The padres took the matter in accordance with their individual temperaments. Some were hopefully cheerful, and did the best they could for their Indian charges; others were sulky and sullen, and retired to the chambers allotted to them, coming forth only when necessary duty called; still others were belligerent, and fought everything and everybody, and, it must be confessed, generally with just cause.
As for the Indians, the effect was exactly as all thoughtful men had foreseen. Those who received property seldom made good use of it, and soon lost it. Cattle were neglected, tools unused, for there were none to compel their care or use. Consequently it was easy to convert them into money, which was soon gambled or drunk away. Rapidly they sank from worse to worse, until now only a few scattered settlements remain of the once vast number, thirty thousand or more, that were reasonably happy and prosperous under the rule of the padres.
SAN DIEGO DE ALCALA
The story of the founding of San Diego by Serra has already been given. It was the beginning of the realization of his fondest hopes. The early troubles with the Indians delayed conversions, but in 1773 Serra reported that some headway had been made. He gives the original name of the place as Cosoy, in 32 deg. 43’, built on a hill two gunshots from the shore, and facing the entrance to the port at Point Guijarros. The missionaries left in charge were Padres Fernando Parron and Francisco Gomez.
About the middle of July ill health compelled Parron to retire to Lower California and Gomez to Mexico, and Padres Luis Jayme and Francisco Dumetz took their places.
San Diego was in danger of being abandoned for lack of provisions, for in 1772 Padre Crespi, who was at San Carlos, writes that on the thirtieth of March of that year “the mail reached us with the lamentable news that this Mission of San Diego was to be abandoned for lack of victuals.” Serra then sent him with “twenty-two mules, and with them fifteen half-loads of flour” for their succor. Padres Dumetz and Cambon had gone out to hunt for food to the Lower California Missions. The same scarcity was noticed at San Gabriel, and the padres, “for a considerable time, already, had been using the supplies which were on hand to found the Mission of San Buenaventura; and though they have drawn their belts tight there remains to them provisions only for two months and a half.”
Fortunately help came; so the work continued.
The region of San Diego was well peopled. At the time of the founding there were eleven rancherias within a radius of ten leagues. They must have been of a different type from most of the Indians of the coast, for, from the first, as the old Spanish chronicler reports, they were insolent, arrogant, and thievish. They lived on grass seeds, fish, and rabbits.