January 26, 2019
Old Town Chamber of Commerce’s 250th Commemoration of the birth of San Diego year of events will kick-off at Old Town State Historic Park on Saturday, January 26, 2019, where in 1847 the U.S. Army of the West Mormon Battalion arrived in San Diego. The park will be alive with hands on activities reflecting this period in San Diego history. The living history day includes a parade reenacting the march into San Diego, beginning at 10:00 am. Children can make bricks, ropes, and dolls; grind corn, cook biscuits-on-a-stick, and play other authentic games. Families are invited to take a photo in period clothing. The Liberty Stand will be in the square to provide information about early history. Center stage will feature singing, dancing and storytelling throughout the day. Don’t miss the annual Dutch oven cook-off! The event is open to the community and is free.
Having been driven by mobs from their homes in Illinois, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as “Mormons” sought assistance from the government for their migration to the west. The U. S. Government responded with President James Polk requesting they assemble an army to march as part of the Army of the West during the Mexican-American War from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to San Diego. This march is one of the longest in the history of the U. S. Army, totaling over 2,000 miles, and arriving in San Diego on January 29, 1847.
At the war’s end, the members of the Mormon Battalion stayed on and performed garrison duties, making friends with the Californios and bringing a community together through their service. They fired some of the first bricks in California and used the bricks to line deeper wells, providing healthy drinking water to the Pueblo of San Diego. The Battalion also constructed our first U. S. Courthouse, where a replica stands in Old Town today.