The first pioneers crossed the Mississippi River on February 4, 1846, to journey through the Great Plains and obtain religious freedom. On the same day, 238 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embarked on a journey around Cape Horn to California on the trading ship Brooklyn. Their motive was to join the Saints in the West.
The Brooklyn, a small, 450-ton, 125-foot long, three-masted, full-rigged Yankee trading ship, was captained by Abel Richardson. The ship had been fitted with sleeping bunks, a long table, and backless benches for the living quarters for the families who did not have the funds to go overland to the West. Under the direction of Church president Brigham Young, Samuel Brannan chartered the vessel and led the group, which included one hundred children and a few nonmembers. In the hold were animals, tools, a printing press, sawmill and gristmill provisions, and freight that was destined for Hawaii.
The passengers lived in cramped quarters with low ceilings where only the children could stand upright. They followed rules, regulations, and routines to keep the voyage peaceful. To avoid boredom, many read from the 179 volumes of the Harper’s Family Library that had been donated by the New York attorney Joshua M. Cott.
The 24,000-mile sea voyage was difficult for a ship of that size, and most everyone suffered from seasickness. Only four days out from the New York port, they were blasted with a storm that was so severe the captain told the passengers to prepare for death. Although they had lashed themselves to their berths, they prayed and sang hymns to block out the noise of the storm. Storms in the Atlantic blew them almost to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, but soon the captain was able to use the easterly trade winds to move them back on course. Storms continued to batter them around the Horn. Scurvy was prevalent, and the fresh water supply dwindled, as they made their way toward Valparaiso, Chile, where they would obtain more provisions. After they passed over the equator, the ship was motionless for about four days, with no breeze to push them forward or to relieve the heat of the Tropics.
When the ship reached the Cape, they had to lower men over the sides to chip ice off the ship because of the weight and hindrance to mobility. Mostly the ship sailed around the Cape without much difficulty, but before they reached Chile, gale winds blew them back almost to the Antarctic waters of the Cape. The captain headed for the Juan Fernández Islands. By the time they stopped there, ten passengers had died and been given a watery grave. During the last storm, a pregnant mother of seven children had been thrown down a hatchway and died of her injuries; she was buried on the island.
During five days' rest on the Juan Fernández Islands, passengers bathed, did laundry, obtained fresh fruit and potatoes, caught and salted fish, put 18,000 gallons of fresh water into the ship’s casks, and stocked up on firewood, most of it at no added cost to their journey. (They would have paid hundreds of dollars for supplies in Valparaiso.) The ship then sailed for Hawaii where they stocked up on more provisions. On July 31, 1846, the ship reached its destination of Yerba Buena (later named San Francisco). Passengers learned that the United States had taken California in a war with Mexico just three weeks previous.
The passengers were greeted by American settlers, Native Americans, and Spanish families. Their number doubled the size of the town. They pitched tents near what is now Washington and Montgomery Streets. Sixteen families found shelter in a small adobe house on Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue in the heart of Chinatown) and others in Mission Dolores, which was deserted at that time. Brannon sent about 20 of them to start a farm settlement, which they called New Hope. Here they waited for word of where the pioneer Saints had settled, so they could journey again to join them.
In December 1846, members of the Mormon Battalion joined them. By the end of the year, most of the American settlers in California were members of the Church.
In the year the seagoing pioneers waited, many had come to enjoy the climate and opportunities in California, so they decided to stay there. Brannan and two others journeyed to meet Brigham Young and the advance group of pioneers near Green River, Wyoming, and tried to persuade Young to bring the Saints to coastal California. Brannan traveled with the group to the Salt Lake Valley and taught them how to make adobe bricks. But he failed to convince Brigham Young, so he left the first part of August to return to California. Eventually one one-third of the Brooklyn pioneers moved on to join the body of the Saints in Salt Lake. Two of the families had disembarked in the Sandwich Islands due to sick children. Two babies were born on the ship.
- The historic contributions of the Brooklyn Saints are considerable: as far as is known they were the ‘first colony of home-seekers with women and children to sail around Cape Horn, the first group of Anglo settlers to come to California by water, and the first group of colonists to arrive after United States forces took California.’ Their contributions to the San Francisco Bay area are numerous, including the first public school, the first bank, the first newspaper, the first post office, the first wheat grown, and the first library. Theirs is yet another example of the indomitable pioneer spirit found among Latter-day Saint pioneers, whether on the overland trail or on the sea.
In July 2018, the history of the passengers of the Brooklyn was celebrated with a new musical that was performed in the Oakland Temple Hill Auditorium. The musical and pioneer exhibits, children’s crafts, and games drew a crowd of more than 4,000 people.
Passengers of the Brooklyn
Addison, Isaac (36) · Addison, Eliza (33, wife of Isaac Addison) · Addison, (daughter of Eliza and Isaac) · Aldrich, Silas (43, died at sea) · Aldrich, Prudence Clark (43, wife) · Aldrich, Nancy Laura (17) · Aldrich, Jason · Atherton, William (32) · Atherton, Emily (27, wife of William) · Austin, Julius Augustus Caesar (36) · Austin, Octavia Ann Lane (32, wife of Julius) · Austin, Louise Maria (7, daughter of Julius and Octavia) · Austin, Edwin Nelson (5, son of Julius and Octavia) · Austin, Newton Francis (2, son of Julius and Octavia) · Brannan, Samuel (27) · Brannan, Anna Elizabeth Corwin (24, wife of Samuel) · Brannan, Samuel L. (2 mo., son of Samuel and Anna) · Bird, Elizabeth Wallace See STARK · Buckland, Hannah Daggett (43, mother of Alondus) · Buckland, Alondus de Lafayette (20) · Bullen, Newell (37) · Bullen, Clarissa Judkins Atkinson (35, wife of Newell) · Bullen, Francis Andrew (8, son of Newell and Clarissa) · Bullen, Herschel (6, son of Newell and Clarissa) · Bullen, Cincinnatus (3, son of Newell and Clarissa) · Burr, Nathan (58) · Burr, Chloe Clark (50, wife of Nathan) · Burr, Amasa (34, perhaps daughter of Nathan and Chloe) · Burr, Charles Clark (29) · Burr, Sarah Sloat (24, wife of Charles C.) · Burr, Charles Elias Washington (died at sea) · Burr, John Atlantic (Born at sea on February 24, not sure to which Burr) · Cade, Jonathan (64. Howe notes that surname might be Kincaid) · Cade, Susannah (58, wife of Jonathan) · Clark, Sophia Patterson (22) · Coombs, Abraham (41) · Coombs, Olive Olivia Curtis (26, wife of Abraham) · Coombs, Katherine (12, daughter of Abraham and Olive) · Coombs, Charles Marion (5, son of Abraham and Olive) · Coombs, Helen Mars (3, daughter of Abraham and Olive) · Corwin, Mrs. Fanny M. (42) (Samuel Brannon's mother-in-law) · Eagar, John (23: noted as husband of 42-year-old Lucy and father of three children) · Eagar, Lucy Buell (42: noted as wife of John) · Eagar, Mary (18: daughter of John and Lucy) · Eagar, Thomas (16: son of John and Lucy) · Eagar, Arabella (13: daughter of John and Lucy) · Eagar, William (10: son of John and Lucy) · Ensign, Elias (died at sea) · Ensign, Jerusha (56, wife) · Ensign, Eliza (Died at sea in February.) · Ensign, John Warren · Evans, William (34) · Evans, Hannah Rogers Hines Benner (34, wife of William) · Evans, Amanda Miller (12, daughter of William and Hannah) · Evans, Jonathan Benner (8, son of William and Hannah) · Evans, Parley Pratt (6, child of William and Hannah) · Evans, William Hines (4, son of William and Hannah) · Fisher, Joseph R. (24) · Fisher, Mary Ann (23, sister of Joseph) · Fowler, Jerusha Ensign (27) · Fowler, Thomas (8, son of Jerusha) · Fowler, George (6, son of Jerusha) · Fowler, John S. (4, son f Jerusha) · Fowler, (child, died at sea) · Glover, William (33) · Glover, Jane Cowan (29, wife of William) · Glover, Jane (8, daughter of William and Jane) · Glover, Catherine (4, daughter of William and Jane) · Glover, Joseph Smith (1, daughter of William and Jane) · Goodwin, Isaac Richards (35. Noted by Hubert H. Howe as having 6 children, but 7 are on lists.) · Goodwin, Laura Hotchkiss (33, wife. Fell downstairs during a storm one week out. Miscarried. She later died and was buried on Goat Island near Juan Fernandez on May 6.) · Goodwin, Emerette (13, child of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Isaac Hotchkiss (11, son of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Lewis Hotchkiss (9, son of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Edwin Abijah (6, son of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Nancy Ellen (4, daughter of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Lucinda Ladelia (3, daughter of Isaac and Laura) · Goodwin, Albert Story (1, son of Isaac and Laura) · Griffith, Jonathan (32) · Griffith, Sarah (32, wife of Jonathan) · Griffith, Jackson (son of Jonathan and Sarah) · Griffith, Marshall (son of Jonathan and Sarah) · Hamilton, Mary (56, Mary Sparks mother) · Haskell, Ashbel Green (48) · Hayes, Jacob (52) · Hicks, Joseph (36) · Horner, John Meirs (25) · Horner, Elizabeth Imlay (20, wife of John) · Hyatt, Elisha (30) · Hyatt, Matilda (35, wife of Elisha) · Hyatt, Caleb (16, son of Elisha and Matilda) · Irea, Cyrus (22) · Jamison, Hannah Tucker Reed · Jamison, John Reed Clark · Jones, Mrs. Isabella (38) · Joyce, John (24) · Joyce, Caroline Augusta Perkins (21, wife of John) · Joyce, Augusta Brannan (1, child of John and Caroline) · Kemble, Edward Cleveland (19) · Kittleman, John (50) · Kittleman, Sarah (38, wife) · Kittleman, Thomas (27) · Kittleman, George · Kittleman, William (39) · Kittleman, Eliza Hindman (34, wife of William) · Kittleman, Elizabeth Jane (14, daughter of William and Eliza) · Kittleman, Mary Ann (daughter of William and Eliza) · Kittleman, James (daughter of William and Eliza) · Kittleman, George (daughter of William and Eliza) · Kittleman, Sarah (4 mo. twin - daughter of William and Eliza) · Kittleman, Hannah (4 mo. twin - (daughter of William and Eliza) · Knowles, Richard (58) · Knowles, Sarah Rostern (54, wife of Richard) · Ladd (alias JOHNSON), Samuel (27, Major) · Lane, Emmeline Amanda (21, Octavia Austin's sister) · Leigh, Isaac (27) · Leigh, Achsah (24, wife of Isaac) · Light, James (36) · Light, Mary Jane (26, wife of James) · Light, Mary Elizabeth (daughter of James and Mary) · Lovett, Angeline M. (19) · Marshall, Earl (47) · Marshall, Leticia Dorsey (47, wife) · McCue, Patrick (55) · McCue, Esther (45, wife) · McCue, James B. (15) · McCue, Solomon B. (6) · McCue, Amos W. (3) · McCue, William K. (1) · Meader, Moses A. (42) (Might be Meder) · Meader, Sarah Blood (40, wife of Moses) · Meader, Angeline (13, daughter of Moses and Sarah) · Moses, Ambrose Todd (51) · Moses, Lydia Ensign (46, wife of Ambrose) · Moses, Norman S. (15, son of Ambrose and Lydia) · Moses, Phoebe Maria (14, daughter of Ambrose and Lydia) · Moses, Anne Frances (12, daughter of Ambrose and Lydia) · Moses, Clarissa Cordelia (7, daughter of Ambrose and Lydia) · Mowry, Barton (47) · Mowry, Ruth Walkup (47, wife of Barton) · Mowry, Origin (21, son of Barton and Ruth) · Mowry, Rhanaldo (18, son of Barton and Ruth) · Murray, Miss Mary (36) · Naramore, Edwin (Spelling might be Narrimore.) · Naramore, Mercy M. (45 , Disembarked in Hawaii with son. · Spelling could be Narrimore.) · Nichols, Joseph (31) · Nichols, Jerusha Bull (27, wife of Joseph) · Nichols, Enos (2, son of Joseph and Jerusha) · Nichols, Joseph (2 months, son of Joseph and Jerusha. Died at sea.) · Nutting, Lucy Jane (20) · Oakland, Howard · Pell, Elijah Ward (40) · Pell, Mattie (45, wife of Elijah) · Pell, Geraldine (daughter of Elijah and Mattie) · Pell, Hettie (daughter of Elijah and Mattie) · Petch, Robert (50) · Petch, Mary (42, wife of Robert) · Petch, Salina (11, daughter of Robert and Mary) · Petch, Richard (6, son of Robert and Mary) · Phillips, John (33) · Pool, Mary Cramer (57) · Pool, Elizabeth Margaret Frances (24) · Pool, Peter John (23) · Reed, Christiana Gregory (45. Spelling might be Read.) · Reed, John Haines (17. Might be Read.) · Reed, Rachel (15. Might be Read. One source notes her as Christiana Rachel Reed.) · Robbins, Charles (31) · Robbins, Isaac Rogers (41) · Robbins, Mary Ann Shinn Burtis (35, wife of Isaac.) · Robbins, Joseph Reeves (12) · Robbins, Wesley Burtis (5) · Robbins, Margaret Burtis (2) · Robbins, John Rogers (36, Dr.) · Robbins, Phoebe Ann Wright (34, wife of John Rogers) · Robbins, Charles Burtis (11, son of John and Phoebe.) · Robbins, George Edward (6, son of John and Phoebe. Died at sea in February.) · Robbins, John Franklin (1. Died at sea.) · Robbins, Georgiana Pacific (Born June 14 in tropical waters just before reaching Honolulu.) · Rollins, Henry (55. This might be Roulan or Rowland.) · Rollins, Isaac (17) · Savage, Susan Eliza (20) · Scott, James (34) · Serrine, George Warren (27. Spelling might be Sirrine.) · Serrine, John (34) · Serrine, Nancy Smith (26, wife of John.) · Serrine, George J. (1, son of John and Nancy.) · Skinner, Horace Austin (28) · Skinner, Laura Ann Farnsworth (26, wife of Horace.) · Skinner, James Horace (4, son of Horace and Laura) · Smith, Orrin (40, family left in the Sandwich Islands due to illness with 6 children) · Smith, Amy Ann Dodd Hopkins (35, wife of Orrin) · Smith, Henry (H.M., 14, son of Orrin and Amy.) · Hopkins, Ellen Mariah (10, daughter of Orrin and Amy.) · Smith, Amelia A. (9, daughter of Orrin and Amy.) · Hopkins, Emily Marilla (7, daughter of Orrin and Amy.) · Smith, Francis (3, son of Orrin and Amy.) · Smith, Orrin Hopkins (6 months. son of Orrin and Amy. Died at sea.) · Smith, Robert (33) · Smith, Catherine Clarke (28, wife of Robert) · Smith, Daniel Clark (2, son of Robert and Catherine.) · Smith, Hyrum Joseph (1, son of Robert and Catherine.) · Snow, Zelnora Sophronia (22) · Sparks, Quartus Strong (25) · Sparks, Mary Holland Hamilton (24, wife of Quartus.) · Sparks, Quartus Strong, Jr. (8 months, son fo Quartus and Mary.) · Stark, Daniel (25) · Stark, Anne Cook (24, wife of Daniel.) · Stark, John Daniel (4 months, son of Daniel and Anne.) · Bird, Elizabeth Wallace (1 month., foster daughter of Stark) · Still, George (65) · Still, Mary (41, wife of George) · Still, Laura · Still, Julia · Still, Sarah · Stivers, Simeon (20, nephew of Earl Marhall) · Stout, William (30) · Stout, Mary Ann (18 , wife of William) · Stout, Malone (child of William and Mary Ann) · Springfellow, Jesse A. (22) · Tompkins, Thomas King (29) · Tompkins, Jane Rollins (26, wife of Thomas King) · Tompkins, Amanda (4, daughter of Thomas and Jane.) · Tompkins, Jane Elizabeth (3, daughter of Thomas and Jane.) · Von Pfister, Edward · Ward, Frank · Warner, Caroline E. (34) · Warner, Myron (child of Caroline) · Warner, Sarah (6, daughter of Caroline.) · Warner, Henry J. (2, son of Caroline.) · Winner, George King H. (39) · Winner, Mary Ann (37, wife of George.) · Winner, Elizabeth (17, daughter of George and Mary.) · Winner, Mary Ann (17, daughter of George and Mary.) · Winner, Louisa (15, daughter of George and Mary.) · Winner, Emmagene Dembra (7, daughter of George and Mary.) · Winner, Moroni (3, child of George and Mary.) · Winner, Israel J. (1, son of George and Mary.) · Winner, Sarah (4 months, daughter of George and Mary. Died at sea) ·