In the decade 1820-1830 population declined rapidly, though in live-stock the Mission about held its own, and in agriculture actually increased. In 1823, however, there was another attempt to suppress it, and this doubtless came from the conflicts between the villa of Brancifort and the Mission. The effort, like the former one, was unsuccessful.
In 1834-1835 Ignacio del Valle acted as comisionado, and put in effect the order of secularization. His valuation of the property was $47,000, exclusive of land and church property, besides $10,000 distributed to the Indians. There were no subsequent distributions, yet the property disappeared, for, in 1839, when Visitador Hartwell went to Santa Cruz, he found only about one-sixth of the live-stock of the inventory of four years before. The neophytes were organized into a pueblo named Figueroa after the governor; but it was a mere organization in name, and the condition of the ex-Mission was no different from that of any of the others.
The statistics for the whole period of the Mission’s existence, 1791-1834, are: baptisms, 2466; marriages, 847; deaths, 2035. The largest population was 644 in 1798. The largest number of cattle was 3700 in 1828; horses, 900, in the same year; mules, 92, in 1805; sheep, 8300, in 1826.
In January, 1840, the tower fell, and a number of tiles were carried off, a kind of premonition of the final disaster of 1851, when the walls fell, and treasure seekers completed the work of demolition.
The community of the Mission was completely broken up in 1841-1842, everything being regarded, henceforth, as part of Brancifort. In 1845 the lands, buildings, and fruit trees of the ex-Mission were valued at less than $1000, and only about forty Indians were known to remain. The Mission has now entirely disappeared.
The Mission of “Our Lady of Solitude” has only a brief record in written history; but the little that is known and the present condition of the ruins suggest much that has never been recorded.
Early in 1791 Padre Lasuen, who was searching for suitable locations for two new Missions, arrived at a point midway between San Antonio and Santa Clara. With quick perception he recognized the advantages of Soledad, known to the Indians as Chuttusgelis. The name of this region, bestowed by Crespi years previous, was suggestive of its solitude and dreariness; but the wide, vacant fields indicated good pasturage in seasons favored with much rain, and the possibility of securing water for irrigation promised crops from the arid lands. Lasuen immediately selected the most advantageous site for the new Mission, but several months elapsed before circumstances permitted the erection of the first rude structures.
On October ninth the Mission was finally established.