“The five companies of the Mormon Battalion, Army of the West, [of which Jacob M. Truman was a Private in Company C] were discharged officially at Fort Moore in Los Angeles on July 16, 1847, one year after their enlistment. There were 317 men who lined up for the brief ceremony. After discharge, it took several days for them to receive their pay and to complete arrangements for their journey [to join their families in Utah or wherever they might be at the time]...Each man received $31.50, but no transportation allowance for traveling back as promised. When the companies were paid, they purchased animals and supplies for the return journey. Several men noted [in their journals] that the price of horses increased when the Mormons began buying so many. Quantities of flour and salt were purchased.” 1
Jacob Truman was among the 223 men of the Levi Hancock company who traveled north from Los Angeles to take the northern route over the Sierra Mountains. They broke into smaller groups, but all ended up together again in the Sierras after a brief stop in Sacramento to replenish their supplies and provisions for the trip from John Sutter. When they were together at Truckee Lake, Captain James Brown, who had been sent to California by church authorities to collect the pay from the Army for the soldiers in the sick detachment that went to Pueblo, came into their camp with a letter from President Brigham Young.
“Brown delivered the letter from the church leaders, dictated by Brigham Young and addressed to ‘Capt. Jefferson Hunt and the officers and soldiers of the Mormon Battalion.’ It was dated August 7, 1847, Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Brigham Young and the pioneers had been in the valley only two weeks when he wrote the letter to the battalion. Already they were in destitute circumstances in the valley, and Brigham Young’s concern about an influx of people and the resulting strain and hardships it would make on the meager resources of the pioneers in the valley was understandable...
“The letter recommended that those men with adequate provisions proceed to Salt Lake Valley. Others were asked to remain in California to labor until spring, then bring their provisions and earnings with them...
“After hearing the letter from Mormon Church authorities, the group divided, with approximately half...continuing on and half returning to Sutter’s Fort to find employment.” 2 Jacob M. Truman was among those who returned to Sacramento.
“After meeting Capt. James Brown in the mountains, the men returning to Sutter’s Fort gave most of their supplies and animals to those continuing to Salt Lake Valley.
“When approximately 100 ex-soldiers returned to Sutter’s Fort after the Sierra meeting with Brown, they joined their comrades who had remained behind. About 20 continued on to San Francisco to find employment. The rest were put to work immediately by Capt. John Sutter, who wrote in the Fort log after the Mormons had returned. ‘I employed about 80 of them.’
“Sutter and the Mormons entered into a contract for various work throughout his growing empire.” 3
They helped build a flour mill, and a saw mill, “Records kept by Sutter’s clerk reveal the Mormons worked as carpenters and laborers, dug ditches, made shoes, tanned hides, built granaries, and a grist mill in Coloma. Others split shingles and clapboards. There were farms to be cultivated and cattle and sheep to be tended.” 4 There were blacksmiths and butchers.
While the men were working in Coloma building the saw mill, gold was discovered. “The journal entry [of Henry Bigler, an ex-soldier of the Mormon Battalion] that preserved this historic moment for California was the following. ‘This day some kind of metle was found in the tail of race that looks like goald (sic).’” 5 It is the only known source indicating the exact date gold was first found.
Two of the ex-soldiers, Sidney Willes and Wilford Hudson, were some of the first to locate and show others where the gold was being found. “The Willes-Hudson strike came to be known as Mormon Island and turned out to be the second major gold strike, one with very ‘rich diggings.
“It was not long until many of the ex-soldiers and men from the ship Brooklyn gathered on Mormon Island to search for gold. They marked off plots of five square yards for each man and worked five men together. The Mormons were situated ideally, being on site at the beginning of the gold rush, working with friends before the onslaught of Forty-niners. The atmosphere was one of openness and trust. They tossed their daily golden findings into containers on their plot and left their tools out at night. One group divided $17,000 at the end of one week. Mormon Island became a very busy place, with about two hundred ex-soldiers and Brooklyn men all panning for gold. . .6 [This picture was reversed completely when the gold seekers arrived. The goldfields were no longer safe and friendly. Thievery, treachery, and murder became the order of the day.] 7 On April 12, Henry Bigler wrote that ‘the Willes boys...met with Sam Brannan to let him in on the secret.’” 6
“When Sam Brannan visited the gold fields to collect tithing, payment of tithes became a topic of discussion. Brannan asked for 30 percent--10 percent for tithing, 10 percent for rent to Willes and Hudson for finding gold on Mormon Island, and 10 percent to build up the kingdom. Other times Brannan’s statement was contradictory with the last 10 percent going to build a temple or to obtain cattle for the Mormon Church. The men thought this assessment was too high...[Some] questioned if Brannan actually gave their tithes to the church or he kept the money himself.” 8
"No record has been found that any of the tithes collected by Brannan were turned over to the Mormon Church. Brannan benefitted in another way from the gold the men found. He operated a store just outside the front gate of Sutter’s Fort with C.C. Smith (a Mormon)...[and} also a store at Coloma and grew rich from both earnings . . making 300 to 500 percent profit.” 9 San Brannan was California’s first millionaire.
"Jacob Truman’s name appears on the roster of “Sutter’s Workmen” but does not say what kind of work he did for him. However, in another part of Ricketts’ book it is noted that Jacob must have been a very good horseman. As he traveled from California to Utah in the spring of 1848 with the Holmes-Thompson Company, it is noted that “Jacob Truman broke a horse for Samuel Rogers for $2.50.” 10 And again, [on Sept. 27, 1848] about 8 days prior to the company reaching Salt Lake, “[Several] men, anxious to see their families, mounted their horses and rode ahead. They planned to reach Salt Lake the next day...They left their loose horses and cattle in care of Jacob Truman and James S. Brown, who agreed to herd them to the valley for one cent per day per head.” 11 So I would assume Jacob probably also worked with Sutter’s animals in some way while he was in Sacramento . .
“Even with the discovery of gold, most ex-battalion soldiers still planned to go to the church and their families. They remembered the letter from church authorities the previous August advising them to work until spring to obtain needed supplies, a plan which they seemed determined to follow...Sutter apparently attempted to settle his accounts with the battalion workers on April 18, 1848, when he wrote, ‘A very bussi day to settle accts with some of the Mormons.’
“Also, by this time California was experiencing the arrival of the first gold seekers, who appropriated Sutter’s cattle, sheep and, crops at will...[and] By the end of May all work on the grist mill in Coloma had stopped. The saw mill...was shut down. The shortage of labor closed all of Sutter’s projects. [And Sutter wrote:]
“After the discovery of gold was known, it began to spread like wildfire all over California...all my plans and projects came to naught. One after another of my people disappeared in the direction of the gold fields. Only the Mormons behaved decently ...They were sorry for the difficulty in which I found myself, and some of them remained to finish their jobs.” 12
“The soldiers bartered for pay ‘in kind.’ Sutter gave them wild horses, mules, cattle, oxen, wagons they had made for him, plows, picks, shovels, iron, seeds, plant cuttings, and other items that would be useful when they reached Salt Lake Valley.” 13
“Captain Sutter had two small brass cannon he purchased from the Russians when the Russians closed Fort Ross in northern California. They were small, decorated, parade cannons, one a four pounder the other a six pounder. The men decided to buy them and take them to the leaders of the Mormon Church. ...Gold flakes [were collected] from the men and paid [to] John Sutter for the cannon.” 14 The roster showing those who contributed to the purchase of the cannon and how much they contributed (from $1.50 to $25.00), shows that Jacob Truman contributed $15.40. “The cannon were placed on runners and hauled in a wagon to Salt Lake Valley by the Holmes-Thompson Company.” 15 Some have thought the cannon on the grounds of the St. George Temple is one of these cannons, but it is not. It is not known what happened to the two purchased by the ex-soldiers.
“ . . .A meeting was held by the ex-soldiers at the fort on April 9 ‘to talk over matters and things in regard to making arrangements to going up to the Great Salt Lake and come to some understanding when we should make the start.’...it was decided not to follow the established Truckee route because of crossing the river so many times [about 22 times}.” 16
“Nine pioneers chosen to find a trail over the mountains were Daniel Browett, captain, Ira J. Willes, James C. Sly, Israel Evans, Jacob G.(sic) Truman, Ezra Allen , James R. Allred, Henderson Cox, and Robert Pixton. They decided to follow the ridge between the waters of the Consumnes and the American rivers. It took them 3 days to reach Iron Mountain, where the snow was piled so high in the passes travel was impossible, so they returned to camp.
“Henry Bigler, John S. White and Jacob M. Truman set out on the morning of June 17, 1848, to ‘select a place of gathering’. They found a nice little valley 40 or 50 miles east of Sutter’s Fort, which they named Pleasant Valley. They brought supplies, wagons and animals to the site but continued to hunt for gold up to the time they left California. More men arrived during the next two weeks. They began felling pine timbers to build a corral. Others came intermittently to the rendezvous”...17
“Browett, Ezra Allen, and Henderson Cox left to scout a road over the mountains. Their companions did not want them to go, but the three men were very anxious to get started and went ahead against advice.
“Everyone mined for gold while waiting for the three scouts to return. ... When the three scouts did not return [it was later learned the 3 had been killed and buried by Indians], the group decided to continue on. Later known as the Holmes-Thompson Company, they left Pleasant Valley July 3rd on the last segment of their epic journey. This was the first of several small groups of men who worked for John Sutter and in the San Francisco Bay area to leave California during the summer of 1848. They had worked a season as instructed; now they were going to their families and church. Other companies followed, but the Holmes-Thompson company led the way.” 18
“As they left California on the last portion of their history-making journey, members of the Holmes-Thompson company did not know they would pioneer two more wagon roads [besides those blazed earlier between Santa Fe and San Diego] before arriving in Salt Lake Valley. They took the first wagons over the Carson Pass and built the road that became a major entrance into California for thousands of gold seekers. [Now known as The Mormon Emigrant Trail near Hwy. 50]. Later on their journey they made the first wagon tracks over the Salt Lake Cutoff.” 19
Jacob M. Truman entered Salt Lake on October 6, 1848 with others of the Holmes-Thompson Company.
1 THE MORMON BATTALION, U. S. ARMY OF THE WEST by Norma Baldwin Ricketts, Chp 8, page 169
2 Ibid, Chapter 8, page 176-77
3 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 193
4 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 195
5 Ibid, Chapter 11, page 197
6 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 199
7 REFLECTIONS, SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA STAKE, page 21
8 THE MORMON BATTALION, U. S. ARMY OF THE WEST, Chap 10, pg. 200
9 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 201
10 Ibid, Chapter 11, page 220
11 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 221
12 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 202-203
13 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 203
14 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 203
15 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 203
16 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 202
17 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 203
18 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 204
19 Ibid, Chapter 10, page 205
See contents at: http://www.softcom.net/users/paulandsteph/jmt/battalionhistory.html