logo John & Catherine Quayle


See Introduction for some general background

John (b. 1802) and Catherine Quayle (b.1812), who travelled on the Rochester with John Taylor wrote a rather critical letter back to the Island — "Let him be in no hurry in coming here, but weigh the matter well. The Mormonites may speak a deal of truth but their conduct and works are contrary thereto" — it may be this letter that Thomas Callister refers to.

Occupation noted as tailor. Children John b. 1834 ; Thomas b. 1837; Catharine b. 1838; William b.1839 — apparently fifth younger child died on the voyage. Thomas left an account Our Pioneer Heritage vol. 16 (1973) pp. 487-92 which adds considerably to his parents' letter .

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.487

John Quayle, son of John Quayle and Ann Cowley, was born June 24, 1801, at Ramsa [Ramsey], Isle of Man. He was one of the first converts from the Isle of Man and came to Utah in September 1847, in the John Taylor Company. He married Catherine Killip, daughter of Thomas and Eleanor Killip, who was born in 1813 and died in 1850. They became the parents of twelve children: John, Thomas, Catherine, William, Joseph R., Charles, Eleanor, James, Maria, Henry, Mary Ann, and Sarah. John Quayle died January 5, 1892, while his son, Thomas, whose story we include, died in California, June 2, 1920.

Thomas Quayle, my grandfather, dictated this history to me before his death. Though it may add nothing new to the records of immigrants and pioneers, it should be of value because of its viewpoint; the experiences of a boy in his teens reminisced by the man in his eighties. — Pat Quayle

I was born on the 16th day of March in the year 1835, in Ranath [sic ? Kiondraghad — now Onchan] Parish near Douglas, Isle of Man, of Manx parents. My father's ancestors, for four generations, had been farmers. Blockery and Ballakelly were the names of the family farms to which his elder brothers had fallen heir. There were fishing smacks owned in the family but they too, having fallen to the older brothers, Father took up a trade. He was a tailor and had his shop in one room of our home. Our house, a square two-story building, stood out prominently in the neighborhood. My grandfather, who was the village miller, built it as a wedding present for my mother. It was comfortably furnished and there my mother was very happy and contented. As she went about her housework she sang our cheerful folk songs, and while sewing or knitting, she would gather us children about her chair and would tell us about the fairies who dwelt on the island. Of evenings she would recite long poems about our viking ancestors who had settled on the Isle of Man while they raided the rest of the British Isles.

On the Sabbath, Father, who was very religious, did no work whatever, but our Sunday dinner gave mother plenty to do. She would be very tired after one of those meals and little praise did she ever receive for them. Father simply expected them to be good, for he knew when he married her that she was the best cook in the parish. Father always held family worship just before dinner. Frequently, some of the neighbors would be present for the Bible reading and, of course, dinner. One Sunday evening he prayed eagerly for the Light to lead him along the pathway of truth. He begged God to give him understanding and to remove the doubts that so often troubled him. We had just ended that prolonged prayer and we were rising from our tired knees when there came a loud knocking at the door.

My mother, already entering the kitchen, paused and looked back towards the door where the incessant knocking continued like a low peal of thunder. A cloud of disappointment spread over her face. Perhaps it was only because she feared that the best part of the meal, so carefully prepared for us children, would now go to the visitors, but I can never forget that look. I doubt if my father even noticed it. He stepped to the door and flung it wide. Two strange men stood on the threshold. Without asking who they were or what they wanted father bade them enter. How plainly I can recall that scene. It became fixed in my memory as one of the many milestones that have marked my life. There stood Father, in his wholehearted hospitality, holding wide the door. Still pausing on her way to the kitchen, still carrying that cloud of disappointment upon her face, stood Mother upon whose shoulders would fall the work of caring for the guests. Father had only to offer them a hearty and cheerful welcome; it fell to Mother to get out the best table linen, her silver wedding gifts, and the jellies, cakes and puddings she had made for us.

Father presided over the table with proud dignity, pressing the sweets and cakes upon the guests but passing them to us children with a look that kept us from taking more than a taste, while Mother served us and later nibbled halfheartedly at the food. Father arose and led the guests to the warmth of the fireplace; Mother cleared off the table and washed the dishes. Brother John and Sister Catherine helped her, but I crawled under the sofa to hear the strangers talk. They said they came from a far distant land — a land of which we children had never heard. On a clear day we could see the dim outline of England. Liverpool was the extent of our dream travels. But to reach Liverpool these strangers had traveled more than twenty days.

Their land, so they said, had belonged once to a wandering tribe of Israel which migrated there in a long boat journey after Jerusalem had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar. But the people of this wandering tribe had fallen into wicked ways and so God had punished them by destruction. Mormon was their last and most important prophet. He wrote their history on golden plates which he buried in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. These strangers were Mormon missionaries and their home was in America — The Land of Promise. They told my father about the freedom and equality of men in America and of the richness of the land that could be had for the fencing. I remember that they spoke a great deal about God and prophets of old and then they told about a new prophet and a new religion.

They told how the boy Joseph Smith, in a vision, had seen and talked with the angels of the Lord, how those angels had shown to him the hidden golden plates of Mormon, and how the same angels had helped him translate the history of those early people of America. They gave Father a copy of the Book of Mormon, to prove it. They ended by saying that the angels had commanded the boy prophet to bury the golden plates again with a part of the history still unwritten. My father felt that God had sent the Book of Mormon in answer to his prayer. But it was the gold that fired my fancy — how foolish the boy had been to bury the plates — he should have kept them. The future of our family was to be shaped by those two powers — God and Gold.

It was a great step these Mormon missionaries asked Father to take. He had his misgivings but their arguments caught him on his weak side. He came from a long line of farmers and fishermen — workers of the soil and rovers of the sea — and he longed for freedom from his confining trade. Tailoring had never contented him. So now, when the missionary, John Taylor, told him that in America a farm could be had for the clearing and fencing of the land, he was greatly concerned. He inquired more deeply into the new religion and found it quite to his liking. As for his doubts — had he not been asking the Lord to help him lay them aside when the missionaries knocked upon our door? That very fact helped him to fight them down. This gospel from the New World promised him much. He became the first and firmest convert in our parish. He invited the missionaries to stay at our house.

That was grand opportunity for piracy. Sugar was a rare treat in those days. It was only when we had company that Father ordered the sugar bowl placed in the center of the table. How I kept my eye upon that bowl. How I watched for every chance to make a raid upon it without being caught by Father. Sometimes I succeeded. Then Mother would level off my finger prints and say nothing. She was more afraid of my being caught than I was myself. I had no time to help her as did brother John and sister Catherine even though she rewarded them with a spoonful of sugar at each meal — I could get more by looting the bowl. Every day that the missionaries were with us that prize rested upon our dining room table. I can see John Taylor now as he then paced the room preaching the Mormon doctrines to my father. With his thumbs crooked into the armholes of his vest, the lapels of his coat thrown back, his chest swelled, his head erect and proud, his stride prolonged and sturdy, up and down the room he paced. Every time he passed the table, he reached out with the nearest hand and took a pinch of sugar — what enormous pinches he could take. How I envied him. I felt then that when I grew up to be a man, I was going to be a missionary, and live on sugar.

I did not realize at that time just how hard everything was upon Mother, but now I often recall the sorrowful look that clouded her face whenever she was by herself. Brave little soul, as she served them at meals she greeted Father and the missionaries with a forced smile. Until then her life had been happy and contented, but when my brother Joseph, named after the American prophet, was born, mother was very ill. The baby was a puny little fellow. "Like a goblin," John said. We believed the fairies had brought him and I remember mother telling us once that they might come and take him away. We did not want the fairies to do that for we loved baby Joseph. While mother was ill John was always with her.

The missionaries wanted to heal Mother by the laying on of hands, a method their prophet used to good purpose performing miracles. They could not realize that it was their constant urging my father to leave his home, his relatives, his friends and his native land, and to go with them into an unknown land amongst strangers and Indians, that ailed her. They could not see that before little Joseph was born she had worn herself out cooking for them. Mother was a submissive wife, far too submissive for her own good, but there she stood her ground. She said she had not the faith needed and even Father's urging could not move her. But she clung to life and, as the winter snows melted away [on the Island ?] and, in the warmth of spring, the buds on the lilacs swelled and burst, she revived and was soon at the housework once more. But never again was she the singing, smiling Mother we had known before the Mormon missionaries had knocked upon our door.

Father soon began to preach for the new faith. One day in April 1841, he came home from a conference, which had been held in Liverpool under the leadership of Brigham Young, and told us we were going to the Land of Promise — to America. There are just three things that I can remember about our departure from the Isle of Man; my mothers tears, my father's hopes, and the lights of the Liverpool Quay. They seemed to be lighting our way into a world of new and strange adventures. I was thrilled by the very wonder of it all and felt mighty sorry for my chum, Charlie Wilson, who had to stay home with his parents.

At Liverpool Mother sent John and me down the street to buy some milk. On the way back we differed as to the road so each went his own way. I was right and John got lost. Father and Mother were frantic. Mother said then that nothing but grief and sorrow would come of the journey. But she could not now change my Father's will. She could but bow before it and follow him to the new world. Before night John was found by the police and brought safely home, but in his heart there was a dread and fear of the journey that was never to be forgotten. The police said they had found him, white with terror, staring at a tomahawk in the uplifted hand of a wooden Indian that stood before a cigar store. When he was brought to our hotel room he flew into Mother's arms trembling and sobbing, "Mamma, let's go back home. Let's not go to America with Papa." "There, dear, there," she soothed, "It's all right now. You're just frightened over being lost." "No, Mamma, I wasn't lost, not really lost. I saw an Indian — a man told me he was from America. He was big and red like a penny, and had a long string of feathers hanging down his back. He had a bow and some arrows," he choked back a sob, "and a hatchet to cut off my head." Then he burst into tears again, nor could Mother quiet him for a long time. "Mamma," he sobbed, "Mamma, that Indian told me if we went to America you could die and the Indians there would kill me."

After waiting two weeks at Liverpool we went aboard the sailing vessel Rochester bound for New York. It was on that ship I first saw Brigham Young. He used to come through the crowded mass of people in the hold speaking kindly and fatherly to us. Everyone aboard the ship worshipped and obeyed him. I could see why Father had been unable to resist his appeal. He was a huge man, broad shouldered and stout. With a masterful air he stood among his followers. Most of the time during that journey he spent preaching to us. His was a firm belief in the direct revelation of this New World religion. So sincere and honest was he in his belief that he inspired the same sincerity and honesty in the belief of his followers.

Most of the passengers were sick during the voyage. Mother was so ill that she had to be moved from the steerage to a small cabin on deck and, although she did not retain the little food she tried to eat, she survived the journey. Little baby Joseph died in brother John's arms. I was not seasick but the skipper showered me with so many nuts and raisins that I have never been able to eat them since. We stayed in New York a short time and then took a steamer up the Hudson for Albany. From there we went by canal boat to Lockport where Father got a job at his tailoring trade. While John and I were playing on the boats there, I fell into the canal. I came up between a barge and the landing and crawled out with a resolve not to try boating again. But we were at it the very next day and while playing with a piece of a log John fell in. He kept grabbing for the log but it turned with each grab and worked farther and farther out towards the middle of the canal. I yelled wildly for help and a man came running outof a warehouse, jumped in and saved John, who was a pretty wet boy but not as scared as I was. He told us that he wasn't afraid of drowning because the wooden Indian in Liverpool had told him that the Indians in America would kill him. We soon afterwards moved on to Buffalo where we took a steamer over the Lakes for Chicago, a mere village of four thousand then. We camped with our luggage near the wharf. I remember Mother placing three of our chests side by side to raise our beds out of the reach of snakes.

We hired a teamster to take our goods from there to the Illinois River. The Illinois Railroad was just being built then. While crossing the new grade I fell off the side of the wagon box where I was sitting, against father's strict orders, and landed right under the hind wheel. A large boulder lifted the wheel so that it passed over without hardly bruising me, but I was a good boy for the rest of that trip. We took a steamer down the Illinois River to the Mississippi and up that river to Nauvoo. Father bought a farm near Ramus, afterwards renamed Macedonia, about twenty miles from Nauvoo. I liked it there. I was eight years old and John was ten. Father thought him old enough to use a gun, but he did not care for hunting so that duty fell to me. The gun was a smooth bore and would shoot ball or shot. It was so big I had to carry a forked stick along to rest it on when I shot. I enjoyed the hunting and was able to keep our family well supplied with game. Ducks, quail and prairie chickens were abundant and passenger pigeons came over the country in flocks so big that they hid the sun.

The neighboring gentiles worked up a strong hatred against us because our leaders lived in polygamy. They were also jealous of our prosperity for we worked well together and Nauvoo was the largest city in Illinois. After several years of trouble, President Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in the Carthage Jail by the Militia men who had been sent to protect them....We Mormons now fell under the leadership of President Brigham Young who had hurried home from New York where he was head missionary. To avoid further trouble he decided to lead us from the United States. Father gave his twenty-acre farm for two yoke of oxen and bought two yoke more with money Mother had saved, when most of the family fortune was spent for stock in the Nauvoo temple — now being abandoned to our enemies. During the cold days of February 1846, the mobs drove us out of our warm homes and made us cross the Mississippi River on the ice. While camped upon the Iowa side we huddled, as best we could, in the shelter of our wagons. There, little sister Ellen died. Two other babies had come and gone during those troubled times at Macedonia.

Traveling through Iowa that cold and stormy spring was slow and wearisome. The trail was deeply rutted. It rained and rained and then turned cold, chilling us and freezing up the road. Often in the mornings we would have to chop the frozen mud away from the wheels before we could move the wagons. We never made more than six miles in a day. But our leader held us faithful with the promise of Zion — the rounding of the Kingdom of God. We believed him and struggled on following our Moses up out of Egypt. Mother, with sister Catherine and brother William, rode in one of the wagons. Father and John walked alongside their team of oxen. I was free to hunt game....

One day, while we were at prayer, the clouds broke away, the sun came out bright and warm, and thousands of quail came sailing over the treetops into the clearing around our camp. During the noontime halts we boys and men played games, ran races, jumped and wrestled. I was able to outrun any boy my own age and many of the older ones, too. Father was the best jumper in the camp. I swelled with pride when he would show his skill and so win a bet that added a bag of meal or slab of bacon to our larder. All the men joined in the sports, President Brigham with the rest. We liked our leaders because they mixed with us as equals. True leadership is won by love and kindness. Force and fear are weak foundations for command. Often the Pottawattamie Indians — a fine tribe of handsome fellows — joined us in the games. At Council Bluffs on the Missouri River we camped and got ready for the following winter.

We broke up the soil there and planted crops that would mature before winter set in. There at Winter Quarters, in the rude log hut which we shared with another family, my youngest brother was born. We thought that he, too, was going to die and add one more little gravestone to the many that lined our trail from the Isle of Man, but God gave him life — though it was but a brief respite from death — to comfort mother during those long dreary days while our oxen plodded across the plains.

In April, 1847, after the spring conference, President Young with a small band of men pushed forward to search out a place for the location of Zion. Just when our crops were growing nicely, word came from President Brigham Young that he had settled in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, where we were to join him. The harvesting of the crops was left for the Mormons who followed in our wake. Father and John once more yoked up the oxen, and organized in John Taylor's company of one hundred wagons, in Parley P. Pratt's train, we crossed the Missouri River and headed for the Rocky Mountains. In spite of our thorough organization and good leadership, we left in such a hurry that many had not enough provisions to last through the summer. There was no chance of obtaining food, except game, until crops could be raised the following season.... Our train always camped in a circle with the wagons close together. If necessary, the cattle and horses could be driven through gaps at opposite ends into the corral. Our fires on most of that journey were made of buffalo chips — dried dung gathered on the prairie — and, if we feared trouble from Indians, they were built on the inside of the circle.....

Game became very scarce while we were crossing the Laramie plains to the Sweetwater, although more abundant from South Pass to Green River. When we arrived at Jim Bridger's Fort, we were so hungry that we sold many articles for one-tenth of their cost just to get a little bacon or flour from that shrewd "Old Man of the Mountains." Following the trail of Brigham's party, when it left the main route, we came at last to Little Mountain from where we could see the valley with its glittering lake in the distance. Oh, the songs of joy and the shouts of gladness that greeted that beautiful sight! For it was indeed beautiful to us — it was the promised land of peace and rest, Zion to be ruled by the Mormon God for his chosen people. Yes, indeed it was beautiful to us weary pioneers who had come, at the tiring pace of the oxen, that slow and dreary thousand miles from Winter Quarters.

Descending into the valley, we found it just as promising as it had seemed when first we beheld it. To me it was not the desert that so many have called it. It was good grazing land with patches of hay meadows here and there. The soil where the sage-brush grew very high could be easily cleared. It lacked only water, but with very little labor the cool mountain streams could be dammed and their water led over the fields in irrigation ditches. The crops planted by the pioneer party were growing when we arrived but they were far too scanty to last us through the winter. It was the middle of September 1847 when we got there and we had to build our shelter, hunt game and dry meat for winter. To play safe against the chance of Indian attack we built a square fort of adobe and log houses. These were placed side by side, with all the fronts facing the inner court so that the rearwall formed the outside of the fort. One small window, in the rear of each served as a port hole. The flat roof was held up by pine pole rafters. Thatched rushes covered the poles, and claydirt covered the rushes. The melting snow leaked through in many places. Wagon covers had to be tied over Mothers bed when little Maria was born. Small wonder that she left us two months later. It was a marvel that Mother survived all these hardships. Though her feeble health saddened us, still we boys were young and must have our fun. With hunting, skating and playing whenever we could escape from the singing, preaching and praying, we passed the first winter.


Apparently reconciled with church as John Quayle noted as missionary on Island from Nov 1873 to June 1874. He was also noted as a 'Returning Elder' in April 1885.

Manx Note Book      [Genealogy Index]

see Mormon Converts

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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