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Founding Presidio And Mission

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: Founding Presidio And Mission Reply with quote

WITH SUCH pageantry and color as Church and State could summon in the new land, Monterey was born, June 3, 1770.

The officers and men of the San Antonio and the dragoons, Portola at their head, were assembled early. Cannon from shore and ship saluted the day.

A large cross had been set up on the side of the ravine, near the spot where the Carmelites had said Mass in 1602. Near it floated the Spanish standard.

In Father Serra's own words, the historic ceremonial proceeded as follows:

"On the holy day of Pentecost, June 3rd, after having gathered all the officers of the sea and land, and all the rest of the people by the side of the little ravine and oak where the Fathers of that other expedition [Viscaino] had held their celebration, an altar was erected, the bells hung up and rung, the hymn Veni Creator was sung and the water blessed, and finally a cross erected and the royal standards set up. I then sang the first Mass which we suppose had been celebrated here since that long ago; and we sang the Hail to Oar Lady before the image of our Most Illustrious Queen, which occupied the altar. After that I preached a sermon to the assembled people.

"After the service had been concluded with Te Deum, the officers performed the ceremony of taking formal possession of the land in the name of the King, our lord (whom may God keep). We afterwards ate our dinner together under a shade on the beach. The whole service had been accompanied with much thunder and powder, both on land and from the ship. To God alone be given all the honor and glory."

The stage was set, now, for the development of the Mission of San Carlos de Borromeo de Monterey and the Presidio of Monterey.

One of the first things to be done was to dispatch the San Antonio to Mexico to convey the information to the viceroy that Monterey was occupied—that the Mission and the Presidio had been successfully founded. It may be said in passing that when the news reached Mexico, the viceroy ordered all church bells in the city to be rung, and a general holiday to be declared throughout the country. Spain's frontier had been pushed farther north, a new barrier against foreign aggression.

In browsing through the official diaries that are the chief sources of information of these pioneer days of California, one cannot but compare them with the pioneering days on the Atlantic coast. If the Spaniards endured bitter hardships in the West, they at least were not badgered by the cold winters and scorching summers that beset our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. But the hardships of the Spaniards in reaching their new home far out-reached the experience of the Pilgrims. Crossing the Atlantic was a simple experience in comparison.

Now that the founding had taken place, all was not plain sailing. Transportation and great distances from the bases of supplies furnished perplexing problems.

There was a scarcity of fresh water for irrigation at the port, and but little available arable land. Father Serra soon communicated his findings to Viceroy de la Croix, suggesting Carmel Valley as a suitable site. With full confidence in the judgment of the Franciscan, the official in Mexico wrote the friar to select a site satisfactory to himself.

He forthwith chose the present site of the Carmel Mission—the most perfectly set Mission of the whole chain of beautifully placed Missions along the coast.

Meantime, came the parting of the Padre Presidente and his loyal friend and counselor, Captain Gaspar de Portola. It had been understood from the outset that the valiant soldier would return to Mexico when his commission to convoy the first colonists to Monterey had been executed. And now, under orders from Inspector Jose Galvez, he sailed away, the little company waving him a farewell as the ship rounded Point Pinos, July 9, 1770. California's first governor and leader of the first, and therefore the most perilous overland expedition into California, was leaving the country forever. A lonely little group left behind.

Following his orders, Portola had turned over his command to Lieutenant Pedro Fages. Fages was a good soldier and a sturdy explorer, but, as before pointed out, a choleric fellow, whose promotion to a captaincy—and later to the governorship—failed to increase his capacity for self-control. But he was a picturesque figure, and a clever manipulator of effective expletives.

Meantime, the ship's carpenters, sailors and soldiers from the land force, and Indians brought from Baja California were set to work to erect temporary buildings for the Presidio. An enclosure made of branches and trees, embracing a small altar, was set up for the celebration of Mass. Soon a small chapel was built, probably the predecessor of the present San Carlos Church, though another may have intervened, as at Carmel.

Workshops and corrals were built within a stockade, and in an incredibly short time the settlement was under cover, and making progress toward more permanent quarters.

In June of the following year, 1771, we see Fray Junipero going over the hill to the Carmel Valley to start work on the Mission that was to go down on the records as Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Monterey del Carmelo.

Taking the Baja California Indians with him, three marines and a few soldiers, he set them the task of cutting and preparing timbers. Meantime he traversed Carmel Valley and crossed the Santa Lucias, into the Jolon Valley, and founded the Mission of San Antonio de Padua, at the head of a beautiful valley inhabited by many rancherias of Indians, July 14th. (Church restored and in use. Twenty-six miles below King City.)

That done, he hurried back to the Carmel River site, only to find his workmen had been going about their labors with considerable deliberation. That was not the Serra tempo, so to speed things up, the Padre Presidente took up his abode at the new site, August 1777.

Soon the new "engineer and overseer" had his crew moving at a good pace, A large cross, one of the first things to be hewn out, was stood in what ultimately would become the patio of the Mission. Then a small house for himself, a part of which was to serve as a chapel.

By December, the temporary buildings had been sufficiently advanced to warrant the removal of the appurtenances of the Mission from what was to become the Royal Presidio Chapel. And at the end of the month the removal was complete.

Padre Juan Crespi was assigned to serve the Presidio Church and the gente de razon. The Padre Presidente himself took over the ministry of the Mission, now prepared to function for the civilization and Christianization of the Indians.

As yet, no Indians at San Diego had presented themselves for teaching, which fact Fray Junipero attributed to his own spiritual unworthiness. But it is to the glory of the Monterey Mission on the Carmelo that the first Indian baptism in California is recorded therein. The first "First" in Monterey's long procession of "Firsts."
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