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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 03, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Sep00

Summarized by Deseret Book Press Release

Braving the Elements for Their Faith

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Between 1840 and 1890, more than 40,000 Europeans under the age of 21, all converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left their homelands and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to America, sailing to Zion. Their journeys ranged from seven weeks long to just over three weeks, as ships became faster and more efficient. Many children left their parents behind, traveling instead with trusted neighbors or missionaries until the rest of their families could afford to join them.

The accounts of many of these young pioneers are told in I Sailed to Zion : True Stories of Young Pioneers who Crossed the Ocean (Deseret Book, $17.95), a wonderful collection of stories kept for generations in journals or through personal writings. Collaborating on this collection, authors Susan Arrington Madsen and Fred E. Woods let these stories unfold through the very words of those who experienced them.

"I remember standing still, holding on to the railing as the boat glided out into the wide, soft darkness," one young Danish emigrant recorded. "I stood my ground without a tear until I saw a sweet, tear-stained face come into view. It was my mother. As she squeezed through the crowds, the heat and confusion almost overcame me." Despite seasickness, dehydration, and a myriad of diseases such as smallpox, these faithful Latter-day Saints continued their pilgrimage to America. Of the over 40,000 Saints who braved the elements, nearly 700 died and were buried at sea. Yet in an era when many ocean-going vessels were shipwrecked, only one LDS immigrant ship was lost at sea; that in the Pacific. By contrast, in the seven-year period between 1847 and1853, 59 non-LDS immigrant ships were lost in the Atlantic.

I Sailed to Zion captures the emotions these young pioneers felt and shared as they endured their journeys, the endless days made bearable by playing checkers or tag, or by dancing or singing; and the restless nights made difficult by the volatility of the seas. Even once the ships reached America and the Saints came ashore in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, or New Orleans, their journeys were only half-completed, as they headed West to Utah or to other Mormon settlements in the Midwest.

Before each chapter, commentary by Madsen and Woods helps to illustrate the sacrifices these young people and their families made as they exercised their great faith. Whether alone or with family, these pioneers were motivated by the quiet burnings of the Spirit whispering that their beliefs, and their goals to join fellow Latter-day Saints, would be sustained.


About the Authors: Susan Arrington Madsen is the author of several books, including the best selling I Walked to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers on the Mormon Trail and Growing Up in Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers Building the Kingdom. She and her husband, Dean, are parents of four daughters and live in Hyde Park, Utah.

Fred E. Woods is an associate professor of LDS Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. He has done extensive research on early Mormon maritime immigration. He and his wife, JoAnna, have five children and live in Provo, Utah.


Braving the Elements for Their Faith
Deseret Book Press Release 30Aug00 A4


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See also:
I Sailed to Zion
More about "I Sailed to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers Who Crossed the Ocean" at

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