After Commodore Sloat had taken possession of Monterey for the United States, in 1846, it was merely the work of a day or so to get despatches to Captain Montgomery, of the ship “Portsmouth,” who was in San Francisco bay and who immediately raised the stars and stripes, and thus the city of the Golden Gate entered into American possession. While the city was materially concerned in the events immediately following the occupation, the Mission was already too nearly dead to participate. In 1846 the bishop succeeded in finding a curate for a short period, but nothing in the records can be found as to the final disposition of the property belonging to the ex-Mission. In the political caldron it had totally disappeared.
In the early days the Mission Indians were buried in the graveyard, then the soldiers and settlers, Spanish and Mexican, and the priests, and, later, the Americanos. But all is neglected and uncared for, except by Nature, and, after all, perhaps it is better so. The kindly spirited Earth Mother has given forth vines and myrtle and ivy and other plants in profusion, that have hidden the old graveled walks and the broken flags. Rose bushes grow untrimmed, untrained and frankly beautiful; while pepper and cypress wave gracefully and poetically suggestive over graves of high and low, historic and unknown. For here are names carved on stone denoting that beneath lie buried those who helped make California history. Just at the side entrance of the church is a stone with this inscription to the first governor of California: “Aqui yacen los restos del Capitan Don Luis Antonio Argueello, Primer Gobernador del Alta California, Bajo el Gobierno Mejicano. Nacio en San Francisco el 21 de Junio, 1774, y murio en el mismo lugar el 27 de Marzo, 1830.”
Farther along is a brown stone monument, erected by the members of the famous fire company, to Casey, who was hung by the Vigilantes—Casey, who shot James King of William. The monument, adorned with firemen’s helmets and bugles in stone, stands under the shadow of drooping pepper sprays, and is inscribed: “Sacred to the memory of James P. Casey, who Departed this life May 23, 1856, Aged 27 years. May God forgive my Persecutors. Requiescat en pace.”
Poor, sad Dolores! How utterly lost it now looks!
During the earthquake and fire of 1906, the new church by its side was destroyed. But the old Indian-built structure was preserved and still stands as a grand memorial of the past.
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
On the tragic events at San Diego that led to the delay in the founding of San Juan Capistrano I have already fully dwelt. The Mission was founded by Serra, November 1, 1776, and the adobe church recently restored by the Landmarks Club is said to be the original church built at that time.
Troubles began here early, as at San Gabriel, owing to the immorality of the guards with the Indian women, and in one disturbance three Indians were killed and several wounded. In 1781 the padre feared another uprising, owing to incitements of the Colorado River Indians, who came here across the desert and sought to arouse the local Indians to revolt.