It was in 1814 that Padre Boscana, who had been serving at San Luis Rey, came to reside at San Juan Capistrano, where he wrote the interesting account of the Indians that is so often quoted. In 1812, its population gained its greatest figure, 1361.
In November, 1833, Figueroa secularized the Mission by organizing a “provisional pueblo” of the Indians, and claiming that the padres voluntarily gave up the temporalities. There is no record of any inventory, and what became of the church property is not known. Lands were apportioned to the Indians by Captain Portilla. The following year, most probably, all this provisional work of Figueroa’s was undone, and the Mission was secularized in the ordinary way, but in 1838 the Indians begged for the pueblo organization again, and freedom from overseers, whether lay or clerical. In 1840 Padre Zalvidea was instructed to emancipate them from Mission rule as speedily as possible. Janssens was appointed majordomo, and he reported that he zealously worked for the benefit of the Mission, repairing broken fences and ditches, bringing back runaway neophytes, clothing them and caring for the stock. But orders soon began to come in for the delivery of cattle and horses, applications rapidly came in for grants of the Mission ranches, and about the middle of June, 1841, the lands were divided among the ex-neophytes, about 100 in number, and some forty whites. At the end of July regulations were published for the foundation of the pueblo, and Don Juan Bandini soon thereafter went to supervise the work. He remained until March, 1842, in charge of the community property, and then left about half a dozen white families and twenty or more ex-neophytes duly organized as a pueblo.
In 1843 San Juan was one of the Missions the temporalities of which were to be restored to the Padres, provided they paid one-eighth of all produce into the public treasury. In 1844 it was reported that San Juan had no minister, and all its neophytes were scattered. In 1845 Pico’s decree was published, stating that it was to be considered a pueblo; the church, curate’s house and court-house should be reserved, and the rest of the property sold at auction for the payment of debts and the support of public worship. In December of that year the ex-Mission buildings and gardens were sold to Forster and McKinley for $710, the former of whom retained possession for many years. In 1846 the pueblo was reported as possessing a population of 113 souls.
Twenty years ago there used to be one of the best of the Mission libraries at San Juan. The books were all in old-style leather, sheepskin and parchment bindings, some of them tied with leathern thongs, and a few having heavy homemade metal clasps. They were all in Latin or Spanish, and were well known books of divinity. The first page of the record of marriages was written and signed by Junipero Serra.
[Illustration: CAMPANILE AND RUINS OF MISSION SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO.]