History of the Church

The Brooklyn Arrives in California
July 31, 2019
History of the Church
The Brooklyn Arrives in California
Author BYU Studies Staff

In 1846,  Brigham Young sent a group of Latter-day Saints, led by Samuel Brannan, from New York to sail on the ship Brooklyn and emigrate out of the United States. 173 years ago today, that ship sailed around Cape Horn and arrived in what is today San Francisco, California. Read the following articles to learn more about the history of the Saints on the Brooklyn:

"Voyage of the Brooklyn," by Joan S. Hamblin, Ensign July 1997
In 1846, Latter-day Saints in the eastern United States chartered a ship to take them around South America and to California, where they continued their trek to the gathering place in Utah. During their six-month voyage, eleven passengers and one sailor died. This article tells the challenges that these seafaring pioneers faced.

"The Saga of the Brooklyn: 1845—46," Richard O. Cowan and William E. Homer, in California Saints: A 500-Year Legacy in the Golden State
This article tells the history of the Brooklyn, including Samuel Brannan's role, the costs of the voyage, concerns that the government would stop the ship from sailing, terrible storms that threatened survival of the ship, and the safe arrival in California.

"Mormonism in Pictures: History of Ship Brooklyn Celebrated in California," Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom
The voyage of the Brooklyn was remembered in 2018 with a musical about the 1846 voyage. This photo essay includes photos of historical reenactments of activities aboard the Brooklyn.

“Every Book . . . Has Been Read Through: The Brooklyn Saints and Harper's Family Library,” by Lorin K. Hanse, BYU Studies Quarterly 43, no. 4
At a social the night before the Brooklyn Saints left, Joshua M. Van Cott, a Brooklyn attorney and president of the local Hamilton Literary Society, presented the voyagers with 179 volumes of the Harper's Family Library (HFL). When the Brooklyn pioneers reached the Juan Fernandez Islands off the coast of Chile, three months into a six-month voyage, one of them sent a letter back to New York on another ship indicating that "every book in the little library has been read through". The gift of the HFL is a testament to the generosity of Van Cott, but that at least one person had read each of the books during the voyage is an indication of the literacy levels and the interests of the passengers.