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California Missions - San Carlos Borbomeo

( Originally Published Early 1922 )

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.

Padre Crespi reports an interesting event in connection with the second expedition, that found the Bay of Monterey. He says :

" After a journey of three leagues, we arrived at one of the salty lagunas of Punta Pinos, where a cross had been erected. Before alighting from our horses, the Governor, a soldier, and myself approached the cross, seeking to discover some signs of the expedition which had set out for water, but we found none. The cross was surrounded by arrows, and little rods tipped with feathers, which had been set in the ground by Indians ; suspended from a stick, at one side of the cross, was a string of half-spoiled sardines, a pile of mussels, and a piece of meat. This astonished us not a little ; but we failed to comprehend the significance of it ; however, as soon as the neophytes were capable of expressing themselves in Spanish, they assured us that the first time they saw the Spaniards, their attention was attracted by a beautiful shining cross which each one wore on his breast ; that when they departed they left on the shore this large cross, which seemed at night to almost touch the sky, and was surrounded with rays of heavenly light ; but in the daytime, seeing it in its usual proportions, and, to propitiate it, they had offered it flesh-meat and fish ; observing that it partook not of their feast, they presented arrows and feathers, as a token that they were at peace with the holy cross, and with those who had planted it."

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.

Prior to the arrival of these missionaries Serra was not inactive. He soon decided, after a careful survey of the country, that the location of the Monterey Mission could be bettered. Look at him ! The old priest, with a lame leg, on foot, garbed in his long gray gown, tramping over the hills around Monterey, seeking for a new site. It is a picture to arouse the lazy blood of some of us today who would never think of walking from Hotel del Monte to the Carmelo Valley. Religious zeal is indeed a great incitement to labor. When the permission was duly given, Serra set to work at his new site on the banks of the Rio Carmelo. There he left three sailors and forty Indians (Bancroft says four) from the peninsula, at work cutting timber, while five soldiers looked on and lent occasional assistance. Travelling overland, he established the Mission of San Antonio de Padua, and then returned; and after several months of labor in preparing the new buildings, the formal transfer took place in December of 1771. Palou says that during this time " his dwelling was a poor hut. He erected a large cross, which he visited and venerated at an early hour every morning ; here too the soldiers would assemble and sing an alabado or hymn ; then, after matins and prime, Padre Junipero would offer the holy sacrifice of the mass, at which the soldiers and servants attended with great devotion. Then all commenced to labor, Junipero everywhere directing. Often during the day he would cease his labors, venerate the cross, and recite his rosary, this being the only recreation he allowed himself. The Indians visited him daily, and he delighted them by offering them strings of beads and little trinkets ; afterwards he made the sign of the cross on their foreheads, and accustomed them to kiss that holy emblem. He also tried to pick up a few words of their language ; he taught them to salute one another by saying : ` Amar a Dios,' ` to love God ; ' and this custom became so general that it was adopted even by the Indians, who would thus salute the Spaniards when they met."

Thus did the zealous Junipero in his desire to win the heathen to the Cross.

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. The buildings are thus described, according to Bancroft :

" A line of high strong posts, set in the ground close together, encloses the rectangular space which contains the simple wooden buildings serving as church and dwellings, the walls of which also in most instances take the stockade form. At San Carlos the rectangle is seventy yards long and forty-three wide, with ravelins at the corners. For want of nails the upright palisades are not secured at the top, and the ease with which they can be moved renders the strong gate locked at night an unnecessary precaution. Within, the chief building, also of palisade walls plastered inside and out with mud or clay, is seven by fifty yards and divided into six rooms. One room serves as a church, another as the minister's dwelling, and another as a storehouse, the best rooms being whitewashed with lime. This building is roofed with mud, supported by horizontal timbers. A slighter structure used as a kitchen is roofed with grass. The quarters of the soldiers are distinct from the mission and are enclosed by a separate palisade, while outside of both enclosures are the simple huts of the rancheria."

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 177. 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, some of whose irritations I have elsewhere referred to, 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. Full particulars of this and subsequent trips over the sandy deserts of Arizona will be given in the companion volume to this.

Here, then, were three parties starting from Mexico to California at about the same time : Serra, Rivera, and Anza. They all arrived in due course, Anza at San Gabriel, March 22, Serra at Monterey, May 9, and Rivera at Monterey, May 23, 1774.

Successful in his first trip, Anza returned to Mexico to report to the Viceroy, who immediately gave him orders to prepare for a second. He was to recruit soldiers and settlers for a new presidio to be established at San Francisco, and two new Missions on the Colorado River, the latter being deemed a necessary step towards making the route overland across Arizona practical. In the chapter on San Francisco full particulars of this expedition will be given.

The Colorado River Missions were duly established, attacked, and destroyed, with much loss of life, as elsewhere recorded. But prior to this, Anza had met Rivera at San Gabriel, had gone to San Diego to help suppress the rebellion there, and had met Serra at Monterey, where a special service of thanksgiving was held. San Francisco, was duly founded, and Anza returned to Sonora, and Rivera to the Colorado River, where his murder by the Indians took place a little later.

It should not be overlooked that, prior to the arrival of Anza, the viceroy wrote both to Serra and Rivera of his intention to found a new presidio at San Francisco. He required Lieutenant Ayala to explore the bay to find out whether the mouth seen by Fages three years before was a navigable entrance, and also to learn whether the bay was suitable for a port. As Ayala had no boat he set to work to make a cayuco, or dugout, from the trunk of a redwood, on the shores of the Carmelo River, doubtless availing him-self of the Indians there, who were experts in such work. This canoe, after serving its purpose, was finally wrecked on the beach below the cliff, where it was stranded after breaking loose from its moorings.

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 July, 1776, Felipe de Neve, who, since March, 1775, had been governing the Californias at Loreto, was ordered to transfer his capital to Monterey. Already the importance of the new California was beginning to shadow the old. Rivera was to become lieutenant-governor and rule Lower California. But another power than that of king and viceroy was directing his affairs, and he did not live to assume his office. Neve, however, arrived at Monterey on the 3d of February, 1777. It was not long before Neve and Serra were at loggerheads on matters pertaining to the Church. Serra received a patent in 1778, entitling him to perform the sacred rite of confirmation, a rite generally reserved to no office lower than that of bishop. Serra was not a bishop ; the nearest bishop to California was thousands of miles away. To overcome the difficulty the Holy Father in Rome authorized this special patent. In 1779 Neve, as the representative of the Crown of Spain, called upon him for his authority for the exercise of the office. The quarrel was long and severe, and, as might have been foreseen, ultimated in Neve receiving orders to refrain from interference with Serra.

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 Jose," 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.

This same year Serra chose two each, alcaldes and regidores, from the Indian neophytes to aid in the administration of justice at San Carlos. Great improvements had been made at the presidio at Monterey, and at the Mission things were slowly improving. For the next two or three years there was much working at cross purposes between Serra and Neve, the latter wanting new Missions to be established on the plan which had proven so disastrous on the Colorado River ; but in 1782, while Neve and his lieu-tenant, Fages, were near Yuma on a campaign against the Indians, orders came appointing Neve to a higher office in Mexico, and making Fages governor of California. Fages and Serra had never agreed when Fages held the office before, but as he showed a better disposition than heretofore, it was hoped that all would prove for the best.

In 1784, however, Serra was called upon to lay down all earthly burdens and receive his heavenly reward. His personal work was ended. The year before his beloved co-worker and friend, Padre Crespi, had died. Crespi had aided Serra in the founding of San Carlos, and for some time had worked there. In 1781 the two had journeyed together to visit San Francisco and Santa Clara, and it was on their return that he was taken with his fatal illness. Serra himself administered the last rites to his friend when he died, January 1. He was buried in the church at San Carlos, on the gospel side of the sanctuary. Now Serra's own end had come. August 28 he passed away so quietly that all thought he was sleeping. He was buried, as was his expressed wish, by the side of Crespi, in the sanctuary at San Carlos, Palou performing the rites.

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 resided mainly at San Carlos.

September 14, 1786, the eminent French navigator, Jean Francois Galaup de la Perouse, with two vessels, appeared at Monterey, and the Frenchman gives us a vivid picture of his reception at the Mission of San Carlos that is worth transcribing.

"The padres of San Carlos Mission, two leagues from Monterey, soon came to the presidio ; as kind to us as the officers of fort and frigates they insisted on our going to dine with them, and promised to acquaint us in detail with the management of their mission, the Indian manner of living, their arts and customs, in fact all that might interest travellers. We accepted with eagerness . . . M. Fages wished to accompany us. . . . After having crossed a little plain covered with herds of cattle . . . we ascended the hills and heard the sound of bells announcing our coming. We were received like lords of a parish visiting their estates for the first time. The president of the missions, clad in cope, his holy-water sprinkler in hand, received us at the door of the church illuminated as on the grandest festivals; led us to the foot of the altar ; and chanted a Te Deum of thanksgiving for the happy issue of our voyage. Before entering the church we had crossed a plaza where Indians of both sexes were ranged in line ; their faces showed no surprise and left room for doubt if we should be the subject of their conversation for the rest of the day."

After leaving the church the visitors spent a short time in examining the Mission and in making a careful, though necessarily brief, study of the Franciscan regime and its effects upon the natives. They probably visited San Carlos more than once.

La Perouse's companion, M. de Langle, presented San Carlos with a hand-mill for grinding wheat, which would enable four of the neophyte women to do the work of a hundred in the old way ; but it is very doubtful whether they used it long.

In 1791 Fages retired from the governorship with honors, and Jose Antonio Romeu was named his successor. He arrived at Monterey in ill-health, October 13, and on April 9, 1792, he passed away, and was buried at San Carlos the next day. The Lieutenant-Governor Arrillaga was thereupon called up from Loreto to act as temporary governor until a new appointment was made. He reached Monterey early in July, 179&

In the meantime the English navigator, Vancouver, had visited San Francisco, and Santa Clara, and San Carlos. Lasuen had entertained him as hospitably as he did La Perouse six years before. The natives gave an exhibition of their skill in killing deer by stratagem, and there was a grand dinner at the presidio, and even fireworks. The governor, on his arrival, was much chagrined at the fact that Vancouver had been allowed to discover the weakness of the Spanish defences in California, and he administered a general rebuke to his officers. Consequently, when Vancouver returned at the end of 1793 he was not received so warmly, though it was only by contrast with his former reception that he could have justly made any complaint. But before he sailed away, the British captain gave to Padre Lasuen a handsome barrel-organ as a gift for San Carlos. There is such an organ at San Juan Bautista as is recorded in the chapter devoted to that Mission, and it may be that it is the very one thus contributed.

On his second visit he went to San Carlos (Sunday, December 2, 1792), and while he gives no detailed description, he presents a drawing which shows four buildings irregularly arranged and partially enclosing a square. From this picture Bancroft makes up the following description :

" The old church, partly thatched and partly tiled, stands on the left of the picture, and probably on the west side of the square. Three bells hang on a frame raised on a stone foundation ; a lofty cross, bearing a close resemblance to a modern telegraph-pole, rears its head near the centre of the plaza, and just beyond, almost in contact with, and apparently northeast-ward from the old church, are the rising stone walls of a new one. Beyond, on an eminence, may be seen a corral for cattle, while at the right are the conical huts of the neophytes. The new church was being built of a soft, straw-colored stone, which was said to harden on exposure to the air. The lime used was made from sea-shells. This church, the ruins of which are still to be seen on the banks of the Carmelo, was completed and dedicated in September 1797."

While the description thus given shows the new church, it is possible it was not added in his drawing until his third visit, which occurred in 1794, for Padre Lasuen states that the first stone was laid July 7, 1793, a year after Vancouver's visit.

The troubles in Europe caused by Napoleon sent a tiny ripple which was felt at Monterey; but his act in placing his brother Joseph on the throne of Spain was never recognized. On March 5, 1809, Ferdinand the Seventh was duly hailed as " Our king and natural lord," and on the 10th of August Governor Arrillaga swore loyalty to him before President Tapis (who had taken the place of the deceased Lasuen) in the church at San Carlos.

In 1810 Spanish South America began to revolt against Spanish rule. In 1818 Monterey and California generally felt a wave from this sea of revolt in the coming of Captain Bouchard, who professed to be waging war against Spain and her possessions in the interests of the South American insurgents. October 6, 1818, the American brig " Clarion " arrived at Santa Barbara, and alarmed the commandante, Guerra, by telling him that two vessels were outfitting at the Hawaiian Islands for the devastation of the California settlements. Immediately Guerra sent warnings north and south, which, when received by Governor Sola, led that active official to issue most explicit instructions to all the various officials and the padres at the Missions, as to what they were to do if the enemy actually hove in sight. A month passed, and the people had begun to forget their fears, when, on the afternoon of November 20, the sentinel on Point Pinos reported two vessels in sight approaching Monterey. On their arrival and anchoring there were parleyings and evasions, and finally next morning a conflict resulted, in which the insurgents lost several men. Bouchard then made a demand for the immediate surrender of the province, which Sola indignantly refused. Then followed the landing of four hundred men with four field pieces, and as Sola had only twenty-five men to oppose it, he ordered his guns spiked and beat a retreat, taking everything he could with him to the rancho del rey, where Salinas City now stands. The insurgents set the presidio and fort on fire, and destroyed supplies to the value of $5000, and also took private property of the officers to the same value. The orchard and garden were entirely ruined. Possibly they did not go over to San Carlos Mission, for nothing there was injured. They sailed away November 26, or early in the morning of November 27, and we shall hear further from them at several of the other Missions.

In due time the officials and people returned, and by April, 1819, possibly earlier, Monterey had resumed its old-time aspect.

About this time the chapel adjoining the church, on the south side, in honor of the " pasion del senor," was erected, though the exact date of its dedication is not known.

San Carlos felt the troubles of the Mexican revolution somewhat, in that Prefect Sarria was regarded as under arrest for some time as a recalcitrant Spaniard. In 1830 the report shows that it was rapidly declining in Indian 'population. In 1833 the Zacatecan padre, Jose Maria del Refugia Sagrado Suarez del Real, took the place of the Franciscan Abella. In 183435 the Mission was secularized, Joaquin Gomez being appointed commissioner, and succeeded by Jose Antonio Romero as majordomo. The spoliation was rapid: there being little property left in 1834, and none at all but the ruined buildings in 1840. At the time of secularization Serra's army of converts had dwindled down to 150, and at the end of the decade there were only about 30 left, with perhaps 50 more out at service at the ranches and in the town.

When Pico issued his decrees in 1845 San Carlos was regarded as a pueblo, or abandoned Mission, Padre Real residing at Monterey and only holding services occasion-ally. 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 tiled roof fell in, and all the tiles save about 1000 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 overgrew the dust of California's great apostle.

In " Glimpses of California," by " H. H.," Mr. Sand-ham, 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 curve of the walls was 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 150 feet long by 30 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 at least its preservation from further demolition. The first step was to clear away the debris 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 400 people assembled at San Carlos. There, from the original records, he read aloud to the assembled people the following entries, both in the original Spanish, and then in English:

" Rev. F. Francisco Lasuen, second President of the missions ; born in Spain, died here, and is buried in the sanctuary, on the Gospel side, in a stone tomb near the main altar, June 28th, 1803."

Father Cassanova thus describes what follows :

" The heavy stone slab having been removed before the ceremony, the coffin of each stone tomb or grave was left visible. A man then went down and raised the lid of each coffin. The coffins were simple red wood, unplaned, and in a good state of preservation. The people all looked at the remains, first of Father Juan Crespi, the first that died, then on the remains of Father Junipero Serra. The skeletons were in a good state, the ribs standing out in proper arch, part of the vestment in good order, also the heavy silk stole which is put only on a priest, in good order and in one piece, two yards and a half long, with the silk fringes to it as good as new. We did not raise the coffins, but only viewed them and their contents to the satisfaction of all present. We did the same to the four corpses ; anything more would have been improper, especially as the coffin of the last buried, the Rev. Father Lasuen, was going to pieces. Then the tombs were covered as before with stone slabs. The tomb of Father Junipero Serra, for better security, was filled with earth, so as to make it more difficult for any vandal to disturb his resting-place, and over that was placed the stone slab broken in four pieces."

The discovery of the bodies of Serra, Crespi, Lopez, and Lasuen aroused some sentiment and interest in Father Cassanova's plan of restoration ; and as he had himself worked with a devotion that should have produced better results, sufficient aid came to enable him to properly restore and roof the building. On the 28th of August, 1884, the re-dedication took place, and the building was left as it is found today (1905).

It is the earnest desire of the writer of these pages that all his readers should have a share in completing the work Father Cassanova began. The roof should be retiled in the original style. The cost of this will be about two thousand dollars. If each reader of this book would send a dollar to the publishers, with the request that it be kept for this purpose, I am satisfied a tiled roof could be put on before the end of 1907. And I hereby make appeal to that end. I will undertake to send an autographed photo-graph of the restored and retiled Mission (when the work is done) to all who will contribute a dollar for the purpose named.

In the architectural chapter certain interesting things about San Carlos are noted.

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 to establish a parish there, have a resident minister, and thus restore the old Mission to its original purpose.

Before leaving San Carlos it will be well to explain the facts in regard to the church at Monterey, elsewhere pictured in these pages. Many errors have been perpetuated about this church. It is not properly a Mission, though dating back to Mission days.

In the establishment of the Missions, as has been shown, the presidios were founded to be a means of protection to the padres in their work of civilizing and christianizing the natives. These presidios were at San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. Each was supposed to have its own church or chapel, and the original intention was that each should likewise have its own resident priest. For purposes of economy, however, this was not done, and the mission padres were called upon for this service, though it was often a source of disagreement between the military and the missionaries. The Monterey church is the successor to the old presidio chapel. I have been unable to learn when it was built, but about fifty years ago Governor Pacheco donated the funds for its enlargement. The original building was extended back a number of feet, and an addition made, which makes the church of cruciform shape, the original building being the long arm of the cross. It is in the two walls of this addition one on the left and one on the right that the two ornate doorways elsewhere presented are placed. The walls are built of sandstone rudely quarried at the rear of the church.

The view from this church is now destroyed by the presence immediately before it of the school, conducted by the sisters of St. Joseph, but it formerly must have been commanding. It stands about half a mile from the bay, the deep blue waters and far-away hills of the Coast Range, the verdure-clad sandhills below and near by, combining with the long stretch of gray sand of the beach to make an unusually lovely setting in a country full of beauty. To the left are the pine-clad hills, and to the rear and beyond, the foothills of the Gabilan Range. The Mission faces almost north; the old town of Monterey nestles in the lower folds of the hills which rise to the west, on the point of which, nearest to the sea, the Sloat monument is slowly rising.

Here are a large number of interesting relics and memorials of Serra and the early Mission days. Some are described in the chapters on Saints, Woodwork, and Silverware..

Another interesting relic is a reliquary case, made by an Indian at San Carlos to hold certain valuable relics which Serra highly prized. Some of these are bones from the Catacombs, and an Agnus Dei of wax. Serra himself wrote the list of contents on a slip of paper, which is still intact on the back of the case. This reliquary used to be carried in procession by Serra on each 4th of November, and is now used by Father Mestris in like ceremonials.

In the altar space or sanctuary are five chairs, undoubtedly brought to California by one of the Philippine galleons from one of those islands, or from China. The bodies are of teak, ebony, or iron wood, with seats of marble, and with a disk of marble in the back.

In the sacristy is the safe in which Serra used to keep the sacred vessels, as well as the important papers connected with his office. It is an interesting object, sheeted with iron, wrapped around with iron bands and covered all over with bosses. It is about three feet wide and four feet high. In the drawers close by are several of the copes, stoles, maniples, and other vestments which were once used by Serra at the old Mission.