I have elsewhere referred to the water supply of Santa Isabel as being used for irrigation connected with San Miguel Mission. There is every evidence that a large rancheria existed at Santa Isabel, and that for many years it was one of the valued rancheros of the Mission. Below the Hot Springs the remains of a large dam still exist, which we now know was built by the padres for irrigation purposes. A large tract of land below was watered by it, and we have a number of reports of the annual yield of grain, showing great fertility and productivity. Near the present ranch house at Santa Isabel are large adobe ruins, evidently used as a house for the majordomo and for the padre on his regular visitations to the rancheria. One of the larger rooms was doubtless a chapel where mass was said for the neophytes who cultivated the soil in this region.
The chapel at Pala is perhaps the best known of all the asistencias on account of its picturesque campanile. It was built by the indefatigable Padre Peyri, in 1816, and is about twenty miles from San Luis Rey, to which it belonged. Within a year or two, by means of a resident padre, over a thousand converts were gathered, reciting their prayers and tilling the soil. A few buildings, beside the chapel, were erected, and the community, far removed from all political strife, must have been happy and contented in its mountain-valley home. The chapel is a long, narrow adobe structure, 144 by 27 feet, roofed with red tiles. The walls within were decorated in the primitive and singular fashion found at others of the Missions, and upon the altar were several statues which the Indians valued highly.
Pala is made peculiarly interesting as the present home of the evicted Palatingwa (Hot Springs) Indians of Warner’s Ranch. Here these wretchedly treated “wards of the nation” are now struggling with the problem of life, with the fact ever before them, when they think, (as they often do, for several of them called my attention to the fact) that the former Indian population of Pala has totally disappeared. At the time of the secularization of San Luis Rey, Pala suffered with the rest; and when the Americans finally took possession it was abandoned to the tender mercies of the straying, seeking, searching, devouring homesteader. In due time it was “home-steaded” The chapel and graveyard were ultimately deeded back; and when the Landmarks Club took hold it was agreed that the ruins “revert to their proper ownership, the church.”
[Illustration: CAMPANILE AND CHAPEL, SAN ANTONIO DE PALA.]
[Illustration: ANOTHER VIEW OF THE CAMPANILE AND CHAPEL, SAN ANTONIO DE PALA.]
[Illustration: MAIN DOORWAY AT SANTA MARGARITA CHAPEL.]
Though all the original Indians were ousted long ago from their lands at Pala, those who lived anywhere within a dozen or a score miles still took great interest in the old buildings, the decorations of the church, and the statues of the saints. Whenever a priest came and held services a goodly congregation assembled, for a number of Mexicans, as well as Indians, live in the neighborhood.