Ship Brooklyn Summary

"The Ship Brooklyn Saints - Volume 1"

The Voyage

By Richard H. Bullock

            The writing of Volume 1 tells the tale of the calling of the Eastern Saints of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their gathering in New York City, and sailing from there on 4 February 1846, around Cape Horn, to Yerba Buena (San Francisco) in 1846. The voyage lasted six months, covered 24,000 miles, endured two massive storms, and landed only twice before reaching their destination on 31 July 1846. They experienced a crowded and harsh existence for these six months and buried fourteen of their number on the way. When reaching their destination they began expanding the city of San Francisco, and it has never stopped. They introduced many "firsts" to California and established a thriving farming industry. They participated in the discovery of gold in 1848, along with the Mormon Battalion veterans, and were first in the mines. Many of them felt they needed their faith and religion more, and left the gold fields, traveling to Utah where they pioneered many new cities.
The work is now being made available on the internet along with the biographies.

"The Ship Brooklyn Saints - Volume 2"

The Passenger Biographies

By Richard H. Bullock

            The writing of Volume 2, published only on the internet, commenced over thirteen years ago, at the urging of Lucretia Markham Jones, one of the initiators of the 1996 San Francisco Sesquicentennial celebration of the arrival of the ship Brooklyn in San Francisco on 31 July 1846.
            The author volunteered to help her locate the burial site for the passengers in Utah. As the author and his wife Erma traveled around to the various cemeteries looking up names and finding graves we became more interested in the lives of the individuals. We discovered passenger names that had been unknown in 1996, started doing research at the LDS Family History Library (FHL) and worked with Lu Markham Jones in preparing the first of several donations of records about the ship Brooklyn passengers to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints Archives. Lu and the author felt that the real story of the ship Brooklyn lay within the lives of the individuals themselves, not just the hard journey that they endured.
            Each individual pioneer Saint has a story that is worth searching out and studying, for insights into our own lives of today. The pioneers who crossed the plains by wagon, walking, hand carts, or part of the revered Mormon Battalion, share a common goal with our ship Brooklyn pioneers; they wanted religious freedom from persecution, and they wanted to live their lives in peace to build up the Kingdom of God. This volume tells the individual stories of the Brooklyn pioneers as far as available materials have been located. The task has been no small one. The author traveled thousands of miles, read hundreds of books, visited dozens of libraries and spent thousands of hours at the computer to present the best record of these people. Here is a brief summary of what was discovered about them.
            Seventy men, sixty-eight women and one hundred children began the voyage. They were under the guidance of young Samuel Brannan, only twenty-seven years old, who had been publishing a paper in New York City, and had been called by Brigham Young to lead the journey.
            After reaching Yerba Buena, later named San Francisco, the families sought shelter either in abandoned houses, adobes, tents, or nearby Mission Dolores. They struggled the first few months, as the men were required to cut redwood to fill the ship Brooklyn. This would complete paying for their passage. Nearly every able bodied man from the age of fifteen up to about fifty years of age went to Bodega Bay for a month to cut the necessary consignment of dimensional lumber. During their absence the few remaining men were building houses from adobe and the women struggled to keep the children fed.
            The second major assignment from Samuel Brannan had been to prepare for Brigham Young and the expected migration from the east. To this end he organized the colony at New Hope, near Ripon, California. This became the first farming venture in the San Joaquin valley and it somewhat succeeded, but dissension among the leaders eventually caused it to fail. There were thirty men called to this project.
            When property had been made available for sale in Yerba Buena, forty-seven pieces of land were purchased by the Brooklyn people. All of these properties became prime pieces of land and today would be worth many millions of dollars.
            The Brooklyn Saints disseminated over the years. They were responsible for strengthening pioneer towns and cities all over the west, in conjunction with Brigham Young’s aggressive plans to keep a foothold in the Territory of Deseret.
            The number of towns and cities founded or pioneered by the passengers in all states number at least twenty-four individual locations throughout the West. Of all the two hundred and thirty-eight passengers, one hundred and sixty remained faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of the seventy-eight remaining passengers who dropped off the membership rolls nearly half still believed in the teachings of Joseph Smith but could not tolerate the practice of polygamy. Many of these joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California and were active members. Of the four non-members on the voyage, none of them ever were converted to the LDS faith.
            The author wanted to tell each of their stories and give real meaning to them as individuals. They have reached across time and pulled at his heart to tell their story. The author felt that perhaps no other would take the time and expense to gather the details from all the sources available, or feel the spirits of these people crying from the past, only wanting their due recognition in history told.
            They were immensely brave men and women to have left their homes and families in the East, board a small ship that cramped them into uncomfortable quarters, gave them poor food and water, and sail for an unknown land. They had answered the call of Orson Pratt to leave America, to claim a land for their church in the West where they could worship as they pleased. They were willing to fight the Mexicans for the right to settle and establish The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California. They put their trust in the hands of a very young leader, and he did everything he had been asked, except stake the "Flag of the Prophets" claiming the new land for the Church. He had traveled east to see Brigham Young and find out why the delay in reaching California, only to be disappointed by Brigham’s necessary decision to remain in the Great Basin. Brannan relinquished control over the colony of Brooklyn Saints and they began to spread across California, following their own pursuits. When the Brooklyn Saints received almost no religious direction from Brigham Young over the next few years, many of them became inactive. Several stalwarts, like John M. Horner and George King Winner continued to hold active gatherings, teach the Gospel to their children and others, and try to build up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on their own.
            The sudden influx of thousands of gold seekers, with the accompanying wild lifestyles, in their midst caused their efforts to shrink even more. Why did Brigham not send them teachers and guidance when they so desperately needed his counsel? All Brigham could handle was based in Deseret Territory, but he needed the gold that California had in abundance to help him build his dream in the Great Basin. When he finally wrote Brannan asking for a large donation, no wonder Brannan refused. After all, where had Brigham been when Brannan needed his help in 1849 and 1850? Now Brannan’s flock of pioneers were scattered, and they lost respect for Brannan because of his lifestyle choices. This negative reaction to Samuel Brannan and his subsequent excommunication reflected on all the Brooklyn Saints, in spite of their righteousness and devotion. A judgement that has carried over the last hundred and sixty years even until today.
            The Brooklyn Saints have been mostly overlooked as strong pioneers who contributed to the growth of the Church, that helped start modern California on its path, as pioneers that gave willingly of their gold when the Church had been nearly bankrupt, who also donated thousands of dollars to send missionaries throughout the Pacific. Instead we remember the sad lesson of Samuel Brannan, and the shame and loss of his wealth that befell him. This shadow seems to lie there still. The effort in writing Volume 2 has been an attempt to lift that shadow and show the Brooklyn people for who they really are; strong pioneers that loved the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and gave their lives to the furtherance of its growth wherever they were called to serve.
            The author has written these individual histories based on available materials. If you notice an error please contact the author with backup data and the error will be corrected.
Website supported by independent historians Richard and Erma Bullock,
President of the Utah Chapter of the Ship Brooklyn Association.
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