Members re-enact seafaring landing

Several thousand people jammed onto Hyde Street Pier and nearby areas July 30 to watch the re-enactment of the docking of the ship Brooklyn that brought the first Latter-day Saints to what is now San Francisco.

The seafaring pioneers being honored not only were the first Mormons to settle along Northern California's coast but also were the first Anglo colonists in this area. They arrived July 31, 1846, just three weeks after the American flag was raised over what had been Mexican territory.The re-enactment was precise and detailed. A ship similar to the Brooklyn sailed into the harbor. Franz Besse, acting the role of Sam Brannan, who was the leader of the Brooklyn Saints, came ashore in a row boat, recreating the original landing.

As soon as the Brooklyn (actually the Hawaiian Chieftan with a repainted bow bearing the name Brooklyn) appeared in the harbor, a crowd of people rushed to the pier to watch its approach. The Hawaiian Chieftan, a replica of a ship of about the same vintage as the Brooklyn, is about the same size as that historic ship.

As the sails were lowered, modern technology took over - the vessel came to dock under motorized power. The ship's professional crew, dressed in costumes representative of 19th century sailors, helped 47 passengers in 1840s dress disembark. The re-enactment voyage began in Sausalito, some 20 miles from the Hyde Street Pier. Several participants are descendants of the Brooklyn's LDS passengers. (The Brooklyn had 238 passengers, all but 12 of whom were Latter-day Saints. Today's maritime regulations limit the passenger load of a ship this size to 47.)

History and entertainment merged on the pier as passengers and other members dressed in period costumes presented a program that included old-time dances, family songs, youth choral groups, narration and dramatization to tell the story of the trials and triumphs of the Brooklyn Saints who settled in what is now San Francisco. (Please see articles on pages XX of this issue, and in the Aug. 3 Church News.)

Among the spectators on the pier were Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Ruby, and Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and president of the North America West Area.

At the conclusion of the program, Elder Haight made brief remarks to the audience. He said that as he read about the voyage of the Brooklyn Saints and watched the events of the re-enactment, he stood in awe as he reflected upon the character and personalities of the people involved in "this epic journey by sea." He noted that the 24,000-mile voyage from New York, down around the tip of South America, over to the Hawaiian Islands and on to San Francisco was five times the length of the voyage of the Mayflower.

"We are the ones who benefit from the stories and the accounts that we read," he said. "All of this is from the wonderful people who laid the foundation for us. We come along and think we're doing pretty good in what we're accomplishing. But we're standing on the shoulders of these ancestors who made the way."

The 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Brooklyn provided an opportunity for some to learn of an often-forgotten segment of Church history. "We need to remember our heritage," said Barbara Salsbury, who served on the sesquicentennial committee. "Latter-day Saints have been part of California history for 150 years. We wanted to give this feeling of heritage, of legacy."

Just before the ship representing the Brooklyn pulled into port, a brief program unfolded in a nearby amphitheater at the National Maritime Museum. The program gave a glimpse of the peoples who were already in Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, when the LDS seafaring pioneers arrived. Scenes were staged to represent Catholic priests, Mexicans and Ohlne Indians.

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