Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sea Trek will leave more than memories

Bronze sculpture of immigrant famill to grace pioneer seaports
Published: Saturday, July 14, 2001

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When tall sailing ships tracing the route of 19th century Latter-day Saint immigration to the United States depart from several cities in Europe and the British Isles next month, they will be leaving more than memories.

Photo by Tamra Ratieta
From left, Trine Skei Grande, commissioner for education and cultural affairs; Per Ditlev-Simonsen, mayor of Oslo, Norway; Espen Amundsen, Oslo stake director of public affairs; and Bill Sadleir, chairman of the Sea Trek Foundation, view scale model of sculpture.

An 8-foot, life-size bronze sculpture of an immigrant family — mother, father, son and infant daughter — has been commissioned by the Sea Trek Foundation. Copies of the statue are scheduled to be presented to the cities of Oslo, Norway (Aug. 14); Hamburg, Germany (Aug. 18); Glasgow (Greenock) Scotland (Aug. 18); Liverpool, England (Aug. 20); Hull, England (Aug. 22); and Portsmouth, England (Aug. 25).

"Cities like Hamburg, Hull and Liverpool were important migration ports and played a significant role in Church history," explained Bill Sadleir, Sea Trek Foundation chairman. "Yet there are virtually no historical markers in these communities to honor the faith, sacrifice and commitment of these early converts and immigrants. We are deeply honored that community leaders in each city have eagerly welcomed the gift sculptures and have dedicated prominent public space for the monuments to be permanently located."

Liverpool, for example, has been called the "Gateway to Zion" because it was the port from which so many 19th Century Church members departed for the gathering to Church headquarters in the Salt Lake Valley. In Liverpool, the monument will be placed in front of the Museum of Liverpool Life at the Albert Docks. The docks were the departure point for emigrating Latter-day Saints, Brother Sadleir said.

"The Museum of Liverpool Life is pleased to be part of Sea Trek 2001," said Janet Dugdale, senior curator, "and to add the statue, depicting an emigrant family in the 1840s to its waterfront site. Looking out from the museum to the River Mersey and towards the sea is an appropriate setting for the statue which is a meaningful tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who left Europe, through the port of Liverpool, looking for a new life. I think it will encourage people to think about their own family history whether or not they have links to Liverpool."

Presentation and unveiling ceremonies at each city will take place as part of dockside celebrations accompanying the Sea Trek 2001 voyage. U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., with his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Brittany, will be presenting the monument to the city of Liverpool, for example.

In each city, the monument, weighing 800 pounds not counting the granite base, will be placed onto a block of ice with a forklift and carefully positioned as the ice melts, Brother Sadleir said.

Two plaques at the base of each monument will tell the story. The donors plaque will list the family names of donors' and/or their immigrant ancestors. The presentation plaque on the Liverpool monument, adaptations of which are on the other monuments, will bear this quotation:

I believed in the principle of the gathering and felt it my duty to go, although it was a severe trial to me in my feelings to leave my native land. . . . But my heart was fixed. I knew in whom I had trusted, and with the true fire of Israel's God burning in my bosom, I forsook my home.
Photo by Tamra Ratieta
Sculptor Neil Hadlock with scale model on ship Warrior in Portsmouth, England. The actual bronze monument of the immigrants will be 8 feet tall and was commissioned by the Sea Trek Foundation.

Also, the plaque will have this inscription:

In 1840, the first of over 85,000 European converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints left these shores for the basin of the Great Salt Lake in the territory of Utah. Like millions of other immigrants who crossed the seas, they brought with them the love of their native land, their skills and their culture, all of which contributed to the establishment of the western frontier of the United States. The descendants of these immigrants express profound gratitude for their English heritage.

The sculpture is the work of Neil Hadlock, Highland (Utah) 4th Ward, Mark DeGraffenried, Clarkston (Utah) Ward, and Brother Hadlock's son, Taylor. The sculptors, who are descended from Scandinavian and British LDS immigrants, consulted with the foundation to arrive at a concept. What resulted was a depiction of a family of four.

"The little boy, about age 10, is playing with a crab. He is barefoot and wearing knickers," Brother Hadlock explained. "The mother is seated on a trunk in a way indicating she is ready for travel. A young child is taking her first step, kind of a metaphor of the people who emigrated. And the father looks a little concerned."

Brother Hadlock said the sculptors researched the dress and customs pertaining to travel and emigration in the 1800s.

"Traveling was a formal thing," he noted. "Nobody wore T-shirts and Levis. They wore as good as they could afford at the time. We found through our research that the people who emigrated were not wealthy, for the most part. They were people who were looking for new opportunities. Their clothing was coarse threaded."

Dress and appearance of the family depicted was fashioned according to photographs provided by museums in Utah. A 22-inch model was made and the concept was approved by the foundation prior to the bronze sculptures being cast.

In Utah, the public will have an opportunity to view a representative copy of the sculpture at an open house 6-9 p.m. July 17 at Brother Hadlock's studio, 11147 N. Gambol Oak Circle, Highland, Utah.