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   Chapter 19 SANTA BARBARA

The Old Franciscan Missions Of California By George Wharton James Characters: 15747

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

After the founding of San Buenaventura. Governor Neve arrived from San Gabriel, inspected the new site, and expressed himself as pleased with all that had been done. A few days later he, with Padre Serra, and a number of soldiers and officers, started up the coast, and, selecting a site known to the Indians after the name of their chief, Yanonalit, established the presidio of Santa Barbara. Yanonalit was very friendly, and as he had authority over thirteen rancherías he was able to help matters along easily. This was April 21, 1782.

When Serra came to the establishment of the presidio, he expected also to found the Mission, and great was his disappointment. This undoubtedly hastened his death, which occurred August 28, 1782.




It was not until two years later that Neve's successor, Fages, authorized Serra's successor, Lasuen, to proceed. Even then it was feared that he would demand adherence to new conditions which were to the effect that the padres should not have control over the temporal affairs of the Indians; but, as the guardian of the college had positively refused to send missionaries for the new establishments, unless they were founded on the old lines, Fages tacitly agreed. On December 4, therefore, the cross was raised on the site called Taynayan by the Indians and Pedragoso by the Spaniards, and formal possession taken, though the first mass was not said until Fages's arrival on the 16th. Lasuen was assisted by Padres Antonio Paterna and Cristobal Oramas. Father Zephyrin has written a very interesting account of Santa Barbara Mission, some of which is as follows:

"The work of erecting the necessary buildings began early in 1787. With a number of Indians, who had first to be initiated into the mysteries of house construction, Fathers Paterna and Oramas built a dwelling for themselves together with a chapel. These were followed by a house for the servants, who were male Indians, a granary, carpenter shop, and quarters for girls and unmarried young women.

"In succeeding years other structures arose on the rocky height as the converts increased and industries were introduced. At the end of 1807 the Indian village, which had sprung up just southwest of the main building, consisted of 252 separate adobe dwellings harboring as many Indian families. The present Mission building, with its fine corridor, was completed about the close of the eighteenth century. The fountain in front arose in 1808. It furnished the water for the great basin just below, which served for the general laundry purposes of the Indian village. The water was led through earthen pipes from the reservoir north of the church, which to this day furnishes Santa Barbara with water. It was built in 1806. To obtain the precious liquid from the mountains, a very strong dam was built across 'Pedragoso' creek about two miles back of the Mission. It is still in good condition. Then there were various structures scattered far and near for the different trades, since everything that was used in the way of clothing and food had to be raised or manufactured at the Mission.

"The chapel grew too small within a year from the time it was dedicated, Sunday, May 21, 1787. It was therefore enlarged in 1788, but by the year 1792 this, also, proved too small. Converts were coming in rapidly. The old structure was then taken down, and a magnificent edifice took its place in 1793. Its size was 25 by 125 feet. There were three small chapels on each side, like the two that are attached to the present church. An earthquake, which occurred on Monday, December 21, 1812, damaged this adobe building to such an extent that it had to be taken down. On its site rose the splendid structure, which is still the admiration of the traveler. Padre Antonio Ripoll superintended the work, which continued through five years, from 1815 to 1820. It was dedicated on the 10th of September, 1820. The walls, which are six feet thick, consist of irregular sandstone blocks, and are further strengthened by solid stone buttresses measuring nine by nine feet. The towers to a height of thirty feet are a solid mass of stone and cement twenty feet square. A narrow passage leads through one of these to the top, where the old bells still call the faithful to service as of yore. Doubtless the Santa Barbara Mission church is the most solid structure of its kind in California. It is 165 feet long, forty feet wide and thirty feet high on the outside. Like the monastery, the church is roofed with tiles which were manufactured at the Mission by the Indians."

The report for 1800 is full of interest. It recounts the activity in building, tells of the death of Padre Paterna, who died in 1793, and was followed by Estévan Tapis (afterwards padre presidente), and says that 1237 natives have been baptized, and that the Mission now owns 2492 horses and cattle, and 5615 sheep. Sixty neophytes are engaged in weaving and allied tasks; the carpenter of the presidio is engaged at a dollar a day to teach the neophytes his trade; and a corporal is teaching them tanning at $150 a year.

In 1803 the population was the highest the Mission ever reached, with 1792. In May, 1808, a determined effort lasting nine days was made to rid the region of ground squirrels, and about a thousand were killed.

The earthquakes of 1812 alarmed the people and damaged the buildings at Santa Barbara as elsewhere. The sea was much disturbed, and new springs of asphaltum were formed, great cracks opened in the mountains, and the population fled all buildings and lived in the open air.

On the sixth of December, in the same year, the arrival of Bouchard, "the pirate," gave them a new shock of terror. The padres had already been warned to send all their valuables to Santa Inés, and the women and children were to proceed thither on the first warning of an expected attack. But Bouchard made no attack. He merely wanted to exchange "prisoners." He played a pretty trick on the Santa Barbara comandante in negotiating for such exchange, and then, when the hour of delivery came, it was found he had but one prisoner,--a poor drunken wretch whom the authorities would have been glad to get rid of at any price.

In 1824 the Indian revolt, which is fully treated in the chapters on Santa Inés and Purísima, reached Santa Barbara. While Padre Ripoll was absent at the presidio, the neophytes armed themselves and worked themselves into a frenzy. They claimed that they were in danger from the Santa Inés rebels unless they joined the revolt, though they promised to do no harm if only the soldiers were sent and kept away. Accordingly Ripoll gave an order for the guard to withdraw, but the Indians insisted that the soldiers leave their weapons. Two refused, whereupon they we're savagely attacked and wounded. This so incensed Guerra that he marched up from the presidio in full force, and a fight of several hours ensued, the Indians shooting with guns and arrows from behind the pillars of the corridors. Two Indians were killed and three wounded, and four of the soldiers were wounded. When Guerra retired to the presidio, the Indians stole all the clothing and other portable property they could carry (carefully respecting everything, however, belonging to the church), and fled to the hills. That same afternoon the troops returned and, despite the padre's protest, sacked the Indians' houses and killed all the stragglers they found, regardless of their guilt or innocence. The Indians refused to return, and retreated further over the mountains to the recesses of the Tulares. Here they were joined by escaped neophytes from San Fernando and other Missions. The alarm spread to San Buenaventura and San Gabriel, but few, if any, Indians ran away. In the meantime

the revolt was quelled at Santa Inés and Purísima, as elsewhere recorded.

On the strength of reports that he heard, Governor Argüello recalled the Monterey troops; but this appeared to be a mistake, for, immediately, Guerra of Santa Barbara sent eighty men over to San Emigdio, where, on April 9 and 11, severe conflicts took place, with four Indians killed, and wounded on both sides. A wind and dust storm arising, the troops returned to Santa Barbara.

In May the governor again took action, sending Captain Portilla with a force of 130 men. The prefect Sarría and Padre Ripoll went along to make as peaceable terms as possible, and a message which Sarría sent on ahead doubtless led the insurgents to sue for peace. They said they were heartily sorry for their actions and were anxious to return to Mission life, but hesitated about laying down their arms for fear of summary punishment. The gentiles still fomented trouble by working on the fears of the neophytes, but owing to Argüello's granting a general pardon, they were finally, in June, induced to return, and the revolt was at an end.

After these troubles, however, the Mission declined rapidly in prosperity. Though the buildings under Padre Ripoll were in excellent condition, and the manufacturing industries were well kept up, everything else suffered.

In 1817 a girls' school for whites was started at the presidio of Santa Barbara, but nothing further is known of it. Several years later a school was opened, and Diego Fernandez received $15 a month as its teacher. But Governor Echeandía ordered that, as not a single scholar attended, this expense be discontinued; yet he required the comandante to compel parents to send their children to school.

In 1833 Presidente Duran, discussing with Governor Figueroa the question of secularization, deprecated too sudden action, and suggested a partial and experimental change at some of the oldest Missions, Santa Barbara among the number.

When the decree from Mexico, came, however, this was one of the first ten Missions to be affected thereby. Anastasio Carrillo was appointed comisionado, and acted from September, 1833. His inventory in March, 1834, showed credits, $14,953; buildings, $22,936; furniture, tools, goods in storehouse, vineyards, orchards, corrals, and animals, $19,590; church, $16,000; sacristy, $1500; church ornaments, etc., $4576; library, $152; ranches, $30,961; total, $113,960, with a debt to be deducted of $1000.

The statistics from 1786 to 1834, the whole period of the Mission's history, show that there were 5679 baptisms, 1524 marriages, 4046 deaths. The largest population was 1792 in 1803. The largest number of cattle was 5200 in 1809, of sheep, 11,066 in 1804.

Here, as elsewhere, the comisionados found serious fault with the pueblo grog-shops. In 1837 Carrillo reports that he has broken up a place where Manuel Gonzalez sold liquor to the Indians, and he calls upon the comandante to suppress other places. In March, 1838, he complains that the troops are killing the Mission cattle, but is told that General Castro had authorized the officers to kill all the cattle needed without asking permission. When the Visitador Hartwell was here in 1839 he found Carrillo's successor Cota an unfit man, and so reported him. He finally suspended him, and the Indians became more contented and industrious under Padre Duran's supervision, though the latter refused to undertake the temporal management of affairs.

Micheltorena's decree of 1843 affected Santa Barbara, in that it was ordered returned to the control of the padres; but in the following year Padre Duran reported that it had the greatest difficulty in supporting its 287 souls. Pico's decree in 1845 retained the principal building for the bishop and padres; but all the rest and the orchards and lands were to be rented, which was accordingly done December 5, to Nicholas A. Den and Daniel Hill for $1200 per year, the property being valued at $20,288. Padre Duran was growing old, and the Indians were becoming more careless and improvident; so, when Pico wrote him to give up the Mission lands and property to the renters, he did so willingly, though he stated that the estate owed him $1000 for money he had advanced for the use of the Indians. The Indians were to receive one third of the rental, but there is no record of a cent of it ever getting into their hands. June 10, 1846, Pico sold the Mission to Richard S. Den for $7500, though the lessees seem to have kept possession until about the end of 1848. The land commission confirmed Den's title, though the evidences are that it was annulled in later litigation. Padre Duran died here early in 1846, a month after Bishop Diego. Padre Gonzalez Rubio still remained for almost thirty years longer to become the last of the old missionaries.

In 1853 a petition was presented to Rome, and Santa Barbara was erected into a Hospice, as the beginning of an Apostolic College for the education of Franciscan novitiates who are to go forth, wherever sent, as missionaries. St. Anthony's College, the modern building near by, was founded by the energy of Father Peter Wallischeck. It is for the education of aspirants to the Franciscan Order. There are now thirty-five students.





Five of the early missionaries and three of later date are buried in the crypt, under the floor of the sanctuary, in front of the high altar; and Bishop Diego rests under the floor at the right-hand side of the altar.

The small cemetery, which is walled in and entered from the church, is said to contain the bodies of 4000 Indians, as well as a number of whites. In the northeast corner is the vault in which are buried the members of the Franciscan community.

In the bell tower are two old bells made in 1818, as is evidenced by their inscriptions, which read alike, as follows: "Manvel Vargas me fecit ano d. 1818 Mision de Santa Barbara De la nveba California"--"Manuel Vargas made me Anno Domini 1818. Mission of Santa Barbara of New California." The first bell is fastened to its beam with rawhide thongs; the second, with a framework of iron. Higher up is a modern bell which is rung (the old ones being tolled only).

The Mission buildings surround the garden, into which no woman, save a reigning queen or the wife of the President of the United States, is allowed to enter. An exception was made in the case of the Princess Louise when her husband was the Governor-general of Canada. The wife of President Harrison also has entered. The garden, with its fine Italian cypress, planted by Bishop Diego about 1842, and its hundred varieties of semi-tropical flowers, in the center of which is a fountain where goldfish play, affords a delightful place of study, quiet, and meditation for the Franciscans.

It is well that the visitor should know that this old Mission, never so abandoned and abused as the others, has been kept up in late years entirely by the funds given to the Franciscan missionaries, who are now its custodians, and it has no other income.

The Mission Library contains a large number of valuable old books gathered from the other Missions at the time of secularization. There are also kept here a large number of the old records from which Bancroft gained much of his Mission intelligence, and which, recently, have been carefully restudied by Father Zephyrin, the California historian of the Franciscan Order. Father Zephyrin is a devoted student, and many results of his zeal and kindness are placed before my readers in this volume, owing to his generosity. His completed history of the Missions and Missionaries of California is a monumental work.

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