Martineau, James H., Autobiography and journal, vol. 1, 22-25.
We left the River May 15th on our long march. When out about ten days, I took the cholera, from eating too much dried beef and bathing in Wolf creek while warm. I was taken at noon, and fainted away before I knew I was sick. I took treble doses of cholera medicine, of which we had plenty, but all to no purpose—it had no effect, and by bed time I was given up to die. I was not afraid, but felt lonesome at the thought of lying there alone in the desolate prairie, where my sisters could never see even my grave. I made disposition of my property among my companions, and at midnight as I lay thinking, having long ceased to take any medicine
the thought <a voice> came to me “plainly, “You will not die,” and <I said in answer> “if so, I will take it as a sign from the Lord that he has a work for me to do; if not, and I die, all right.” <The voice said again “you will not die.” I surely heard the voice, and knew it was[.]> My disease ceased at once, and in the morning I was perfectly well, except weakness, from which I did not recover until two weeks. On the road I often wondered what work I would have to do, feeling that I had a work to perform because I had recovered, but finally concluded my work would be that of a missionary to the heathen.
We passed up on the south side of the Platte, and saw some most terrible thunder storms, for which that valley is justly celebrated.
I visited Chimney Rock and engraved my initials upon it. and also Independence Rock. At the Devil’s Gate, I narrouly escaped death in the folowing manner:
I had been to the top of the rock—four hundred feet in perpendicular height, and thought I would come down another way. I commenced climbing down a narrow gully, and I suddenly found myself on a narrow ledge 350 feet above the ground—a perpendicular precipice. I tried to go back, but could not. My train had gone on and I was alone with no one to help me. I found impossible to go back. Aro[u]nd a sharp corner of the rock was a ledge, which, if I could reach, would lead me to safety; but how to reach it: My only chance was to swing by a small root growing in a crevice. about as thick as my finger. I pulled on it to try its firmness, but it seemed not very firm, and I was afraid my weight would pull it out as I should swing round over the precipice. But there was no other way, and if I fell, my death would be quick. So I grasped it, swung around the crag, and just succeeded in catching the ledge with my foot—and I was safe. Thanking God for my escape, I hastened down, and got to camp about 9 o’clock P.M. They thought I was lost.
At the next-to-the-last crossing of the Sweetwater, our company lay by a day to fix the wagons, lighten up, &c, as our teams were getting weak and giving out. I went south to hunt, and after traveling about 3 or 4 miles, I saw an antelope. He was too far off, so I lay down, and used my red handkerchief to toll him up to me. He came about 100 yards nearer and I fired, but missed him. I followed him about five miles, and almost gave him up, when I came to some large rocks, among which I hid until I got a good shot and killed him. I took the four quarters and some of the tender loin. Being hungry and very thirsty, I built a fire, and tried to cook some meat on the end of my ramrod, but the wind blowing hard, the fire spread and got so hot I could not come near it, and had to eat my meat raw. I started back to camp, but suffered greatly with thirst. One quarter fell to the ground, and I left it. Next I threw away the tender loin. I looked all round for some sign of moisture, but could see nothing but a small green spot of grass about a mile off. I went to it, and eat some of it in hope to dampen my mouth, but the grass stuck all round my mouth as though glued there, and I worked long to get it out again. I started back again for camp, but soon threw down another quarter. By this time my tongue was swelled very much, and was as dry as a chip. Finally, almost given out, I reached the river and lay down to drink. I knew the danger of drinking too much, but did not care for the consequence. I drank as long as I could,— rested a little, and drank again, then forded the river and got to camp with two hind quarters of my antelope.
After supper, as I sat on the front end of the wagon, talking with a companion, I suddenly fainted and fell forward into his arms, remaining insensible until the next day as we journeyed onward. I was sick until near G.S. Lake. it was caused by my hunting adventure’s hardships.
Another day <previously>, on the sweetwater, I crossed a high range of hills on the south, and pursued four buffalo until finally I got ahead of them in a hollow up which they were coming, led by a magnificent bull. As I lay there in weight, my heart almost failed me. I could see the ferocious glare of his eye—and he looked the incarnation of fury and strength. He weighed about 1200 lbs. was fat and glossy. I knew that when wounded they often turn upon their assailant, and there was not the slightest place of refuge for me—not a rock or bush. If I wounded him, and he should turn on me my death was sure, for my rifle carried a small ball just right for rabbits, squirils &c. But to follow game nearly a day—and then not shoot—I could not stand it. and as he came within about four rods, I shot him through his ribs, but too high to hit his heart. Away he and the rest dashed,—I after them, but they soon got out of sight. When I got back to camp, the men gave me a severe reprimand for my foolhardiness, saying it was a wonder they did not turn and trample me to death.
Thousands of wagons crossed the plains this season, and probably a million dollars worth of Cattle, wagons, provisions, clothing, goods, and in fact, almost every thing was strewn along the road. Sometimes we would see a huge pile of good bacon and other things. Our company and I also, threw away much property, as our team weakened. I kept a journal, and had in it many sketches which I made, but before reaching Salt Lake City, some one stole it. I took and wore a jacket, which had belonged to a cholera dead man.
We arrived at the South Pass July 7th 1850, and in the night had a heavy snow storm. Here we debated hours as to our future route;—whether to go by Fort Hall or by Salt Lake City. I and Mr. Peter Keener, a Pensylvanian with whom I boarded some <time> in Missouri, wished to go through the latter place: all the rest being Missourians, advocated the Fort Hall route, saying the Mormons would surely kill or at least rob us. I argued that if we minded our own business and were careful, we would not be molested, and I wanted in future years to say I had “seen the Mormons.” We traveled on, and at the junction of the Fort Hall road, we halted and argued for several hours, until Keener and I carried our point, and we took the Salt Lake Road. Soon after this, I was taken sick, and was hauled about 150 miles.
We entered Salt Lake Valley through Parley’s Cañon [canyon], a new and wretched road. The scenery through the Wahsatch [Wasatch] mountains was sublime. In some places towering cliffs rose perpendicularly a thousand feet. When we entered the valley, it seemed as if we had entered fairy-land. We got in on the 22nd of July, and the fields of waving grain. of fine gardens and flowers,—after seeing nothing but grass and sage plains for three months—were charming to the senses. We entered the city, which was stragglingly built, drove through Emigration Street west to near the Old Fort in the 6th Ward, and camped near the Jordan to rest a week and recuperate. The Old Fort was still inhabited. While driving through town people came out to know if we had any thing to sell, as cows, clothing, provisions, wagons, oxen. &c offering to sell us vegetables, butter &c.