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The Old Spanish Missions of California
By Anne Jennings Nolan
San Gabriel Mission and the Mission Play
By Mildred Mac Lean
Published by Historic America Publishers Chicago
The Old Spanish Missions of California
By Anne Jennings Nolan
"We will take the road together through the morning's golden glow,
-From "El Camino Real" by John S. McGroarty.
Like beads on a rosary were they strung, those twenty-one missions along El Camino Real, when the gray-habited frailes trod it happy in their work of civilizing the Indians of California. A royal highway, the King of Spain's men called it, but, surely the Franciscans meant a King other than Carlos - Him Whom they called Christ, the King, when they spoke of the Camino Real that led from mission to mission along the sea-coast.
The road as the frailes trod it is no more, but the road they saw it to be still remains. For the San Fernando neophyte spoke prophetically when he, showing the way to General Fremont, said, "Aqui es camino, no se pierde, va siempre - Here is the trail, it cannot be lost, it goes on forever." Another race - many other races than that of Spain have tried to find the Camino Real, spiritually as well as literally. Some have caught the direction from that Indian vaquero who showed it to Fremont because they looked for things of the spirit, as did Fray Junipero whose footsteps made the first impression on El Camino Real.
Yet Junipero Serra was no idle dreamer. Perfume of orange blossoms, purpling figs, breath of roses, wild grapes tamed to lusciousness, orderly olive groves, pink blushing against dark green, the gold of the orange are California's boast of beauty. And they were his practical gift. Their wealth of fruition began with his toil, the toil of his brother monks and of the ill-fated Indians for whom he had meant that fruition as well as the spiritual fruition in their souls. Now California clings gratefully to his memory, even though that memory is represented by the ruins of his beloved Missions, ruins that even in their crumbling decay are signals for safety against the mad rushing of modernity into spiritual death.
The frailes system of civilizing the Indians, or gentiles, as Fray Serra called them, was not merely to Christianize them and turn them loose. The Indians were their "hijos," their children, who needed training of hand and brain as well as of soul. So with the gospel they brought agricultural implements, livestock, seeds, fruit-tree plants, tools of many trades and crafts, medicine and surgical supplies.
For these ventures with nature, they brought up from Mexico and Lower California as well as from Spain, a number of artisans, masons, carpenters, tanners, tallow makers, weavers and, most important of all, the picturesque vaquero, first cow-boy of the West.
The frailes themselves were often more than priests, for among them were men with expert training in engineering and architecture as well as men with knowledge in manufacturing. They were often doctors of medicine and surgeons as well as doctors of divinity and philosophy. And they could roll up the loose sleeves of their rough grey habits and mix mortar or handle the lathe as well as any tradesman.
What they brought to the poor Indians, those red-men of the coast not fully out of the stone age, creatures of weak intellect and undernourished body, living on small game and fish caught with the crudest of weapons, was the actual means of self-preservation. For the coast Indians were already a dying race, dying from social diseases and degenerate practices.
The frailes taught these Pacific Coast savages how to build comfortable adobe houses for themselves and their children, how to grow grains, how to manufacture clothes to cover their nakedness from the harsh sea-winds, how to raise cattle and sheep and horses. What else they taught them, beside the word of God may be discovered by those who study the ruined missions with care. Had the Spanish priests been left unmolested by the new Republic of Mexico, our own United States might have had an art, an architecture, and perhaps a music that we could call our own.
Even as it is today, a ruin of a dream half-fulfilled, Fray Junipero's Serra's plan bore fruit more bounteously than do the colorful gardens and orchards of California today bear. For, with the seeds and bulbs and plants of fruit, flower and vegetable brought from their own sun-drenched Spain, the frailes also brought to California an appreciation of beauty which Californians try not to lose. And because Californians find that beautiful which distinguishes the atmosphere of the old missions from that of our own noisy living, the quietude of the chapel and sweetness of the Angelus bell, Serra has succeeded, though his "gentiles" now are not Indians. And these gray ghosts of another day, these ruined missions of California, stand as a symbol of the continuity of civilization. That they stand at all is a proof of such continuity.
The Coming of the Frailes
Back in 1596 and again in 1602 Vizcaino sailed along the coast north of Lower California and mapped its bays and inlets, taking the land in the name of the King of Spain. Nothing more was done about by the home country or the Mexican officials until 1767 when disturbing news came to the court of Charles III.
This news concerned the encroachments of the Russian fur traders and their Greek priests upon the outposts of what Spain considered her territory by right of exploration. Rumors of an invasion heading westward from the Ohio Valley proved England's interest in the western territory. Charles decided it was time to develop his new territory into civil and military usefulness. The Catholic Church, being the state Church, as was the Greek of Russia and the Episcopal of England, naturally was glad of the opportunity to wrest souls from the Photian schismatics and the English heretics. The Franciscans were chosen to represent the Church in the country known as Alta California. They had already been installed in place of the Jesuits in Lower California.
In 1769 Don José de Galvez, Visitador-general, sent from Spain to save the missions of Lower California from the avarice of the Mexican officials, having reinvested both Missionaries and Indians in their rights, decided to send four expeditions, two by water and two by land to San Diego, a point nearest the frontier, as mapped by Vizcaino.
Fray Junipero Serra, recently made president of the Lower California missions was put in charge of the religious work of the new territory in the north. Gaspar de Portola was appointed governor of Alta, or Upper, California.
The "San Carlos" leaving La Paz on the peninsula, January 9, 1769, passed the port of San Diego and was one hundred and ten days at sea, because of inaccuracies on Vizcaino's map. When the galleon finally arrived at port, its crew was helpless with scurvy and starvation. The "San Antonio" which had left the Cape of San Lucas six weeks after the "San Carlos" had sailed from La Paz, had already arrived and its crew was able to render assistance until they too were stricken, so that when the first land expedition headed by Fray Crespi and Captain Fernando Rivera, arrived on May 14, after a fifty-two day journey overland, less than a third of the two crews and their passengers were alive to receive the third division of the expedition.
The fourth division arrived July 1. "Our journey to this place was a happy one," writes Fray Junipero to his friend Fray Palou. "We found an abundance of roses, which appeared to be like those of Castile." But the good fray does not dwell on the sore leg which made the rough trail hard to bear, or of his insistence that the muleteer treat the leg with tallow and herbs which he used on his mules. Fortitude that was heroic, and a humility that resembled his Master's were the characteristics of this man to whom California owes so much.
There were one hundred and twenty-six pioneers left out of the four expeditions that left the various points in Lower California. Scurvy and exposure had taken all but eight of the two ships crews. The two land expeditions, with their soldados de cuera, gay riding leather jackets, and the two companies of natives from Lower California, with their herds and flocks which they brought overland, had found good health and happy times along the route. Fiddlers and other musicians were of the party for the Spanish love music. And there were times when the frailes accompanying the expeditions found it necessary to interrupt their gay times around the campfires, especially when the leather jackets could coax an Indian maiden into the jovial ring. Hares and rabbits and deer and "a multitude of wild goats" gave them an abundance of food, with the wild grapes and other fruit that grew luxuriantly along their trail.
The day after the arrival of the last division, there was a solemn high Mass in thanksgiving. There before a hastily improvised altar under an arbor of tree-branches, did Fray Junipero Serra open his career in Upper California. This was the beginning of the great work of the "Fernandinos," those cultured men from old Spain, doctors of divinity, engineers, and scholars of many talents, men of parts and aspiration who never can be replaced. Nor ever again can the "Te Deum Laudamus" be sung with hearts like theirs, attuned to the songs of that great Saint, Francis of Assisi, whose spirit must have followed them into this wilderness of beauty, or birds and beasts, those creatures of the wild which he called his little brothers. For these are the days of materialism. Fray Serra's dream has gone out with his beloved "gentiles," the California Indians. And the Missions are but gray ghosts of the past, where beauty of soul rivaled the beauty of nature.
The Mission of San Fernando, Rey de Espagna
The Mission named for the saintly Fernando, King of Spain, was founded early in September, 1797, near Los Angeles. The present ruins are those of a building erected in 1806. Nesting high in its beautiful valley, surrounded almost by mountains, yet with a view out to the sea San Fernando Mission still suggests its royal tradition, even to its guard of honor, the stately date palms. Flowers of every hue, fruit trees and bushes, walnut trees, oaks and every shade tree the frailes could import, made this old mission a comfortable place. The fertility of the soil and the great ranges made it prosperous. San Fernando ranked high in the, chain of Missions for its great herds of cattle and its exportation of hides, which the shrewd Fray Ybarro sold successfully to as shrewd Yankee traders.
General Fremont found it a delightful headquarters when he began the negotiations with the Spanish Californians that ended in the "Capitulation of Cahuenga." That was when he was on his way to Los Angeles for the battle with the Californians, in 1847.
Helen Hunt Jackson places Ramona's home within the boundary of San Fernando Mission, in the vicinity of the Camulos Rancho. There are many legends of buried treasure connected with this Mission, and it is part of tradition that here gold was discovered by a neophyte long before the discovery at Sutter's Creek. That the frailes knew the existence of the precious metal in California but held it a secret is plausible, since they realized the evil result following an inrush of settlers among the Indians. Spiritual gold was that for which the Franciscans prospected in California.
San Diego de Alcala Mission
In what is now called Old Town but was then called Cosoy by the Indians the first Mission of California was established formally on July 16, 1769. The chapel was a simple one of boughs and branches, but the priests had brought from Mexico City and even from their own Spain, beautiful vestments and rich altar vessels and linens donated by pious señoras in Palma and by nuns who had embroidered the vestments and made the beautiful laces. Fray Serra and his brother priests Parron and Vizcaino who had come by water officiated at the solemn high Mass. For a congregation they had Captain Villa of the "San Carlos," his mate, Canizares, Dr. Pratt, "a guard of eight soldiers, five Catalonian volunteers, a few sick soldiers, five able-bodied seamen, a carpenter, a blacksmith, three servants and eight Lower California Indians." The "San Antonio" had sailed for San Blas to get provisions on the sixth of July, and two days before, the land expedition in search of Monterey had left San Diego. Thus the auspicious occasion of the establishment of California's first Mission and Fray Serra's first attempt to make it a terrestrial Paradise was marked by the simplicity of all great efforts. And when the little congregation sang "Veni Creator" to the roar of musketry and Fray Serra thumped his little bell hanging on a tree branch, there was more dramatic beauty in it all than in the most brilliant of European religious ceremonies. It is no wonder that the pious priest saw a promise in the flock of wild doves hovering above them when the strains of that "Come, Holy Ghost," came lustily from Spanish and Indian throat.
Before singing the high Mass, Fray Serra and his assistants held the ceremony of the blessing of the cross, the great black cross that was raised on a mesa from which they could see the ocean shimmering in the morning sun. And Fray Serra blessed the beautiful valley in which they were to see cattle grazing and rancherias thriving in the near future. Nor did they neglect to bless the bluffs rising behind them, bluffs and mountains from which would come hostile Indians that would burn their first mission and kill the beloved Father Jayme. And so the land was claimed for Christ, the King, though also for the King of Spain, whose soldiers were there to protect the missionaries.
But the San Diego of that day was not the beautiful city of today. Trials and suffering was the portion of its first citizens, and it was some time before Fray Serra or his assistant priests brought the Mission to a point that they would call successful. The Indians were not interested in the word. They could not understand it as it was preached in Spanish in the first place, and it would take time for Fray Junipero to learn their dialect. He coaxed them with offers of food, which they feared to taste. He gave them trinkets and clothing and what he did not give them they stole. What he and especially the soldiers resented most in their thieving was their thefts of the few horses left to the camp. And they did not steal the horses to ride them but rather to eat them, which no self-respecting Spanish vaquero could forgive. Naturally there was trouble which not even the peace loving Fray Junipero could prevent.
A month after the solemn establishment of the Mission, the Indians, laughing at the discharge of Spanish muskets which were aimed over their heads to frighten them, for the Spanish plan was not to kill the natives but to make friends with them, finally made an organized raid on the Mission. There were only four soldiers to defend the place, the others having been placed to protect the "San Carlos" still in harbor. The Indians had cut her sails and stolen the canvas and ropes as well as all they could lift. This time the soldiers fired to hit the Indians and so let them know the meaning of firearms. The Indian party was a large one, but finding that bows and arrows were not the only deadly weapons, they fled, taking their dead and wounded with them. One Spaniard was killed, José Maria Vegerano and Fray Vizcaino was hit in the hand with an arrow as he raised the mat before his hut to see what had happened. A few days later the Indians returned with their wounded and asked for medical aid, which the fathers willingly gave.
The first baptism, or what Fray Junipero meant to be the first San Diego baptism, was not as funny to the missionary as it would seem to us today, for the good man was in deadly earnest. A child was brought by some Indians who made signs which the priests took to be request for baptism. Fray Junipero eagerly called the corporal of the soldiers to act as godfather. The other soldiers and civilians hurried into the hut that was the chapel to witness the ceremony. Fray Junipero when all were assembled began the ceremony and was getting along well when it came to where he had to pour the regenerating waters on the child's head. Just as the Indian saw the water touching the baby's head, he snatched it away from the priest and rushed out of the hut. The soldiers started after him to bring him back and have the baby baptized in spite of the poor father's protests, but Fray Junipero would have none of it. He insisted that it was his fault, that it was due to his sins, this frustration of his missionary effort. For years did he sorrow for the loss of the little Indian Christian "prospect." It was a tragedy to him, while we of today can laugh at the zeal of the soldiers rushing after an Indian father who was afraid of wetting his infant's scalp. Or at the helpless Fray Junipero weeping at the baptismal font and accusing himself of sin because of an Indian's prejudice. To the pious Junipero it was a soul lost to heaven. And his "Mea Culpa" was sincere.
The Mission was moved in 1774 to Nipaguay. The frailes had already begun the manufacture of adobes and soon a little settlement began to rise. There were a dwelling, a storehouse and a smithy of adobe and a church of timber roofed with tiles. The buildings on the old site were left to the Presidio, where the soldiers and the governor lived.
In October 1775, the mountain Indians, a wild and hostile tribe, numbering over a thousand swooped down upon the little mission, and placing a guard at the door of every Christian Indian's hut, lest they give alarm to the whites, burned the buildings, robbed the new church of its valuable golden service, its exquisite linens, its embroidered vestments and all that was not only valuable but sacred to the Christians, and savagely murdered the gentle Fray Luis Jayme who hearing their yells had come out amicably with his "Amad a Dios, mis hijos." Two others were killed.
But with all the tragedy to the little handful of pioneers, one finds the humorous Spanish account of Fray Fuster, who cornered with the sharpshooting corporal, a soldier and a wounded carpenter and fighting from behind a huge copper kettle, with the roof blazing overhead, coolly sat upon a sack of gun-powder and spreading the folds of his heavy brown habit about it saved it and the party from being blown to pieces. It took courage to sit still under those circumstances, upon fifty pounds of gunpowder under a roof that dripped firebrands about him, but Fray Fuster was brave enough to keep sitting even after the Indians had hit him with a piece of burning coal and wounded him. He sat there until daybreak, wounded but gallant, until the Indians, fearing the arrival of the Presidio soldiers departed for the hills.
Later when the ringleader of the raid, an old Indian came back begging forgiveness to be threatened with arrest by Captain Rivera of the Presidio, it was Fray Fuster who warned the captain not to arrest the Indian because he had sought sanctuary in the warehouse then the temporary church. And when the captain defying the authority of the Church entered the church and dragged the wretch out, Fray Fuster excommunicated him. Upon the return of Fray Junipero, the Captain sought absolution from him, but the Presidente of the Missions saw eye to eye with Fray Fuster and Rivera finally was compelled to free the culprit. It was this gentleness, this forgiving spirit of the frailes that finally brought the Indians to Christianity. Rivera was recalled after other interferences with the Missions and their Indian neophytes and sent to Lower California.
New buildings were finished in 1777 and formally dedicated November 12 of that year. The Presidio, or fort, six miles down toward the sea, was getting more populous. The officers and soldiers were bringing their families from Mexico and Lower California or from Spain. Indian rancherias were fast becoming prosperous. And the brown habits of the frailes grew dusty with tramping from rancheria to rancheria in quest of souls. San Diego, the unfertile had become productive through the extensive system of irrigation introduced by the Franciscans. Already in 1800, 6,960 cattle grazed in the valley, with 6,000 sheep in another section. Five hundred yards of adobe wall surrounded a vineyard before that, in 1795. Olives from the Mission orchards were producing oil, manufactured at the Mission. In 1810, 44,781 lb. of hemp were exported from San Diego Mission. A granary of adobe with tile roof, 96x24 ft. was always full. By 1821 there was a harvest of 21,000 bushels of wheat, barley and corn. In 1830, the Mission owned 8,822 head of cattle, 1,192 horses and mules, and 16,661 head of sheep. Not to speak of nearly 2,000 souls, for which was all this labor, both their own and the frailes, given.
But in 1835, after the secularization of the Missions, Richard Henry Dana, visited the Mission and wrote in his "Two Years Before the Mast": 'We drove into the open square in which the stillness of death reigned." For already the avarice of Mexican officials and Spanish fickleness were showing results. Had not the Americans of General Kearney's type with the backing of United States courts, taken charge after the ceding of California to our Government, there might not have been even these picturesque ruins to tell the story of Fray Junipero's great dream.
The Mission of San Buenaventura
Although San Buenaventura Mission was to be among the first three Missions to be established in Upper California, according to Don Gaivez's plan, it was really the last to be established by Fray Serra. Political changes, in which Serra's good friend Governor Portola was replaced by Don Teodore de Croix, and the latter by Governor Neve, as well as Captain Rivera's opposition to most of the plans of the Franciscans postponed the event until 1783, fifteen years later.
The Indians were numerous and friendly. The Mission thrived so that by 1793 Vancouver, visiting it at that time, described it as being superior to any of the other Missions. Apples, pears, plums, figs, oranges, grapes, peaches, pomegranates, plantain, bananas, cocoanuts, sugar cane, indigo as well as all sorts of vegetables and herbs were grown. By 1816 the Mission boasted of over 40,000 livestock and was growing large crops of wheat, corn and barley.
Many a trading vessel and whaling ship plying the Pacific coast found refreshing food at the table of the frailes, and many a rough old tar found himself embarrassed by the simple hospitality of the Franciscans. The Mission gardens ran along the Ventura river and were fragrant and lovely with blossoms and fruit at all seasons.
From 1797 to 1823 Fray Senan. the scholarly "Padre Calma" - Father Tranquillity - served at this Mission, not leaving it even when he was made president of all the California Missions. He lies buried under the altar. But one likes to think of Fray Francisco Uria, the good-natured host of Robinson, of Fray Francisco with his tour big cats, clawing his gray habit for scraps as he eats, of Fray Francisco ordering his Indian boys to pack the gifts of fruit and wine and jerked beef for the travelers who stop their vessels along the channel to get good cheer as well as supplies from the frailes.
The Mission of San Juan Capistrano
The first attempt at founding the mission named for the soldier saint of Capistran was in 1775. With a large congregation of curious Indians who had gathered to watch the newcomers and to help them build the temporary shelter where Mass was said, Fray Lasuen offered the first Holy Sacrifice in October of that year. The party of soldiers and neophytes that had accompanied Fray Lasuen from San Diego were just settling down in their temporary huts of brush and saplings and Fray Amurrio had just arrived with cattle and supplies from San Gabriel when news came that the Indians at San Diego had revolted. The whole party hastened back to the Presidio of San Diego, after burying the bells for safekeeping. Two years later the Mission was finally started. Fray Junipero saw to this in person. There were many delays in the building and not until 1806 came the day for the dedication. That was the event worthy of the labor spent upon the House of God. President Tapis, head of the California missions, with the priests from several Missions, Governor Arillaga and his staff, in their uniforms of scarlet, gold and blue, soldiers and their officers from the presidios of San Diego and Santa Barbara, and hundreds of neophytes from the surrounding rancherias and from other missions, gentes de rayson in their velvet suits and scarlet sashes, the ladies of the presidio in mantilla and shawl, were all part of the picturesque ceremony.
There was great feasting for the Indians out in the fields where cattle had been killed and slowly roasted under ground. There were toasts to the Mexican master mason sent up from Cuilacan who had taught the Indians how to cut and carve the stone that grew into so beautiful a church. There were toasts to the priests, and maybe a toast to the governor for policy's sake. Meanwhile in the patio of the mission, the frailes were hosts to the gentes de Rayson, the Spanish officers, the governor and his staff, and their ladies. The feasting there was as joyous but more dignified.
This prosperous time did not last for San Juan. An earthquake, six years later, shook the beautiful building into ruin, killing many of the neophyte congregation as they knelt at an early Mass. San Juan never recovered from the effects 0f this catastrophe. The opposition of the presidio officials that had grown worse as the years passed, not only in San Juan but all over the mission field of California, was too strong for the disheartened priests and neophytes to overcome, and San Juan Capistrano Mission was already losing ground in its industries when secularization finished the work of destruction in 1835. Yet in 1819 the Mission owned 31,270 livestock. Its granaries were among the largest of the missions and always full. Its looms produced blankets and cloth for home consumption and to spare.
Now only the ruin, in all its beauty, is left, and its bells call in vain for the dark-skinned men, women and children who so joyously built both church and mission buildings.
The Mission of San Gabriel, Arcangel
A dramatic incident occurred during the establishment of San Gabriel Mission, which took place September 1771. The missionaries had come with a guard of ten soldiers, their mule-train and servants. They had been a month on the march from San Diego. Selecting a wooded spot near the River San Miguel, later called San Gabriel River, they began the foundation of their mission. News of their arrival had spread among the Indians who gathered about the little party in menacing numbers. One of the frailes in the party had a sudden inspiration and hurriedly unpacked a beautiful banner of Our Lady of Sorrows which he raised up for the Indians to view. Why the savages found it sacred, is explained by Fray Palou, the author of Fra Serra's biography, It was a miracle. The "gentiles," their two chiefs in the lead, threw down their bows and arrows, their beads and trinkets before the image, and so made their peace with the beautiful Mother of Sorrows and her representatives. Surely the artist had been skillful in depicting the Sorrowful Mother of Christ since these people of the wilderness felt the pathos he expressed.
But conversions were not immediate. The soldiers were blamed. They must have been a wild lot, for the records tell how they would chase the frightened squaws whom they met in the woods or on their way to and from the mission right into their own rancherias, killing their men if they dared interfere. Finally the Indians grew to distinguish between the motives of the soldiers and the missionaries, and gradually the frailes won them into the Mission. In the nineteen years of its existence San Gabriel recorded nearly two thousand baptisms of Indians and had under its care, an average of over one thousand neophytes. Because it was directly on the route from Mexico it was considered an important mission.
Fray José Maria Zalvidea, was assigned to San Gabriel Mission in 1806 and thereupon opened for it an era of great prosperity. In 1820 San Gabriel had the largest herds of cattle of all the missions. San Luis Rey only could surpass it in the size of its crops. Helen Hunt Jackson in her novel "Ramona" made Fray Zaividea the prototype for her padre. He was assigned to San Juan Capistrano Mission in 1826.
In 1830 the Mission owned over 40,000 livestock, In 1834 San Gabriel was secularized by the Mexican government. In 1840 the Mission possessed seventy-two cattle and 700 sheep. In 1846 the Mission was sold by the Mexican Government. The title was later declared invalid by the United States government on the ground that the Mexican governor had no right to sell the property. That was after California was in possession of this country. Had we acquired it earlier there might have been a more glorious story to tell of Franciscan efforts to civilize the Indians.
Poetry and romance still linger around San Gabriel. Though the San Gabriel Indians struggled against the fate decreed upon them by Mexico, they had to go. But they have left their mark, and Americans have tried to keep what is left of the old Mission. One sees it in the warm tiles reflecting the sun, in the old mill up in the hills, in the pond and the dam of their manufacture, in the great buildings of the church. One hears their spirits in the plaintive tones of the bells, one sees their ghosts in the shadows of the vines, planted a century and a half ago. One catches a glimpse of the vaquero, his gay sash glowing, his sombrero glittering with its metal disks, riding wildly over the shadowy Camino Real, and then one turns to view the remnants of Indian life through the blue haze of gasoline, modernity's incense to Mammon.
The Mission of San Antonio de Padua
In the founding of the Mission of San Antonio de Padua, the third of the California missions to be established, one gets near to the personality of the man Junipero Serra.
Here in the beautiful valley of Los Robles came one June day of 1771, Fray Serra, his two brothers in Christ, Fray Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar, with the usual company of soldiers, Indian servants, and pack-mules that carried supplies and church equipment.
They had started out from Monterey and had marched along the Salinas River until they came upon this beautiful glen where oak trees from fifty to one hundred feet apart made a stately offer to the travelers for encampment. Around this glen of beauty ranged the Sierra Santa Lucia. Through it wound the river. It was nature's offering.
Fray Serra, delightedly ordered the mule-train to stop and unpack. The first thing he wanted were the bells, for Fray Serra always must have the musical bells of Spanish make with which to call his Indians out of their savagery into the Church. Eagerly he urged the men to hang the bells on a tree-branch. He could scarcely wait until they were there before he began to ring them, and "to shout as though in a rapture of joy: 'O, gentiles, come, come to Holy Church, come to receive the faith of Jesus Christ."
Fray Miguel astonished at his superiors apparent loss of self-control interrupted the enthusiast. "Why do you tire yourself?" he asked practically. "This is not the place where the church is to be erected, nor are there any Indians here. It is useless to ring the bells."
But Fray Serra would have none of his practicality. "Let me satisfy the longings of my heart which desires that this bell might be heard all over the world . . . or that at least the gentiles of these mountains may hear it."
And Fray Junipero had his way. The lure of the spot was too much for even his assistants, if it was not his enthusiasm. The Mission of San Antonio de Padua was formally established there, July 14, 1771. There was one lone Indian of the neighborhood to witness the ceremony, the first to come in curiosity. This "first offering of Gentilism" was a good omen. The Indians of the neighborhood were easily converted, especially after they saw the effects of a novena to St. Anthony, not to speak of the irrigating system established almost at once, upon the wheat crop that seemed to fail but did not. Besides, the Indians had a vague tale of another gray-habited fraile who, they said had come by the air among their forbears and worshiped as these white men did.
The present building is the third to be erected in this Mission. In records left of this Mission there is a report of the election of an Indian neophyte, Eugenio Nacitreas elector de partido. Fray Cabot was secretary of the meeting and signed his credentials. The alcalde and the regidores, also Indian neophytes signed with him, making their cross. This shows how the Indians were being trained into citizenship.
Fray Pedro Cabot and Fray Bautista Sancho were two notable frailes in charge of this Mission. Robinson, visiting the Mission in 1830, found him to be "a fine, noble-looking man, whose manner and whole deportment would have led one to suppose he had been bred in the courts of Europe rather than in the cloister." But Fray Cabot might have been as well bred in the manufacturing and executive world of today, for under his guidance, the neophytes produced the best flour of California, according to Governor Alvarado, who was no friend of the frailes. San Antonio was also noted for its horses, and in that Spanish territory among the greatest horsemen of the world it meant something to raise "superb horses." In 1830, Robinson writes, the Mission showed prosperity and thrift and orderliness. The buildings were in good condition, and the Indians were clean and comfortably dressed.
In 1835 the Mission was secularized, in June. July 22 Fray Mercado reported the first results of the government's action; inhuman treatment of the Indians, adultery with helpless Indian women by the government officials, starving and naked Indians roaming about looking for the food the Mission fathers could not longer give them, and all other excesses and injustices that can be committed by corrupt officials. In 1840, Fray Gutierrez reports the Mission fast advancing towards complete destruction.
Then came the secular priest in 1850, for the frailes had passed out of San Antonio's existence, a Father Ambris, who cared for the remnants of a once great tribe of Indians until 1880, to go down with the ruin in death. His body lies buried there, the pathos of it all being that it was a hopeless task for him from the beginning. Yet his compensation may have been found in the beauty of the pear trees, in the loveliness of the pomegranate blossoms, in the peacefulness of the Valley of the Oaks.
The Mission of San Luis, Rey de Francia
The royal splendor of the Mission of San Luis Rey suggests the magnificence of the Moor rather than that of the French King for whom it was named. Others of the twenty-one Missions had certain distinction, some for their church, others for their gardens, or their fountains, or their picturesque situation, but San Luis Rey stood forth as the most imposing and the richest of them all.
This Mission was founded on June 13th, 1798 by Fray Lasuen, who had with him Fray Peyri and Fray Santiago, as well as the usual company of soldiers. Indians from San Juan Capistrano were also in attendance. The ceremony, too, attracted great numbers of unchristianized Indians from the surrounding rancherias.
To Fray Peyri is honor due for the designing and building of the most artistic of the Missions. To him, too, must credit be given for its unsurpassed success, not only in its converts but also in its accumulation of wealth. Here, for thirty-three years, this cultured Catalonian labored with hand and brain to produce all this magnificence so casually viewed by tourists. Here he lived among his three thousand neophytes and taught them to weave, to tan, to grow fruit and grain, to raise cattle that averaged nearly thirty thousand head a year and, above all, to worship God.
Here the good fray mingled with his neophytes as the sun was setting every evening where, on the plaza before the church, the Indian band played the music of Europe, for Fray Peyri was a music lover and has left a romantic old tome to prove it. Here he smilingly passed through the crowd of Indians at week-ends as they received their portion of the week's slaughter of beef and mutton. And from here he slipped away quietly in 1829 with Governor Victoria when the Mexican regime replaced that of Spain. He took his departure at night, bringing with him two Indian boys whom he planned to place in college in Mexico. The parting with his flock would have been too sad. Some of them followed him to San Diego and were in time to receive his blessing as he stood on the deck of the boat that would take him to Mexico. The wild race of those Indian vaqueros from San Luis Rey to San Diego had been in vain. His usefulness aborted, their beloved pastor could not remain to see the Mission of his heart and its people dwindle away under unfriendly rule.
In 1833 when the Mission was secularized there were thirty-five hundred Indians living within its boundaries. By 1840, 1,000 Indians were still holding on to their lands and living at the Mission and on the ranchos. In 1846 the Mexican government sold the Mission to José Cot and José Pico, the latter probably a relative of Governor Pico, But General Fremont ousted these agents of the Mexican government, and later the United States court ruled the sale to be invalid. In 1847 a garrison of Mormon soldiers held the Mission against the Californians. In August of that year Captain Hunter was made Indian agent by the federal government.
In 1894 the Franciscans were brought back to San Luis Rey by the Church authorities and Father O'Keefe, a Franciscan of another race but of the same spirit as Fray Serra and Fray Peyri saw the success of his work of restoration, with the greater happiness because there were present at its rededication some old Indian women who had witnessed the first dedication nearly one hundred years before.
Today the Mission is a house of Novitiate and of Philosophy where young men are trained in the Religious life and prepared for the priesthood.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
This Mission has been called the "Melrose Abbey of the West'' evidently by some imaginative Gael who sees in its beauty and in the beauty of its setting a similarity to the Trappist monastery. Red tiles, like old port, glowing in the sun, over cream colored old walls, against a purple blue sky, shadowy arches, recesses a study in mauve, the great building, cruciform, outline against the foothills, all this is beauty unsurpassed.
The oldest part of the Mission still standing is the long building on the east side of the patio, and is known as "Serra's Church" because it was used as a chapel by him on his official visits to the Mission. Fray Serra did not live to see the beautiful second church of his dream rise up against the background of lomas. For he died in 1784 and the stone church was finally finished in 1806.
Work had begun on this first stone church of California in 1796. Boulders were used as foundation for the adobe walls of the rest of the Mission but the church was entirely of stone brought from Mission Vieja six miles northeast of San Juan. All the smaller stones were brought uphill by the Indian neophytes, men, women and children. Chanting their Canticle of Dawn as they started down the six-mile hike to the quarries, the Indians gaily went for the stones, returning leisurely, every Indian carrying a stone, the strong ones showing their strength by carrying the boulders, the lazy ones carrying small stones. This was a labor of love and the church was theirs. Like the Hebrews of old they brought their offerings, but the offering was a symbol of love not fear, little stones carried by baby hands, bigger stones carried by laughing young squaws, great ones borne by the dashing young vaquero who, despising footwork rode on joyously while his rawhide lariat dragged the stone behind him.
Mission San Juan Bautista
On June 24th, feast day of Saint John, the Baptist, in the year 1797, the Mission was dedicated to the precursor of Jesus Christ. The frailes had come on from San Jose where a few weeks previously they had started that Mission. A chime of nine bells, made in Peru, sent its sweet music out over the valley, calling the frailes and neophytes to Mass and Vespers. San Juan Bautista began its history with music not quite as solemn. The missionary had brought with him a hand organ made in London and began to play it in the presence of the Indians. The red-men were first frightened at the contrivance but soon found joy in its none too religious melodies, their favorite one being the "Siren's Waltz." Fights between the gentile Indians and the soldiers guarding the Mission took place occasionally but the more significant event was the revolt of Castro an Alvarado against the governor, Guitierez, when Bautista became the headquarters of the Castro faction. Castro was victor and Alvarado was elected governor. Ten years later Castro staged a battle against General Fremont, when the American officer invaded the Mexican stronghold. Fremont raised the American flag over the Mission for the first time, but American protection had come too late to save the Mission.
San Miguel Mission
The Mission dedicated to Saint Michael, the militant arch-angel, did not live up to its name. It was never of great importance in the chain of Missions, except that it was the halfway Mission and its indifferent success with the Gentile Indians pointed to a neglect on the part of patron. Fray Lasuen founded San Miguel on July 25th, 1797, and the president sang the Te Deum with unusual Fervor that bright summer day because the Indians brought him fifteen children to baptize. He, or rather. Fray Sitjar and Fray Concepción, whom he appointed to the Mission found old Chief Guchapa of the Cholan rancheria of other temper. That doughty old pagan repulsed all their overtures, casting up the fact that they and their soldiers were no more important than were he and his brother red-men since the soldiers died just as the Indians died. To convince him Commander de la Guerra sent a company of soldiers out after him. They brought him in a prisoner to the Mission, but even this method of converting did lot effect the old heathen, although he did promise to return the runaways from the Missions. Poor Fray Concepción became insane not long after his assignment to San Miguel and was sent back to Mexico.
Mission La Purissima Concepcion
La Purissima Concepción as established three years after the death of Fray Serra. Fray Fermin Francisco Lasuen, his successor as president of the California Missions, officiated at the founding of this Mission along the banks of the Santa Rosa River, now the Santa Inez. The ceremony took place on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1787. The earthquake of 1812 created such havoc with the first foundation that the frailes moved to the Valley of the Water Cresses in 1813. This Mission was simpler in style than any of the other California Missions. Fray Vincente Fuster and Fray José Arroita were the first missionaries in charge. In 1824 the Indians of La Purissiina took part in the uprising which included the Indians of Santa Inez and Santa Barbara. For three weeks the Indians had the fun of holding the Mission and then came the troops from Monterey to put an end to their holiday. The frailes whom the Indians did not molest, their quarrel being with the soldiers, had much trouble in winning leniency from the authorities, for their rebel children.
Nuestra Senora de La Soledad, Founded 1791
The Mission of La Soledad, dedicated to Our Most Sorrowful Lady of the Solitude, was founded in October 1791 by Fray Lasuen. It became the site of a prosperous community of neophytes but after 1820 the Mission fell into decline through the grafting of the Mexican officials. When secularization came upon it, its plunderers had left it a ruin. The tragic picture of the death of Fray Sarria is drawn by Gleeson "For thirty years he had labored among them, and now, if necessary he was ready to die in their behalf. Broken by years and exhausted by hunger, one Sunday morning in the month of August (1835) . . . the holy man assembled in his little church the few converts that remained to him. It was the last time he was to appear before the natives. Hardly had he commenced the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when his strength completely failed him; he fell before the altar and expired in the arms of his people, for whom he had so earnestly and zealously labored."
Fray Sarria's death was found to he caused by actual want of food. But Governor Alvarado was able in 1841 to gather the last bit of plunder from La Soledad, a few cattle, some iron-work and its tiles which he used on one of his several ranches, all stolen from the missionaries and their neophytes. By 1853 La Soledad was nothing but a broken piece of wall.
Santa Clara Mission
Three miles from the city of San José is the site of the Santa Clara Mission. A one hundred foot boulevard connects the Mission with San Jose lined with a triple row of trees that were planted a century and a half ago, the famous Alameda.
The last Franciscan to serve at Santa Clara was Fray José Real, who was ordered back to Mexico by church authorities under pain of suspension and who afterwards left the Franciscan order to become a secular priest. His personal decadence fitted well with the political decadence that ended in the secularization and destruction of the Missions. He left in 1852. He was a Mexican and not of the Fernandinos.
Two of the old Mission bells still send forth their call to the countryside in sweet memorial to the Franciscans who spent lonely lives among uncouth savages away from their fellows away from the trend of civilization. Perhaps down the picturesque Alameda their gray -habited ghosts walk at twilight or before dawn, and while the black-gowned Jesuits of Santa Clara College follow the rule of the militant Ignatius, they are singing their Alabado, that hymn of praise their Indian neophytes had learned to sing and love.
The Mission of Santa Cruz
The Mission of Santa Cruz, on the bay of Monterey, was founded by Fray Lasuen in the Fall of 1791. Don Hermenegildo Sal, Commandante of San Francisco, who seemed to be more friendly to the missionaries than most of his kind, took formal possession of the place Sept. 25, 1791. Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Carlos Missions sent grubstakes to start the new Mission, which included 64 cattle, 22 horses, 77 fanagas of grain, 26 loaves of bread, five yokes of oxen, seventy sheep, two bushels of barley, seven mules, and San Carlos added eight horses. The church was finished in 1794. A flour mill was running in 1796. Looms and the house for them were ready three years before, as well as a two-storied granary. But by 1798 Fray Fernandez, then in charge, was complaining that the church was damaged by flood, a hundred and thirty neophytes had deserted, the land flooded with only half the planting done, livestock were dying; and a dead whale on the beach was attracting all the wolves and hears in the district.
Here Fray Ouintana was murdered by Indians. He had left a sick bed to answer a sick-call in the middle of night. His murderers brought the body hack and placed it in his bed so that it would appear that he had come to his death naturally. Four years later the murderers were discovered to be punished by two hundred lashes each and by working in chains from two to ten years.
Spanish and Mexican settlers in a neighboring village, taking advantage of a rumor that the pirate, Bouchard, was heading for Santa Cruz, sacked the Mission in the hope that he would he blamed for the deed. Unfavorable winds had kept the pirate from landing and so they were found out. The frailes were left without a stick of furniture. Everything movable was taken.
The Mission was secularized in 1835. Ten thousand dollars were distributed at that time to the Indians who soon were no better off than before they had it, nor even as well off, since their means of livelihood was taken from them.
Now the only connection with the old Mission lies in the name of the parish church, the Holy Cross, and in the Sisters of the Holy Cross, whose pretty garden shows a spirit akin to that of those beauty loving Spanish frailes. Thus, on Mission Hill, and significantly, stands the same Holy Cross of Fray Serra, and though it is not the rugged cross-tree of hurriedly hewn wood which he set up in his Missions, it is nevertheless, the Santa Cruz, symbol of Christian continuity.
The Mission of San José
The first chapel of the Mission of the Most Glorious Patriarch Señor San José de Guadalupe was an arbor of branches covered over with flowers. In this charming bower Mass was celebrated on Sunday, June 11, 1797. There in the beautiful valley of Santa Clara, the cross was blessed and erected in the presence of an assemblage of Indians who gathered to witness the event. Fray Lasuen, president of the Missions, was celebrant. Soon after a little wooden church was erected, to be followed in 1809 with all adobe church. The Mission became one of the most prosperous of those in California. Thousands of cattle were raised on its lands. The well watered and fertile soil gave bounteous crops. And San José would have been an earthly paradise except for opposition of the mountain Indians. The most serious trouble was with one Estanislas, a renegade neophyte who had run away from San José to gather about him a wild following that raided the neighboring rancherias. A band of soldiers from San Francisco finally subdued the raiders. The old bells, a baptismal font, now in use in the parish church near the site of the old Mission are all that is left, except a portion of the monastery and an avenue of olive trees which the frailes and their Indian neophytes planted so long ago. These now shade the garden of the Dominican Sisters, who are fit stewards of the tradition left by the sons of St. Francis.
The Mission of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is the only Mission where the priests serving it have been consecutively Franciscans from the day of its foundation to the present. Yet with this victory against fate, it has in its history a bit of pathos, for Fra Junipero, who had been eager for the establishment of this Mission, did not live to see his wish fulfilled. He had joyfully accompanied Governor Neve and his soldiers to Yanonalit, where on a mesa they started operations for the presidio or fort. Fray Serra blessed the site and the cross newly erected on a warm April day in 1782. Thrilled by the crowd of Indians who had assembled under the command of Chief Yanonanlit, the good missionary poured out his heart in sermon and prayer.
But Governor Neve was affected by neither the large congregation of Indians nor the need of those inhabitants of the several rancherias in the district, and particularly not affected by the enthusiasm of Fray Serra. He took possession in the name of the King and God, began the building of the presidio, including a chapel for the soldiers' use, as well as a storehouse, a barracks and a priest's house. But there was no talk of a Mission until Fray Serra, after remaining hopefully with the soldiers for some time, finally put it up to the governor and found that official interested only in the immediate building of a fort. Militarism was showing its teeth to the gentle frailes. So Fray Serra returned to Monterey in sorrow. The days of Portola and Galvez were gone. The new regime was more venal and begrudged the frailes the temporalities which they guarded so jealously for the Indians, their wards, their "hijos." Two years later Fray Serra laid down his burden and was buried in San Carlos.
On his last rounds of the Missions before he died, Fray Serra paused at the Presidio of Santa Barbara in 1784 to see what steps had been taken towards the establishment of the Mission. He had tramped from Mission to Mission, for this good man eschewed the comfort of a ride on even a mule's hack, not to speak of the horses at his command. Santa Barbara saw him for the last time plodding on to Monterey, his gray gown making his receding figure shadow-like as he disappeared over the ridge that finally hid him. Surely in the hour before sunrise that shadowy figure can be seen by the imaginative, although the literal-minded ones of Santa Barbara see only the floating flecks of cloud and hear, not the "Alabado" rising out of the stillness, but the song of waking birds, those little feathered brothers of the Franciscans.
On December 15, 1786 the Mission of Santa Barbara was finally established. Within a year, a chapel was built as well as a house for the priests, quarters for married men, quarters for unmarried men, a granary, and a kitchen. The buildings were all tiled in 1788, with tiles made in the Mission. From this point on the Mission grew, until, by the end of 1807 there were, not only the Mission buildings, but also two hundred and fifty-two of what might be called California's first bungalows in its pioneer subdivision, all inhabited by Indian neophyte families. Streets intersected each other in this Indian town. Gardens of flowers, small fruit and vegetables, with arbors of grape vines added to the adobe houses, brilliant in the sun with their red tile roofs. The dwellings housed contented Indians who found their industry profitable, for they were the weavers, the tanners, the carpenters, and tile-makers of the Mission.
Gentes de rayson, the white people who followed the founding of the presidio brought a new note of civilization. The frailes would rather not have them in California, but the government insisted on bestowing grants of land upon loyal servants in reward for exceptional service. Santa Barbara presidio soon became the center of an aristocratic Spanish colony while the Mission became populous with Indian families.
In 1789 the little tule-roofed early chapel gave way to a larger structure, with roof of tile, which in its turn was replaced by a third and larger church in 1794. This church was of adobe and had six chapels in which were placed four years later a series of oil paintings brought from Spain. The earthquake of 1812 damaged this building so badly that the frailes had it taken down and began to build the beautiful stone structure that stands today. This building was began in 1815 and finished five years later. The walls are six feet thick, and the building is considered the most solid structure of its kind in California.
The Mission had in its charge several ranchos east of the Santa Inez River, where neophytes raised wheat, corn, beans and other grain.
The handsome church now standing was designed and builded under the supervision of Fray Antonio Ripoli, to whose industry and intelligence is due much of the progress made by Santa Barbara Mission. He had, in 1827, two hundred Indians working in a woolen mill. The same year found him busy with the building of a great fountain, or reservoir, as well as a dam across Pedragoso Creek to confine water for operating a mill. The reservoir was used for watering the orchards. An aqueduct led from the meeting of East and West Mission Creeks to the reservoir. This reservoir was made of tiles and still exists. Part of the water system of the Santa Barbara town today is the remnant of the Fray Ripoli's system. Present day engineers could not improve on the fray's idea. Mexico, however, did not appreciate the work of this energetic missionary, and in 1828 he found it expedient to leave his beloved Mission and sail for Spain in a friendly American brig, possibly that of a friend of Skipper Wilcox, the Indian's Don Santiago, whose courtship of a Spanish beauty in Santa Barbara and the lady's refusal adds color to its history.
When secularization threatened the Mission, the frailes appealed to Rome for the right to establish a hospice, which would become later an apostolic college for novitiates of the Franciscan order. Rome acquiesced in 1853, but as there was no fund, now that the Mission lands were seized by the Mexican government, the college did not prosper. American ownership of California changed the circumstances of the frailes in Santa Barbara for the better, and finally in 1885, the Mission became part of the St. Louis, Missouri, Province of the Friars Minor.
The Mission of Santa Inez
Santa Inez, the nineteenth Mission, was established in 1804. Its object was to reach the Indians beyond the coast range. The site chosen was in a picturesque valley about thirty-five miles from Santa Barbara. Its missionary efforts covered thirty-two years. Great herds of cattle and flocks of sheep made up its wealth. It had also a notable output of hemp.
It was at Santa Inez that the uprising of 1824 started. The soldiers had demanded Indian labor from the Mission, but were not willing to pay for it. The flogging of an Indian caused a sudden flaring of a resentment that had been smoldering for a long time, not only at Santa Inez but at other Missions, especially at La Purisima. The quarrel was not with the missionaries, however, although the Missions suffered during the battles with the soldiers.
Santa Inez had a notable reservoir and water system. Its campanile is beautiful in its simplicity and strength.
An attempt was made to make Santa Juez a center of higher learning when after secularization reduced the Mission's prosperity in 1836, the frailes opened a seminary. In 1846, a year after the seminary had started, Governor Pico sold the whole Mission estate for seven thousand dollars. The Franciscans in charge clung to the Mission until 1850, when they were compelled to abandon it. Later the United States declared the sale of this property invalid, as it did in all cases where the Mexican Government had seized and sold church property.
The Mission of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
In September 1772 when Fray Junipero Serra was on his way to Mexico to demand better organization on the part of the state in the California colonization, he paused at a place which the natives called Tixilini. It was not far from Bear Valley, where Lieutenant Fages and his soldiers had killed enough bears and other game to feed the starving people at Monterey the year before. Here Fray Serra erected his cross and with the aid of friendly Indians started his new Mission, San Luis Obispo.
Fray Cavaller, five soldiers and a few San Carlos Indians were left in charge. For sustenance they had fifty pounds of flour, three pecks of wheat and a barrel of brown sugar. The brown sugar was important in their social intercourse with the Indians of the district.
Before Fray Serra had time to establish his new Mission and go on his way, he was shocked when one of the soldiers was caught "in actual sin with an Indian woman." This "lashing of the Enemy's tail" greatly worried him. He feared the success of the Mission. But the Mission prospered in spite of the soldier's slipping from the narrow path.
Here it was that tiles were first manufactured. This form of roofing that has brought artistic as well as safe roofing to our own modern construction came about through the meatiness of a disgruntled Indian who, to satisfy his grudge sent a burning arrow into the roof of tule where the sun-dried rushes made good tinder. Three times was the Mission burned by reason of its inflammable roofs. The clay of the district suggested tiles and the Franciscan in charge began experimenting with the result that tiles were used in all the other Missions after San Luis Obispo showed its colorful roof against the turquoise sky.
Mission records present the picture of Captain Anza acting as godfather for a number of little Indian babies as he paused for rest on his March to Monterey.
The church of adobes and tile roofs was built in 1793. The barracks, the guard-house, the workroom and missionaries' house were finished in 1794. Substantial native huts surrounded the Mission. The Indians were instructed in the milling of flour, in carpentry and other trades. In 1798 a water-power mili was constructed. Fray Luis Antonio Martinez is the outstanding romantic padre of this Mission. It is he who, according to Helen Hunt Jackson in her "Ramona" had what might be called California's first pageant. But Fray Luis' pageant was of fowls and not of flowers.
The good fraile had been taken unaware by some guests and was hard put to entertain them. He conceived the idea of having all the fowls parade before the corridor of the Mission. Indian boys had spent the night previous in gathering the poultry of the whole Mission. The parade took an hour to pass, geese, and ducks, crowing cocks and cackling hens, angry old ganders and waddling drakes. Surely the guests enjoyed the sight. One fancies the big padre chuckling with them as his Indian boy passes him and them the wine cooled in the cellars of the Mission.
The same Fray Luis led a company against the pirate Bouchard when that roisterer threatened neighboring Missions. And Fray Luis had his own good times with the Yankee skippers who brought contraband into California, such as china, fine woolens, and other gifts of European civilization so dear to the Spanish heart even though it beat under the gray homespun of Lady Poverty.
But Fray Luis was a man of dignity in spite of his gay moments. He defied the Mexican government and was even arrested for complicity in the Solis revolution and deported, though on only one soldier's testimony and that given against many other witnesses on his behalf.
San Carlos Borremeo Mission
A year after the founding of the San Diego Mission, Fray Serra, Governor Portola and Fray Crespi formed two more expeditions to find Monterey, which Portola and Fray Crespi with a company of soldiers had found but did not recognize in 1769. As Monterey was designated by the visitador-general, Galvez, as the point where the second Mission and Presidio were to be established, there was nothing to do but try again. They discovered it to be the port at which the first expedition had placed a cross, not because it was Monterey but because it seemed a goodly place.
Fray Crespi accompanied the land expedition which reached Monterey before the water expedition with which Fray Serra travelled. The two companies uniting at the given point, steps were taken at once for the establishment of the Mission, which took place formally on June 3, 1770. The great cross that stood facing the sea was blessed, Mass was sung, and the celebrant then blessed the land and water and all assembled at the beginning of this new venture.
A temporary Mission was erected, but almost immediately Fray Serra saw that its close proximity to the Presidio was a detriment to the conversion of his "gentiles," the Indians. The soldiers were too gay and irresponsible and their morals were not such as would lead the Indians into better lives. From the first the priests had this trouble, as had the French Jesuits with their fellow explorers. So Fray Serra began to tramp the surrounding hills to find a better location which he finally found five miles away in the Valley of Carmel. Here, in December 1771, the frailes established themselves and their neophytes. And here from that time to the day he died seventeen years later did Fray Serra find the joy of service to his "gentiles."
San Carlos Mission was important in that it was the home of the president of Missions and was in the jurisdiction of Monterey, the capital of Alta California. Fray Crespi, "El Beato," died there and was buried near one of the altars. Fray Junipero his friend and superior as he lay dying years after, in 1784, asked that he be laid beside the beloved coworker.
The five miles that lies between Monterey and San Carlos was trod, not only by the barefoot friars but also by the notables of Spain, Mexico and later the United States, who came on business or through curiosity to the Mission. Dashing caballeros, dignified governors, wild vaqueros and even Yankee skippers, doing their bit of smuggling, for the Spanish laws were strict in the matter of imports and their ideas of trade very narrow. But always there would be the Indian neophyte in his bright colored serape and clean calico shirt, for the frailes insisted on cleanliness as well as godliness among the Indians.
It was not a lonely place then, San Carlos, for the frailes were hospitable and gave welcome to high and low. There were several rancherias surrounding the Mission, and from these Indian settlements, there came daily the neophytes who worked at various industries of the Mission, agriculturists who had learned from the Spanish priests how to grow grain and fruit, vintners, tanners, masons, tile-makers, even amateur artists. For there were herds of cattle to herd and their hides to tan for various uses. There were sheep to shear, and the women and girls found a new labor in carding and spinning and weaving. There were baskets to weave as well as wool. In this beautiful valley of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, for whom those Carmelite priests of Vizcaino's expedition named it, there was from 1771 down to the fatal year of 1833 a happy community, blessed with plenty. The frailes treated the Indians as children to be trained against the day when they full-grown in citizenship and its responsibilities would be able to assume both. The land the frailes held were used for the benefit of the Indian neophytes. No priest of Fray Serra's band had ever a thought other than that they held this California Mission property only as stewards hold the property of minors.
But stories of the wealth of the Missions found their way into Mexico and back to Spain. A superior's criticism of his men that they were given to luxury because they rode in carriages from Mission to Mission in later years, instead of walking the roads, barefoot or in sandals, gave rise to imaginary luxury. And when the avarice of government officials, both Mexican and Spanish brought about the secularization so that the well-tilled lands, the orchards and groves and vineyards would be theirs to sell to American pioneers, the frailes lost not only their lands but found their churches subjected to mad searches for hidden gold. Desecration and destruction followed. The beautiful Moorish architecture of San Carlos suffered at the hands of ignorant fortune hunters. Tiles were stolen, stone carried away, the wooden trimming ripped off for firewood. Even the images were destroyed, often wantonly.
The frailes had to leave for their home country, Spain, whence the priests from the College of San Fernando, Mexico, had come. The Mexican born priests had not the spiritual nor the pioneer strength of the Fernandinos. And so we find Robert Louis Stevenson mourning over the ruin of San Carlos in his "Across the Plains": "The Mission church is in ruins; the rancheria, they tell me, encroached upon by Yankee newcomers; the little age of gold is over the Indian; but he has had a breathing space in Carmel Valley before he goes down to the dust with his red fathers."
The architecture of San Carlos, Moorish, is distinctive from that of the other Missions. The building was begun in 1793 and finished in 1797. The building was of soft stone, of deep cream shade, which was become hard from exposure. Its roof was of tile. In point of architecture it was one of the most beautiful of the Missions though not the largest. Its tower was well proportioned and a star window possessed noteworthy beauty. It stood on the banks of the Carmelo River. From its doorway the fraile must have paused in his busy day to view the panoramic sweep of the sea and shore below - a golden expanse of sand washed by glittering waters whose blue blended into the turquoise of the sky. He could watch the Presidio and its Plaza full of life, or could, as more likely he did, turn to the hills behind, dark with pines and oaks. But not for long would the good fray stand, for he, too, worked with his own hands.
After the secularization of 1835 began decay. Then in 1845 came Governor Pico's decree declaring San Carlos an abandoned Mission and ordering what had not already been taken of the Mission land sold by auction, and as Fr. Zephyrin Englehardt O. F. M. writes, "the glory of San Carlos Borremeo del Carmelo de Monterey. had departed."
In 1852 the tiled roof collapsed and debris covered the graves of Fray Serra. Fray Crespi, and those of the second president of the Missions, Fray Lasuen and the young Fray Lopez.
The Mission of Santa Clara de Asis
This Mission was founded in 1777, a year after the Mission of San Juan Capistrano was established. Fray Tomas de la Pena, Lt. Moraga and nine soldiers set out in January of that year from the Mission Dolores. They found the first site in a valley of laurel trees where the first chapel was erected. Floods drove the frailes back into higher ground in 1780. The church was designed by Fray José Murguia and was considered the most elaborate and beautiful church in California, though not surpassing San Juan for grandeur. But its architect and builder, Fray Murguia, who not only drew the plans of the church, and superintended its construction but also., with his own hand laid the adobes, hewed and planed the logs, in short, helped everywhere, did not live to see its dedication. Four days before that event he died. He was the first to be buried under its altar.
In 1812 and again in 1818 earthquakes destroyed the buildings of Santa Clara. The frailes moved their Mission again to another site which the Indians called Gurguensun, the Valley of the Oaks. Here the new Mission was finished and dedicated in 1822.
The saintly Fray Magin Catala with Fray Viader, that giant of a priest who whipped an Indian bully and his accomplices in a rough and tumble fight, served Santa Clara for thirty-seven years. Fray Catala is said to have foretold the discovery of gold in California, the loss of California by the Spanish people, the coming greatness of San Francisco and the great earthquake and fire which later destroyed that city.
An incident in the story of this Mission was the rebellion of Yoscolo, leader of the Indians, who with 1000 followers fled to the mountains from which he made raids upon the Mission. Finally in a drawn battle the Indians were defeated and Yoscolo was beheaded.
The Mission of San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores)
The Mission of San Francisco, popularly called Mission Dolores because of its location, was founded by the friend of Fray Serra, Fray Palou, on October 9, 1776. Any pious Franciscan will call the discovery of San Francisco Bay by Portola's party a miracle.
When the Visitador-general, Galvez, was discussing the establishment of these frontier missions with Fray Serra, that good priest of the Order of St. Francis, asked, "And is our founder, St. Francis to have no Mission?"
José Galvez characteristically replied "If St. Francis wishes a Mission let him show you a good port."
Which the good saint in Heaven did. Portola's party out in search of the Monterey gulf, found the same gulf, and did not recognize it as the body of water referred to by Vizcaino. It seemed too small. But that might have been a trick of St. Francis. For the party of explorers passed Monterey and wandered on until they came upon another bay, the Bay of San Francisco. Later when they returned to Monterey, this time with Fray Serra, they realized their mistake. But that again must have been St. Francis's way of joking with José Galvez and his representatives.
The colony which finally settled here was led by Don Juan Bautista de Anza. Two hundred colonists did this sturdy Spaniard lead all the way from Mexico, across arid deserts, over rocky hills, through the Gorgonio Pass, then covered with snow, for it was winter, all the way by land up to Monterey and on to the port of San Francisco. Men, women and children, came with him and brought their possessions. Not a life was lost on the way. But there were added some new members of the expedition, born to women of the party. This great migration's success was due to the clear-headed, quick-thinking leader.
Frau Palou, who with Fray Cambon, first administered to the congregation of the Mission, remained in its service until 1785 when he retired to Mexico. Fray Palou devoted his spare time in gathering notes on the early history of California. His "Noticias" and his "Life of Fray Junipero" are the source books of the state's early history.
Vancouver visited the Mission in 1792 and has left a description of its buildings and its industries.
The Spaniards had far more trouble with the Indians surrounding this Mission than they had with any other of the tribes.
The Mission was secularized in 1835 and immediately fell into decline.
San Gabriel Mission and the Mission Play History
By Mildred MacLean
San Gabriel Mission, the setting of the Playhouse where, every winter the famous Mission Play is produced, is situated at San Gabriel, California. The village is about four miles from Pasadena and nine from Los Angeles. It can be reached from both cities by the Pacific Electric Railway.
In 1771, when the English speaking colonists on the Atlantic coast were becoming restive under British rule, a band of Spanish speaking foreign missionaries, Franciscan fathers from Spain, were making their way through incredible obstacles, up the Pacific Coast. In their long brown robes, on foot they traversed the way now called El Camino Real, or the King's Highway, and marked by Mission bells. The leader of the group was Fra Junipero Serra whose memory is revered all over California. He is the hero of the Mission Play.
Three missions had already been established when September 8, 1771, San Gabriel was founded in honor of the Archangel Gabriel, the angel of the Annunciation to Mary of the birth of Christ.
The original site was about five miles from the present location of the Mission. The buildings were of mud, stone, and tule rushes. There were several of these buildings, for the ideal of a Mission was, "A congregation of convert Indians who made their home in a village close by the church and who, under the eye of one or two missionary priests, learn and practice the Christian Religion, and, for their own maintenance are taught mechanical and domestic arts, gardening, agriculture and stock raising in order to become useful citizens."
The Indians who were to profit by the labors of the priests were numerous and very poor. As their chief food, fish, was often shut off from them by hostile tribes living nearer the ocean, they had to live on acorns and other nuts, with wild fruits in season.
Although they had never heard of ultra-violet rays they practiced ultra modern medical methods "curing all their infirmities by exposing themselves passively to the warmth of the sun and of the fire." In their domestic affairs, they loved their wives as long as they were useful to them. When no longer useful they no longer valued them, but their children were "their little idols."
These Indians were friendly to the white strangers until the soldiers sent from Mexico, then a Spanish possession, to help the priests preserve order made trouble by their treatment of Indian women. A band of hostile Indians approached the builders to avenge the wrong done their women whereupon happened what the priests regarded as a miracle and an omen of success. When they showed a picture of the Virgin, the chiefs threw presents at the feet of the beautiful Queen and led away their forces. Soon the first baptism was solemnized and from that time on converts multiplied.
A year after the Mission was founded it was moved to its present site, near the river, its namesake, which the fathers foresaw would furnish water for irrigation. The first crop, however, suffered from the worst feature of the river, a flood. But the fathers, who were endowed with constructive imagination as well as with rare spirits, were not deceived as to the richness of the soil. During the sixty years in which they were in possession, as wonderful a transformation took place in their domain as has taken place in the Imperial Valley of California during the last quarter of a century. The desert land was made to produce oranges, limes, citron, pomegranates, apples, pears, peaches, figs, grapes, in fact all the products of their beloved Spain. One of the later priests was affectionately called the father of 70,000 grape stocks. The Mission fairly earned its title of the Mother of Agriculture in California.
Cattle roamed the thousands of acres belonging to the Mission, extending eventually from the ocean to the mountains. The cattle furnished hides and tallow as well as meat, while sheep produced wool for the Indian women to spin and weave.
When Padres Zalvidea and Sanchez were in charge, 4000 Indians were clothed by the women. One of the early residents of the site of the present Pasadena, a Spanish lady, Eulalia Perez de Guillen of the Rancho San Pasquale, took charge of this work. She herself cut out all the garments, besides teaching, spinning, weaving and tailoring. She surely deserves the credit of being the first domestic science teacher in California as well as the priests deserve credit for establishing the first manual training school with teachers sent from Mexico.
The Mission became the centre of hospitality for all the surrounding country. Colonizing parties from Mexico coming across the desert found there rest and food. In 1776, Colonel Anza, with two hundred colonists on their way to found San Francisco, was entertained at the Mission.
A party of trappers, United States citizens and the first tourists to California from "the East" enjoyed the free hospitality of the fathers. One of the party recorded, "They all appeared friendly and treated us well. Although they are Catholics by profession, they allow us the liberty of conscience and treat us as they do their own countrymen or brethren."
Another visitor was a Mr. Chapman of Boston who, succumbing to the lure of the country, remained and joined the Catholic church. Of him the priest in charge, Fra Sanchez, said it was a marvel that one so long in the darkness of Baptist faith could give such an example of true Catholic piety to older Christians.
San Gabriel was not only Mother of Agriculture but also Mother of Cities. In 1781, a band of forty-six colonists "A mixture of Indians and negroes with here and there a trace of Spanish" started out to found the pueblo or town of Los Angeles. Before many years had passed the settlers had twenty-nine adobe dwellings, surrounded by an adobe wall and they produced more grain than any of the missions except San Gabriel. The founder, Governor de Neve, had hopes of a good-sized city on this site, but how great it would become, he surely never dreamed!
Pueblo and Mission grew and prospered until the town numbered "16,000 and more souls and some 100 pagans." Relations between town and Mission were not always cordial. The town complained that it did not have its share of pastoral attention, that its sick were not visited often enough. The fathers replied that with so many Indians under their care and with nine miles of almost impassable roads between them and the town, they could not do any more than they were doing. Hundreds of the Indians were very ill, having been infected by the soldiers with some of the vilest diseases of "civilization."
A dispute over water rights also made trouble. The towns people complained that the Mission had shut off part of their water supply. Today, the matter is reversed. The country people at Owens River Valley claim that Los Angeles has stolen their water supply!
The fathers were also having other troubles. There were criticisms of their dealings with the Indians and jealousy of their increasing prosperity. The whites as usual coveted whatever of value the Indians had. For years the question of secularization of the missions was discussed.
In 1813, the Spanish Government decreed that the priests must give up their control of the missions, but not until 1834, when Mexico was free from Spain, and the republic of Mexico fairly well-established, was secularization really carried out. For several years while political conditions in Mexico and California were demoralized the Missions were plundered and the property confiscated. Many of them were sold at auction, some for as little as $700. The Indians, left to take care of themselves, fell into conditions worse than their old savagery. Their money they spent in gambling and drinking. The part taken by Pio Pico, the last Spanish governor of California in secularization especially grieved the fathers for he was born at San Gabriel, the son of one of the guards. He caused San Gabriel to be one of the first of the missions to be taken away from the church.
When the United States took possession of California and the question of land titles was settled, the Mission buildings and some of the lands were restored to the church.
Today, all the remains of the work of the fathers at San Gabriel are the present church, the old mill, and some trees, grape vines and rose bushes of their planting.
San Gabriel Today
San Gabriel is, after San Diego, the oldest town in California. The old church is surrounded by a Mexican village. Its proximity to two large cities makes it one of the most accessible of the missions. A number of modern buildings, corresponding architecturally with the old church, belong to the property. Adjoining the church is the priest's house and adjoining that, the parochial school.
The school, in charge of Dominican sisters, has an average attendance of 300. Everything, even lunches, is provided free for the children. At the hours of dismissal, one may see files of charming Mexican children coming out. The church is under the care of the Missionary Sons of Mary's Immaculate Heart. It is said to be the only one of the missions preserving the customs of the fathers unbroken through the years.
The old church building, (to enter which a fee of twenty-five cents is charged), was probably completed about 1795. It suffered from earthquakes as well as from pillage and confiscation, hence some of the most valuable of its treasures brought from Spain have disappeared. The earthquake of 1812 justifying an early name of the Mission, San Gabriel de los Tremblores, was the most destructive. Images were broken, the tower cracked and the whole building was dangerously near collapse. In 1886, an incongruous wooden roof over the chapel replaced the old cracked ceiling.
The building is rectangular, with corridors and porches. The front is supported by ten massive buttresses, giving an air of solidity, actually afforded by walls five feet thick. An outside stairway, leading to the choir loft adds ornament and interest. The lower part of the building is stone masonry, the upper brick, all overlaid with concrete. It is 104 feet long, 27 wide by 30 high, inside measurements.
The most interesting and picturesque feature of the building, not rendered hackneyed even by numerous reproductions, is the bell tower. It consists of a solid wall of masonry with six arched apertures, varying in size to accommodate the bells to be hung in them. The upper arch, surmounted by a tower-like arch, supports a cross. The effect or the arches, with the blue sky as a background, is delightful. At present there are only four bells. Although it is said that formerly the Angelus could be heard at Los Angeles, it certainly cannot he heard today above the discords of the city.
The interior of the Mission has some interesting relics of old days. There are antique Spanish books, priests vestments, as well as statues and paintings of saints. Some of the paintings, doubtless erroneously, have been ascribed to Murrillo. San Gabriel's is portrayed as radiant youth.
The baptismal font of beaten copper which has been used to baptize 18,000 Indians is in a cell of the chapel. There are kept also mortars used by the Indians. Before the altar, nine of the Franciscans in charge of the Mission are buried. Of Father de Zalvidea whose remains lie at the left of the altar it is said that there is no evidence that he ever had an enemy or that he ever said an unkind word to any man. Some of the priests of later years are buried in the new cemetery in the rear of the church.
Father Junipero Serra is not buried here, but at San Carlos, although he spent a few days at the Mission when he was on his last journey a short time before his death. It was one of the sources of pride at San Gabriel that Father Serra took one of its Indians on his journeys as interpreter, attributing a large part of his success to the intelligence of this man.
In the garden, at the rear of the church, is a statue of Father Serra given by the Knights of Columbus in 1921, on the one hundred and fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Mission. It is the work of Julia Bracken Wendt.
On the walls of one of the corridors are replicas of the other California missions, including the nine founded by Father Serra himself, of whom it is truly said "No builders have surpassed the architecture of his structures, no colonizers have ever chosen such sites as those he selected."
The old cemetery, adjoining the church whence the dead were carried to their graves through a small door in the wall of the building is now leveled down and all memorials of the graves have disappeared. Over 7000 Indians are buried in those unmarked graves.
The new cemetery is still farther to the north with a background of eucalyptus and pepper trees and, in the distance, the mountains. The trees are the homes of singing birds which would delight St. Francis, the founder of the order to which the fathers belonged, and who called the birds his little brothers. On the way to the new cemetery one passes the ruins of the old brick bake ovens where the Indians baked bread, burned brick, and made soap and candles.
The Old Mill
El Molino Viejo, the Old Mill, is one of the remaining adjuncts of the Mission. Situated some two miles from San Gabriel, it is not far from the Huntington Estate with its famous art gallery and library. One of the pleasant residence streets of Pasadena is named El Molino.
The first grist mill in California to be run by water, its situation on a side hill was a mistake. The interior proving too damp for storing the flour ground in it, it had to be abandoned.