[Illustration: MISSION SANTA CRUZ.]
[Illustration: RUINED WALLS OF MISSION LA SOLEDAD.]
The corner-stone of the church was laid February 27, 1793, and was completed and formally dedicated May 10, 1794, by Padre Pena from Santa Clara, aided by five other priests. Ensign Sal was present as godfather, and duly received the keys. The neophytes, servants, and troops looked on at the ceremonies with unusual interest, and the next day filled the church at the saying of the first mass. The church was about thirty by one hundred and twelve feet and twenty-five feet high. The foundation walls to the height of three feet were of stone, the front was of masonry, and the rest of adobes. The other buildings were slowly erected, and in the autumn of 1796 a flouring-mill was built and running. It was sadly damaged, however, by the December rains. Artisans were sent to build the mill and instruct the natives, and later a smith and a miller were sent to start it.
In 1798 the padre wrote very discouragingly. The establishment of the villa or town of Brancifort, across the river, was not pleasing. A hundred and thirty-eight neophytes also had deserted, ninety of whom were afterwards brought in by Corporal Mesa. It had long been the intention of the government to found more pueblos or towns, as well as Missions in California, the former for the purpose of properly colonizing the country. Governor Borica made some personal explorations, and of three suggested sites finally chose that just across the river Lorenzo from Santa Cruz. May 12, 1797, certain settlers who had been recruited in Guadalajara arrived in a pitiable condition at Monterey; and soon thereafter they were sent to the new site under the direction of Comisionado Moraga, who was authorized to erect temporary shelters for them. August 12 the superintendent of the formal foundation, Cordoba, had all the surveying accomplished, part of an irrigating canal dug, and temporary houses partially erected. In August, after the viceroy had seen the estimated cost of the establishment, further progress was arrested by want of funds. Before the end of the century everybody concerned had come to the conclusion that the villa of Brancifort was a great blunder,—the “settlers are a scandal to the country by their immorality. They detest their exile, and render no service.”
In the meantime the Mission authorities protested vigorously against the new settlement. It was located on the pasture grounds of the Indians; the laws allowed the Missions a league in every direction, and trouble would surely result. But the governor retorted, defending his choice of a site, and claiming that the neophytes were dying off, there were no more pagans to convert, and the neophytes already had more land and raised more grain than they could attend to.
In 1805 Captain Goycoechea recommended that as there were no more gentiles, the neophytes be divided between the Missions of Santa Clara and San Juan, and the missionaries sent to new fields. Of course nothing came of this.