Baer, Johann Lebrecht, Autobiography [ca. 1908], 17-18.
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Starting on our journey across the plains or American Desert Brother Disam, a Swiss, helped us to continue our journey from New York. He bbought 4 teams. I drove one, was to pay him after we arrived in the valley. This I agreed to do. Our train consisted of 35 wagons with 2 or 3 yoke of cattle to each. 8 wagons belonged to the Swiss. We proceeded fairly well until on a very hot day the cattle with their tongues hanging out with thirst about noon we reached Platte river where we watered our cattle. Our wagon was heavy loaded, 3500 lbs. on it with 3 yoke of cattle and 2 of us to drive. One of the oxen was half buffalo. We had him hitched with his mate which was as gentle as a lamb to the wagon tongue. I drove the front ones, my partner the back ones. I unhitched mine but he was afraid of the buffalo. He was a big stout man over 6 feet tall. He could have reached over the gentle one without going between them, but he would not. They had to be watered, no question about that or they might run down with the wagon into the river and mash things to pieces. I started to unhitch them. I was small and could not reach over. I had to go between them. As I took hold of the yoke ring, the buffalo commenced to jump and jump and the other one got scared and jumped too. I was knocked down on the wagon tongue and got pressed in between them with no way to escape. It seemed everyone was scared and kept their distance, leaving me to my fate. But as soon as the Captain, J[ames]. D. Ross saw what was going on he came with a big stick right in front of the infuriated animals and in the twinkling of an eye they jumped to one side. The axle broke, a wheel fell off. It gave me a place to jump. I made the leap and fell exhausted. When the people came[,] a Swiss Sister who could speak three languages got some water and bathed my head and wounds. Brother Ross administered to me. As soon as a new asle [axle] was put in they lifted me into the wagon and we journied on again. They finally got the yoke off the buffalo, but it took the whole camp 2 hours to get it on again, so it was decided to trade him off the first chance we had, to a ranchman, which we did. In a day or two I was able to walk again, holding on to the wagon, as I had difficulty to breathe. In 2 weeks I was called again to take my turn as watchman from 8 to 12 that night. I tried to be excused as I did not feel well enough. I had such a heavy pressure on my lungs, but I had to go anyway. In a short time blood came out of my mouth in lumps that nearly choked me. I had to take them out with my fingers. My lungs have been weak ever since. I had such faith in this Latter-Day work that I thought when I could see that place of refuge I would fall down and kiss the very ground and praise God’s Holy name. But Oh! how soon it changed. All along our way we had our morning and evening prayers and sang the songs of Zion. As we were getting closer to the Rocky Mountain Range, a strange feeling came over me, evil forebodings of terrible things, troubles and trials seemed to penetrate my whole system. I felt like the air was full of demons and evil spirits which made me feel so miserable I cannot describe it. The nearer we got to our journeys end the worse I felt. When we reached the top of the big mountain we could look down into that chamber and see teams on the Sabboth day going up and down the canyon hauling wood. I was so horrified and inquired who they were. They answered saying that they were Gentiles. Well, we were told in the old country that no Gentiles would come here as it is the Lords chamber where the people of God had a hiding place till his wrath is passed over the nation. About 7 or 8 miles from Salt Lake City we made a noon halt. There came a few heavy set fellows from the valley, one of them offered up a prayer but they did not remove their hats. On inquiring who they were I was informed they were some of the twelve to meet us. Well, I did think very little of them, because they would not remove their hats in time of prayer, while all the rest of us were bareheaded. I also found out that those teamsters on the mountain roads were Mormons, Brighams, and Kimballs and others. Reader, you might think how I felt, coming from Babylon in full confidence to go to the Saints of the Most high and found them such transgressors of the law, which would not have been tolerated in Babylon so called. O my God, my God what shall the end be? O Israel of old has gone astray in spite of the warning of the prophets and here Israel of the Latter Days going astray, yea their prophets and leaders their seducers. As we arrived at the city square, which was dusty as could be and a strong wind blowing, we were in a puzzle, thousands of miles from home and friends, destitute and in a strange country, with little understanding of their language, no advice, no help, no assistance in any way, there you are to root or die.