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August 1854

2–7 August 1854 • Wednesday to Monday

On deck every day, engaged reading, talking with the 1st officer on our doctrines, polygamy &c.; he did not believe, but was not bigot<t>ed or much prejudiced, and conversed freely. I hope the ideas or seed dropped may, at some future day, induce reflection and bring forth fruit. The weather has been fine and pleasant; the vessel gliding along with very little more jar then would be felt on a steam boat on the Mississippi river; indeed, a considerable part of the time we could not hoist any canvass, being impelled solely by the propeller. For a day or two we have had a breeze, and I have incidentally heard that we have made 205 miles this last 24 hours[.]

8–11 August 1854 • Tuesday to Friday

Writing letters to Bros. [Philip] Lewis and [Benjamin F.] Johnson, & [Francis] Hammond at the islands, and to Uncle and Aunt [John and Leonora Taylor], Elizabeth [Hoagland], Bro. Jos. [Joseph] Cain, and to Chas. [Charles Lambert], Angus [Cannon] &c. We expected to have been in San Francisco ere this but our coal has failed, and we have had to use the sails and drag the propeller.1 Every thing has gone on about as usual; one man has been put in irons for refusing to do duty, but on promising to go to work, was released.

12 August 1854 • Saturday

Foggy; we made a small island [one of the Farallon Islands], early in the morning but about sunrise we dropped anchor in consequence of the fog. After lying at our anchor a few hours the fog began to clear up, and we again got underweigh. We soon passed the heads [the entrance] and went up the bay at a beautiful rate. San Francisco has altered much; new wharves and new buildings has given the place another aspect.2 In levelling the streets they have had great labor in levelling blasting, excavating &c., the ground being very hilly. We landed at the wharf about 12 at noon.3 By the request of the brethren, Bro. Bigler and I started to try and find some of the saints. At On knocking at the door of a house where we expected to find a bro. [Zacheus] Cheney we were very agreeably surprised to see Sis. Elizabeth Pratt opening an adjoining door. I recognized her immediately and was speedily introduced into a room where Bro. Parley [Pratt] was, who gave us a hearty welcome. My joy was unbounded in again being permitted to tread on the shores of Zion and again behold one of the apostles of the Lamb. I could scarcely contain myself and I felt to glorify and praise my Father in heaven.4 I also learned that the brethren who had accompanied him from the Valley, twenty in number, for the islands, were all here and in the adjacent country.5 They (Bro. Parley and Bro. [Nathan] Tanner) have been earnestly striving to procure a vessel to send to the islands; and have one in their hands, but are considerably embarrassed for want of means.6 Bro. Parley has held meetings all the time at his house and has preached every opportunity—the people are hard hearted and careless and the truth has no charms for them. He is also engaged writing his history and he has and an idea of having it published.

[13 August 18547 • Sunday]

On Sunday, the 13th we had a meeting to day and Bro. Pratt called on me to give a recital of our travels labors and the prospects of the work &c.; and I was much blessed and had the spirit. The privilege of once more meeting with the saints on the land of Zion in the possession of health and a portion of the spirit and without any feeling of condemnation, filled me with feelings of peculiar love and gratitude to the Lord for his preserving care. Bros. Bigler and [James] Hawkins likewise spoke and were blessed.8

14 August 1854 • Monday

Bro. Pratt thought that as the brethren [William Farrer, Bigler, and Hawkins] had a chance they had better cross over the bay and get work and if it was agreeable to my feelings he wanted me to stop with him and copy and help him revise his history ready for press. I readily acquiesced in this and thought it a privilege and an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge by listening to his teachings and conversations. The brethren crossed over the bay and got work at digging potatoes &c.—times are very hard and money scarce and they were lucky in getting employment as there were great numbers of men seeking employment. I went to work copying, and copied, revised &c. for <nearly> six weeks, and completed the 1st vol. of his history. This time passed off as agreeably as any one could have wished, and I felt much benefitted and blessed in conversing with and in listening to Bro. Parley; his great experience, wisdom and profound acquaintance with the principles of the gospel and the great simplicity and plainness with which he explained any subject that he conversed upon, was extremely instructive and attractive to me, and I was never tired of listening to his remarks.9 This, combined with the extreme kindness of himself and wife Elizabeth, will always cause me to look back with feelings <of> pleasure and satisfaction to my residence in his family.10


  1. [1]The Polynesian “sailed under canvas for thirty hours in the latter part of the passage, having run out of coals” (“Arrival of the Polynesian,” San Francisco Daily Herald, Aug. 13, 1854).

  2. [2]The population of San Francisco, less than twenty-five thousand when Cannon sailed from there in 1850, was estimated at more than fifty thousand at the beginning of 1854. During the intervening years, the streets had been altered to ensure more regular and suitable grades; new wharves had been built that extended into the deep waters of the bay, allowing for dockside loading and discharging of cargo; and more than six hundred stone and brick buildings had been erected to replace the many tents and wooden structures that were so prominent in 1850. Additional information about San Francisco in the 1850s can be found in Soule, Gihon, and Nisbet, Annals of San Francisco, 289–717; Bancroft, History of California, 6:755–87.

  3. [3]Farrer recorded further details regarding their arrival at San Francisco: “It became so foggy that we could not see any distance a head so the Cap. dropped anchor for fear of running on the coast. and at about 11 A.M. the fog began to clear away again and we hoisted anchor again & went into the bay & at 12 M. we came to the wharf, two hours short of 14 days from the time of our leaving Honolulu” (Farrer diary, Aug. 4, 1854).

  4. [4]Farrer noted that Cannon and Bigler “started to hunt some of the brethren in this place & find a place for us to stop, & soon returned with Bro. Parly who invited us to go to his house after having given us a hearty welcome” (Farrer diary, Aug. 4, 1854). Pratt told the missionaries “to make his house our home for the presant and said there were but a few Saints in San Francisco and they were mostly Sisters who had either appostates or unbelieving husbands” (Bigler journal, LDS ledger, Aug. 12, 1854). Pratt had recently rented a house on Broadway from Zacheus Cheney for thirty-five dollars per month. Not only did it serve as the Pratt residence, but the local Saints also held services there, with a few of the Saints helping to pay the rent (Pratt journal, [Aug. 1854]).

  5. [5]The missionaries who had been called to the Sandwich Islands were Eli Bell, John T. Caine, William W. Cluff, Sixtus E. Johnson, William King, M. D. Merrick, Simpson M. Molen, Edward Partridge, Ward E. Pack, Joseph A. Peck, Henry P. Richards, Washington B. Rogers, Joseph F. Smith, Silas Smith, Silas S. Smith, George Speirs, Smith B. Thurston, John A. West, Orson K. Whitney, and John R. Young. Nineteen of the company would continue on to the islands, as Pratt would appoint Merrick to labor in the area around Sacramento instead (“Minutes,” Deseret News, Apr. 13, 1854; “Elders from Zion Who Have Labored in the Hawaiian Mission,” in Hawaiian Honolulu Mission Manuscript History; “Sandwich Islands,” Deseret News, May 9, 1855).

  6. [6]When the Hawai‘i-bound missionaries arrived in San Francisco in July 1854, Pratt and Tanner still had not made the final payment on the Rosalind. Simpson Molen reported that Pratt counseled these missionaries “to defer our going on to the Islands for a few Months [and to] lend our means to him to help liquidate the debt of the vessel” and to devote their energy to making it seaworthy “so that we could go down to the Islands aboard of her and by so doing benefit the Church by geting the brig afloat” (Molen journal, July 11, 1854). In response, the missionaries turned over between six hundred to seven hundred dollars, which helped secure ownership of the Rosalind (Silas S. Smith journal, July 11, 1854). While a number of the missionaries accepted employment in and around San Francisco to earn money that could be applied toward efforts to refurbish the Rosalind, others lived on the vessel and worked to overhaul it. By August 11, however, Pratt had become discouraged with the prospects of making the vessel seaworthy and instructed all but two of the missionaries to look for employment to raise money for their passage rather than spending more time and means on the Rosalind (Silas S. Smith journal, Aug. 11, 1854).

  7. [7]Cannon originally included this as part of his August 12 entry.

  8. [8]Bigler wrote of the meeting: “The few Saints in the city met in meeting at the house where Elder Pratt was stopping where we had preaching by Brother Pratt who called on us to make a report of our labors which we did. He said he was pleased with our labors among that people. He had a smattering of the Spanish language and after spoke to us in Spanish and we would answer in the native, this got away with him, saying the Sandwich Islands language was no language” (Bigler journal, LDS ledger, Aug. 13, 1854).

  9. [9]Bigler commented on the missionaries’ activities in his later writings: “Elders Farrer, Hawkins and myself went over the Bay to hunt work among the farmers to raise means for an outfit to take us up to Salt Lake. . . . Brother Pratt kept Elder Cannon to write for him at his dictation etc.” (Bigler journal, LDS ledger, Aug. 14, 1854). Pratt paid Cannon “50 dol. and his board” for his labor and acknowledged Cannon’s help with his history: “Brother Cannon assisted me some forty days in copying my autobiography” (Pratt diary, Aug. 1854, Pratt Collection; Pratt, Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, 459). Although Pratt anticipated publishing his autobiography, it was not until 1874, seventeen years after his death, that his son Parley P. Pratt Jr. published the work.

  10. [10]During the three weeks that Cannon did not record a journal entry—between August 14 and September 7—Henry Richards made two specific references to Cannon in his diary. Concerning the events of Sunday, August 20, Richards wrote, “In the evening I attended methodis[t] meeting with Bro Cannon and a number of our brethren, after meeting distributed a number of tracts [broadsides] that Bro Pratt had just published, warning the people to repent &c. [Repent! Ye People of California!].” The following Sunday Richards attended “meeting at Bro Pratts house Bro Pratt was not pressent, he had gone over the bay. Bros [Benjamin] Grouard and [Elijah] Pell were pressent right from Salt Lake. Bro. Grouard addressed the congregation a short time, after which Bros Cannon & McBride followed” (Richards diary, Aug. 20, 27, 1854).