From the baptismal register it is seen that ten children were baptized the first day, and thirteen adults were received early in October. By the end of 1797 there were fifty-five neophytes.
Three years after its founding 310 Indians were gathered in, and its year’s crop was 1000 bushels of grain. The Missions of San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, San Buenaventura, and Santa Barbara had contributed live-stock, and now its herds had grown to 526 horses, mules, and cattle, and 600 sheep.
In December, 1806, an adobe church, with a tile roof, was consecrated, which on the 21st of December, 1812, was severely injured by the earthquake that did damage to almost all the Missions of the chain. Thirty new beams were needed to support the injured walls. A new chapel was built, which was completed in 1818.
In 1834 Lieutenant Antonio del Valle was the comisionado appointed to secularize the Mission, and the next year he became majordomo and served until 1837.
It was on his journey north, in 1842, to take hold of the governorship, that Micheltorena learned at San Fernando of Commodore Jones’s raising of the American flag at Monterey. By his decree, also, in 1843, San Fernando was ordered returned to the control of the padres, which was done, though the next year Duran reported that there were but few cattle left, and two vineyards.
Micheltorena was destined again to appear at San Fernando, for when the Californians under Pio Pico and Castro rose to drive out the Mexicans, the governor finally capitulated at the same place, as he had heard the bad news of the Americans’ capture of Monterey. February 21, 1845, after a bloodless “battle” at Cahuenga, he “abdicated,” and finally left the country and returned to Mexico.
In 1845 Juan Manso and Andres Pico leased the Mission at a rental of $1120, the affairs having been fairly well administered by Padre Orday after its return to the control of the friars. A year later it was sold by Pio Pico, under the order of the assembly, for $14,000, to Eulogio Celis, whose title was afterwards confirmed by the courts. Orday remained as pastor until May, 1847, and was San Fernando’s last minister under the Franciscans.
In 1847 San Fernando again heard the alarm of war. Fremont and his battalion reached here in January, and remained until the signing of the treaty of Cahuenga, which closed all serious hostilities against the United States in its conquest of California.
Connected with the Mission of San Fernando is the first discovery of California gold. Eight years before the great days of ’49 Francisco Lopez, the mayordomo of the Mission, was in the canyon of San Feliciano, which is about eight miles westerly from the present town of Newhall, and according to Don Abel Stearns, “with a companion, while in search of some stray horses, about midday stopped under some trees and tied their horses to feed. While resting in the shade, Lopez with his sheath knife dug up some wild onions, and in the dirt discovered a piece of gold. Searching further, he found more. On his return to town he showed these pieces to his friends, who at once declared there must be a placer of gold there.”