Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The 1846 Latter-day Saint exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, gave the impetus for organizing the Perpetual Emigrating Fund (PEF) in October 1849. The fund was intended to help all those who wished to join their fellow religionists in their new gathering place in the Mountain West—but who lacked the means to do so.

Thousands who had left Nauvoo were still located in the vicinity of Kanesville, Iowa, and elsewhere. Donations to the fund helped outfit them for the trek west, establishing a credit-based transportation system. The beneficiaries of these travel arrangements signed promissory notes, with the understanding that they would reimburse the fund for their travel costs as
soon as they were able. Their repayment would then help provide resources for the transportation of others. Beginning in 1852, the benefits of the PEF were also extended to Latter-day Saints emigrating from Europe, while continuing to aid those who gathered from the United States. From 1850 until the fund’s disincorporation in 1887 under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, the fund helped nearly thirty thousand individuals with all or part of their transportation expenses.

After their arrival in the West, PEF recipients found both new opportunities and many economic challenges, including scarcity of cash. Many never escaped what, even in those relatively austere times, was considered poverty.

Repayment of travel loans was vital to maintain the PEF’s ability to aid subsequent Latter-day Saint migration. Both publicly and privately, company officers and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strongly encouraged debtors to fulfill their obligations. To facilitate the process, they conducted research to ascertain where the debtors were located
and—in the case of females—whom they had married. As early as September 1855, Brigham Young, as president of both the PEF and the Church, sent bishops a list of debtors and the amounts they owed, asking the bishops to inform his office immediately which of the listed persons lived in their respective wards and instructing them to collect and forward the
amounts that were due. Still, repayments lagged seriously.

Brigham Young resigned as president of the PEF in 1870 and was succeeded by Horace S. Eldredge. In 1873, Albert Carrington replaced Eldredge. As President of the Church, Young still maintained concern for immigration matters. In February and March 1876, the Deseret News published a notice from him and his counselor, Daniel H. Wells, to local Church leaders throughout the West, asking them to see that PEF debts in each settlement were repaid as soon as possible. By late 1877, soon after the death of Brigham Young, indebtedness to the fund was said to have amounted to more than $1 million, including interest. On 8 October 1877, Carrington and his fellow officers assigned secretary Robert R. Anderson to prepare a new, complete list of all those indebted to the PEF and have it published.

That published list, on which the index below is based, was then distributed primarily to local Church leaders—just as the 1855 list had been—and provided the leaders with instructions to follow up. With many Latter-day Saints in Europe eager to immigrate to “Zion,” and thus awaiting any possible PEF aid, repayments were considered a matter of some urgency.
At least limited results were forthcoming, and Salt Lake City’s Deseret News published, on 5 April 1878, a “List of Honor” naming those who had recently repaid their PEF debts in hopes that the list would “stimulate others to remember their obligations.” Later, under instructions from John Taylor in the Jubilee Year of 1880, at least $337,000 in debts of individuals
considered worthy of help and too poor to pay were forgiven. Thus, although many paid all or part of what they owed, over the PEF’s existence of nearly four decades, the PEF remained largely a charitable institution and an investment by the Latter-day Saints and their church in gathering fellow Saints to Zion.

The present index, prepared by Maurine Ward, contains all the information from the published list in a compact format intended to facilitate research. Multiple entries are provided for females whose names later changed, for individuals whose surnames differed from the rest of the group
with which they were listed, and for sureties. Neither in the 1877 publication nor in this index are the amounts owed listed.

For many researchers, the index will perhaps suggest more questions than it answers. It provides an extensive but very narrow peephole through which to peer at sets of rather complex situations in the distant past. A few words of explanation may help the reader to understand what the list is and what it is not. The vast majority of those listed owed the PEF for their own
travel to the Mountain West. Although many received PEF aid for transoceanic voyages, the fund helped the majority of its beneficiaries only with overland travel, especially during the 1860s when wagons and oxen from Utah were the key to bringing thousands of immigrants west. Of course, not all who received PEF aid are listed here—because some had repaid their
indebtedness before 1877. The index lists together families and others who were apparently traveling as small groups and, of course, also lists individuals who traveled alone. Some names are listed as “sureties,” which indicates they assumed some obligation to guarantee payment for others. In many cases, however, the sureties must have assumed that the primary responsibility
for payment would rest with the travelers themselves. Sureties included relatives, friends, and missionaries and cannot necessarily be assumed to have benefited from PEF aid themselves. A few individuals owed the PEF for freighting expenses only and not for their own transportation. Some missionaries are listed, apparently because they owed the PEF for expenses related
to travel to or from their mission fields. The fact that many who crossed the ocean stopped over at various locations in the United States before continuing on to Utah is reflected in the fact that the year for which some individuals’ PEF activity is listed is different from the year they sailed.
As always, researchers who utilize this index will find caution and resourcefulness helpful in dealing with names that were not necessarily always recorded or transcribed accurately or consistently.

Although long-standing Church membership, “worthiness,” and poverty were the most frequent criteria for those who received PEF aid, others were brought to Utah through the fund because they possessed crucial skills.

Ability to pay is a relative term, and researchers cannot assume that everyone included in this index was living below a particular poverty line either before receiving aid or after failing to repay indebtedness promptly. Still, PEF records like these can be useful resources to help identify the less fortunate among the Latter-day Saints—both in the Mountain West and abroad.
The most helpful surveys of Mormon immigration are three classic works: Leonard Arrington’s Great Basin Kingdom, William Mulder’s Homeward to Zion, and P. A. M. Taylor’s Expectations Westward. A pioneering study of the Latter-day Saint system for facilitating migration and settlement, useful although somewhat dated, is Gustive O. Larson’s Prelude to the Kingdom.
Some researchers may wish to refer to other published documentary resources, which in the area of Latter-day Saint immigration include the recently released CD-ROM, Mormon Immigration Index (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000) and Grant Davis, comp., LDS Emigrant Roster and Voyage History, 1840-1869 (Salt Lake City: Your
Ship, 1997), CD-ROM, available from Ancestry, Inc. The latter includes a feature, “Perpetual Emigration [sic] Fund,” that utilizes the same 1877 published list as does the present index. Among significant unpublished resources are the records of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, for which there is a helpful register that is held by the LDS Church Archives in
the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City. Those records include, often in some detail, listings of the travel arrangements for which individuals incurred debts as well as some information about the emigrants’ subsequent location.

Names of Persons and Sureties indebted to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company 1850 to 1877 - RICHARD L. JENSEN

Perpetual Emigrating Fund (PEF)
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Boone, David F.
To assist Latter-day Saints in the eastern United States and Europe to gather to Church headquarters in the West, the Church inaugurated the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company in 1849. It is probable that before its demise in 1887, the Emigrating Company assisted more than 30,000 individuals to travel to Utah.

The PEF used Church assets and private contributions to assist individuals commensurate with their inability to pay. With limited funds, fewer individuals could be assisted than wished to participate. Those receiving priority included individuals with skills urgently needed in the West, those whose relatives or friends had contributed to the PEF, and those with longest membership in the Church. Cost-cutting measures, including group contracting, doubling up families in wagons, and organizing handcart companies, were also adopted to make the available funds stretch as far as possible.

PEF assistance was always extended as a loan rather than as a gift. Sponsored emigrants signed a note obligating themselves to repay the PEF as they were able. Though it sometimes required years, and some never fully retired their debt, many repaid their loan in cash, commodities, or labor. In 1880, on the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Church, President John Taylor, in the tradition of the Israelite jubilee year, forgave half of the outstanding debt owed by the poor to the fund, while those who were able to pay were still expected to do so. In late 1887, under provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, the U.S. government dissolved both the Corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company.

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