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ABOUT the time of the exodus from Nauvoo, overland, a colony left New York by water, in charge of Elder Samuel Brannan, who afterward became so well known and figured so conspicuously in the history of California.
Quite a clear understanding of this movement can be obtained from documents published before their departure, in the New York Messenger, a paper published in New York, in the interest of the church, by Elder Brannan, and copied into the Times and Seasons. Orson Pratt, who then presided over the Eastern States, wrote a farewell address, November 8,1845, in which this voyage is authorized and recommended. (See Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1042-44.)
A conference was held in American Hall, New York, on November 12, 1845, at which a series of preambles and resolutions were offered by Elder Samuel Brannan, and adopted by unanimous vote. The following extract will show the resolutions and business so far as they refer to this voyage:-
"Resolved, that the church in this city move, one and all, west of the Rocky Mountains, between this and next season, either by land or water; and that we most earnestly pray all our brethren in the eastern country to join with us in this determination, and carry it out effectually, to the delivery of the people of God from the daughters of Babylon, and not one left behind.
"Resolved, that there are no apologies required of those who do not go, but old age, sickness, infirmities, and
poverty; 'For he that will not forsake father and mother, houses and lands, wives and children, for me and my name's sake, is not worthy of me.'
"Elder Brannan laid before the congregation his instructions from the authorities of the church directing him to go by water, and called upon all who wanted to accompany him to come forward at the close of the meeting and put down their names. The conference was then dismissed by a benediction from the president.
"ORSON PRATT, President.
"G. T NEWELL, Secretary."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1037.
Arrangements were all perfected and the "ship Brooklyn" chartered to make the voyage. The names of the company as given in the Messenger and copied into the Times and Seasons were as follows:-
"A list of the company going by water.
"The following are the names of those we have selected, who have means sufficient to pay their expenses by water. We shall secure their passage on the ship, and expect them to be in the city and all prepared to sail at the time appointed, without fail. On their failure, they will involve us in debt and difficulty.
"William C. Reamer and family, John Phillips, William Stout and family, Stephen H. Pierce, John Joice and family, John Hairbaird and family, Mary Murry, Daniel P. Baldwin, William Atherton and family, Susan A. Searls, Eliza Savage, Simeon Stanley and family, Darwin Richardson and family, Moses Meeder and family, J. M. Farnsworth and the names he has signed, Jonas Cook, Isaac Leigh and family, Manena Cannon and family, Thomas Tompkins and family, Henry Roulam, William Flint and family, Joseph Nichols and family, Newel Bullen and family, Ambrose T. Moses and family, Julius Austin and family, Isaac Adison and family, Silas Eldridge and family, Barton Morey and family, Isaac R. Robbins and family, John R. Robbins and family, James Embly and family, Jacob Hayes, Charles Russel and family, Alandus D. Ruckland and family, William Glover and family, Robert Smith and family, John Eagar, Samuel Smith,
Isabella Jones, James Light and family, Mary Hamond, Earl Marshall and family, Peter Pool and family, James Smith and family, Joseph France and family, John J. Sirrine and family, George W. Sirrine, S. Brannan and family.
"There are some names that we have not published, as they from their own statement fell short in their subscription; but if they see their way clear, they can come on and go with us. And there will be still an opportunity for those who have not sent in their names; let them write and come on, and they will be provided for. If we have neglected any names it must make no difference; come on and all will be made right."-Volume 6, pp. 1113,1114.
The ship Brooklyn sailed from New York with this company on Wednesday, February 4, 1846.
The following is the account given by Mrs. Crocheron, one of the company, as quoted by Andrew Jensen in the Historical Record, volume 8, pages 874-876:-
"The day on which we embarked was rainy, cold, and gloomy. Upon the wharf lingered friends, sorrowful in the hour of parting; strangers, cynical and curious, wondering and half pitying, looked upon the old emigrant ship, having their own thoughts of this strange venture upon along and perilous voyage, to an almost unknown country. . . .
"There were two gentlemen on board, traveling for pleasure, neither of whom were Mormons. . . . As for the pleasure of the trip, we met disappointment, for we once long lay becalmed in the tropics, and at another time we were 'hatched below' during a terrific storm. Women and children were at night lashed to their berths, for in no other way could they keep in. Furniture rolled back and forth endangering limb and life. The waves swept the deck and even reached the staterooms. A passenger relates that their only light was from two lamps hung outside in the hall, and these were dim and wavering from the movements of the vessel. Children's voices crying in the darkness, mothers' voices soothing or scolding, men's voices rising above the others, all mingled with the distressing groans
and cries of the sick for help, and, above all, the roaring of the wind and howling of the tempest made a scene and feeling indescribable.
"The effect and feeling at such times were so wretched that with some of us the certainty of death would not have roused us to an effort to save life in our own behalf. And yet even there amid such scenes a few were cheerful and sought to comfort others, and those never for a moment lost belief that they would reach their journey's end. Upon one occasion, during a dreadful storm, the good old captain came down with grave countenance. The passengers gathered around him to catch his words amid the confusion of the scene. He said: 'My friends, there is a time in every man's life when it is fitting that he should prepare to die. That time has come to us, and unless God interposes, we shall all go to the bottom; I have done all in my power, but this is the worst gale I have known since I was master of a ship.' One woman, full of confidence and zeal, answered him: 'Captain Richardson, we left for California and we shall get there.' Another looked with a calm smile on her face and said: 'Captain, I have no more fear than though we were on the solid land.' The captain gazed upon them in mute surprise and left them. As he went upstairs he exclaimed, 'These people have a faith that I have not,' and added to a gentleman, 'They are either fools and fear nothing, or they know more than I do.'
"That storm passed away; and we encountered another off Cape Horn, in which one of the sailors was washed overboard. It was also during a storm that Mrs. Laura Goodwin was descending a stairway when she was thrown heavily forward, which caused premature confinement and death to ensue.
"In longitude 77 degrees west and latitude 38 degrees south we sighted the famous Island of Juan Fernandez. The memory of the place will never fade from our minds. . . As we approached, being yet a great distance away, the island looked like a mass of immensely high rocks covered with moss; which moss, on nearer scrutiny, turned out to be heavy forests covering lofty peaks. The latter were half
buried in masses of cloud, and were now visible, now invisible, as the fickle air current disturbed the cumuli which yet in shifting forms continued to hang about the mountain tops. The little harbor . . . faces the east, and is in the form of a half-moon or horse shoe. In coming towards it, but still some miles away, a row of regular apertures became visible in the face of a cliff at right angles to the line of our approach. They looked so like a battery, that one had to pause for a moment and reflect how unsuitable their real if not apparent size must be as embrasures for guns. In point of fact, these holes were the entrances of caverns or chambers in the rocks, in which, as we were assured, the Chilian government formerly imprisoned convicts. The stone is soft and porous, and the felons, for whom the island was a sort of Botany Bay, were employed in gangs at enlarging the subterranean spaces which nature had originally formed.
"At Juan Fernandez we went ashore to bury Mrs. Goodwin. Although the occasion was so sorrowful, the presence of the six little children sobbing in their uncontrollable grief and the father in his loneliness trying to comfort them, still, such was our weariness of the voyage that the sight of and tread upon terra firma once more was such a relief from the ship life that we gratefully realized and enjoyed it. The passengers bathed and washed their clothing in the fresh water, gathered fruit and potatoes, caught fish, some eels, great spotted creatures that looked so much like snakes that some members of the company could not eat them when cooked. We rambled about the island, visited the caves, one of which was pointed out to us as the veritable 'Robinson Crusoe's' cave, and it was my good fortune to take a sound nap there one pleasant afternoon. . . .
"Many mementoes [mementos] and souvenirs were gathered, and after strewing our dead sister's grave anew with parting tokens of love, regret, and remembrance, we departed from the island, bearing away a serene though shaded picture of our brief sojourn. . . .
"The children! How they did gnaw away on poor bread and fat pieces of boiled salt pork! At first there was a sad waste of provisions and the sharks soon followed the ship
for the food thrown overboard. One very daring young man used to take a curious kind of pleasure in lowering himself over the deck down to where he would be barely out of their reach, as an aggravating temptation to them. Evidently he did not share the nervous apprehensions of his wife, nor the superstitions entertained by the sailors. After we reached the Sandwich Islands he practiced the same feat at the almost extinct volcano, and narrowly escaped suffocation.
"The drinking water grew thick and ropy with slime, so that it had to be strained between the teeth, and the taste was dreadful. One pint a day was the allowance to each person to carry to his stateroom. . . .
"Still worse grew the condition of the ship as the journey lengthened. Rats abounded in the vessel; cockroaches and smaller vermin infested the provisions, until eternal vigilance was the price imposed upon every mouthful. It was not strange that sickness and discontent prevailed.
"During the voyage a contract was drawn and signed by the company, covenanting to give the proceeds of their labors for the next three years into a common fund from which all were to draw their living, as a limited communism was contemplated to be put into operation for convenience and protection. Some months afterwards a number of the signers 'backed out,' others faithfully keeping their promise through adversity and prosperity. . . .
"July 31, 1846, we passed the 'Golden Gate.' The day opened not with a glorious sunshine to us, for a fog hovered over the harbor of Yerba Buena, and a mist like a winter's robe hung all around, hiding from our eager eyes the few objects that were made weird and enigmatical in the nearness of the firm and solid ground, where we expected that soon willing labor would begin, homes be erected, fields cultivated, and peace and safety spread over us their wings of protection. . . .
"As we gazed through the misty walls we perceived dimly some familiar shapes looming up-sloops, whalers, ships of war, and waving from their masts as well as from the barracks the well known and glorious flag of our country.
"A boom, and its echo filled the air; it was a salute from the cannon of the fort, ordered by the United States commander. The 'Brooklyn' responded, and all hearts felt more cheerful and secure. Look! in the dim distance a dark body gliding on the water towards us, while the familiar strokes of the oars brought it swiftly and steadily to our ship's side. It was a sturdy rowboat, that seemed a familiar friend. In a few moments uniformed men trod the deck; we knew they were friends-Americans, not Mexicans. In our sweet native tongue the officer in command, with head uncovered, courteously and confidentially said in a loud tone: 'Ladies and gentlemen, I have the honor to inform you that you are in the United States of America.' Three hearty cheers were given in reply from faint and weary lips, but rising from hearts strong, brave, hopeful, and loyal still.
"They crowded upon the deck, women and children, questioning husbands and fathers, and studied the picture before them-they would never see it just the same again- as the foggy curtains furled towards the azure ceiling. How it imprinted itself upon their minds! A long, sandy beach strewn with hides and skeletons of slaughtered cattle, a few scrubby oaks, farther back low sandhills rising behind each other as a background to a few old shanties that leaned away from the wind, an old adobe barracks, a few donkeys plodding dejectedly along beneath towering bundles of wood, a few loungers stretched lazily upon the beach as though nothing could astonish them; and between the picture and the emigrants still loomed up here and there, at the first sight more distinctly, the black vessels,-whaling ships and sloops of war,-that was all, and that was Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, the landing place for the pilgrims of faith.
"Soon came the order for unloading, and all was activity, all being glad to stand once more on solid ground. A few tents were erected, and these were soon filled. Into the old barracks sixteen families were crowded, their apartments being divided by quilts, or other accommodating partitions. The cooking was to be done out of doors. The orders were passed around that all must stay within certain limits; the war with Mexico was virtually ended, but the vindictive
enemy lurked ever near, ready to wreak vengeance upon the unwary.
"With hearty good will, trying to make the best of everything, the new colony, carried and landed safely by the old ship 'Brooklyn' from New York, began life and spread its influence, habits of industry and adornment of homes around them."
The year of landing, the colony began a settlement on the north bank of the Stanislaus River near its junction with the San Joaquin, which they called New Hope. Here they put in crops and prepared for the body of saints who were enroute overland, whom they evidently expected to come on to California. This is also evident from a letter written by Elder Brannan, January 1, 1847 from which we make the following extract:-
"Beloved Brethren.-Feeling sensible of the anxiety of your minds to become acquainted with the state of affairs in this country, induces me, at this late hour, to communicate to you this short and feeble epistle. Our passage from New York to this place was made in six months; since our arrival, the colony generally has enjoyed good health. In relation to the country and climate, we have not been disappointed in our expectations; but, like all other new countries, we found the accounts of it very much exaggerated; so much so, that we would recommend to all emigrants hereafter to provide themselves with thick clothing, instead of thin. There has been no arrival in the country this fall, from those coming by land; but we are anxiously waiting for them next season. They will in all probability winter on the head waters of the Platte, where they can subsist upon buffalo meat. We are now all busily engaged in putting in crops for them to subsist upon when they arrive: I said all, but I should have said all that love the brethren, for, about twenty males of our feeble number have gone astray after strange gods, serving their bellies and their own lusts, and refuse to assist in providing for the reception of their brethren by land. They will have their reward.
"We have commenced a settlement on the river San Joaquin, a large and beautiful stream emptying into the Bay
of San Francisco; but the families of the company are wintering in this place, where they find plenty of employment, and houses to live in; and about twenty of our number are up at the new settlement, which we call New Hope, plowing and putting in wheat and other crops, and making preparations to move their families up in the spring, where they hope to meet the main body by land sometime during the coming season.
"Since our departure from New York we have enjoyed the peculiar care of our heavenly Father; everything in a most miraculous manner has worked together for our good, and we find ourselves happily situated in our new homes surrounded with peace and prosperity. The Spaniards or natives of the country are kind and hospitable; but previous to our arrival they felt very much terrified from the reports that had been circulated among them by those who had emigrated from Missouri, which have proven to be false, and they have become our warmest friends.
"Governor Boggs is in this country, but without influence even among his own people that he emigrated with. And during an interview I had with him a few days since, he expressed much dissatisfaction with the country, and spoke strongly of returning back in the spring. He says nothing about the Mormons, whether through fear or policy I am not able to say. As soon as the snow is off the mountains we shall send a couple of men to meet the emigration by land, or perhaps go myself. The feelings among the foreigners in the country are very friendly, and I have found, even among the emigration from Missouri, some of the warmest friends. We shall commence publishing a paper next week, which will be the government organ by the sanction of Colonel Fremont, who is now our Governor, and is at the present time on a campaign to Lower California to subdue the Spaniards, who have lately taken up arms. We arrived here about three weeks after the United States flag was hoisted, and the country taken possession of by the Americans, which exempted us from paying a heavy bill of duties, which would have amounted to about twenty thousand dollars. Captain Montgomery, of the sloop of war
Portsmouth, at that time held the command over this district, and to whose gentlemanly attention we were under many obligations. . . .
"Provisions in the country are very high, owing to the arrival of so many emigrants, and provisioning the army and navy; and without doubt will be very scarce next season, from the unsettled state of affairs in the country, politically, which has a very bad influence upon the agriculturist. Good mechanics are very much needed in the country, and in great demand. None need go idle for the want of employment, and being well paid. Merchandise and groceries demand a heavy price, and emigrants coming to the country should come well supplied, which can be done only by coming by water. Wheat is now selling for one dollar per bushel, and flour for twelve dollars per hundred, owing to the scarcity of mills.
"We have received no intelligence from our brethren at the Society Islands, and conclude that they have not yet learned of the warfare and pilgrimage of the saints, or they would be wending their way to California. We are every day anxiously looking for the arrival of another ship load of emigrants. Two have been reported here to have sailed; one from New York and the other from Boston.
"We will now bring our epistle to a close by a few words of kindly advice to those wishing to emigrate to this El Dorado of the West, and that is, by all means to come by water in preference to land, the advantage you will appreciate for years to come.
"Yours truly, in the bonds of the everlasting covenant,
"S. BRANNAN, President."
-Millennial Star, vol. 9, pp. 306, 307.
The spring of 1847 Brannan set out to meet the company coming by land and to escort them to the new "El Dorado."
On June 18, 1847, he wrote a letter, from which the following is an extract, which reveals his purpose and intentions:-
"FORT HALL" June 18, 1847.
"Brother Newell.-Once more I take my pen to drop a few lines and let you know of my whereabouts. I left Captain
Sutter's post, in California, on the 26th of April last, and arrived here on the 9th inst. I am on my way to meet our emigration; I am now one thousand miles on my road, and I think I shall meet them in a couple of weeks. I shall start on my journey again in the morning with two of my men and part of my animals, and leave one man here and the rest of the horses to recruit until I return, and then it is my intention to reach California in twenty days from this post.
"We crossed the snowy mountains of California, a distance of forty miles, with eleven head of horses and mules, in one day and two hours, a thing that has never been done before in less than three days. We traveled on foot and drove our animals before us, the snow from twenty to one hundred feet deep. When we arrived through [though] not one of us could scarcely stand on our feet. The people of California told us we could not cross them under two months, there being more snow on the mountains than had ever been known before; but God knows best, and was kind enough to prepare the way before us. About a week before we entered the mountains it was extremely warm, which made the snow settle and work together, then it turned cool and there fell about eighteen inches more of light snow, which kept the old snow from melting during the heat of the day, and made the traveling for our horses much better; we were enabled to get along much faster. During our journey we have endured many hardships and fatigues in swimming rivers, and climbing mountains, not being able to travel the regular route owing to the high waters.
"Had I time and paper I might give you quite an interesting account of the country and our travels throughout. We passed the cabins of those people that perished in the mountains, which by this time you have heard of. It was a heartrending picture, and what is still worse it was the fruit of their idleness, covetousness, ugliness, and lowmindedness, that brought them to such a fate. Men must reap the fruit of their folly and own labors. Some of the particulars you will find published in the Star."-Millennial Star, vol. 9, p. 305.
On June 30, 1847, Elder Brannan met the "Pioneers" at the crossing on Green River in what is now Wyoming, and accompanied them to Salt Lake Valley.
When Brigham Young and his associates resolved to stop in the valley, Elder Brannan was dissatisfied, and soon after started back to California. On the way, on September 6, 1847, he met a detachment of what was known as the "Mormon Battalion." 1 Daniel Tyler, one of the battalion, reports the meeting and Elder Brannan's views as follows:-
"We learned from him that the Pioneers had reached Salt Lake Valley in safety, but his description of the valley and its facilities was anything but encouraging. Among other things, Brother Brannan said the saints could not possibly subsist in the Great Salt Lake Valley,
1The Mormon Battalion was a battalion furnished by the Mormons for the Mexican War. On June 30, 1846, Captain James Allen, of the United States army, arrived at the camp near Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the purpose of enlisting five hundred men for the war. It has been claimed by the Mormons that the President of the United States through Captain Allen made a demand for this battalion. It is claimed by others that Brigham Young secretly negotiated with the administration and offered to furnish these men for the purpose of procuring bounty money and salaries which he drew and appropriated, leaving some of the families of the soldiers to suffer. Jesse C. Little, who was instrumental in raising the battalion, wrote to Joseph Smith, of Lamoni, Iowa, from Littleton, Morgan County, Utah, under date of September 10 1892 as follows:-
"They were marched to Fort Leavenworth, where they were fully mustered into the service of the United States to operate with the army of the United States, against Mexico, and were paid, my journal says, between twenty-one and twenty-two thousand dollars, much of which was taken back to Brigham Young and the Twelve, by Apostle P. P. Pratt."
As an incident it might be well to mention that Jesse C. Little was in Washington City, District of Columbia, June 1, 1846, as a copy of letter by him to President Polk, now in our possession shows.
The Annals of Iowa for January, 1900, has the following:-
"While the Mormons were crossing the Territory, Capt. James Allen, of the First Dragoons, was sent by the government to enlist a battalion from them. He appeared at Mt. Pisgah, a Mormon station, in June, 1846. From there he went to the site of the present city of Council Bluffs. Having conferred with the Mormon leaders, he not only secured their consent to the enlistment, but obtained even a warning from Brigham Young to the saints, that if they desired to worship God as they pleased, they must furnish a battalion for the war.
"Five hundred men were speedily enrolled, and July 20, they left the Missouri River for Fort Leavenworth. This Mormon battalion did good work in the war."-Page 314.
Be this as it may, the required number of men was soon enlisted and mustered into service.
as, according to the testimony of mountaineers, it froze there every month in the year, and the ground was too dry to sprout seeds without irrigation, and if irrigated with the cold mountain streams, the seeds planted would be chilled and prevented from growing, or, if they did grow, they would be sickly and fail to mature. He considered it no place for an agricultural people, and expressed his confidence that the saints would emigrate to California the next spring. On being asked if he had given his views to President Brigham Young, he answered that he had. On further inquiry as to how his views were received, he said, in substance, that the President laughed and made some rather insignificant remarks; 'but,' said Brannan, 'when he has fairly tried it, he will find that I was right and he was wrong, and will come to California.'"-Historical Record, vol. 8, p. 930.
On July 20 four companies marched from the Mormon camp for Fort Leavenworth, the fifth company following on the 22d where they all arrived on August 1. Captain (then Colonel) James Allen died at Fort Leavenworth. The command then devolved upon Captain Jefferson Hunt, and later upon Lieut. A. J. Smith. At Santa Fe, where they arrived early in October, Capt. P. St. George Cooke assumed command by order of General Kearney.
Here the battalion was divided; ninety of the sick, under command of Capt. James Brown, were sent to Pueblo, on the Arkansas River, and the remainder marched for California. Later another detachment of fifty-five sick started for Pueblo under Lieutenant W. W. Willis. The remainder of the battalion arrived, after much suffering and distress, at San Luis Rey Mission, California, on January 27, 1847, and on the 29th at San Diego; thence they were ordered back to San Luis Rey, and later to Pueblo de los Angeles, where they arrived March 23, 1847. After active service in Southern California they were honorably discharged, at Los Angeles, July l6, 1847.
Eighty-one of them reenlisted in the regular army. Others started east; some of them sought employment in California, others pressed on to meet the main body of emigrants, meeting Elder Brannan, as related above, on the Truckee River. Elder Brannan brought word from Elder Brigham Young for those who did not have means to sustain themselves to seek employment in California, hence about half of this company turned back with Mr. Brannan. Those who continued eastward arrived at Salt Lake, October 16, 1847. Thirty-two of these not finding their families in the valley continued their journey to Winter Quarters, where they arrived December 18.
Those who returned to California were employed by Capt. John A. Sutter to dig mill races and erect mills near where the city of Sacramento is now located. It was while engaged in this work they discovered gold. The search for gold was continued by them and others resulting in the great excitement of 1849. That portion of the battalion wintering at Pueblo arrived in Salt Lake City, July 29, 1846.
Elder Brannan's estimate of the country, as well as his report of its reputation, was quite different from Elder Heber C. Kimball's, who accompanied the Pioneers to Salt Lake Valley, and after his return wrote a letter to "Emma Smith" [widow of the Prophet], "and Brother Joseph, her son," from "Winter Quarters, Camp of Israel, Omaha Nation, January 10, 1848," in which he writes of the country as follows:-
"The valley appears well calculated for raising and sustaining a vast amount of stock. The grass is rich, heavy on the ground, and well mixed with rushes; cattle appear to be exceedingly fond of it, and according to the universal testimony of mountaineers, the valley is one of the best kind of places to winter cattle; the weather being moderate, and snow never more than seven inches deep. On the sides of creeks grass grows to an amazing height. One place we noticed where it was twenty-five feet high.
"We found the common bulrush fifteen feet high and one and one half inch in diameter at the base. The soil is of a light loose nature, of a rich black kind in the neighborhood of the outlet, but as you ascend nearer the mountains, more inclined to be sandy. The general feeling of farmers was, that it will yield heavy crops of wheat, and no doubt is entertained as to producing corn, as the experiment has been made in the neighborhood. It is generally supposed that there is not sufficient rain for farming purposes, but while we were there we had a refreshing shower every few days. However this may be, the lack is easily remedied by the process of irrigation, which in that place will require very little labor."
Upon learning that their brethren had decided to locate in Salt Lake Valley, the California colony abandoned their settlement of New Hope and scattered, following agriculture and other pursuits. When the gold excitement of 1849 came some of them engaged in the mining business. Some finally found their way to Utah, some have united with the Reorganization, while some apostatized.
Elder Brannan became estranged from the church, and after making and losing several immense fortunes, died at Escondido, California, May 5, 1889. We visited him on his deathbed, but too late for a satisfactory interview.
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