logo Thomas Callister


 See Introduction for some general background. The Mormon Mission started in late September/early October 1840, led by John Taylor who however is reported as leaving the Island in January 1841 so there is some query as to Callister's statement that he was confirmed by Taylor unless either Taylor had briefly returned to the Island prior to his departure on the Rochester in April 1841 or that the confirmation took place later, possibly in the USA.. The lectures in Wellington hall obviously stuck in his mind - judging from the newspaper accounts they were badly heckled.

Gas lighting had been introduced in Douglas in 1836 so his second employer, Hugh Kerruish must have been one of the first to light their shop. In Pigot's 1837 directory, under Tailors, is found 'Kerruish, Hugh (& draper) Duke st'; in 1841 Quiggin's guide a G Morrison tailor is given in Lord Street (not in Pigot, 1837).. His first employer John Quayle is listed as a Tailor in Ballaugh in 1837.



The Early Years: 1821-1846

I, Thomas Callister, son of John and Catharine [Murphy] Callister, was born on the Isle of Man 8 July 1821. I lived with Father and Mother until I was fourteen years old. I had no opportunity of going to school, no school being within several miles of where we lived. But I always had a great anxiety for learning, and my Father took a great deal of trouble in teaching me to read and write. When I was in my 13th year, my Father sent me to learn the Tailor’s Trade. He and John Quayle entered into an agreement that I should work with him as an apprentice six years. The last four years he was to furnish me with clothing, etc. to which I agreed.

During these thirteen years there is a great many things that I should like to mention that took place in the days of my youth on the Green Hills and in the Valleys of the Isle of Man, but there is a great many things that I have forgotten. Besides, my chief object is to keep a correct Journal of the things that transpired in my life from the time that I embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I always had a great desire from my youth to have a true knowledge of eternal things on the Plan of Salvation; and often times inquired and thought what the reason was that angels did not visit the earth now as they did anciently. But I must return to the subject.

After my Father and Mr. Quayle made the foregoing arrangements, I went to work. I worked at my trade for two years before my Mother died, I think in the month of October 1836. My Father died eight weeks later, which would be December the same year. After their deaths, Mr. Quayle and I made a different arrangement about my apprenticeship. He agreed if I worked for four years, he would be satisfied. I was glad of the change and we entered into an agreement to that effect. When the four years expired, I was free from all agreements or ties as far as my trade was concerned and at liberty to do what I pleased. I knew if I went to the city to work that the work would be different, and I was afraid I could not do it. I considered the matter and was very anxious to know all about my business. I knew if I stayed in the country, I would not know any more about city work than I did then, so I concluded to go.

I went to Douglas, the largest town or city on the Isle of Man and worked for George Morrison four months. I was somewhat dissatisfied with my situation. The reasons were these: his run of business was very much inferior to others in the city and besides this, he was a very highminded disagreeable man, in my opinion. Because of this I concluded I would go to see if I could get work in a first rated shop in the city which was kept by Hugh Kerruish. He had a large establishment, Tailor—Draper, etc. I went in one evening to see what the prospect was for getting work in his shop. I think it was some time in January 1838. I told him my circumstances, that I had been to work in the country four years but was not yet able to finish nice work as done in the city. He told me in three months he could give me work.

The next thing was to get rid of Morrison. While I stood in Mr. Kerruish’s shop I saw Morrison pass by the window, the shop window being very large. It was in the evening, and I stood close to a gas light. He saw me very plainly, and I saw him. He gave me a very sour look and passed by. This circumstance took place Saturday evening. Monday morning I went to work to Morrisons as usual but determined to leave him for I knew he was put out with me.

About 9 o’clock in the morning he came into the workshop where I was. I thought he looked like some savage being. He turned up the white of his eyes at me and said, "Thomas, you have been into Kerruish’s, haven’t you?"

"Yes sir, I called into his shop last evening," I answered.

"If you are going to work for Kerruish I want you to leave."

"Sir, I calculate to," I said, and he made some other remark to which I made no reply, but gathered up my things and in about ten minutes I was ready to start.

He then spoke more mildly and said, "You had better stay to dinner."

"I am now ready to go," all but settling with you." I replied. So we settled, and I started off.

After three months I went to work in Kerruish’s shop. He told me to sit down beside his brother, and if I wanted to know anything about my work, he could tell me. After I had worked two days, he told me he wished me to work on coats with his brother, and he would insure me to be a workman. I cheerfully went to work. This brother was an excellent workman direct from London and foreman of the shop at that time. He took a great deal of pride in instructing me in finishing work. His kindness is long to be remembered by me. After I had been to work with him nine months he was going to leave his brother and set up shop in a town 10 miles distant. By this time I could finish work equal to any man in the shop, but yet I felt bad on account of him leaving.

After he, Daniel Kerruish, left, his brother became much attached to me. He told me he thought in as much as I had been studying at work and paid great attention to my business that if I chose he would entrust me with all the business of the shop in his absence and in all other cases where he could not attend to it, inasmuch as I would become responsible. After a moment’s hesitation, I told him I thought I had not experience sufficient to such an undertaking. His answer was he would risk it. I told him providing he would instruct and assist me. His reply was that he would, so I had to muster up all the courage that I was in possession of to take the foreman’s place in the shop next Monday morning. I think the number of men to work at that time was eight. Monday morning I had some personal feelings concerning the matter as I entered the shop, thinking that I had to overlook work that was made by men of experience and that had traveled over England and had been to work in the first shops in London. However, I took courage and sat down in my place with a strong determination to give satisfaction and to use all my exertions in doing so. But owing to the limited knowledge I had of keeping accounts, writings, etc., I labored under a great disadvantage. But I improved every opportunity in learning, etc.

The first ten months I worked for Mr. Kerruish I boarded at a boarding house a quarter of a mile distant from my shop, and had but little time to attend to anything but my work. At the end of the ten months, Mr. Kerruish told me it would be a great advantage to both of us if I boarded with him. I found it was a great advantage to be by my work, for the rule was in summer time to be to work at six o’clock in the morning, one hour and a half to dinner, half an hour at five o’clock, and more work till eight. In fall and winter, we had to be at work by eight in the morning, one hour off at noon, and work til eight in the evening. But after I had the care of the shop I had to be the first in the morning and the last at night. But still being right there, I had a good chance to study. Mr. Kerruish assisted me much in studying arithmetic, so that in a little time I could attend to my business without difficulty, and everything went on well as far as shop matters were concerned.

In the fall of 1840, John Taylor came to the Isle of man to preach what he called Mormonism. And as I was walking along one day, I saw a handbill published by John Taylor informing the people that on such an evening he would preach in the Wellington Hall on the faith once delivered to the Saints. I felt very anxious for the evening to come and went to hear Mr. Taylor. He preached on the gifts and blessings that the ancient saints received through faith, and that the same blessings and promises extended unto the later generation on the earth that believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and held the Priesthood. Likewise he plainly showed that the Priesthood was taken from the earth and that the people had changed the laws and ordinances of the Kingdom of God, etc. He met with a great deal of opposition from the different sects, etc. And I began to search the Bible and likewise believe the Gospel and on the 30th day of March, 1841, I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. I was baptized by William Mitchell and confirmed by John Taylor. I soon found out that my old friends had become distant and cold. Kerruish wanted me very much to abandon Mormonism, etc. I lived on the Isle of Man after I had joined the church for nearly twelve months. But in the meantime making every preparation to move to America, almost forsakened by friends and despised by old acquaintances until I was about to start. When they saw that I was so determined they began to cool off a little and wanted very much that I should live on the Isle of Man.

The first of January, 1842, I began to settle up my business preparations to leave the 4th day of January. I went to see my sisters, Isabella and Catherine, and bid them farewell. They felt very bad that I was going where they could not see me. They cried much and put their arms around my neck and kissed me. I blessed them in the name of the Lord and told them how the Lord had spoken from the heavens and revealed His will to man, etc., and I was going to gather with His people to the Land of Zion, etc. I bid them farewell and started. I then made calculations to leave the Isle of Man the tenth day of January, 1842. But I received word on the 9th that I had to be in Liverpool. On the 10th the ship would start. So I packed up and got ready for I already paid my passage to New Orleans and likewise paid for my board.

I had yet to go and see my only brother who was very hard against my going. But I started to see him and told him I was going to start that evening for Liverpool and should like well if he would accompany to Douglas, a distance of ten miles. He cried and said he would. He was to meet me at Charles Cowley’s which he did about sundown. Charles Cowley harnessed his horses and put them on to a cart, and I started, accompanied by my brother and many friends. Arrived in Douglas about nine o’clock in the evening. The steamship "Mona Isle" was to leave for Liverpool at half past ten. I went to see a great many of my old friends in Douglas until it was time to go aboard. I got sadly disappointed by Brother Boston (or Roston) who was going to accompany me to Nauvoo. But when the hour arrived to start, his wife would not go. This disappointment made me feel bad for I depended on him for company for I was young and unacquainted with traveling, for I had never been off the Island. And now I had to undertake such a journey among strangers. But I was fully bent on going whether among strangers or friends. My brother told me just before I started if I would turn back and quit Mormonism, he would give me half he was worth. But all the Isle of Man would not have tempted me to turn back on them terms. The time had come and the bell rang for the steamboat to start. I bid my brother and friends farewell and went aboard. Nothing on earth would have tempted me to leave at that time but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the boat had started a great many bid us good bye. Some voices I knew and some I did not. I looked back on my native island for the last time, but owing to the dark night, could see nothing but the town lighted up with gas light.

About break of day I could see Liverpool lights and when it came daylight I could see the town off Liverpool, and a harbor full of ships which was to me quite a sight. When we got to Liverpool, I met Brother Reed. I was glad to see him for there was not one passenger on board that I knew. We were only a little ways from the ship "Tremont" then bound for New Orleans and chartered by the Latter-day Saints, on which I was going. I took my chest, etc., and put it on board ready to start. I went into the town. I got break— fast and went down to the ship. The Captain told me they would not start until the 12th. I was glad for I had two sisters living a little ways out of Liverpool that I wanted to see, but that day I spent in visiting at curious sights of Liverpool. Among these were the New Market, the Customs House, etc. Before the Customs House there is the portrait of several Kings that was taken by the Government of England. Cut out of stone, the portrait is in a form chained down—some in one position and some in another.

On the 11th day of January I went to see my sister, Margaret. Had not seen her before for 18 months. Found her well. She had already learned that I was going to America, and my brother sent her a letter telling her that I had joined a sect of people called Mormons and that they would be my ruin and wanted her if possible to stop me going. She asked what these people believed in and I began to preach the Gospel unto her to which she had no objections. My other sister, Jane, had gone to London so I did not see her. My sister Margaret made me some handsome presents. In return, I gave her a "Voice of Warning" and a Hymn Book. She came with me to Liverpool, and there I parted with my last relative.

The next day being the 12th day of January, 1842, I went aboard the ship "Tremont" and she left Liverpool dock at half past ten p.m. She was towed out by a steamboat, it being a beautiful, calm day. Elder Parley P. Pratt was on board and delivered an oration to the Saints. It was a New York ship and had an American flag. I recollect him telling that the stars and stripes had reference to a land of liberty and that they had now left the oppressive lands of England and was now on the way to the land of liberty and land of plenty and would no longer have to give sixpence for a small loaf of bread, etc. When we got out of the harbor the steamship returned back and Elder Pratt and many others returned who accompanied us thus far. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when we parted.

It was a beautiful calm evening. It was now all hustle and bustle on board our vessel, for each passenger was trying to find out where his berth would be. I do not know the exact number of passengers but in a little while we were all placed, and each one having his own station. I will explain a little the manner, or in other words the way, we were situated in our new home. We were steerage passengers and where we stored away our things and slept was a large open space between decks. The berths where we slept were on each side of the ship from one end to the other and one above the other. The first was about three feet from the floor and the second about six or eight. I was now totally among strangers, not a face that I ever had seen before in my life, and left all my folks and not knowing as I would ever see them again in my life. I felt considerably downhearted and sad but keeping up appearances as well as possible. I and two other men concluded to sleep together and picked out our berth which was a lower one. The weather being so beautiful we all concluded there was no need of fastening luggage of any kind until next day, so we packed our chest, bags, etc. in the midway of the ship. Each one or family had cooking utensils which consisted principally of tinware, cups, etc. Each passenger went to work and drove nails around his berth and hung up his cups, coffee pots, etc. round his berth. I among the rest prepared a place and hung up mine and so I got everything fixed ready to go to bed.

After being in bed about two hours, the wind began to blow and the sea began to roar and about midnight the cry was "All hands on board!" The storm grew worse and worse. It was as much as I could do to keep myself in bed. Our tinware and luggage rolled first from one end of the ship and then to the other. When it came daylight our room was an awful sight. Almost every person was sick. Everything that was not fastened was mixed together. I got up and went on deck. the sea was very rough and remained so for three days, during which time I could get nothing to eat for those that had the management of the provisions was sick and could not attend to it. The fourth day the storm abated some, so that they dealed out some provisions.

After the storm we had quite a good time, and I began to get a little acquainted. The seventh day after we started we were out of sight of land and continued to have good weather. In forty—one days we were in sight of land again, and forty—eight from the time we left Liverpool——being forty-one days out of sight of land, during which time a great many things transpired that I shall pass over. We had a very pleasant voyage, saw almost all kinds of fish, and I caught some. I worked considerable at my trade while on the sea. Had a room on the Quarter deck in which I worked, doing considerable work for the Captain and Cabin Passengers, and others. The most of the passengers were Saints. We arrived in New Orleans the sixth day of March, 1842, it being fifty-five days from the time we left Liverpool until we arrived in New Orleans, and fifty-eight since I left the Isle of Man.

We tarried in New Orleans twelve days. I went to see some old acquaintances and faired with them first rate until I left there. The company chartered a steamboat to St. Louis, and we started from New Orleans the 18th of March, except some that stayed there. We arrived in St. Louis the 28th of March and next day started for Nauvoo. I had come thus far without any accident. But on the 30th of March I fell through the hatchway backward and lay there lifeless for half an hour. It was supposed the first one that saw me was Charlotte Isles, a young lady I got acquainted with soon after we left Liverpool. I was taken up and laid on a bed and remained lifeless for about one hour and senseless the greater part of the day. The first thing I recollect I was inquiring where I was. I was taken into the cabin and soon got well. A great many told me they never expected to have seen me well again. The first of April in the morning we got to Warsaw. Mr. Isles and his family stayed there. They did not belong to the Church. About sundown, we arrived in Nauvoo, being eighty four days from the time I left the Isle of Man until I arrived in Nauvoo.

I went ashore and saw Elder Taylor. I was glad to see him for there was none other that I was acquainted with as I knew of. He invited me to his house, and I was glad of the invitation. Next day I went to see the Temple, the Nauvoo iiouse, and other buildings. Nauvoo far exceeded my expectation in buildings, etc. I came back to Elder Taylor’s. The next night inquired of him if he knew anything of Quayle and M. Cowley. He told me they lived in Ramus, distance from Nauvoo twenty miles. I made some inquiry in Nauvoo about getting into work but found no encouragement. I concluded to go to Ramus and see Quayle and Cowley as I had been acquainted with them on the Isle of Man.

So I started the third day of April to Ramus. Got there sometime before night. Found Quayle and Cowley farming. They were glad to see me, and Quayle wanted I should come to live with him. He told me he thought we could get plenty of work at the Tailor Trade toward the latter part of the summer. I partly concluded to stay there as the prospect for work in Nauvoo I thought was poor. I would, however, have to go back to Nauvoo and get my things. I concluded to go by way of Warsaw and see Mr. Isles and his family. After staying in Ramus three days I set off for Warsaw——distance twenty miles——a foot and got there sometime before night. Found Mr. Isles. He had rented a room. I stayed with them overnight. His family wanted to go to Nauvoo and join the Church, to which he would not consent but wanted to go back down the river, thinking he would be better. I stayed there one day and then went up to Nauvoo. Stayed there one night and went back to Ramus and went to work with Brother Quayle upon his farm for two months. Then once in awhile I would get a little to do at my trade. I felt very lonesome the greater part of the time having little or no acquaintance there. After sometime I got acquainted with Brother Tomkins and family that came there sometime after I did. They were from Wales.

Time rolled along without anything very interesting happening. I soon wrote a letter to Brother Charles Cowley. It was dated April 20, 1842. There had been previous to this time, some letters sent to the Isle of Man by those who had become disaffected, trying to put down the Doctrine of Gathering, etc. I wrote a considerable, lengthy letter, as I was well known among the Saints and others, bearing my testimony to the work that we had embraced. I likewise wrote several other letters to the Isle of Man in April — to my brother and others. I went to Nauvoo several times through the summer and saw and heard Joseph and Hiram preach and wished many times I lived there.

In August, 1842, I was ordained an Elder under the hands of Brigham Young and Orson Hyde in Ramus and a call was made for the Elders to go out and preach. I concluded to go in company with Isaac Clark but did not get started until February 16, 1843. We started a foot, snow about one foot deep, traveled that day fifteen miles — very tired, stayed with Brother Dungan. He lived in a small town, do not recollect the name. Next evening we had an appointment to a Mr. Green’s in that neighborhood. We went there accompanied by Bro. Dungan and family. The house was crowded with people to hear us preach. Brother Clark opened the meeting, and I for the first time in my life stood up to preach to the people.

After traveling about two months from place to place, preaching every opportunity, for the people was very much prejudiced against our people, we started for home having done considerable good. Returned home the latter part of April 1843. Remained in Macedonia until after the death of Joseph, frequently visiting Nauvoo.

In the Spring of 1844, I with a few more of the brethren urged the necessity of a better organization of the militia of our little place as the mob was prowling in all directions and threatening to destroy our little village. This we accomplished by organizing a company, electing A. W. Babbitt Captain. No sooner was this done than we were more or less called into service, keeping out a guard day and night, and at times expecting an attack hourly. All the efficient men would gather at one house nights except those on guard, numbering in all seventy, all ready and on hand, and as far as I know could be trusted at ‘that time, but how few there are left of those seventy in the ranks of the Saints now (1867)! I acted a good share of the time as a Scout, often meeting in company with the mob and learning their plans.

About the 20th of June, Joseph Smith called on all the brethren of this place to come and help save Nauvoo. The company was called together to consult. All were ready except the Captain, A. W. Babbitt, who argued that it was contrary to law to comply with such a call. We were somewhat exasperated at his conduct and appointed the next in command to take his place, which was Lt. Sweney.

As the sun was setting we were ready to march. Father John Smith prayed and blessed the company. We started for Nauvoo leaving our little town and leaving our women and children with no protection from the mob but God. The mob was aware of our move and declared we should not get to Nauvoo and they, for this purpose, gathered in a point of timber to give us battle. When we came in sight they fired their signal guns. We called a halt to consult. Some few quaked and wanted to scatter through the timber, but a large majority moved to continue straight ahead. We were all on foot except some six men which were our advanced guard. We marched in the following order: horsemen in front, then foot men — single file, then baggage wagons, then rear guard. Strung out this way in the dark we made quite an appearance, so much so that we passed unmolested, and the mob declared after, that we numbered at least 500. There were not to exceed 70 all told.

After marching the greater part of the night, wading creeks and saturated with rain, we halted to rest at what was called the Seven-mile House. This was seven miles from the temple. This house was occupied by a Mr. Ray who professed to belong to the Church. Some of our men were sick. We asked him for permission to have the sick lay on his floor and get them out of the rain. This he refused, and said he could not be troubled. We then made a small fire of his wood. He opened his window and forbade us burn any of his wood. At this insolence, his wood pile was stacked on the fire and then his fence. At this he became very kind. Our sick were taken in the house and otherwise well treated. At daylight we were again on the march. The mud was very deep, and we were well-covered with it. Joseph came to meet us accompanied by the Brass Band. A halt was called. Joseph spoke and blessed the company. We then marched into the city and was quartered on the hill, near the temple. Here we remained some three days and the Nauvoo Legion was dispersed by its Lt. General, Joseph Smith. He gave himself up to what proved to be a cruel mob, under the plighted faith of the Governor of State, Thos. Ford. Our little company returned home reluctantly, found all well, nothing disturbed.

The mob continued to rage while we acted on the defensive. On the ever Memorial Night, 27th of June, I was standing guard on the road leading to Carthage. Two strangers came from that place. I hailed them. They stopped and told me that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered by a mob in Carthage Jail. I told them I did not believe it. They asked me what object I thought they could have in telling a lie, as they were strangers passing through the country. I went into our little town with them which was soon in commotion. The rest of this tragic scene is too well known to need comments.

I remained in this place making improvements, and I bought of A. W. Babbitt property known as the Cottage House, consisting of a cottage house, a large frame barn and a bearing orchard of 1.25 acres. This was a pleasant home and valuable place, and I improved it considerable. Bought stoves and other furniture and fitted up the house. Here I spent many happy days.

Aug 31, 1845, I married Caroline Smith, daughter of John and Clarisa in Nauvoo, Ill. Ceremony performed by Pres. B. Young. Moved her to the Cottage in Macedonia where we commenced keeping house, Helen N. Clark living with us. On Oct 5th, I went to Nauvoo to attend the first meeting held in the Temple of the Lord after the roof was constructed. I also attended the first Conference held in the temple in Nauvoo, commencing Oct 6th and continuing until Oct 8th, 1845.

This fall we moved to Nauvoo, preparatory to starting to the Rocky Mountains, as we then said. Received endowments in the Temple. Dec 16, 1845, I married Helen N. Clark. The ceremony was by John Smith, Patriarch.

I was selected among the company that was to start early in the Spring for the Rocky Mountains. We were now making all the preparation we could with our limited means to get ready for our journey. Selling property of any kind was out of the question. Feb 10, 1846 we started. left our House with the furniture in it; took what little we could put in one wagon. We crossed the Mississippi River. Went on to Sugar Creek and camped some three weeks. It was stormy weather, hard snowstorms, and much suffering in the camp here. I came . .

Note: These are the last words Grandpa wrote about himself, except a few items written in 1875. The History that follows is from records about him.


The Later Years: 1846-1880

After crossing the Mississippi on rafts, and camping at Sugar Creek for three weeks, they continued their journey to Winter Quarters where they built a temporary home. They were there for over a year. One time when bread stuff became scarce, Thomas made a fine broadcloth coat from cloth which he had brought with him from the Isle of Man. He took the coat to Missouri where he exchanged it for one hundred bushels of corn to take back to the Saints. During this trip he became ill, and when the call came for the Mormon Battalion, he was so sick that he was unable to volunteer for service, and was unable to accompany the first band of pioneers to Utah.

They traveled West with Daniel Spencer’s company, leaving in June with one loaded wagon, a team of oxen, and one cow. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley 26 Sep 1847. Thus he was one of the pioneers of Utah. He settled in Salt Lake City and was soon engaged in public matters — serving on committees for buildings, roads, canals, etc. They spent the first winter at the Fort in Salt Lake City. On 9th Apr.1848, he and Helen Mar went out to their farm on Mill Creek. When their bread was gone, their diet was milk, thistle greens and sego roots until harvest time. So he suffered the pangs of hunger, watched grasshoppers devouring their crop, and viewed the miracle of the seagulls. In the early fifties, he built a comfortable home at North Temple and First West. Both families lived there. In 1855, he put cattle and sheep on his farn across the Jordan River and became a stockman.

The Indians became jealous for fear the white people were going to take their country, and they made war upon the settlers, who began a defensive; but the far-reaching Prophet, Brigham Young, advised the people that it would be far better to feed than to fight the Indians. So within a short time they became friendly.

Manx Note Book      [Genealogy Index]

see Mormon Converts

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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