Children and adults, alike, are invited as Old Town commemorates the 165th anniversary of the Mormon Battalion's arrival and historic contributions to San Diego. The event will take place Saturday, Jan. 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Old Town State Historic Park.
Even after the "Mormons" had been driven from their homes by mobs and as they were preparing to travel West, then President Polk commissioned the U.S. Army to enlist a battalion of Mormons (about 500 men) for one year to serve as part of Col. Stephen Kearny’s Army of the West during the Mexican War.
The army officer who enlisted the Mormons named this unit "The Mormon Battalion." Leaving families behind to continue their flight westward, the men and women of the Mormon Battalion enlisted in the service of their country. They marched with very little food or supplies and built a wagon road across the daunting southwest desert to California.
Arriving in San Diego on Jan. 29, 1847, the Battalion quickly won the trust of the Californios through their willingness to serve. They taught the Californios how to dig deep wells, fire bricks, and use the bricks to line the wells, thereby providing much needed drinking water to San Diego. The Battalion also constructed the first U.S. Court House, right where a replica stands in Old Town today.
In commemoration of the service given by the Mormon Battalion to early San Diego, Old Town State Historic Park will be turned into an 1840 encampment, with hands-on family activities to include doll making, quilting, rope making, butter churning, historic displays, children’s crafts, and other period demonstrations, including cannon and musket firings. Authentic songs, stories and music will entertain throughout the day. A gold panning activity can be enjoyed at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site at 2510 Juan St.
Admission and all Battalion-related activities are free.