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Page 10

Sam visits Seminary classes
near church history sites


Coloma, California

Seminary Sam is shown with some of his new friends in Sister Turner's Senior Cordova Early Morning Seminary class in Rancho Cordova, California. Rancho Cordova is near the cities of Sacramento and Coloma, California.

One thing more remains to be mentioned in connection with the Mormon Battalion--the part its discharged members took in the discovery of gold in California. ...a number of the Mormon Battalion members found employment at Sutter's Fort, with Mr. John Sutter himself... his foreman, a Mr. James William Marshall... took in hand the task of building a sawmill. After considerable exploration the requisite combination of water power, timber, and the possibility of easy access to the fort, was found in the Coloma valley... about forty-five miles due east of Sutter's Fort.

In the latter part of August, or the first of September, Mr. Marshall with a party of about a dozen white men, nine of whom were discharged members of the Mormon Battalion, and about as many Indians, went to Coloma valley and began the construction of the proposed mill. A brush dam was built in the river and a mill race constructed along a dry channel, to economize labor. The largest stones were thrown out of this, and during the night the water would be turned in to carry off the dirt and sand.

On the 24th of January "while sauntering along the tail race inspecting the work, Mr. Marshall noticed yellow particles mingled with the excavated earth, which had been washed by late rains." Sending an Indian to his cabin for a tin plate, Marshall washed out some of the soil and obtained a small quantity of yellow metal. During the evening he remarked to his associates of the camp that he believed he had found gold, which was received with some doubts, the expressions being, "I reckon not;" and, "no such luck!"

But Henry W. Bigler, one of the battalion members, made the following entry in his Journal that day:

"Monday 24 [January]: This day some kind of metal was found in the tail race that looks like gold."

B. H. Roberts,
Comprehensive History of the Church
Vol. 3, p. 361-362

The coins shown above are replicas of 1849 $5 and $10 gold coins that were minted in Salt Lake City out of gold brought to Utah by members of the Mormon Battalion.

Seminary Sam is shown standing in an old gold mining car with his friends Laurin and Becky.

Laurin and Sister Turner pose with Seminary Sam in front of the Old Coloma post office.

Sam and two friends are shown climbing the crumbling old jail walls in Coloma. John Marshall's camp was located nearby.

Sam briefly spent some time in "jail" for picking a flower. A visit from Rebekah cheered him up.

Seminary Sam is shot out of an old cannon on his way to visit the next historic buildings in Coloma.

Seminary Sam and friends are shown at the "Mormon Cabin" in Coloma. President Ezra Taft Benson attended the dedication of this cabin. It is a replica of where some returned members of the Mormon Battalion stayed while mining for John Marshall.

The only way historians had of ascertaining the actual date of the discovery of gold in California, which led to the Gold Rush of 1849, was an entry in John Bigler’s journal. Aren’t we fortunate that this member of the Mormon battalion kept a journal!

Seminary Sam and two friends are shown standing on "Mormon Bridge" -- so named to acknowledge the role that the church played in the settlement of this area of California.

MORMON ISLAND is the name given to a small island on the south fork of the American River about half way between Coloma and Sutter’s Fort, in Sacramento County, California.

Andrew Jenson,
Encyclopedic History of the Church, p.537

As Seminary Sam bids farewell to his new friends, he is held for ransom by the "bunny brigade."


San Francisco, California

Seminary Sam traveled to Palo Alto, California to spend time with Sister Allen's Early Morning Seminary class. Sister Allen's class took a 'field trip' to church history sites in San Francisco.

The first Latter-day Saint settlers in California located at Yerba Buena, a port connected with the mission and presidio San Francisco.... By 1845 the mission, founded in 1776, had fewer than one hundred people living in the area. After Elder Sam Brannan and 238 Saints arrived there on the ship Brooklyn on July 31, 1846, Latter-day Saints for a time predominated in Yerba Buena. About twelve families of the Brooklyn Saints founded the first Mormon colony in California, the short-lived agricultural community of New Hope (1846-1848), on the Stanislaus River in central California.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1

Samuel Brannan's chartered ship, the “Brooklyn,” sailed from New York harbor on February 4, 1846 -- which was the same day that Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois began their exodus west.

The Brooklyn Saints were a group of some 220 Mormons residing in the eastern United States who traveled by sea to California. Following Brigham Young's advice to go west, they united under the leadership of Samuel Brannan and made a 17,000-mile voyage from New York City to California. Of the Latter-day Saints going westward in 1846--the Camp of Israel that went to the Great Salt Lake Valley, the Mormon Battalion, and the Mississippi Saints--the Brooklyn Saints alone traveled by sea.

Historical Atlas of Mormonism, p. 78

Believe it or not... This is a picture of the actual location where the Brooklyn landed. It is now about 4 blocks from the water because through the years San Francisco has filled in a lot of the waterfront area to create more land for buildings.

The plaque (shown above) is located near where the Brooklyn docked. It was placed there in 1940 by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, and it states:

Commentating the landing at this point of the ship Brooklyn, July 31, 1848, a 370 ton vessel carrying Mormon colonists and crew of nearly 300 under the leadership of Samuel Brannan.

In the hold was a printing press, 179 books for educational purposes, two complete flour mills, plows, harrows and a supply of implements for settling the new country.

After seeing how beautiful California was, Sam Brannan became convinced that the Saints should leave Utah and settle in California.

In the spring of 1847 Elder Brannan crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains and traveled east by way of Fort Hall as far as Green river, where he met President Brigham Young and the other pioneers, and used every influence in his power with the president to have the Saints settle in California, instead of Salt Lake Valley. Being unable to change the president in his course, Elder Brannan returned to California, disappointed, and then turned his attention to financial matters.

Andrew Jenson,
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 606

It is important to note that when gold was discovered in California in 1848, the Mormons were in a position to acquire a giant's share of the precious metal. Six members of the Church were working with James Marshall when the discovery was made, and they, with some of their companions, discovered other rich deposits, including the fabulous Mormon Island. In addition to the men working with Marshall, over sixty of their Mormon Battalion comrades were employed by John A. Sutter in the immediate vicinity. Nearly one hundred discharged members of the Battalion were working in the San Francisco Bay region and were among the first to reach the gold fields. Sam Brannan, who announced the discovery in San Francisco, advised his Mormon colony, who had come to California on the ship Brooklyn in 1846, to go to the gold areas. More than three hundred Latter-day Saints were at work on Mormon Island by July, 1848, according to William Tecumseh Sherman, who accompanied the governor of California on a tour of the gold fields.

Eugene Edward Campbell,
BYU Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 19

Sister Allen's Seminary class took Seminary Sam to visit another historic church site. President Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the church, died in San Francisco (in the home shown above) in 1898.

In August 1898, President Woodruff was in poor health and went to San Francisco for better weather. He stayed at the home of Colonel Isaac Trumbo at 1533 Sutter Street. On August 27, he addressed the Bohemian Club, and the next day he spoke to the Saints in San Francisco. He passed away in this house on September 2, 1898. His body was taken back to Salt Lake City in a special rail car.

Sister Allen's class found this house accidentally in January 2002 when one of their class members, Alex Jugant, was running the Olympic Torch on its way to Salt Lake City. They went to watch Alex run, and he ran by this historic home. They noticed the plaque while they were waiting to see Alex run past.

Sam is shown posing with Sister Allen's Seminary class in front of the home where President Wilford Woodruff died.

President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement about Sam Brannan:

President Young was inspired to come here [to Utah], and he was inspired to work after he got here, and when Samuel Brannan, who took the ship Brooklyn from New York to San Francisco, loaded with Latter-day Saints, came to this barren country and met with the pioneers, he looked upon the desolation and barrenness, and tried with all the power he had to persuade President Young not to stop here, but to go on to California. I heard President Young give his answer to Samuel Brannan in the following language, striking his cane into the soil: "No, sir; I am going to stop right here. I am going to build a city here. I am going to build a temple here, and I am going to build a country here."

The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff,
p. 322-323

Robbie Pendleton and John Hyde are showing Seminary Sam the plaque that is in the front of the home where President Woodruff died.

The last stop for the day was the Oakland Temple which was dedicated in November 1964. (Sam is very tiny, but he is standing in front of the fountain.)

Some of the Saints who came on the Brooklyn moved to Oakland because it has better weather and flatter land for farming. They started a community there that they called Brooklyn--named for the ship in which they had traveled to California.

There is a large plaque at the Oakland Temple to commemorate the Brooklyn. It lists the names of all the passengers, including "Atlantic" and "Pacific" who were two children born during the journey.


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Copyright 2003, by Kenneth L. Alford. All rights reserved.