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Samuel Brannan (1819-1889), American Settler, Businessman & Journalist

This month, WeRelate looks at the Person Page of Samuel Brannan, born 2 March 1819 in Saco, York County, Maine, son of Thomas Brannan (b. 1755 in Ireland) and his second wife Sarah Knox (b. 1773). Brannon was a prominent Mormon who founded the California Star newspaper in San Francisco, California. He is considered the first publicist of the California Gold Rush and was its first millionaire. An early convert to Mormonism, a protege of Joseph Smith, and an early leader of the Mormon Church in New York, Brannan led eastern church members to Yerba Buena (San Francisco) aboard the ship Brooklyn in 1846. They were the first group of American emigrants to reach California by sea. Brannan's dreams of empire, nurtured in contacts with national Democratic leaders, were undercut by the United States conquest of California and Mormon settlement in Utah, but the discovery of gold in 1848, which he played a key role in publicizing, soon made him rich supplying the miners. Having broken with Brigham Young and the Mormans, Brannan pursued other interests, from mines and railroads to vineyards and a recreational spa, from San Francisco's Vigilance Committee to filibustering in Hawaii and Mexico. Drink, womanizing, divorce, and bad investments brought him down. He died having spent his last impoverished years pursuing another dream of empire, involving mining and colonization in Sonora. Mr. Brannan's mother was the niece of Revolutionary War hero General Henry Knox. This Person Page, is a good example of the type of Page that you can add to WeRelate for your ancestors. (learn more...)