“Chronicling the Journey to Zion,” Ensign, July 2000, 36
Chronicling the Journey to Zion
Frederick Piercy, a 23-year-old British artist, wrote: “On the 5th day of February, 1853, … I embarked in the Jersey for New Orleans, on my way to Great Salt Lake Valley. My object was to make sketches of … the Route, and Great Salt Lake City, which were afterwards to be published.”1 The resulting book was intended to provide information for English converts immigrating to Zion.
Piercy was well qualified for the task. His pencil drawings reflect his attention to detail, and his lively writing style is filled with fascinating commentary.
In January 1854 he returned to England. Charles Fenn made Piercy’s sketches into high quality steel engravings. James Linforth, an editor for the Millennial Star, added footnotes to Piercy’s 45 drawings.2 From July 1854 to September 1855, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley was published in 15 parts. In 1855 the book was published in its entirety in Liverpool and London. Though its use was limited among Latter-day Saint emigrants, who by then were using eastern seaports to avoid cholera in the New Orleans area, the book proved to be a valuable aid for historians of the West.
Born on 27 January 1830 in Portsea, Hampshire, England, to George and Deborah Adams Piercy, Frederick was baptized on 23 March 1848 and served a mission to Paris in 1850. He married Angelina Hawkins on 15 September 1849, and they became the parents of 11. Sadly, in 1857 they left the Church due to misunderstandings surrounding the publication of his book. However, his sister Syrina immigrated to Utah with her husband, Thomas Biggs, and remained faithful to the Church.
Piercy continued to exhibit his art in London. In 1881 Angelina died. Three years later, though stricken with paralysis, he married artist Catherine Wornum, and they had one son. Piercy died on 10 June 1891.
Following are scenes from Frederick Piercy’s work.