Rachel Smuin Dittmore b. 6 May 1844, d. 8 May 1908

Information on her crossing the ocean and her landing came from the Millennial Star. Remainder of the history was written by Eliza Dittmore Call, a daughter, the grandmother of Lucille Call Stringham.

Rachel Smuin left London the 4th of June 1863, on packet ship Amazon, with a company of 895 saints and Elders William Brammell, Edward L. Sloan and Richard Palmer on Board. President George Q.  Cannon held a meeting, in which the officers of the ship, the cabin passengers and visitors on board listened with marked attention.

[This was this contingent of saints of whom Charles Dickens wrote favorably of in The Uncommercial Traveller. After a forty-four day passage the Amazon arrived at the New York harbor on 18 July 1863. One day later the Cynosure would anchor alongside the Amazon carrying the William Kirk family. The two companies of saints would travel together to Utah. Rachel Smuin’s parents, Thomas Smuin and Sarah Hook Smuin would follow her to America five years later. The Amazon was one of the largest, fastest and most famous packet ships of her time.]

The departure of the ship Amazon from London laden with saints was a fulfillment of a prophecy. Some years before and Elder Kelsey was laboring in London and he predicted in a public meeting that ships laden with saints would leave that port emigrating to Zion. It was with no intention of bringing about the fulfillment of that prophecy that they chartered the Amazon, because they did not know about it until three days before they sailed. The chartering of this vessel was not a matter of choice but one of necessity. They could not obtain a vessel in Liverpool suitable for their needs: vessels were scarce the spring of 1863 and they were compelled to go to London to find one.

This was the first ship with saints aboard to sail from London, down the Thames River and out into the English Channel. The rest had sailed from Liverpool. There were several elders aboard. During the voyage prayers were said night and morning, and at 9 o’clock the hurricane deck was cleared of all sisters and the guards were stationed to see that no female went up on deck after that hour and that no sailor went below.

The saints were divided into five wards and each took turns cooking for the group, they also took turns eating. The brass band from South Wales entertained the saints on the voyage. It was made up of saints from Wales going to Zion.

Rachel Smuin was accompanied by her sister, Matilda, on this voyage. The Amazon sailed down the Thames River and out into the English Channel: a strong wind came up and continued to increase in violence until they were compelled to drop anchor in a sheltered cove of the Isle of Wight. They reached here with some difficulty on the morning of June 7, 1863.

On the morning of June 7th, an addition to the company was received in the shape of a baby girl born to Brother and Sister Harris of Stratford. She was give the name of Amazon Seaborn Harris.

On the evening of the 9th of June they pulled up anchor, slipped around the corner of the island under the influence of a gentle breeze which quickened and increased the difficulty in clearing the channel. The captain made his passengers as comfortable as possible on this voyage. There was very little sickness considering the number of passengers on board.

The Amazon landed in Castle Gardens, New York, sometime near the first of July 1863. They left immediately for Albany, New york, and then on to Florence, Nebraska. The company from the ship Cynosure also traveled to Florence with them.They were outfitted here and started west. We do not know much about her journey west. We do know that she arrived sometime in September, 1863, in the Salt Lake Valley.

Her parents Thomas Smuin and Sarah Hook Smuin, also were pioneers, who came from England on the ship Colorado July 14, 1868. Rachel Smuin was born in Abingdon,,Berkshire, England, May 6, 1844. She married Henry Dittmore, a convert from Germany, on March 11, 1864, in the Salt Lake Endowment House.  After they were married they lived in Salt Lake for two years and their first child was born there. Henry worked for Brother Wells for about ten dollars a month when he married Rachel. In 1866, she and her family moved to Morgan, Utah,, where Henry’s uncle, Martin Heiner lived. Their second child was born here.

In 1868 they packed their belongings into the wagon and started south to Pleasant Grove. Here they bought a piece of land at the foot of a sand hill and built their home. It was humble and plain, a dirt roof, a dirt floor and the cooking was done in the fireplace. Stoves were very scarce and very expensive. In December 1870, sorrow visited their home. Arthur, the eldest child was accidentally run over with a loaded wagon and died three days latter from the injuries

Eliza tells in her history that when she was six years old, her parents dug a cellar, rocked it up on the sides so they could make bins for their grain. The log house was then moved on the cellar and the dirt roof replaced with shingles. This took place in 1876. There were five children by then so they were glad for a little more room.

In 1878, the grasshoppers were so bad that they ate all the grain in the settlement. It was terribly disappointing and a great trial to these hard working people. In June they leveled the ground again and planted beans. These grew well and were harvested and sold for the winter’s supply of flour and other necessities for the winter. In this way they were saved from starvation that year.

The Indians were troublesome in the early days in all of the settlements but people had been told to feed them rather than quarrel with them. In the fall they would come after something to eat and the saints tried to keep peace with them.. Many times the men stood guard at night to protect their families.

The children were taught early in life to be helpful in the home and on the farm. There was always something to do especially at harvest time and fruit drying time in the fall. They would store what they needed for their own use and sold the remainder of the fruit for other things they needed for the winter.

Education was very limited in the early pioneer times. There was a small school to go to but not enough money to pay for tuition for all the children in the family. Eliza and Martin did the janitor work in the school to pay their way as they had such a great desire to attend.

Rachel and Henry Dittmore had firm and abiding testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ which was a great comfort to them in bearing the trial and sorrows as parents of a large family.  Henry and Rachel Dittmore were the parents of eleven children, nine of whom grew to maturity. The children of the Dittmore family were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ in their home by parents who lived their religion in daily life, teaching them the important things of living pure, clean, virtuous lives. The children were sent to to the different organization of the Church and the boys received the priesthood as they became of age.

Rachel and Henry Dittmore endured the hardships, enjoyed few advantages and sacrificed their all to preserve and leave their family the priceless heritage of a good name.

Another great sorrow came to Rachel in 1893, when her husband took sick with pneumonia and died January 9, 1893. She died May 8, 1908, in Pleasant Grove at the age of 64.


This information is found in the SMUIN BOOK pp. 55-56.


About annlaemmlenlewis

I am member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am currently serving as a Missionary in the Washington Yakima Mission. Welcome to my personal blog, Ann's Words, and my Mission blog, Our Yakima Mission. If you are interested in family history stories and histories, you can find those posted in Ann's Stories. Thanks for looking in!
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