INTERIOR OF MISSION SAN FRANCISCO DE ASIS
ARCHES, SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY DEPOT, SANTA BARBARA, CALIF
FACHADA of mission chapel at Los Angeles
MISSION CHAPEL AT LOS ANGELES, FROM THE PLAZA PARK
Residence in los Angeles, showing
influence of mission style of
In the popular mind there is a misapprehension that is as deep-seated as it is ill-founded. It is that the California Missions are the only Missions (except one or two in Arizona and a few in Texas) and that they are the oldest in the country. This is entirely an error. A look at a few dates and historic facts will soon correct this mistake.
Cortes had conquered Mexico; Pizarro was conqueror in Peru; Balboa had discovered the South Sea (the Pacific Ocean) and all Spain was aflame with gold-lust. Narvaez, in great pomp and ceremony, with six hundred soldiers of fortune, many of them of good families and high social station, in his five specially built vessels, sailed to gain fame, fortune and the fountain of perpetual youth in what we now call Florida.
Disaster, destruction, death—I had almost said entire annihilation—followed him and scarce allowed his expedition to land, ere it was swallowed up, so that had it not been for the escape of Cabeza de Vaca, his treasurer, and a few others, there would have been nothing left to suggest that the history of the start of the expedition was any other than a myth. But De Vaca and his companions were saved, only to fall, however, into the hands of the Indians. What an unhappy fate! Was life to end thus? Were all the hopes, ambitions and glorious dreams of De Vaca to terminate in a few years of bondage to degraded savages?
Unthinkable, unbearable, unbelievable. De Vaca was a man of power, a man of thought. He reasoned the matter out. Somewhere on the other side of the great island—for the world then thought of the newly-discovered America as a vast island—his people were to be found. He would work his way to them and freedom. He communicated his hope and his determination to his companions in captivity. Henceforth, regardless of whether they were held as slaves by the Indians, or worshiped as demigods,—makers of great medicine,—either keeping them from their hearts’ desire, they never once ceased