once important town of Mormon Island is almost forgotten and is now buried
under Folsom Lake. Mormon Island was situated where the North and South Forks
of the American River join on the route from Sutter's Fort to his sawmill at
Coloma. It was one of the earliest mining camps set up after the discovery of
gold at Sutter's Mill. Six weeks after the initial discovery of gold a small
group of Mormons, once part of the Mormon Battalion and originally employed by
Sutter to work his mill, was mining gold a Mormon Island.
The Mormons first arrived in California on the ship Brooklyn which was chartered by Sam Brannan (a member of the Mormon church at that time) and carried 238 members of the church relocating to California under the direction of Brigham Young. This is the same Sam Brannan that founded San Francisco and also Sacramento.
They set sail on February 4, 1846 from New York and arrived in Yerba Buena on July 31, 1846, just a few days after the U.S. took possession of Yerba Buena. So the 238 men, women and children were the first immigrants in Yerba Buena after the U.S. took possession. They brought along with them tools, dry goods, school supplies, 179 books, seeds, a printing press, and newsprint. They started the first school, first bank, first post office, the first library, the first newspaper "The California Star" and the first edition was published on January 9, 1847. By summer of 1848, Mormon Island had over a hundred men. Samuel Brannan, the "Spiritual Guide and director for the Mormon population of New Helvetia and other districts of California" opened a store there. For quite some time, Brannan required the miners to tithe. That is, give one tenth of their earnings, to the Mormon Church. The camp was called Mormon Island because the early miners cut a channel across one edge of the gravel bar there, forming a small island. The town quickly outgrew the small gravel bar.
Because Mormon Island was a natural stopping point between Sutter's Fort and Coloma, there were two stage lines operating there by 1850. One ran from Sacramento to Coloma, stopping at Mormon Island. The other ran from Sacramento to Mormon Island and back. The town had become one of the main communities of the Mother Lode. In 1851, a post office was established at Mormon Island. By 1853, the population of the town was about 2,500, and by 1855, four hotels, seven saloons and about fifteen other businesses flourished.
In 1853, the first tent school was held in a grape patch on the Haxsel ranch, and the first teacher was Mrs. Rachel Mitchell Clark. This school may have been the first in Gold Rush country. It was followed by a more substantial school building that was destroyed by fire around 1900. A second school was built in the Blue Ravine area opposite the Jim Hoke home. In about 1910 the school was moved, due to dredging activities, to property owned by the W.B. Plumb family.
The completion of the Sacramento Valley Railroad in 1856 to what was then Granite City and the subsequent establishment of the town of Folsom marked the beginning of a long decline for the once important town. Mormon Island gradually decreased in importance despite the construction of a very fine winery. By 1880, the population had dwindled to zero.
The final end of the town came seventy-five years later, when the water of Folsom Lake flooded the site. By this time, the town had nearly vanished, and a chicken ranch was located where the thriving town square had once been. Today, all that remains is a marker on Green Valley Road east of Folsom and the relocated Mormon Island cemetery.
The following EVP was captured by Bonnie and you will here a whistling as she is speaking in the background. Sounds like someone was trying to get her attention.
Using the SB-7, you will hear "Hi" in a little boys voice towards the end of this audio clip. Captured by Linda
Captured by Linda
Captured by Troy
Captured by Michelle
Captured by Pam