Sailor Three, 1853
The ship International sailed from Liverpool on 28 February 1853, with 477 Mormon emigrants aboard. By the time the ship reached New Orleans 54 days later, the ship’s contingent of Mormons would be greatly increased by baptisms of virtually the entire ship’s crew. 
The crossing began with gales so strong that the ship was threatened with capsizing. As noted by one diarist, a “strong gale [blew] from the east for five hours – ship rolling tremendously – sea like mountains on each side of the ship. Most of the luggage on the larboard side broke their lashing and rolled to the centre of the steering.” Another storm raged for 15 hours the next day, preventing most passengers from leaving their berths, and requiring the extinguishing of all cooking fires. 
After the storms subsided, the passengers enjoyed much calmer weather, although headwinds slowed their expected progress to a worrisome degree. Organized by Mormon shipboard custom into eight “wards,” the passengers enjoyed preaching, prayer, and singing meetings. The company diary, kept by the Mormon elder in charge of the company, records that the ship’s officers and members of the crew visited these meetings, and witnessed the numerous baptisms performed by the company in a large vat – no known records indicate the intended purpose of that vat – on the deck of the ship. Some of those baptisms were of children not previously baptized; others were of adult church members who were rebaptized, a common Mormon practice of that era. 
And some of those baptisms were members of the International’s crew: a sailor on 3 March, another on 19 March, and thereafter in groups of three or five or more, until by the end of the voyage only three persons – the steward and his wife, both staunch Catholics, and the third mate, described as a “very wicked fellow” – had not converted. 
Some of the converts are named by diarists, but most are not: they are referred to only as “sailors” or “Swedes” or “ship’s carpenter,” but are not otherwise identified. Three of those who were baptized aboard the International are described only as “Negro.” Christopher Arthur, leader of the Mormon emigrants, did indicate the international composition of the ship’s crew who converted and even specified the country of origin for two of the three black men: “The carpenter and eight of the seamen are Swedish, German, and Dutch,” Arthur wrote. “There are two negroes and others from Otaheite, etc.,” he added. “Otaheite” was an early name for Tahiti and the Society Islands in general. It may indicate that the two crew members from Otaheite were Polynesian rather than black African except for the fact that Arthur and the other diarists consistently referred to them as “Negro,” a term used historically to describe black-Africans. The fact that Arthur indicted that there were “two negroes and others from Otaheite” further specifies that he was separating out the identity of the “negroes” from the “others” who were from the same region and who likely were of Polynesian descent. Moreover, there was a third “Negro” crew member baptized onboard the International whom Arthur does not count as coming from Otaheite, a fact that further substantiates that Arthur and the other diarists were likely precise when they described three of the baptized crewmen as “Negro” and that they meant black African when they wrote it. 
And so, nameless, and without any additional information as to their life stories after the voyage of the International was completed at New Orleans on 25 April 1853, we nevertheless remember them among the pioneering black members of Mormonism’s first century. The three men were baptized on three separate days, an indication that they arrived at their decisions to join Mormonism independently and deliberately. Christopher Arthur recorded the third baptism this way:
20 [April 1853] Wednesday. East wind, very light early in the morning. The captain was baptized. A council meeting was held on quarter deck. Elder [John] Lyon read a letter to send to Elder Richards at Liverpool, proposed that the captain & carpenter be ordained to the office of an Elder. The 1 & 2 mate to the office of Priests and the cook to a Teacher. General rejoicing and full of gratitude to our Father in Heaven in his goodness to us. Baptized one Negro & a Dutch sailor and a Swedish sailor. Ordained Captain & Carpenter to the office of an Elder, 1 mate & 2 to office of Priest. Cook to a Teacher. Caught a dolphin which was cooked and eaten. Captain bore his testimony with the Carpenter and several others of the crew. 
By Ardis E. Parshall
Arthur, Christopher to Samuel W. Richards. 26 April 1853. In Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star vol. 15, no. 23 (June 4, 1853), 358-60. Reprinted as “Sixty-Fifth Company” in The Contributor vol. 13, no. 10 (August 1892), 463-465. https://mormonmigration.lib.byu.edu/mii/account/622
Christopher Arthur Emigrating Company Journal, Ship International, 28 February 1853 - 25 April 1853. MS 1429. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lyon, John. Diary. 1853 February-April. MS 4687. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hartley, William G., “Voyage on the Ship International,” New Era, September 1973, 6-9.
 John Lyon, diary, 1853 February-April, MS 4687, 10-11 March 1853, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Hartley, “Voyage on the Ship International;” Christopher Arthur, New Orleans, to Samuel W. Richards, 26 April 1853, in Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star vol. 15, no. 23 (June 4, 1853), 358-60 and reprinted as “Sixty-Fifth Company” in The Contributor vol. 13, no. 10 (August 1892), 463-465.
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