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Inventory of the William Young Empey Papers, 1847-1890, bulk 1853-1854
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Mormon missionary work in Great Britain and the operation of the Perpetual Emigration Fund
When the Utah territorial legislature incorporated the Perpetual Emigrating Company, more commonly known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund, in 1850, the Mormon "gathering of Zion" entered a new phase. Although Mormon converts had often been encouraged to migrate from their present locations to join the main body of believers, little institutional support had been provided for them. With the establishment of the PEF, however, the Church committed itself to financing in part or in full the emigration of impoverished Saints converted by its increasingly successful overseas missions. Drawing in large measure upon the contributions of the members of the Church already settled in Utah, the PEF assisted nearly 10,000 Saints in emigrating to Zion just between 1852 and 1855. PEF agents, in cooperation with representatives of the Church's British Mission, organized companies of emigrants early each year, funneling them through the English port of Liverpool and across the Atlantic on chartered steamers to New Orleans. From there, river steamers carried the emigrants and their supplies up the Mississippi to St. Louis and then up the Missouri to frontier communities such as Westport, the precursor of modern Kansas City, Missouri which served as the jumping-off points for overland wagon trains destined for the Great Salt Lake Valley. Other PEF agents in New Orleans, St. Louis and the Missouri frontier towns received these human cargos, ministered to their needs and forwarded them on to their next stop. These agents dealt with steamship lines, freighters and merchants throughout the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys, hiring transportation to carry their charges to the edge of the settlements and purchasing the enormous quantities of provisions and equipment necessary to outfit each overland party.
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