I was born in the city of Bern, Switzerland, in 1836 about June 20th. Marie Muller died when I was three and my father, Samuel Muller, who was a baker by trade, died when I was seven. I lived with an older sister until I could earn my living, which was at a rather early age.
When about 16 years old I worked for a French speaking couple who forced me to learn French by speaking only that language to me. The man was a watchmaker in the city of Bern. He had many other men working for him, making watches and parts of watches. It was my duty to carry them from place to place. They put the watches in cartons of about a dozen, and I would take an arm load of these cartons and deliver them to the workmen whose names were written on the boxes. At first I had some trouble tramping over the cobblestone streets and finding these men, as they were in buildings four and five stories high. The boss would only tell me to go on up more stairs until I came to the right place. This man was a very good watchmaker, and always had a sale for his watches. He had the whole top of a big counter full of them, and they would run together to a minute.
I would make deliveries to the exporter, and when he gave me the money it would be in silver. I could hardly carry the money received for an armful of watches. Had it been generally known that I was carrying so much money, I would have been robbed. After returning with the money I would distribute it to the workmen. They would usually give me a tip. The boss was always interested in, and tickled over the amount of tips that I received. They were about all the wages that I did get. After I worked at this place for a year I spoke French very well, and liked the language even better than German.
I worked many places for my board, which was often very poor at the best. Young girls had to work hard those days. I have had to do such things as wash cabbage at the fountain in the freezing weather of winter time. Such things caused me to long to go to America.
Two young couples in the neighborhood were going to America with the Mormons, and they persuaded me to go with them. As I had no money, some men loaned me the transportation until I reached my destination in Salt Lake. I told my husband before we were married that I owed this debt. He said, “Oh that doesn’t matter,” and went straight and paid it.”
“Our company went on train and boat to Liverpool, where we embarked for the journey across the Atlantic. We crossed the ocean on a German sail boat, the “Thomsgott”. It was so stormy that it would spill all of the water out of the pots that we were trying to cook with in the kitchen. I constantly thought that we were going down, and I said that if I ever got out of that ship alive, I would never go on the ocean again, and I never did.
It took six weeks to cross the Atlantic in this little sail boat, and we were most of the time being churned about by the stormy seas. We landed at Castle Gardens, New York City, where we transferred to a train. The rail journey was long and tedious. The track was rough and the train bounced and bucked along quite differently from the modern trains. Omaha was the end of the railroad, and from here the trip was by wagon.
At Omaha we bought wagons and cattle and outfitted for the trip across the plains. A few had no money at all, and the rest bought push carts and provisions. Six or eight of these were fitted up and started out about two weeks ahead of the wagons. Thus they started the long journey through the wild lands and pulling by hand all of their provisions and camp equipment in a light, high two-wheeled cart. They kept us informed as to what was happening to them by writing on the rocks and cliffs where we could see it as we came along.
I had no money, but another girl and I agreed to bake the bread for the wagon train for the privilege of walking along with them. We usually were obliged to gather buffalo chips in our aprons, for fuel for our fire in the treeless regions. Each night we would cook until about 11 o’clock to make bread enough to last the next day. We used a Dutch oven to bake in.
We were constantly afraid of Indians. One time we saw a big band of Indians high on a hill above us. We had heard of Indians stealing young girls. Six of us girls were ahead of the train when we saw them. We immediately stopped until the rest caught up. Later the Indians came into camp one night and ate up our provisions and took what they wanted. We could not talk to them, and were too scared to resist. They followed along the next day. An air of anxiety was over us all day. That night we stole away while they were asleep.
In traveling, the girls had to help, and it was not uncommon for them to lead the oxen around by the horns. Of course the oxen were very gentle, and tired from their hard work. Grass was scarce and the oxen were compelled to go without enough to eat. One by one they died, and at last it became necessary for us to reduce our loads. Boxes of clothing were thrown away. Dishes and stoves were buried with the idea that later some one would return for them. The ground was hard, and some times the supplies could not be completely covered. However, no one ever came back to look for anything after we once reached Salt Lake.
Days when one felt ill, the wagon train could not stop. Impure water some times caused dysentery. Alkali water led to similar disturbances. Afflicted people, with a sense of modesty, trailed behind the train. Some of my friends lay in shallow graves, because they were too sick to t\walk behind the train.
Before we reached our destination it was late in the year, and we encountered snow storms. The three pairs of heavy shoes that I had on the start of the trek were worn out and I was bare foot. With the exception of some flour, our food was all gone. All we had to eat was bread made by mixing flour and water. This “hardtack” was so hard that we had to boil it in water to eat it. As we neared Salt Lake we came to some farm houses where we bought some milk. Were we glad! These people asked me to stay with them, but I did not want to leave my friends who were with the train.
When we reached Salt Lake I had no place to go. However I met a Swiss-speaking lady who was there to be married in the Temple to a man named Nail, who lived at Levi, Utah. They offered to take me home with them. I asked if they had enough for me to eat. They laughed and assured me they did. I went with them in their covered wagon. The man had two other wives on a farm across the river. These folks liked me and told me to help myself to anything that I wanted out of their big store that they owned. However, I did not feel like doing this. They asked me to go with them to a dance, but I told them that I could not because I had no shoes. They fitted me up with a good pair from the store, and I went. I danced well and they always insisted that I go with them. (Afterward, when living at Santa Clara, Aunt Ann waltzed with a full glass of water balanced on her head, without spilling it, for the amusement of her friends.) One time they had ladies’ choice, and I danced with a stranger, rather than with Mr. Nail. When questioned about it, I said that I thought he had enough women. It soon developed that he wanted to marry me, and I left for Salt Lake.
Here I met Grandma Hug (Rachel) who had room for me to stay with her. Her son Henry, who lived next door, was recovering from Mountain Fever. Grandma Hug took a liking for me, and bragged to her son what a nice girl I was. The outcome was we were later married.