Embarkation of the Saints, Liverpool, 1851


What was it like for our ancestors to emigrate from the lands of their birth to the “New World” of the Americas? This question resonates for many of us who may find it difficult to imagine traveling for months in the hold of a wooden sailing vessel of the 18th or 19th centuries.

The Laguna Niguel FHC recently acquired an art print entitled “Embarkation of the Saints”, that attempts to capture the scene that might have met the brave travelers making such a voyage. The painting is the creation of Utah painter Ken Baxter. A description of his artwork[1] reads:

“Emigrants in 1851 Liverpool, England prepare to board the ship Ellen Maria which will carry them across the ocean to join the Latter-Day Saints in America. The stately ship is one of many waiting in somber anticipation to sail through the brown and gold mist in this canvas giclée.”

FHC patrons who view the painting might well wonder who actually boarded the Ellen Maria, where it eventually landed, what became of its passengers, and what details they recorded concerning their journey. Fortunately, answers to these questions can be found in numerous historical sources. Here are some documents, contemporary accounts, and modern retrospectives that we found interesting:

Ships passenger list for the ship “Ellen Maria” departing Liverpool for New Orleans, 29 Jan 1851

Report Summary of Arrival of the Ellen Maria

Samuel William OBray, Mormon, Pioneer Polygamist

However and whenever your immigrant ancestors (or you!) came to this country, there are surely enlightening and sobering lessons to be learned from their (or your) experiences, and many related stories worth passing down to your descendants. We invite you to use the resources available at FamilySearch and elsewhere to research and document your family’s history. If you need help finding immigration records, passenger lists, naturalization documents, or pioneer journals, please visit the Family History Center and we’ll be delighted to assist you.

When you visit, we hope you’ll enjoy “Embarkation of the Saints”. Viewing it might help your heart turn towards your fathers (and mothers) as it has ours.

[1] store.lds.org, Church History Art, accessed 7 February 2017.