In 1834 there were but 599 neophytes on the register. In 1836 Ignacio Coronel took charge in order to carry out the order of secularization, and when the inventory was made it showed the existence of property, excluding everything pertaining to the church, of $82,000. In 1839 this amount was reduced to $75,000. This large valuation was owing to the fact that there were several ranches and buildings and two large vineyards belonging to the Mission. These latter were Santa Isabel and Aguage, with 5500 vines, valued at $22,162.
The general statistics from the founding in 1797 to 1834 give 2588 baptisms, 2038 deaths; largest population was 1076 in 1814. The largest number of cattle was 10,558 in 1822, horses 1560 in 1822, mules 140 in 1817, sheep 14,000 in 1820.
In 1836 Padre Moreno reported that when Coronel came all the available property was distributed among the Indians, except the grain, and of that they carried off more than half. In 1838 the poor padre complained bitterly of his poverty and the disappearance of the Mission property. There is no doubt but that here as elsewhere the Mission was plundered on every hand, and the officers appointed to guard its interests were among the plunderers.
In 1844 Presidente Duran reported that San Miguel had neither lands nor cattle, and that its neophytes were demoralized and scattered for want of a minister. Pico’s 1845 decree warned the Indians that they must return within a month and occupy their lands, or they would be disposed of; and in 1846 Pico reported the Mission sold, though no consideration is named, to P. Rios and Wm. Reed. The purchasers took possession, but the courts later declared their title invalid. In 1848 Reed and his whole family were atrociously murdered. The murderers were pursued; one was fatally wounded, one jumped into the sea and was drowned, and the other three were caught and executed.
The register of baptisms at San Miguel begins July 25, 1797, and up to 1861 contains 2917 names. Between the years 1844 and 1851 there is a vacancy, and only one name occurs in the latter year. The title-page is signed by Fr. Fermin Franco de Lasuen, and the priests in charge are named as Fr. Buenaventura Sitjar and Fr. Antonio de la Conception.
At the end of this book is a list of 43 children of the “gentes de razon” included in the general list, but here specialized for reference.
The registry of deaths contains 2249 names up to 1841. The first entry is signed by Fr. Juan Martin and the next two by Fr. Sitjar.
The old marriage register of the Mission of San Miguel is now at San Luis Obispo. It has a title-page signed by Fr. Lasuen.
In 1888 some of the old bells of the Mission were sent to San Francisco and there were recast into one large bell, weighing 2500 pounds. Until 1902 this stood on a rude wooden tower in front of the church, but in that year an incongruous steel tower took its place. Packed away in a box still remains one of the old bells, which has sounded its last call. A large hole is in one side of it. The inscription, as near as I can make out, reads “A. D. 1800, S.S. Gabriel.”