THE MISSION CHAPELS OR ASISTENCIAS
The Mission padres were the first circuit riders or pastors. It is generally supposed that the circuit rider is a device of the Methodist church, but history clearly reveals that long prior to the time of the sainted Wesley, and the denomination he founded, the padres were “riding the circuit,” or walking, visiting the various rancherias which had no settled pastor.
Where buildings for worship were erected at these places they were called chapels, or asistencias. Some of these chapels still remain in use and the ruins of others are to be seen. The Mission of San Gabriel had four such chapels, viz., Los Angeles, Puente, San Antonio de Santa Ana, and San Bernardino. Of the first and the last we have considerable history.
As I have elsewhere shown, it was the plan of the Spanish Crown not only to Christianize and civilize the Indians of California, but also to colonize the country. In accordance with this plan the pueblo of San Jose was founded on the 29th of November, 1776. The second was that of Los Angeles in 1781. Rivera was sent to secure colonists in Sonora and Sinaloa for the new pueblo, and also for the establishments it was intended to found on the channel of Santa Barbara.
In due time colonists were secured, and a more mongrel lot it would be hard to conceive: Indian, Spanish, Negro, Indian and Spanish, and Indian and Negro bloods were represented, 42 souls in all. The blood which makes the better Spanish classes in Los Angeles to-day so proud represents those who came in much later.
There was nothing accidental in the founding of any Spanish colony. Everything was planned beforehand. The colonist obeyed orders as rigidly executed as if they were military commands. According to Professor Guinn:
“The area of a pueblo, under Spanish rule, was four square leagues, or about 17,770 acres. The pueblo lands were divided into solares (house lots), suertes (fields for planting), dehesas (outside pasture lands), ejidos (commons), propios (lands rented or leased), realengas (royal lands).”
 Suerte. This is colloquial, it really means “chance” or “haphazard.” In other words, it was the piece of ground that fell to the settler by “lot.”
On the arrival of the colonists in San Gabriel from Loreto on the 18th of August, 1781, Governor Neve issued instructions for founding Los Angeles on the 26th. The first requirement was to select a site for a dam, to provide water for domestic and irrigation purposes. Then to locate the plaza and the homes and fields of the colonists. Says Professor Guinn: