Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Perpetual Emigrating Fund

When Gammon and Sarah Hayward and their children and Philip and Martha Pugsley and their son emigrated to the United States from England in 1853, they traveled with the assistance of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund.

The ship's register from the International (1853) showing Gammon and Sarah Hayward and their children.

What Was the Perpetual Emigrating Fund?

Gathering to Zion, or moving to live in communities with the rest of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a central principle of the faith; in fact, the tenth Article of Faith stated, "We believe in the literal gathering of Israel..." The converts to the church were Israel and they needed to be gathered to the Promised Land.

The Perpetual Emigrating Fund started in 1849 when 8,000 poor refugees from Nauvoo, Illinois, were camped on the Pottawattamie Reservation in Iowa. The Saints wanted to go to Utah, but they did not have the resources to do so. Church leaders called for funds and assistance at General Conference, and donations totaling $5,000 and several yokes of oxen were used to bring the Saints to Utah. The next year, the Church created the Perpetual Emigrating Company, which was later called the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, or PEF.

In some cases, the PEF paid for part of the travel, and in other cases, it paid for the entire cost of the trip. Most of the beneficiaries of the PEF were converts from Western Europe.

The Church employed a PEF agent in Liverpool, England, to charter ships or arrange ocean passage. When the Saints reached New Orleans, another agent would meet them and arrange passage up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. A third agent met them in St. Louis and arranged passage up the Missouri River to the outfitting station for the wagon trip to Utah. Later, when the railroad reached St. Louis, the emigrants would travel to St. Louis via New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. The entire journey from Europe to Salt Lake City often took the better part of a year.

The Church operated the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company with donations and with money that the emigrants repaid from the funds they had received to emigrate to Zion. Not all the emigrants were able to repay the cost of their passage quickly or at all, so the PEF was usually low on funds to operate further.

With funds very low in 1855, Brigham Young started a program to cut costs by relying on handcart travel across the Plains. That program did not last long due to the tragic experience of the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies.

Brigham Young served as President of the PEF until he was succeeded by Horace S. Eldredge in 1870. Albert Carrington took over in 1873.

The last PEF emigrants were a small group of Icelanders in 1887, since the PEF was disincorporated in 1887 under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act. The federal government took control of the assets of the church, but those assets mostly consisted of $400,000 of debts to the PEF, and the debts were not collectible due to the statue of limitations.

While it was in operation from 1852 to 1887, the PEF helped 26,000 Latter-day Saints move from Europe to the United States. Another 47,000 emigrants used other means to travel to America.

Sources To Learn More About the Perpetual Emigrating Fund

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Perpetual Emigration Fund. From Kate B. Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, 20 vols.
Some of the information from the DUP contradicts Richard Jensen (see below). He is more reliable, but I'm including this source because it includes the PEF's Articles of Incorporation. (And the correct name is the "Emigrating Fund" not the "Emigration Fund.")
Davis, Grant. Perpetual Emigration Fund. Salt Lake City, Utah: Your Ship, 199-?.  
This book lists those who benefited from the PEF, alphabetically and by family. Available through the Family History Library or at the BYU Library.
Hartley, William G. "How Shall I Gather?" Ensign, October 1997, 5-17.
A very nice overview of Mormon emigration starting in 1838. "The late 1880s marked the end of the Perpetual Emigrating Company and PEF, thus ending a benevolent operation that for decades assisted the poor and needy. During its 38-year existence, the Perpetual Emigrating Company helped more than 100,000 persons, most of whom came from England and northern Europe. About 40,000 to 50,000 received financial assistance from the PEF. It is estimated that the Church expended approximately $12,500,000 through the PEF, which was half of the total expense of all LDS emigration during that period."
Jensen, Richard L. Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company. The Utah History Encyclopedia.
A good overview.
Jensen, Richard L. and Maurine Carr Ward. "Names of Persons and Sureties indebted to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company 1850 to 1877." Mormon Historic Sites Foundation: Mormon Historical Studies, Fall 2000, pages 141-241. 
This article starts with an interesting overview of the PEF and the reasons for the creation of this list in 1877 and then lists the 18,000 people who still owed PEF  emigration expenses in 1877. Don't miss the letter in the appendix (page 239-41).
Jenson, Andrew. "Church Emigration: Emigration from 1852 to 1855." The Contributor, Volume 13 (1892) pages 131-38.
These next three articles are from a series that Assistant Church Historian Andrew Jenson wrote for The Contributor, a short-lived magazine for the youth programs of the Church. Jenson's articles are excellent and very detailed.
Jenson, Andrew. "Church Emigration: Mode of Conducting the Emigration." The Contributor, Volume 13 (1892) pages 181-85.

Jenson, Andrew. "Church Emigration: Detailed Emigration Account, 1853." The Contributor, Volume 13 (1892) pages 458-67.

Larson, Gustive O. Prelude to the Kingdom: Mormon Desert Conquest, a Chapter in American Cooperative Experience. Francestown: N. H., Marshall Jones Co., 1947, 155-167. 
A copy of Larson's material on the PEF is available here.
Lyon, John. Perpetual Fund. [Poem.] 1850.
Read this poem on this blog or on Keepapitchinin.
Mormon Migration.
This database includes trans-Atlantic migration information for many pioneers. It also includes the PEF Record books, where available, showing the notifications given to the emigrants as well as some information about them. 
This source often lists the PEF as a resource for the pioneers who used it.
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company. Names of Persons and Sureties Indebted to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, From 1850 to 1877 Inclusive. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Company, 1877.
This book has been digitized by the University of California Libraries and includes many names of recipients of PEF funds. Available on here. You can download a .pdf version.
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company Ledgers.
Available at the Church History Library. If you are not close to the Library, you can write to to ask if your ancestor's name is in the index for the ledgers. Not every person who benefited from the PEF is listed, but those who are will have the following information: name, amount loaned, interest charged, amount repaid.
My guide to researching your pioneer ancestors.

The PEF Today

No discussion of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund would be complete without mentioning the current replacement for the program, the Perpetual Education Fund, which began with the goal of educating members of the church in less-privileged countries around the world. Here is a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley describing the start of the new PEF. And here is a link to the PEF website.

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