First Impressions: California Through the Eyes of Its Early Saints, 1846-1857


church history, California, climate, geography


Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first entered the region that is now California on 31 July 1846 when the ship Brooklyn, with almost two hundred Saints aboard, landed at the small village of Yerba Buena in San Francisco Bay. Over the course of the next eleven years, hundreds of other Saints, under a variety of circumstances, made their way to California. Almost five hundred came as members of the Mormon Battalion in 1847. Severla more came as missionaries on the way to a number of far-flung islands in the Pacific, while still others came to colonize or pan for gold. The Church's progress in the state was curtailed in 1857, however, when Brigham Young, having learned that the United States was sending an army under the direction of Albert Sidney Johnston against the Saints, requested all able-bodied men living in the Mormon colonies to gather in to Utah to prepare for possible war. The vast majority of California's Saints heeded the prophet's call and returned to Utah during the winter of 1857-58, thus putting an end to official Church-sponsored colonization efforts in the Golden State for thirty-two years.

Original Publication Citation

Andrew H. Hedges, “First Impressions: California Through the Eyes of Its Early Saints, 1846-1857,” David F. Boone, Robert C. Freeman, Andrew H. Hedges, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History–California (Provo: Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1998), 1-20.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: California




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor