What role did Mormons play in the story of the Gold Rush in California?
The Mormons like the Chinese, the Russians, the Indian population, the Europeans, California became a United Nations in so many ways, of religions and peoples, ethnicities, African Americans were there, but the Mormons were recent arrivals. In the mid-19th century, Brigham Young led his Mormon host, his Mormon followers, over the mountains from the midwest to Zion, to Salt Lake. Some of his Mormon followers continued on to the west coast, to the ocean, to form their own settlements. Many of these were independent, knowledgeable, skilled craftsmen working in wood and stone and felling trees, farmers. They found work, though, working with people like Sutter, establishing their own settlements and when Sutter needed some workmen to accompany James Marshall to build the sawmill in Coloma, he sent his Mormon workers, so a small Mormon encampment appeared and the Mormons continued to mine along with everyone else, all swept up in the rush.
Interview with David Shayt, National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.