On June 9, 1797, Lasuen left San Francisco for the founding of the Mission San Jose, then called the Alameda. The following day, a brush church was erected, and, on the morrow, the usual foundation ceremonies occurred. The natives named the site Oroysom. Beautifully situated on the foothills, with a prominent peak near by, it offers an extensive view over the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay region. At first, a wooden structure with a grass roof served as a church; but later a brick structure was erected, which Von Langsdorff visited in 1806.
It seems singular to us at this date that although the easiest means of communication between the Missions of Santa Clara, San Jose and San Francisco was by water on the Bay of San Francisco, the padre and soldiers at San Francisco had no boat or vessel of any kind. Langsdorff says of this: “Perhaps the missionaries are afraid lest if there were boats, they might facilitate the escape of the Indians, who never wholly lose their love of freedom and their attachment to their native habits; they therefore consider it better to confine their communication with one another to the means afforded by the land. The Spaniards, as well as their nurslings, the Indians, are very seldom under the necessity of trusting themselves to the waves, and if such a necessity occur, they make a kind of boat for the occasion, of straw, reeds, and rushes, bound together so closely as to be water-tight. In this way they contrive to go very easily from one shore to the other. Boats of this kind are called walza by the Spanish. The oars consist of a thin, long pole somewhat broader at each end, with which the occupants row sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other.”
For the next Mission two sites were suggested; but, as early as June 17, Corporal Ballesteros erected a church, missionary-house, granary, and guard-house at the point called by the natives Popeloutchom, and by the Spaniards, San Benito. Eight days later, Lasuen, aided by Padres Catala and Martiarena, founded the Mission dedicated to the saint of that day, San Juan Bautista.
Next in order, between the two Missions of San Antonio de Padua and San Luis Obispo, was that of “the most glorious prince of the heavenly militia,” San Miguel. Lasuen, aided by Sitjar, in the presence of a large number of Indians, performed the ceremony in the usual form, on July 25, 1797. This Mission eventually grew to large proportions and its interior remains to-day almost exactly as decorated by the hands of the original priests.
San Fernando Rey was next established, on September 8, by Lasuen, aided by Padre Dumetz.
After extended correspondence between Lasuen and Governor Borica, a site, called by the natives Tacayme, was finally chosen for locating the next Mission, which was to bear the name of San Luis, Rey de Francia. Thus it became necessary to distinguish between the two saints of the same name: San Luis, Bishop (Obispo), and San Luis, King; but modern American parlance has eliminated the comma, and they are respectively San Luis Obispo and San Luis Rey. Lasuen, with the honored Padre Peyri and Padre Santiago, conducted the ceremonies on June 13, and the hearts of all concerned were made glad by the subsequent baptism of fifty-four children.