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Jews in the Wild West

Chapter 1.

Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West

On the 22d August, 1853, after a short interview with Col. J. C. Fremont, I accepted his invitation to accompany him as artist of an Exploring Expedition across the Rocky Mountains. A half hour previously, if anybody had suggested to me, the probability of my undertaking an overland journey to California, even over the emigrant route, I should have replied there were no inducements sufficiently powerful to have tempted me. Yet, in this instance, I impulsively, without even a consultation with my family, passed my word to join an exploring party, under command of Col. Fremont, over a hitherto untrodden country, in an elevated region, with the full expectation of being exposed to all the inclemencies of an arctic winder. I know of no other man to whom I would have trusted my life, order similar circumstances.

Col. Fremont's former extraordinary explorations, his astronomical and geographical contributions to the useful sciences, and his successful pursuit of them under difficulties, had deeply interested me, and aided in forming for him, in my mind, the beau ideal of all that was chivalrous and noble.

His conquest of California, appointment as Governor by Commodore Stockton, the jealousy and persecution by General Kearney for not acknowledging him instead of Commodore Stockton as commander-in-chief, his court-martial and subsequent finding of the court, are matters of American history, and they reflect no dishonor on the individual who was a distinguished example of the ingratitude of republics.

The recognition of his claims on the American public by the citizens of Charleston, S. C., who presented him with an elegant sword and golden scabbard, satisfied me that I had formed no incorrect estimate of his character, and made me feel an instinctive pride that I, too, drew my first breath on the same soil that gave birth to heroes and statesmen.

Entertaining those feelings, the dangers and perils of the journey, which Col. Fremont pointed out to me, were entirely obscured by the pleasure I anticipated in accompanying him, and adding my limited skill to facilitate him in the realization of one of the objects of the expedition—which was to obtain an exact description of the face of the country over which we were to travel.

The party consisted of twenty-two persons; among them were ten Delaware chiefs; and two Mexicans. The officers were: Mr. Egloffstein, topographical engineer; Mr. Strobel, assistant; Mr. Oliver Fuller, assistant engineer; Mr. S. N. Carvalho, artist and daguerrotypist; Mr. W. H. Palmer, passenger.

The expedition was fitted out, I think, at the individual expense of Col. Fremont.

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