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The Old Franciscan Missions Of California By George Wharton James Characters: 7176

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

A brief account of the founding of San Carlos at Monterey, June 3, 1770, was given in an earlier chapter. What joy the discovery of the harbor and founding of the Mission caused in Mexico and Spain can be understood when it is remembered that for two centuries this thing had been desired. In the Mexican city the bells of the Cathedral rang forth merry peals as on special festival days, and a solemn mass of thanksgiving was held, at which all the city officials and dignitaries were present. A full account of the event was printed and distributed there and in Spain, so that, for a time at least, California occupied a large share of public attention.

The result of the news of the founding of San Carlos was that all were enthused for further extension of the Missions. The indefatigable Galvez at once determined that five new Missions should be founded, and the Guardian of the Franciscan College was asked for, and agreed to send, ten more missionaries for the new establishments, as well as twenty for the old and new Missions on the peninsula.

At the end of the year 1773 Serra made his report to Mexico, and then it was found that there were more converts at San Carlos than at any other Mission. Three Spanish soldiers had married native women.

A little later, as the mud roofs were not successful in keeping out the winter rains, a new church was built, partly of rough and partly of worked lumber, and roofed with tules. The lumber used was the pine and cypress for which the region is still noted.

There was little agriculture, only five fanegas of wheat being harvested in 1772. Each Mission received eighteen head of horned cattle at its founding, and San Carlos reported a healthy increase.

In 1772 Serra left for Mexico, to lay matters from the missionary standpoint before the new viceroy, Bucareli. He arrived in the city of Mexico in February, 1773. With resistless energy and eloquence he pleaded for the preservation of the shipyard of San Blas, the removal of Fages, the correction of certain abuses that had arisen as the result of Fages's actions, and for further funds, soldiers, etc., to prosecute the work of founding more Missions. In all the main points his mission was successful. Captain Rivera y Moncada, with whose march from the peninsula we are already familiar, was appointed governor; and at the same time that he received his instructions, August 17, 1773, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza was authorized to attempt the overland journey from Sonora to Monterey.

As we have already seen, this trip was successful and led to the second, in which the colonists and soldiers for the new Mission of San Francisco were brought.

In 1776 Serra's heart was joyed with the thought that he was to wear a martyr's crown, for there was a rumor of an Indian uprising at San Carlos; but the presence of troops sent over from Monterey seemed to end the trouble.

In 1779 a maritime event of importance occurred. The padres at San Carlos and the soldiers at Monterey saw a galleon come into the bay, which proved to be the "San José," from Manila. It should have remained awhile, but contrary winds arose, and it sailed away for San Lucas. But the king later issued orders that all Manila galleons must call at Monterey, under a penalty of four thousand dollars, unless prevented by stress of weather.

In 1784 Serra died and was buried at San Carlos.

For a short time after Serra's death, the duties of padre presidente fell upon Palou; but in February, 1785, the college of San Fernando elected Lasuen to the office, and thereafter he re

sided mainly at San Carlos.

September 14, 1786, the eminent French navigator, Jean Fran?ois Galaup de la Pérouse, with two vessels, appeared at Monterey, and the Frenchman in the account of his trip gives us a vivid picture of his reception at the Mission of San Carlos.

A few years later Vancouver, the English navigator, also visited San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Carlos. He was hospitably entertained by Lasuen, but when he came again, he was not received so warmly, doubtless owing to the fearfulness of the Spaniards as to England's intentions.

When Pico issued his decrees in 1845, San Carlos was regarded as a pueblo, or abandoned Mission, Padre Real residing at Monterey and holding services only occasionally. The little property that remained was to be sold at auction for the payment of debts and the support of worship, but there is no record of property, debts, or sale. The glory of San Carlos was departed.

For many years no one cared for the building, and it was left entirely to the mercy of the vandal and relic hunter. In 1852 the tile roof fell in, and all the tiles, save about a thousand, were either then broken, or afterwards stolen. The rains and storms beating in soon brought enough sand to form a lodgment for seeds, and ere long a dense growth of grass and weeds covered the dust of California's great apostle.

In Glimpses of California by H.H., Mr. Sandham, the artist, has a picture which well illustrates the original spring of the roof and curve of the walls. There were three buttresses, from which sprang the roof arches. The curves of the walls were made by increasing the thickness at the top, as can be seen from the window spaces on each side, which still remain in their original condition. The building is about one hundred and fifty feet long by thirty feet wide.

In 1868 Rev. Angelo D. Cassanova became the pastor of the parish church at Monterey, and though Serra's home Mission was then a complete mass of ruins, he determined upon its preservation, at least from further demolition. The first step was to clear away the débris that had accumulated since its abandonment, and then to locate the graves of the missionaries. On July 3, 1882, after due notice in the San Francisco papers, over four hundred people assembled at San Carlos, the stone slab was removed, and the bodies duly identified.

The discovery of the bodies of Serra, Crespí, Lopez, and Lasuen aroused some sentiment and interest in Father Cassanova's plan of restoration; and sufficient aid came to enable him properly to restore and roof the building. On August 28, 1884, the rededication took place, and the building was left as it is found to-day.

The old pulpit still remains. It is reached by steps from the sacristy through a doorway in the main side wall. It is a small and unpretentious structure of wood, with wooden sounding-board above. It rests upon a solid stone pedestal, cut into appropriate shaft and mouldings. The door is of solid oak, substantially built.

In the sacristy is a double lavatory of solid sandstone, hewn and arranged for flowing water. It consists of two basins, one above the other, the latter one well recessed. The lower basin is structurally curved in front, and the whole piece is of good and artistic workmanship.

In the neighborhood of San Carlos there are enough residents to make up a small congregation, and it is the desire of Father Mestris, the present priest at Monterey, to establish a parish there, have a resident minister, and thus restore the old Mission to its original purpose.

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