Liverpool to Great Salt Lake


Liverpool to Great Salt Lake

The 1851 Journal of Missionary George D. Watt

Edited by LaJean Purcell Carruth and Ronald G. Watt
Transcription by LaJean Purcell Carruth
Introduction by Fred E. Woods

260 pages
5 photographs, 11 illustrations, 3 maps, 1 glossary, 5 appendixes, index


May 2022


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May 2022


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About the Book

George Darling Watt was the first convert of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptized in the British Isles. He emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. He returned to the British Isles in 1846 as a missionary, accompanied by his wife and young son. He remained there until 1851, when he led a group of emigrant converts to Salt Lake City, Utah. Watt recorded his journey from Liverpool to Chimney Rock in Pitman shorthand. Remarkably, his journal wasn’t discovered until 2001—and is transcribed and appearing for the first time in this book.

Watt’s journal provides an important glimpse into the transatlantic nature of Latter-day Saint migration to Salt Lake City. In 1850 there were more Latter-day Saints in England than in the United States, but by 1890 more than eighty-five thousand converts had crossed the Atlantic and made their way to Salt Lake City. Watt’s 1851 journal opens a window into those overseas, riverine, and overland journeys. His spirited accounts provide wide-ranging details about the births, marriages, deaths, Sunday sermons, interpersonal relations, weather, and food and water shortages of the journey, as well as the many logistical complexities.

Author Bio

LaJean Purcell Carruth is a senior historian at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. She is the coeditor of Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers. Ronald G. Watt is retired after working thirty-five years for the archives of the LDS Church Historical Department. He is the author of four books, including The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion.


"[Liverpool to Great Salt Lake is] an important contributor when considering how we can better understand the complexities and realities of the Latter-day Saint trek."—Samuel Mitchell, Dawning of a Brighter Day

“LaJean Purcell Carruth and Ronald G. Watt make mid-nineteenth-century pioneers speak as if ‘out of the dust,’ bringing us into contact with their hardships, humor, and faith.”—John G. Turner, author of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet

“Carruth and Watt expand greatly our understanding of the nineteenth-century Mormon experience, especially the emigrant trek to Utah, and the theology of Orson Pratt. Scholars and general readers alike will appreciate the book’s significance and substance.”—John Sillito, professor emeritus for libraries at Weber State University

Liverpool to Great Salt Lake is a delight. George D. Watt’s newly transcribed journal divides his international journey into three phases: ocean voyage, river steamer, and overland wagons, each marked by Watt’s penchant for observing both the unusual and the mundane. He notes births and deaths, Sunday observances and sometimes the lack thereof, gossip and its consequences, sermons and seasickness, broken pickle jars, pets as passengers, drowning oxen, people overboard, violent thunderstorms at sea and on the Great Plains, dead cattle, and the ‘sin’ of killing buffalo for sport. This and so much more make Watt’s journal a welcome addition to the migrant genre and an absolute pleasure to read.”—W. Paul Reeve, author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness

“Although nineteenth-century migrants did not benefit from Watt’s journal, modern readers can glean much from its pages now. Liverpool to Great Salt Lake has a readable style that is easily accessible to general readers and will appeal to a broad audience. It is suitable for classroom adoption and is also a valuable source for academic research and specialists in the field who study and write about the Atlantic crossing, steamboat travel, and overland migration in the mid-nineteenth century.”—Jay H. Buckley, director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface: George D. Watt—Out of Obscurity and into the Light
Introduction: The Latter-day Saint Gathering
George D. Watt’s Pitman Shorthand and the Process of Transcription
1. The Atlantic Ocean
2. The Rivers
3. The Trail
4. The End of the Trail
5. Sermons Delivered by Orson Pratt On Board the Ellen Maria
Appendix 1: Style Guide for Transcriptions from Pitman Shorthand
Appendix 2: Third Company of Ten of the John Brown Company
Appendix 3: George D. Watt’s Wives and Children
Appendix 4: Two Reminiscent Accounts from Early Latter-day Saint Missionaries to England
Appendix 5: Yearly Numbers of People Traveling the Overland Trails
Glossary of Nautical, Steamboat, and River Terms


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