The secularization decree ordered that San Rafael should become a parish of the first class, which class paid its curates $1500, as against $1000 to those of the second class.
In 1837 it was reported that the Indians were not using their liberty well; so, owing to the political troubles at the time, General Vallejo was authorized to collect everything and care for it under a promise to redistribute when conditions were better. In 1840 the Indians insisted upon this promise being kept, and in spite of the governor’s opposition Vallejo succeeded in obtaining an order for the distribution of the live-stock.
In 1845 Pico’s order, demanding the return within one month of the Indians to the lands of San Rafael or they would be sold, was published, and the inventory taken thereupon showed a value of $17,000 in buildings, lands, and live-stock. In 1846 the sale was made to Antonio Sunol and A.M. Pico for $8000. The purchasers did not obtain possession, and their title was afterwards declared invalid.
In the distribution of the Mission stock Vallejo reserved a small band of horses for the purposes of national defense, and it was this band that was seized by the “Bear Flag” revolutionists at the opening of hostilities between the Americans and Mexicans. This act was followed almost immediately by the joining of the insurgents by Fremont, and the latter’s marching to meet the Mexican forces, which were supposed to be at San Rafael. No force, however, was found there, so Fremont took possession of the Mission on June 26, 1846, and remained there for about a week, leaving there to chase up Torre, who had gone to join Castro. When he finally left the region he took with him a number of cattle and horses, went to Sonoma, and on the 5th of July assumed active command of all the insurgent forces, which ultimated in the conquest of the State.
From this time the ex-Mission had no history. The buildings doubtless suffered much from Fremont’s occupancy, and never being very elaborate, easily fell a prey to the elements.
There is not a remnant of them now left, and the site is occupied by a modern, hideous, wooden building, used as an armory.
SAN FRANCISCO SOLANO
Fifty-four years after the founding of the first Franciscan Mission in California, the site was chosen for the twenty-first and last, San Francisco Solano. This Mission was established at Sonoma under conditions already narrated. The first ceremonies took place July 4, 1823, and nine months later the Mission church was dedicated. This structure was built of boards, but by the end of 1824 a large building had been completed, made of adobe with tiled roof and corridor, also a granary and eight houses for the use of the padres and soldiers. Thus in a year and a half from the time the location was selected the necessary Mission buildings had been erected, and a large number of fruit trees and vines were already growing. The neophytes numbered 693, but many of these were sent from San Francisco, San Jose and San Rafael. The Indians at this Mission represented thirty-five different tribes, according to the record, yet they worked together harmoniously, and in 1830 their possessions included more than 8000 cattle, sheep, and horses. Their crops averaged nearly 2000 bushels of grain per year.