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The Governor Passes

 
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: The Governor Passes Reply with quote

THAT Governor Figueroa was a sick man was well known throughout the territory; and because of it, he had requested to be relieved of his command. This, as we have seen, was courageously withdrawn at the request of President Santa Ana, when the Padres-Hijar coup threatened the province.

His illness becoming acute, the Comisario-Prefecto from Santa Clara, Fr. Garcia Diego, was summoned to attend him. Not arriving in time, Fr. Jose Real, in charge of the Presidio Chapel and Carmel Mission, was summoned and was at his side at the end.

The body, arrayed in the elaborate uniform of the governor of the territory, hat and sword across his breast, was placed in the Presidio Church, "in the vacant room of the church, fronting the sacristy on the Gospel side, October 2, 1835.” (The room disappeared long ago.) The funeral rites, according to entries in the parish register in Monterey, were performed by Fr. Garcia Diego, his secretary, Fr. Bernardino Perez and Fr. Real.

To quote further from the register: "The funeral was held with the solemnity and pomp due his merit, five squads of soldiers marching ahead of the remains. The body will be transferred to Mexico as he has commanded in his testament."

It must be that the late governor had changed his mind about the place of his interment, as he made a formal request of the Franciscans that he be buried in Santa Barbara Mission.

The body lay in state in the "room adjoining the church on the Gospel side" until the 19th, when it was borne to the brig Avon, Captain Juan Antonio Munoz. On the 27th, the vessel dropped anchor off Santa Barbara Presidio, under orders from Don Nicolas Gutierrez, military commander of the department.

There a procession was formed to convey the body to the Presidio chapel, where it rested for the night. The next morning, the processional was resumed, the entire countryside attending, the bells in the town tolling at regular intervals, until the governor was finally laid to rest under the Mission church. Fr. Engelhardt, in the absence of records, believes that Fr. Duran was the chief celebrant of the funeral Mass, an interesting detail, since the governor had harassed the Father Superior and his Franciscan brothers in and out of season, during the bitter years the secularization project was in the process of hatching. The charity of the Church, and the rule of Francis the Forgiving.

While the governor's body was lying in state in the Presidio Church in Monterey, awaiting the arrival of the Avon, the territorial assembly met, and passed resolutions that are interesting examples of the grand manner in vogue among the Dons. Juan Alvarado wrote them, closing thus:

"Let us immortalize his glory and our gratitude, and encircle his brow with a crown of “siempte viva.” Yes, Most Excellent Sirs, listen, and please approve of the following resolutions:

1. The portrait of General Don Jose Figueroa shall be placed in the Hall of Sessions of this Excelentisima Diputacion in proof of the esteem they bear for his distinguished memory.

2. To perpetuate his memory, and the grati¬tude of this Corporation, a durable monu-ment shall be erected, with an appropriate inscription, in one of the most public unoccupied sites in the capital; and to fulfill which the Illustrious Ayuntamiento shall be authorized to have its sole direction and care.

Then the Illustrious Ayuntamiento took up the matter, and resolved to inscribe the monument thusly:

"THE PROVINCIAL DIPUTACION AND TOWN COUNCIL OF MONTEREY, AT PUBLIC COST, IN PROOF OF GRATITUDE, DEDICATE THIS MONUMENT TO THE ETERNAL MEMORY OF GENERAL DON JOSE FIGUEROA, MILITARY AND POLITICAL GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, THE FATHER OF THE COUNTRY , WHO DIED AT THIS CAPITAL, SEPTEMBER 29, 1835, A.D, AGED FORTY-THREE YEARS.”

As for the erection of the monument, that is yet to come! (1934.)

The "Hall of Sessions'. referred to by Alvarado, the meeting place of the diputacion and the ayuntamiento was either Casa del Gobierno (Government House) beside the Aduana Maritima (Customs House), or the Customs House itself. El Cuartel was not yet built, nor, of course, was Colton Hall.

The fact that El Cuartel was built by the Mexican government in the early '40s seems to indicate that Casa del Gobierno was then disintegrating. So it is entirely possible that the north wing of the Customs House, built by the Mexican Government, was the scene of the exciting gatherings of both the "Illustrious Ayuntamiento" and the provincial diputacions, until El Cuartel was built by Don Jose Abrego on the western boundary of the Presidio, on contract for the Mexican Government. Later to serve as the First American Capitol on the Pacific Coast.
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