President Mark A. Bragg Dedicates the Mormon Workers Cabin in Historic Coloma, California
“From a simple day in January 1848 sprang the Great State of California”
The rich history of the Mormon Battalion was honored on Saturday, November 4-, 2023 at Marshall Gold Discovery Park in Coloma, California. Visitors from all over the state of California and beyond gathered at the California Regional Pioneer History Day.
It was a beautiful fall day of festivities highlighted by the dedication of the new Mormon Workers Cabin replica. The event started with a parade, a band playing, booths, and family fun throughout the day.
President Bragg, North America West Area President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recounted the story of the Mormon Battalion’s service to the country during the 1846 Mexican-American war.
The Battalion members had an extraordinary journey of marching approximately 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa down to Southern California. They gave service in San Diego and Los Angeles before being discharged.
Upon completion of service in July 1847 in Los Angeles, some veterans came north to the Sacramento Valley. They committed to assist in building a sawmill for James Marshall and John Sutter next to the American River.
Six veterans finished building the Mormon Workers Cabin the night before James Marshall discovered gold in the mill race on January 24, 1848. They assisted in testing the validity of the gold. Henry Bigler and Azariah Smith both captured the moment by documenting the event in their journals.
The Mormon Workers Cabin is a symbol of the beginnings of the state of California and its impact on the world. The original cabin has long since gone, but this new replica can carry on the valuable story to future generations. It stands near the location of the original building.
After 12 years, $100,000 of private contributions, and labor from the California Pioneer Heritage Association members, the replica of the cabin is finally complete. The timbers are all hand-hewn, with handmade iron hinges and hardware. Inside we find the hearth, surrounded by period kitchenware, a table in the center, and six bunks for the men that worked the mill. Cabin builders included descendants of the Ship Brooklyn and Mormon Battalion.
In the dedicatory prayer, President Bragg said, “I bless those who visit with special insights into the history and meaning of this great site. I dedicate it as a place of faith, a place of prayer, a place of learning, and a place of peace and contemplation.”
He continued, “…bless the inquiring minds of all who yearn to know more about this site and the participation of faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ who played a role in the great California Gold Rush and in the building up of this great state.”
“We dedicate this beautiful Mormon Cabin to the state of California for visitors and friends from all over the world, who will come and have renewed feeling in their hearts of the great blessing of pioneers, and for those who were willing to blaze the trail and give to us what we have today.”
The MC for the program was KCRA 3 Forecaster Dirk Verdoorn. Also in attendance were Congressman Tom McClintock, Assembly Member Tom Lackey, William Holmes of the Oregon California Trail Association, and Mary Ann Kirk of the Mormon Battalion Association. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Director of Communications Rick Kopf (Bay Area), Scott Hepworth (San Jose Area), Troy Mangrum (Fresno/Modesto Area), and Danny Wells (Santa Rosa Area) were also present.
We are grateful to President Dennis Holland of the California Living History Service Mission for his vision and leadership in building this new cabin. Today opens a new chapter to teach about the contributions of Mormon Battalion veterans in California history.
The day was topped off with firing a black powder cannon to cut the cabin ribbon. Finally, then Grant Deed was graciously transferred from the California Pioneer Heritage Association to the State Parks Department.