There were comparatively few Indians in that immediate region, and only eleven converts were reported as the result of the efforts of the first year. There was ample room for flocks and herds, and although the soil was not of the best and much irrigation was necessary to produce good crops, the padres with their persistent labors gradually increased their possessions and the number of their neophytes. At the close of the ninth year there were 512 Indians living at the Mission, and their property included a thousand cattle, several thousand sheep, and a good supply of horses. Five years later (in 1805) there were 727 neophytes, in spite of the fact that a severe epidemic a few years previously had reduced their numbers and caused many to flee from the Mission in fear. A new church was begun in 1808.
On July 24, 1814, Governor Arrillaga, who had been taken seriously ill while on a tour of inspection, and had hurried to Soledad to be under the care of his old friend, Padre Ibanez, died there, and was buried, July 26, under the center of the church.
For about forty years priests and natives lived a quiet, peaceful life in this secluded valley, with an abundance of food and comfortable shelter. That they were blessed with plenty and prosperity is evidenced by the record that in 1829 they furnished $1150 to the Monterey presidio. At one time they possessed over six thousand cattle; and in 1821 the number of cattle, sheep, horses, and other animals was estimated at over sixteen thousand.
[Illustration: ANOTHER VIEW OF THE WALLS OF MISSION LA SOLEDAD.]
[Illustration: MISSION SAN JOSE. SOON AFTER THE DECREE OF SECULARIZATION. From an old print.]
[Illustration: FIGURE OF CHRIST, MISSION SAN JOSE ORPHANAGE.]
After the changes brought about by political administration the number of Indians rapidly decreased, and the property acquired by their united toil quickly dwindled away, until little was left but poverty and suffering.
At the time secularization was effected in 1835, according to the inventory made, the estate, aside from church property, was valued at $36,000. Six years after secular authorities took charge only about 70 Indians remained, with 45 cattle, 25 horses, and 865 sheep,—and a large debt had been incurred. On June 4, 1846, the Soledad Mission was sold to Feliciano Soveranes for $800.
One of the pitiful cases that occurred during the decline of the Missions was the death of Padre Sarria, which took place at Soledad in 1835, or, as some authorities state, in 1838. This venerable priest had been very prominent in missionary labors, having occupied the position of Comisario Prefecto during many years. He was also the presidente for several years. As a loyal Spaniard he declined to take the oath of allegiance to the Mexican Republic, and was nominally under arrest for about five years, or subject to exile; but so greatly was he revered and