Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast, the Santa Maria Valley is nestled in the foothills of Santa Barbara County wine country.
LDS Members make up 1.75% of the population of Santa Maria. The state of California has the largest LDS population outside of Utah. California has 768,344 members in 1,348 wards and branches, 16 missions, and 7 temples and 189 Family History Centers.
LDS pioneers traveled from New York City on February 4th, 1846 on the ship The Brooklyn and arrived in Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, on July 31, 1846. The pioneers were led by Samuel Brannan who published San Francisco’s first newspaper, “The California Star”, on January 9th, 1847. Brannan helped spark the gold rush by sending copies of “The California Star” with news of gold at Sutter’s Mill back east. Meanwhile, a group of roughly 500 other LDS members marched to San Diego in the Mormon Battalion in defense of the U.S. Mexican War. After the war was finished some of the Mormon Battalion members, like Henry Bigler, went up north towards Sacramento and began working for James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill. Here they were present when gold was officially discovered on January 24th, 1848.