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Jews in the Wild West

Chapter 2

Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West

THE preparations for my journey occupied about ten days, during which time I purchased all the necessary materials for making a panorama of the country, by daguerreotype process, Over which we had to pass.

To make daguerreotypes in the open air, in a temperature varying from freezing point to thirty degrees below zero, requires different manipulation from the processes by which pictures are made in a warm room. My professional friends were all of the opinion that the elements would be against my success. Buffing and coating plates, and mercurializing them, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains, standing at times up to one's middle in snow, with no covering above save the arched vault of heaven, seemed to our city friends one of the impossibilities—knowing as, they did that iodine will not give out its fumes except at a temperature of 70º to 80º Fahrenheit. I shall not appear egotistical if I say that I encountered many difficulties, but I was well prepared to meet them by having previously acquired a scientific and practical knowledge of the chemicals I used, as well as of the theory of light: a firm determination to succeed also aided me in producing results which, to my knowledge, have never been accomplished under similar circumstances.

While suffering from frozen feet and hands, without food for twenty-four hours, travelling on foot over mountains of snow, I have stopped on the trail, made pictures of the country, repacked my materials, and found myself frequently with my friend Egloffstien, who generally remained with me to make barometrical observations, and a muleteer, some five or six miles behind camp, which was only reached with great expense of bodily as well as mental suffering. The great secret, however, of my untiring perseverance and continued success, was that my honor was pledged to Col. Fremont to perform certain duties, and I would rather have died than not have redeemed it. I made pictures up to the wry day Col. Fremont found it necessary to bury the whole baggage of the camp, including the daguerreotype apparatus. He has since told me that my success , under the frequent occurrence of what he considered almost insuperable difficulties, merited his unqualified approbation.

I left New York on the 5th September, 1853, having in charge the daguerreotype apparatus, painting materials, and half a dozen cases of Alden's preserved coffee, eggs, cocoa, cream, and milk, which he sent out for the purpose of testing their qualities. There was in them sufficient nourishment to have sustained twenty men for a month. I purchased a ticket by the Illinois River to St. Louis, but the water was so low in the river that it was deemed advisable to cross over to Alton by stage, as I was afraid of being detained. The cases of instruments were very heavy, and the proprietor of the stage refused to take them; it being night, I remonstrated with him, telling him of the importance that they should arrive at St. Louis; he peremptorily refused to take them. I , of course, had to succumb, and remarked inadvertently how disappointed Col. Fremont would be in not receiving them. At the mention of Col. Fremont's name, he asked me if those cases were Fremont's? I told him, yes . He sang out for his boy to harness up an extra team of horses, and stow away the boxes. "I will put them through for Fremont, without a cent expense. I was with him on one of his expeditions, and a nobler specimen of mankind does not live about these parts." I was put through in good time, but he would nor receive a cent for my passage, or freight of the boxes, which together would have amounted to eight dollars.

I arrived at St. Louis at twelve o'clock. Col. Fremont was at Col. Brant's house, where I immediately called. The Colonel was very glad to see me; he had telegraphed several times, and I had been anxiously expected. We left that same afternoon in the steamer F. X. Aubrey, for Kansas. On board, I found Mr. Egloffstien, the topographical engineer, Mr. Oliver Fuller, and Mr. Bomar, the photographist. Our journey was somewhat protracted by the shallowness of the water in the river, and we did not arrive at Kansas until the 14th.

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