The Old Franciscan Missions Of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 227 pages of information about The Old Franciscan Missions Of California.
“The old plaza was a parallelogram too varas[6] in length by 75 in breadth.  It was laid out with its corners facing the cardinal points of the compass, and with its streets running at right angles to each of its four sides, so that no street would be swept by the wind.  Two streets, each 10 varas wide, opened out on the longer sides, and three on each of the shorter sides.  Upon three sides of the plaza were the house lots, 20 by 40 varas each, fronting on the square.  One-half the remaining side was reserved for a guard-house, a town-house, and a public granary.  Around the embryo town, a few years later, was built an adobe wall—­not so much, perhaps, for protection from foreign invasion as from domestic intrusion.  It was easier to wall in the town than to fence the cattle and goats that pastured outside.”

[6] A vara is the Spanish yard of 33 inches.

The government supplied each colonist with a pair each of oxen, mules, mares, sheep, goats, and cows, one calf, a burro, a horse, and the branding-irons which distinguished his animals from those of the other settlers.  There were also certain tools furnished for the colony as a whole.

On the 14th of September of the same year the plaza was solemnly dedicated.  A father from the San Gabriel Mission recited mass, a procession circled the plaza, bearing the cross, the standard of Spain, and an image of “Our Lady,” after which salvos of musketry were fired and general rejoicings indulged in.  Of course the plaza was blessed, and we are even told that Governor Neve made a speech.

As to when the first church was built in Los Angeles there seems to be some doubt.  In 1811 authority was gained for the erection of a new chapel, but nowhere is there any account of a prior building.  Doubtless some temporary structure had been used.  There was no regular priest settled here, for in 1810 the citizens complained that the San Gabriel padres did not pay enough attention to their sick.  In August of 1814 the corner-stone of the new chapel was laid by Padre Gil of San Gabriel, but nothing more than laying the foundation was done for four years.  Then Governor Sola ordered that a higher site be chosen.  The citizens subscribed five hundred cattle towards the fund, and Prefect Payeras made an appeal to the various friars which resulted in donations of seven barrels of brandy, worth $575.  With these funds the work was done, Jose Antonio Ramirez being the architect, and his workers neophytes from San Gabriel and San Luis Rey, who were paid a real (twelve and a half cents) per day.  Before 1821 the walls were raised to the window arches.  The citizens, however, showed so little interest in the matter that it was not until Payeras made another appeal to his friars that they contributed enough to complete the work.  Governor Sola gave a little, and the citizens a trifle.  It is interesting to note what the contributions of the friars were.  San Miguel

Project Gutenberg
The Old Franciscan Missions Of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook