacy for United States President; thus, there were few American leaders of the Church in England. Given William's previous leadership responsibilities, it is certain he was appointed to help guide and direct the small group of Saints who boarded the Swanton.

Baptism of Lewis Gaulter, First Mate

This six year old ship was a square-rigger with two decks, three masts, a square stern, and a billethead. 4 It sailed under the command of Captain Davenport. Lewis Gaulter, who had served for nine years as a full seaman, was the first mate of the ship. After 54 days at sea, the Swanton docked in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 5, 1844. This gave the little group of saints plenty of time to preach the gospel to their shipmates.

The year before, the crew of the Swanton had brought 212 converts to America. On that trip Captain Davenport's steward was injured by a blow from one of the crew. After the captain "gave up all hopes of his recovery" Elder Lorenzo Snow administered to the man and he was immediately healed. 5 This so impressed the crew that several asked for baptism. The first mate, Lewis Gaulter, must have been pondering the peculiar people he transported across the ocean since that miraculous healing in 1843. In New Orleans, he requested that William Warner Major baptize him. Gaultor eventually moved to Nauvoo, where he continued to associate with the Major family. 6