The Old Franciscan Missions Of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 227 pages of information about The Old Franciscan Missions Of California.
Pacific) depot, where quite recently traces were found of the old adobe walls.  They remained at this spot, deeming the location good, until an earthquake in 1812 gave them considerable trouble.  A second earthquake in 1818 so injured their buildings that they felt compelled to move to the present site, which has been occupied ever since.  The Mission Church and other buildings were begun in 1818, and finally dedicated in 1822.  The site was called by the Indians Gerguensun—­the Valley of the Oaks.

On the 29th of November, 1777, the pueblo of San Jose was founded.  The padres protested at the time that it was too near the Mission of Santa Clara, and for the next decade there was constant irritation, owing to the encroachments of the white settlers upon the lands of the Indians.  Complaints were made and formally acted upon, and in July, 1801, the boundaries were surveyed, as asked for by the padres, and landmarks clearly marked and agreed upon so as to prevent future disputes.

In 1800 Santa Clara was the banner Mission for population, having 1247.  Live-stock had increased to about 5000 head of each (cattle and horses), and crops were good.

In 1802, August 12, a grand high altar, which had been obtained in Mexico, was consecrated with elaborate ceremonies.

Padre Viader, the priest in charge, was a very muscular and athletic man; and one night, in 1814, a young gentile giant, named Marcelo, and two companions attacked him.  In the rough and tumble fight which ensued the padre came out ahead; and after giving the culprits a severe homily on the sin of attacking a priest, they were pardoned, Marcelo becoming one of his best and most faithful friends thereafter.  Robinson says Viader was “a good old man, whose heart and soul were in proportion to his immense figure.”

In 1820 the neophyte population was 1357, stock 5024, horses 722, sheep 12,060.  The maximum of population was reached in 1827, of 1464 souls.  After that it began rapidly to decline.  The crops, too, were smaller after 1820, without any apparent reason.

In 1837 secularization was effected by Ramon Estrada.  In 1839-1840 reports show that two-thirds of the cattle and sheep had disappeared.  The downfall of the Mission was very rapid.  The neophyte population in 1832 was 1125, in 1834 about 800, and at the end of the decade about 290, with 150 more scattered in the district.



[Illustration:  MISSION SANTA CLARA IN 1849.]

[Illustration:  CHURCH OF SANTA CLARA.  On the site of old Mission of Santa Clara.]

The total of baptisms from 1777 to 1874 is 8640, of deaths 6950.

The old register of marriages records 3222 weddings from January 12, 1778, to August 15, 1863.

In 1833 Padre Viader closed his missionary service of nearly forty years in California by leaving the country, and Padre Francisco Garcia Diego, the prefect of the Zacatecan friars, became his successor.  Diego afterwards became the first bishop of California.

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The Old Franciscan Missions Of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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