San Francisco History

Seventy-five Years in San Francisco


The Centennial Celebration on Sunday, October 8, 1876, of the founding of the Presidio of San Francisco and the Mission Dolores, may be truly described as a memorable event in the annals of the commercial metropolis of California.

I am indebted to Mr. P. J. Thomas, the compiler and publisher of a valuable work upon the founding of the Mission of San Francisco de Asis, and historical reminiscences of other Missions of California, and which includes an account of the procession and the religious and civic exercises held at the celebration of the foundation of the above Mission in its hundredth year—for the privilege of incorporating in this volume two very interesting addresses delivered on that occasion.

At the Mechanics’ Pavilion at least eleven thousand persons were assembled. Among other prominent citizens, the Governor of the State; His Grace, the Most Reverend Archbishop Alemany; the Mayor of City and County of San Francisco; Hon. John W. Dwinelle and General M. G. Vallejo, orators of the day; the Collector of the Port of San Francisco; Consuls from foreign countries; Col. Peter Donahue and Gustave Touchard, were present.

The Spanish, Mexican and South American elements were largely represented in the immense throng, which was graced by the presence of many members of the clergy of the Province.

At the Old Mission grounds on the corner of Sixteenth and Dolores streets, the celebration was inaugurated with the solemnity befitting so important an anniversary. The exercises commenced with a Grand Pontifical Mass at 10 A. M. Beneath a tasteful gothic arch, adorned with ferns, ivy, clematis, and wreaths of flowers and tropical plants, the temporary altar was erected. The choir excellently rendered Beethoven’s Mass in C, as well as the Offertory Ave Maria, by Loretz.

At the conclusion of the Gospel, His Grace the Most Rev. Archbishop advanced from the altar to the front of the platform occupied by the choir, and stated that instead of the sermon promised by the Right Rev. Bishop Grace, of St. Paul, Minnesota, which would not be delivered, owing to the unexpected illness of that revered prelate, he would himself address those present. The Archbishop then delivered the following discourse:


DEARLY BELOVED: This is a day of joy and exultation, both to the citizens of San Francisco, and, in a certain sense, to those of the whole State of California, especially to the children of Christian light, for to-day we celebrate the Centennial of the Foundation of this Mission, and of this vast metropolis of the Pacific Coast. If our illustrious nation has justly been celebrating with rejoicing the Centennial of its existence, and the other nations of the world have been admiring the gigantic steps with which our Republic has advanced in a hundred years towards every kind of progress, with equal right and joy we are solemnizing to-day the hundredth anniversary of the existence of San Francisco as a civil and religious community, because we are especially interested in the establishment and prosperous duration of its double edifice, the foundations of which were laid in this place by our forefathers a hundred years ago.

A Centennial may be likened to a prominent, elevated spot, on which the traveler loves to rest, not only to cast a glance at the distance gained, but also to view the balance of his journey, and pursue it with fresh vigor. Thus, our Centennial affords us the pleasure of admiring the noble deeds of our ancestors, and the opportunity of encouraging ourselves to follow the course of a true civilization, and of our real and permanent interests. Others may perhaps speak of the Presidio of San Francisco developing itself in these last years into a great capital; they may assign to it in the near future a prominent place among the cities distinguished not less for their wealth and magnificent edifices, than for their artistic and literary talent. I will endeavor to limit my few words to religious recollections, inspired not only by the present festival and hallowed spot, but also by particular persons that have come to take part in the celebration; for we have in our midst the children of St. Ignatius, St. Francis and St. Dominic, the first Christian pioneers of both Californias, and we now occupy the same place occupied a century ago by other ministers and other people, guided by the same end, and undertaking the same work which we now have on hand—the true happiness of man through the code of the Gospel.

The spiritual soldiers of Loyola had already amazed the kings of Castile and Aragon, when, few in number and with no other resources than their breviary and their apostolic charity, they conquered what the invincible Cortéz and the Spanish armadas had not been able to subdue. By their charity and patience they had gained the hearts of the wild tribes of Lower California, and with arduous and apostolic labors they had established sixteen Missions in that peninsula. Sad human vicissitudes had already determined that the sons of St. Francis, and, soon after, those of St. Dominic, should succeed to the charge of these Missions; when a magnanimous heart, a great priest, a zealous apostle, desirous of the good of souls and of enriching them with the real treasures of Christian faith the Very Rev. Father Junípero Serra, President of the Franciscan Missionaries, willingly offered to come with his fellow-laborers to found establishments of religion and Christian beneficence in this, our California. This country had never before been inhabited by civilized man; no one could vouch for his safety in it; no one had known of its fertility and immense mineral treasures. But it was known to them that in it there were souls created by the Almighty, redeemed by His divine Son, who, buried in the darkness of paganism, had never seen the rays of the Christian light; and this was enough to induce them to undertake the great sacrifice of exiling themselves to these unexplored shores, ignorant whether it would cost them their lives; but certain that it would subject them to numberless privations and arduous labors.

It is easy for us now to come and live in this land, already well known for the benignity of its climate, the fertility of its soil, its precious treasures, its magnificent edifices inhabitated by persons of cultivated manners; but who can sufficiently appreciate the greatness of the sacrifice of those Franciscan Missionaries, who, guided by the spirit of Padre Junípero, or rather by that of apostolic charity, came first to live in this unknown country, among a barbarous people, who might, perhaps, repay their heroic sacrifices with ingratitude or even a fatal arrow! Yet they knew that the Son of God had not promised his Apostles any other reward in this world than that of being allowed to drink of the chalice of His passion for the benefit of man. Animated with such apostolic sentiments, those religious men came to our California, and having established the Mission of San Diego in 1769, and that of Monterey in 1770, they turned their attention to the foundation of the Mission of San Francisco.

And here I may mention the curious fact that the beautiful bay of San Francisco was singularly discovered by land, under the auspicious exploits of the missionaries; for it had ever remained veiled to all European eyes, notwithstanding the various vessels which had periodically passed in front of the Golden Gate. Some had inclined to the opinion that Sir Francis Drake had entered our port toward the close of the sixteenth century; but it is generally held as correct, what Humboldt and DeMofras assert, that the port visited by Drake was that of Bodega, or the one bearing his name around La Punta de los Reyes.

The first Europeans that ever saw our magnificent bay were those who composed the missionary expedition which came overland from San Diego, about the middle of July, 1769, to examine the already known port of Monterey; during which it happened that after the exploring party had passed the place now known as La Soledad, instead of turning west to their left, in the direction of Monterey, they continued their journey northwest, until they found themselves in full view of the bay of San Francisco.

But the Mission of San Francisco was not founded until the 8th day of October, 1776. Three weeks before—namely, the 17th of the preceding September—the Presidio of this place had been founded with the usual formalities; and, according to the wishes and instructions of the Viceroy of Mexico, the Missionary Fathers, accompanied by the civil authorities of the Presidio, performed the memorable work of the foundation of the Mission with all possible solemnity and formality; the account of which is given us by the faithful historian and eye-witness of the ceremony, Rev. Father Palóu, in the following words:

“Being left alone with the three young men, the work of cutting timber was commenced in order to begin the construction of the chapel and houses in which to live. On the arrival of the vessel we had sufficient timber, and with the help of some sailors furnished by Captain Quiros, in a short time a house was built thirty feet long and fifteen wide, all of plastered wood, with its roof of tule, and, adjoining it, of the same materials, a church was built fifty-two feet long, with a room for the sacristy behind the altar; and it was adorned in the best way possible with various kinds of drapery, and with the banners and pennants of the vessel. On the 8th of said month, the Lieutenant having arrived the evening before, the foundation took place, at which assisted the gentlemen of the vessel, with all the crew (except those necessary to guard the vessel), as well as the commander of the Presidio, with all the soldiers and people, retaining in the fort only the most necessary. I sang the Mass, with ministers, which, being ended, a procession was formed, in which was borne an image of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis, the patron of the Port, of the Presidio and of the Mission. The solemnity was celebrated with repeated salutes of fire-arms, and the swivel-guns which had been brought over from the vessel for the purpose, as also by the firing of rockets.”

Thus, a hundred years ago, on this spot, with solemn Mass and festive procession, with holy blessings and the Te Deum, the standard of the Cross was elevated, the law of the Gospel was proclaimed, the work of  conversion and civilization of the gentiles was solemnly inaugurated.

I should now beg leave to examine the means adopted by our forefathers to accomplish the noble object which they proposed to themselves, or rather the general system and special laws enacted and executed by our Christian ancestors, for the Christian civilization—the temporal and eternal welfare of the Indians. In order to have an affair of such magnitude duly attended to, the Spanish crown had constantly attached to its court a royal Council, composed of men distinguished for their wisdom, prudence and rectitude. This Council was especially devoted to the welfare of the Indians; and to that end it was guided by a special provision in the last will and testament of Queen Isabella “the Catholic,” which deserves to be written in letters of gold. In that order she declares that, in taking possession of the islands and lands of the ocean, her principal intention was “to endeavor to induce and bring the inhabitants thereof and to convert them to our Holy Catholic faith, and to send to said islands and continent prelates and religious clergymen, and other persons learned and fearing God, in order to instruct the inhabitants thereof in the Catholic faith, and to teach them good morals, and to pay all the attention to that. I beseech my lord, the king, most affectionately, and I charge and command the princess, my daughter, and the prince, her husband, that they perform and fulfill that, and that this be their principal aim, and bestow much care to it; and that they never consent to tolerate that the Indians and inhabitants of those islands  and continent, discovered or to be discovered, receive any injury in their persons or property, but that they enjoin that they may be well and justly treated, and that they remedy any wrong which they may have received.”

It is not possible that Blackstone, the celebrated English jurist, in laying down the laws of equity which should guide princes in their conquests of American countries and peoples, may have studied them in the testament of Isabella; yet, no doubt, he was guided by the principles of right embodied in the ancient digests of Christian jurisprudence, when he established the maxim, that “European princes, or their subjects, by coming to occupy the soil of the gentile natives, did not thereby become the owners of their lands, and that if the object of bringing them to Christian civilization gave them some right, this was not that of seizing their lands, but that of buying them first with preference to others.”

This is the principle which prevails throughout the code of the Recopilacion de Leyes de Indias. For, in the first place, it is obvious that in those laws the rights of the Indians to their lands are clearly respected according to the prescriptions of the code, which direct that the assignment of lands to Spaniards be made without injury to the Indians, and that such as may have been granted to their injury or inconvenience be restored to them to whom they rightfully belong. The same is established by the following law:

“We ordain that the sale, benefice and composition of lands be made in a manner that to the Indians be left in abundance all such as may belong to them, both as their individual and their community lands.”

And in order that the Indians might be better protected in their rights to lands, and might not easily lose them by selling them without close reflection, it was prescribed that they could not sell their lands except before a magistrate; and that even after the sale they might rescind the contract within thirty days and retain their lands, if they wished; and that if the lands of the Indians had been occupied by others, even for the space of nine years, they should be restored to them. It is also decreed that the settlers be not allowed to establish themselves near the lands of the Indians, or to have near them cattle which may injure their crops; and should this injury accidentally occur, the Indians must be fully compensated, besides their perfect liberty to kill any cattle doing them any injury.

And although it was deemed necessary for the civilization and welfare of the Indians to induce them to form towns while cultivating their lands, having in them their church and instruction, and their own magistrates, the statutes provide that besides their houses and gardens in the towns, they should retain their right to other lands belonging to them; and that when they would change domicile, and would freely move to other places of their own will, the authorities should not prevent them, but should allow them to live and remain in them, it being at the same time forbidden to force them to move from one place to another. In their towns they were to be induced to practice some trades, business or employment suitable to them, particularly agriculture; and in order that they should not be molested, it was rigorously forbidden to the Spaniards to dwell in their towns; and in a special manner it was also forbidden to sell or give them wine, arms, or anything which might injure them or bring them to trouble.

It is also worth considering what such a code enacts in regard to their wars. Instead of keeping them in subjection with rigor, or punishing them with severity in their rebellious commotion, we find that the Emperor Charles V. enjoins on all viceroys, judges and governors, that if any Indians would rise in rebellion, they ought to strive to reduce them and to attract them to the royal service with mildness and peace, without war, theft or deaths; and that they must observe the laws given by him for the good government of the Indians, and good treatment of the natives, granting them some liberties if necessary, and forgiving them the crimes of rebellion committed by them, even if they were against His Imperial Majesty and royal service. And should they be aggressors, and being armed, should they commence to make war on the peaceable settlers and their towns, even then the necessary intimations should be made them once, twice and three times, and more, if necessary, until they be brought to the desired peace.

The same code contains many enactments regarding the good treatment of the Indians; for instance, it recommends to all the authorities, and even to the viceroys, the care of providing for them, and of issuing the necessary orders that they be protected, favored, and overlooked in their failings, in order that they may live unmolested and undisturbed, seeing to the severe punishment of the transgressors molesting them. It especially charges the Attorneys-General to watch particularly over the observance of the laws enacted for their instruction, protection, good treatment and prosperity, while it is provided that they may have in their towns their own mayor and supervisors, elected by themselves, and that an official, high in dignity, should visit, among others, the towns of the Indians at least every three years, and see that they be not ill-treated in anything. Finally, for their greater protection, it was decreed by the king that there be protectors and defenders of the Indians; that these be prudent and competent men, and that they perform their duties with the Christian spirit, disinterestedness and prompt attention with which they are obliged to assist and defend them.

Consequently, there can be no doubt that this precious code of the Recopilacion reflects throughout the true spirit of Christian charity to which the Indians are entitled, as the aboriginal owners of their lands, and as men created by the same God who made us, ransomed by the same Redeemer that saved us, and destined, like all others, to the same heaven. But, it may be said that, notwithstanding the spirit of Christian civilization pervading the code, its laws were frequently disregarded, and the Indians had much to suffer from the Spanish settlers. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that most, if not all, of the Spanish monarchs were sincerely anxious, and took proper measures to see the natives of America protected and attracted to Christian civilization. This is particularly true of Queen Isabella, in whom, Prescott observes, the Indians found an efficient friend and protector. Then, the immense distance intervening between the colonies and the Mother Country must have naturally prevented the vigorous enforcing and perfect observance of the laws; yet the same author tells us that Cardinal Ximenes’ eye penetrated to the farthest limits of the monarchy. He sent a commission to Hispañola to inquire into and ameliorate the condition of the natives.

And, when the natives were oppressed, there were not wanting some Las Casas, who bravely espoused the cause of the oppressed, frequently crossed the Atlantic to acquaint the Crown with the real evils, made the halls of kings ring with their loud and eloquent appeals in behalf of the Indians, secured just measures, and obtained visitors and  protectors to examine and redress the wrongs.

It was, no doubt, due to such measures and vigilance that the Indians were not preserved, but frequently advanced to a comparatively good state of civilization. One of the latest writers on Our Continent, Mr. Charles Mackay, observes that “in Mexico and South America they still thrive.” “They,” says Sothern, “enjoyed for many generations a greater exemption from physical and moral evil than any other inhabitants of the globe.” “We were exceedingly struck,” says Stephens, on the descendants of the Caribs, “with the great progress made in civilization by these descendants of cannibals, the fiercest of all Indian tribes.” Throughout South America, millions of the natives have been preserved and considerably advanced to the knowledge and manners of Christian civilization, under the influence of good laws and Christian instructors, while nine-tenths of the people of Mexico have been similarly benefited.

But to return to our California and our Missions. It is pleasing to find in their fresh records that, within a very short time, many missionary establishments were erected, and thrived, each being directed by two Franciscan Fathers, under whom numerous tribes of Indians were daily instructed in the lessons of Christianity; some easy trades were practiced, large tracts of land were tilled, luxurious orchards and vineyards gladdened the country; and the whole coast, from Sonoma to San Diego, was alive with countless herds of cattle of every description.

There were then no hotels in the country; each Mission was situated some forty miles from the nearest one, and afforded hospitable entertainment to travelers, who could go with perfect safety from one end of the country to the other. The twenty-one Missions were so many patriarchal settlements or communities of Indians, each ranging from 1500 to 2500, each individual working for all, all working for each and all enjoying peace and plenty. In 1834, the crops of the twenty-one Missions came up to 122,500 bushels of grain, while the head of horned cattle belonging to the same numbered 424,000, all for the exclusive benefit of the inmates of those Missions, which numbered at that date 30,600 souls, truly blessed with plenty, but still more blessed on account of their acquired habits of industry, their daily Christian instruction and the practical lessons of morality constantly inculcated to them.

Well may California be proud of her heroic, disinterested Christian pioneers, who in a short time transformed numberless barbarous tribes into comparatively well-civilized Christian communities; and well may we echo to-day with sweet strains of joyous melody the solemn Te Deum intoned here for the first time one hundred years ago.

In conclusion, let me pray that the mission of the Franciscans—the establishing of Christianity in this country—may ever prove successful, and that our prosperous city may ever be favored with God’s choicest benedictions, which will be the case if its citizens will be guided by the Christian counsels inaugurated here a century ago.

Christian principles will insure peace and happiness, and good moral Christian lives will keep the state of society in a sound and prosperous condition. The code of the Gospel is the code of the sovereign legislator, who has an absolute right to enforce it, who demands our humble submission to it, and who has declared that on our compliance with its provisions depends our happiness, temporal and eternal. It is obvious that we shall not witness the next Centennial here; but I hope and pray that we may see it from on high, celebrated here again with Christian spirit and becoming solemnity.

At the conclusion of Mr. Dwinelle’s oration, at the Pavilion, General Vallejo addressed the assemblage in the Spanish language, of which the subjoined is a translation:


Honored by the cordial invitation tendered me by the Board of Directors of the present celebration, through the most Reverend Archbishop Alemany, I present myself before you for the purpose of narrating, in a few but significant words, the history of the discovery, occupation and foundation of this Mission of our holy Father, San Francisco de Asis, a name which it has borne with dignity since the time it was so called by the indefatigable missionary, Father-President Junípero Serra and companions, in respect and veneration for the founder of their Seraphic Order.

Would that I were possessed of the necessary ability to do justice to the merits of those men, to whom is due the civilization of so many thousands of souls, and of numberless others that will succeed them. But, if my incapacity is great, my ardent desire to comply with the duty which has been imposed upon me, and which I have gladly accepted, is still greater. I only wish to ask your kind indulgence.

I shall be as brief in my discourse as a subject of such great magnitude as this will permit. Before, however, entering into the particulars of our present subject matter, I may be permitted to give a condensed synopsis of the events by which this port of San Francisco came into the possession of the Crown of Spain.

In the years 1542 and 1543 the navigator Cabrillo sailed up and down the coast, and passed San Francisco without having determined anything but the formation of the coast line.

In 1578, Sir Francis Drake, an English buccaneer, anchored and remained a month, perhaps, in the small bay on the northern extremity of the ocean or open bay of the Farallones, at the same place which was called by us the port of Tomales. Drake gave this latter bay his name, and the surrounding country he called New Albion. There is a bare possibility of Drake’s entering the present bay of San Francisco, but the weight of evidence is against him. There is no doubt that it was in the bay of Tomales that the vessel from China, called the San Agustin, was sunk in the year 1595. It is beyond contradiction that the name of San Francisco was given to the bay at that time, on account of some circumstance unknown to us, perhaps in honor of the Patron Saint of the day on which the vessel arrived.

It is an absurdity to suppose that there can be any connection between Sir Francis Drake and San Francisco, except in the imagination of some visionary geographer. Very little is known concerning the voyage; but the wreck of the San Agustin was afterward brought by the currents into the port of San Francisco (the Golden Gate), and as far as Yerba Buena, at Clark’s Point, where I was shown fragments of the same about two hundred years after (1830), by the veteran officer Don José Antonio Sanchez.

In 1603, the Admiral Sebastian Vizcaino, having on board of his flag-ship one of the pilots of the San Agustin, sailed up and down the coast, stopping, without landing in the bay of San Francisco (not the present one), which was that of Tomales, near Point Reyes. Vizcaino took very extensive and correct geographical observations; but the only copy of his chart in existence is made on such a small scale that very little information can be derived from it concerning this portion of the coast.

In subsequent years several vessels from the Philippine Islands came down the coast on their way to Acapulco; no mention, however, is made that any of them ever touched at any point on the coast of California, although it is certain that from the voyages in question we have notes concerning its coast. By some data obtained therefrom, and particularly from the observations of Vizcaino, the first pilot of the Philippines, Don José Gonzales Cabrera Bueno, made several sea charts which, together with a theoretical Treatise on Navigation, was published in Manila in the year 1734. This work gives a description of the coast from Point Reyes to Point Pinos with the same degree of accuracy as can be given in the present day, with the exception of what appertains to the Golden Gate and the unknown interior of the bay of San Francisco. In it there is described perfectly the ancient bay of the same name, near Point Reyes, as the present one was not known at that time, and not discovered until thirty-five years later.

On the 31st of October, 1769, the expedition from San Diego was the first that made explorations in California overland. In it came Portolá, Rivera y Moncada, Fages and Father Crespí. They ascended the hills now called Point San Pedro (county of San Mateo), from whence they saw the bay of the Farallones, which extends from Point San Pedro to Point Reyes; and they also noticed Cabrera Bueno’s bay of San Francisco, and the Farallones. On the 1st of November they sent a party to Point Reyes. On the 2d of the same month several hunters of the expedition ascended the high mountains more toward the east; and, although we have no correct information as to the names of those hunters, it is certain that they were the first white inhabitants who saw the large arm of the sea known at present as the bay of San Francisco. The portion that was seen by them was that which lies between the San Bruno mountains and the estuary or creek of San Antonio (Oakland). They discovered the bay, unless the honor is accorded to the exploring party that returned on the 3d of November, who also had discovered the branch of the sea, by which they were prevented from reaching Point Reyes, and the primitive bay of San Francisco. On the 4th of November the whole of the expedition saw the newly-discovered bay, and they tried to go around it by the south; but not being able to do so, they returned to Monterey.

The next exploration had in that direction was made by Pedro Fages and Father Crespí, in the month of March, 1772, from Monterey; and was with the view of going around the arm of the sea reaching Point Reyes, and arriving at the bay of San Francisco of the first navigators. For greater accuracy in the description I am about to make, I ask permission to use the names by which the places through which they passed are known at the present day.

Fages and Father Crespí started escorted by a guard of soldiers of the company of volunteers of Cataluña, and another from that of the “Cuero,” or Leather coats. They arrived at Salinas river (to which they gave the name of Santa Delfina), crossed it, and, passing by the site upon which is now located Salinas City, they went over the hills and arrived at the place where the town of San Juan de Castro now stands. They continued their journey through the valley known to-day as the San Felipe, in the immediate vicinity of Hollister. After this they crossed the Carnedero creek (known at present as Gilroy), ascended and crossed the small hills of Linares (Lomita de la Linares) and the dry lake known as the rancho of Juan Alvires; went over the gap of Santa Teresa, and entered the valley of Santa Clara, where are situated the cities of San José and Santa Clara, only separated from each other by the Guadalupe river.

“Here,” said Father Crespí, “is a magnificent place to found a Mission, because it possesses all the necessary resources: abundance of good lands, water, and timber, and a great many gentiles to baptize.” Thence they continued along the eastern shores of the bay, arrived at Alameda creek (Alvarado City, Vallejo’s Mills and Centerville), followed along the bay towards the north, crossed San Lorenzo creek (Haywards), thence to San Leandro, Oakland, San Pablo, El Pinole, Martinez, Pacheco, Suisun bay, and crossed the San Joaquin river at a point not far distant from Antioch. This was on the 30th of March.

As the expedition did not possess the means of surmounting such obstacles as it  met and reaching Point Reyes, which was its objective point, it was determined to return to Monterey by a different route—that is, along the foot-hills of Mount Diablo. The President of the Missions having become fully convinced of the impossibility of establishing that of San Francisco immediately at its own port, as he lacked the means of transportation by sea, and in order to proceed by land, additional exploring parties were deemed necessary. He reported the failure of the expedition of Fages to the Viceroy of New Spain. The viceroy gave orders to Captain Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada, who had been appointed successor to Fages in command of the military posts (presidios) of New California, to make a second examination, for the purpose of discovering the most appropriate localities for the foundation of the Missions in project. At the same time, in his letters of the 25th of May, he calls upon Father Junípero to aid and assist the new commander and to occupy and establish Missions in the most convenient and suitable places.

Accordingly, having made the necessary preparations, Captain Rivera started from Monterey on the 23d of November, 1774, accompanied by Father Francisco Palóu, an escort of sixteen soldiers, and some servants. They prosecuted their journey without having encountered any drawback as far as the valley of Santa Clara; but from there they went to the west of the bay between its shores and the adjacent hills. Following the level plains in the said valley, they passed by Bay View, Mayfield, the Pulgas (Menlo Park), Redwood City, Belmont, San Mateo, San Bruno and Laguna de la Merced, and reached Point Lobos. They crossed the ravines, and ascended the mountain whence they beheld the entrance to the port of San Francisco (the Golden Gate). On the 4th of December they planted the symbol of Christianity on the most elevated point close to where now stands the castle or fortification of the national government, that is, on the southern portion of what forms the mouth of the said harbor; “on account of that being a spot on which no Spaniard or Christian had yet trod,” according to the narrative of Father Palóu.

That cross I saw myself, in the year 1829, having come to San Francisco on business pertaining to the military service. No location was at that time made either for a garrison (presidio) or Mission, as the severity of the winter months compelled the expedition to return to winter quarters at Monterey; and they verified it by going over the route that was taken by the expedition of 1769, which was by San Pedro, and Spanishtown (Half Moon bay), in the county of San Mateo, Point New Year, Santa Cruz City, Watsonville in Santa Cruz county, Pajaro City, Castroville, Salinas and Monterey, which had been their starting point.

In the year 1775, during the months of August and September, Captain Ayala entered the bay of San Francisco, on board the packetboat San Carlos, this being the first historically authenticated vessel that sailed into that bay. He remained forty days and explored it in all directions. Captain Ezeta and Father Palóu came up from Monterey as far as the place where Rivera and the same missionary Father had planted the mentioned cross, but they did not find the crew of the San Carlos.

The next attempt to found a religious and military establishment at San Francisco proved successful. The Lieutenant-Colonel, Don Juan Bautista de Anza, by orders from the Viceroy, Fra Don Antonio Marie Bucarelli y Ursúa, recruited soldiers and settlers (pobladores) in Sinaloa and gave them all the aid possible to facilitate their journey to their new homes in Upper California. Being all assembled at San Miguel de Orcasitas (Sonora), they started upon their march on the 29th of September, 1775, by way of the Colorado river, which had already been explored by the same Anza in another expedition. The colony was composed of thirty married soldiers and twelve families of settlers, which, together, formed a total of two hundred souls, who were to found and establish the new town. Before the departure of this expedition by land in March, 1775, one ship and two packet-boats sailed for San Blas, taking on board provisions and effects for the Missions and presidios. Providence favored the three vessels, which were successful in their operations. On the 4th of January, 1776, Lieutenant-Colonel Anza arrived at the Mission of San Gabriel with his expedition. Urgent business concerning the security of the establishments in Southern California detained him there. By the 12th of March he had already reached the Mission of El Carmelo, accompanied by the chaplain, Father Pedro Font, and his escort. On the 22nd of March he set out on a journey to examine the region of country of this port of San Francisco, and arrived at the place where Father Palóu, in accord with Captain Rivera, had planted the cross in December, 1774. Having examined the locality well, Anza and the Lieutenant-Colonel Don José Joaquin Moraga decided that a garrison (presidio) should be founded there, and that this subordinate officer should be the one to carry the project into execution.

The expedition continued on their journey; and, according to Father Palóu, upon arriving at the bay, which was called “Las Lloronas” (the primitive name of Mission Bay), they crossed a creek by which a large lake is drained, which was called “De Los Dolores,” and that site appeared to them a suitable place for a Mission, which had to be founded in the vicinity of the new advanced military post (presidio). They continued on their journey, and went further north than the place where Fages and Father Crespí had been, and then returned to Monterey.

On the 17th of June, 1776, the expedition of soldiers and families from Soñora started for Monterey. The Military force was commanded by Lieutenant Don José Joaquin Moraga; it was composed of one sergeant, two corporals and ten or twelve soldiers, with their wives and children. There were also, in the party, seven families of resident settlers, five servants, muleteers and vaqueros (stock herders), who took care of 200 head of cattle belonging to the king and private individuals. This is concerning the new garrison. In what appertains to the Mission, I will say that there were Fathers Francisco Palóu and Pedro Benito Cambon, two servants and three neophyte Indians, one of whom was from the Mission of San Carlos, and the two others from Old California, these having 86 head of cattle in their charge.

The expedition took the same route as that of 1774, and arrived safely on the 27th of the same month at the Lake of Dolores, where it had to wait for the packet boat San Carlos, to determine upon the location of the garrison and fort. Meantime it occupied itself in exploring the surrounding country. On the 28th, the Lieutenant ordered an enramada, a hut made of branches of trees, to be made, which might serve as a chapel for the purpose of celebrating mass; and it was in it that the first mass was said on the 29th, which was the feast of the glorious apostles Saints Peter and Paul. The Fathers continued celebrating in the same “Enramada” every day until the garrison (presidio) was established near the landing place, where good water could be obtained and the land was appropriate. I said good water, as subsequent experience proves it to be excellent and possessing some marvelous qualities. In proof of my assertion, I appeal to the testimony of the families of Miramontes, Martinez, Sanchez, Soto, Briones and  others, all of whom had wives that bore twins upon several instances; and public opinion attributes, not without reason, these wholesome results to the virtues of the waters of the “Polin,” which still exists. The exploration party remained a whole month encamped awaiting the arrival of the ship, during which time the soldiers and settlers were busy cutting timber in order to gain time.

The month having expired without the packet boat making its appearance, the commander, Moraga, determined to make over to the spot which he had in the course of his explorations selected as more appropriate for the new garrison (presidio). This he did on the 26th of July, and all hands went to work and made barracks out of “Tule,” which might serve them as places of shelter. The first barrack that was built was dedicated to serve as a chapel, and the first mass was celebrated by Father Palóu on the 28th. But, by order of Lieutenant Moraga, there remained near the lake de los Dolores the two missionary priests and servants, with the stock and everything else appertaining to the Mission—all under the immediate protection of six soldiers. The Fathers occupied themselves in building houses, the soldiers of the guard and one resident settler assisting in the work. This was the reason why the Reverend Father Palóu certified on the first page of the primitive Books of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, that the Mission had been founded on the first day of August, 1776.

I beg leave to be permitted here to mention (because it has some connection with part of our history) that during the month of August Father Palóu administered on the 10th day, the waters of Baptism, ad instantem mortem, to a child a few days old, who was the legitimate son of Ygnacio Soto and Maria Barbara Lugo, my mother’s aunt, which said child was called Francisco José de Los Dolores; and on the 25th day a little girl fifteen days old, the legitimate daughter of José Antonio Sanchez and Maria de Los Dolores Morales, was baptized and called Juana Maria Lorenza. This child was taken to the baptismal font of the Mission by Don José Cañizares, pilot of the packet boat San Carlos.

The long looked for San Carlos entered the port of San Francisco and anchored at twelve o’clock A. M. on the 18th of August, opposite the encampment where the garrison had to be erected. Captain Quirós, his pilots and the chaplain (Father Nocedal) went immediately on shore. After the customary salutation had passed, they inspected the land selected by Moraga for a garrison, as well as that of the Mission, and it was agreed that both places were suitable for the purposes to which they had been destined. According to the very words used by the Rev. Father Palóu, in his diary of the expedition, which reads: “About the middle of September, 1776, the soldiers had already built their wooden houses, all duly roofed; the Lieutenant had his royal house, and a warehouse made of the same material had been completed of sufficient capacity to contain all the supplies that the vessel had brought. It was immediately decided that the festival should be celebrated with a solemn procession, fixing upon the day as that of the 17th of September, the same on which Our Mother the Church celebrates the memory of the Impression of the Wounds of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis. The day could not have been more appropriate, as it was that of the Patron Saint of the Port, of the new garrison (presidio), and of the Mission. And for taking possession of the Mission was fixed the 4th day of October, which is the very day of our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis.”

The ceremony of the solemn procession and foundation of the Mission took place on the 4th of October. The Lieutenant, Don José Joaquin Moraga and his soldiers, Don Fernando Quirós, commander of the packet boat, his two pilots, the major part of his crew, and, lastly, the never-forgotten Father Palóu, Thomas de la Peña, Cambon and Nocedal were present. I will quote from Father Palóu again: “A solemn mass was sung by the Fathers; the ceremony of the formal possession was made by the royal officers, and when it had been completed all went into the church and sang a Te Deum Laudamus, with the ringing of bells, and, at times, firing salutes with cannon and other fire-arms, the ship responding with its artillery.”

It is not only the diary of Father Palóu that serves me as authority to fix upon with exactness the day of the possession and foundation respectively of the garrison and Mission. These data I had obtained a long time before I had seen and read the said diary from the lips of the same military men and settlers who were eye-witnesses to those ceremonies; that is to say, from Lieutenant Moraga, from my father, Don Ygnacio Vallejo, Don Marcos Briones, Galindo, Castro, Pacheco, Bojorques, Bernal, Higuera, Peralta, Amézquita, Franco Flores, Hernandez, Mesa and others whose names I do not here enumerate, as I do not wish to be too lengthy.

The temporary building of the church was situated at a distance of about one thousand varas to the northwest of the spot where the actual temple now stands. The lake of Dolores was at the time located and could be seen to the right of the road coming from the Presidio to the Mission between two hills, one of which still exists, the other one has disappeared before the progressive march of this rich emporium.

On the 8th day of October of the mentioned year, 1776, the erection of the present temple of the Mission of San Francisco was commenced, and we to-day on this centennial anniversary, have met here, not only to honor the memory of those who dedicated it to the service of God, but also to show our admiration of the great principles by which they were impelled, namely, the faith of Him who died nailed to the cross for the redemption of man.

Providence, which is infinitely wise and bountiful, has permitted that our venerable pastor should make mention of my father’s being one of those brave men who aided and assisted the missionaries with his sword. Consequently, at the same time that I satisfy your desires, I comply with a duty very satisfactory to myself in being the exponent of events that transpired one hundred years ago, the date upon which commenced the life and existence of San Francisco, which we can with pride style the Queen City of the Pacific. Justitoe soror fides—Faith is the sister of Justice. I shall be guided in my remarks by a pure and holy love for these two sisters. The invigorating breath of the gospel, as I said before, was given to us by some Franciscan Friars, who were indeed poor and humble Missionaries of Good, but rich in Faith and Hope in the success of their grand and arduous task. By this means were sown the prolific seeds of Christianity that has given such marvelous results during the one hundred years of its existence, which this rich and populous city counts; having written it to-day the Metropolitan Church, and which, by circumstances and coincidences that would be too lengthy to narrate, bears also the name of San Francisco. The Metropolitan Church, I said. Yes, it is the one over which our worthy Archbishop Alemany so honorably presides.

Let us for a moment transport ourselves from this day to the former century, and let us compare the present gathering here to an assemblage of that epoch. The latter consisted of a handful of men who were brave Christians, armed to the teeth, and of another still smaller party of humble ministers of Christ, but gifted with wonderous fortitude and a firm determination that nothing could change or oppose, as they had come to preach the Word of God and were resigned to take upon themselves the crown of martyrdom. Both of these parties were liable to become at any moment the victims of a rude crowd of naked savage gentiles, some of whom had come to them at first through curiosity, others prompted by a spirit of destruction, and all of them to obtain the presents which were given to them for the purpose of alluring them and inspiring them with confidence and have them hear for the first time the words of the Gospel.

The audience whom I have the honor to address on this occasion is a true representative of the high culture and advanced civilization of the nineteenth century, enjoying all the security and privileges which that state of society guarantees to them. What a vast difference, gentlemen, between what was, and what we see to-day, in this centennial which we celebrate! Let us bear in mind that in the course only of one hundred years, this privileged place has taken a gigantic stride and fallen into the hands of a society worthy of prosecuting the work that was begun by those true Pioneers. The Mission of San Francisco, which at one time was situated on a desert, yet protected by the hand of Providence, to-day may be seen nearly in the centre of this populous city of the same name.

The foundation of the Mission and military post (Presidio) having been completed, the packet-boat sailed on the 21st, for San Blas. During its stay in the port the commander (Quirós) had lent all the aid possible to the Mission in getting a carpenter and some sailors help in the construction of doors and windows for the church and house of the missionary Fathers, also in the building of the altar, as well as in many other things. Not satisfied with all this, Captain Quirós left four of his crew to work as day laborers on the buildings that were being erected and in the tilling of the ground, which was immediately commenced.

I remember this, together with other things, that I heard in my youth from the eye-witness of these transactions. Among them I should mention the boatswain of the packet-boat known by everybody as Neustramo Pepe. This brave man, who was a Catalonian by birth, had a heart as sensitive as a woman’s. He visited my father’s house at Monterey a great many times in after years, and in conversation had with our family he often related the fact of the foundation of the Post and Mission of San Francisco, where he had worked with an energy worthy of all praise.

A great many times and on several occasions he said to my father, shedding tears: “Do you remember, Don Ygnacio, our farewell on board the packet-boat when Captain Quirós gave the banquet to the officers and priests? Do you recollect how afterwards the military and naval officers, with the priests, who were assembled at the landing place on the beach, embraced one another and shook hands? Do you remember that from there, after we weighed anchor, all the military men and the priests went towards the strip of land that projects out and forms the southern cape of the Port (where now stands the fortification), and while they were there they waved their handkerchiefs and their hats to us as we passed, kindly bidding us a last adieu? What a solemn day was that, my friend! Do you remember how the currents dragged our vessel towards the opposite shores of the harbor; and how we were there exposed to great danger, until a favorable breeze came up from the northwest, and saved us from being dashed against the cliffs of rocks? Yet, in the midst of that tribulation, and such despair, we left in sorrow for you who remained exposed, and at the mercy of so many barbarians. Why, man, even Quirós shed tears!“

Before leaving our friend, Neustramo Pepe, it is very gratifying to me to mention that his popularity among our people was so great, than no sooner would there be news of the arrival of some ship on the coast—that is, at San Diego or some other inhabited place—than every one would inquire whether Nuestramo Pepe had come; and if he was there he would be received with enthusiastic hurrahs and cries of acclamation by all the people present.

We already have our apostolic men engaged in the great work of the redemption of thousands of gentiles to whom God had opened the way to heaven. It seems to me that I see those intrepid men (ministers of the altar and warriors of shield and sword), in these regions, surrounded by a ferocious and barbarous people whom they had to conquer for God and their sovereign. Combining the two expedients, which affects the human heart most? The main object which both priests and soldiers had in view had to be attained. “Suaviter in modo fortiter in re.” The mildness of the minister of God upheld by the force of armed men produced the desired effects.

The assiduity of the missionaries never relaxed before the numerous obstacles daily thrown in their way. With the meekness of true Apostles, they succeeded in getting the barbarians to present themselves voluntarily to receive the waters of baptism. By holy abnegation, the example of their virtues, and of their constancy, they gained the confidence of a considerable number of catechumens who gradually began to draw near.

It is a fact known by all the Californians, old as well as new, that whole tribes from the surroundings of the bay came to accept a religious faith, which, till then, had been wholly unknown to them; but, for all that, there were some turbulent, wicked ones who from the commencement had been opposed to the advance or progress of the foreigners, as they called the Spaniards in their own dialect. This feeling of animosity was made evident a few days later when the Buri-buri from the Indian villages (rancherias) afterwards called San Mateo, attacked one hut situated about three miles from the Laguna de Los Dolores and set it on fire. Such was the terror which this act caused in them, that not even the assurance of protection which was promised them by the garrison was sufficient to prevent their crossing on their tule rafts to the opposite side of the peninsula, which to-day is Marin county, as well to that on the East, which is known at present as Oakland, Alameda, etc. The fugitives kept away for some time; but at last they commenced to visit the Presidio, and, by December, became so courageous, that they considered themselves strong enough to commit depredations on the Mission.

The commanding sergeant of the guard, Juan Pablo Grijalva, caused one of those who had been hostile to be flogged, and this act enraged and alarmed the friends of the culprit. Two of them fired their arrows at the soldiers, but luckily did not do any harm. On the following day the sergeant determined to chastise the audacity of those who had been turbulent, after which an encounter took place with them in which one of the residents was wounded who killed his antagonist with one shot, and his body fell into the estuary. The rest of the Indians fled, but went to some rocks from whence they continued their hostilities.

A shot well aimed by the sergeant struck one of the gentiles in the thigh, the ball going through and lodging in the rocks, from where it was taken by the Indians. The death of one and the wounding of another of the savages discouraged them to such a degree that they asked for peace, which the sergeant granted them. Nevertheless, the two Indians who had been the cause of the encounter were taken prisoners. The sergeant had them chastised severely, giving them to understand that if, in the future, they again manifested hostility they should forfeit their lives. This unfortunate occurrence retarded somewhat the conversion of those gentiles for several months; but about the beginning of 1777 they could be seen about the Mission, and three of them were baptised on the 29th of June of that year.

On the 6th of January, 1777, a party of armed soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Moraga, with an escort, and Father Tomás Peña, went from San Francisco to the place where the Mission of Santa Clara was founded; and another came later, accompanying Father José Murguía, from San Carlos or the Carmelo, bringing provisions and supplies for that same place. Both priests were to remain in charge of the new establishment. Father Murguía, did not arrive until the 21st, but Father Peña had already celebrated mass there on the 12th.

The work of the missionaries continued without interruption on the part of the Indians. In 1778, the ship Santiago, alias Nueva Galicia, arrived from San Blas, bringing on board a cargo of provision for the Mission of San Francisco, together with other effects and merchandise for the Presidio.

Nothing worthy of mention occurred until the latter part of June, 1779, on which date the ship Santiago entered the port of San Francisco again with supplies and merchandise for the Mission and Presidio. In the year 1780 the vessel Santiago did not visit the port of San Francisco, but left at Monterey one hundred fanegas (Spanish bushels) of corn and other merchandise, which it became necessary to transport by land with very great difficulty. Worse was the fate not only of San Francisco, but of all the Missions and garrisons (Presidios) of Northern California in 1781, as no provisions or yearly supplies from the king arrived. This caused great inconvenience, and did considerable damage to the conquest.

Our virtuous missionaries had in that year already reaped such abundant fruits from the vineyard which they were cultivating for our Lord Jesus Christ, that the Reverend Father-President Junípero Serra came to San Francisco, for the first time, and, exercising the powers with which he had been vested by the Holy See, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to Sixty-nine neophytes.

The following year of 1782 was also unfortunate on account of the great loss suffered by the Missions in the death of the old missionary Father, Friar Juan Crespí. This venerable man and wise apostle had already counted thirty years of missionary life among the Indians, and came to New California in the expedition that founded the first establishment at San Diego, in the year 1769. In the next succeeding year he was present at the foundation of the Mission of San Carlos de Monterey. I have already related the active part which he took with the Commander Fages in trying to find a place suitable for the establishment of another Mission at the port of San Francisco. These eminent and invaluable services which he rendered entitle him to the highest position among the many worthy missionaries of his Seraphic Order.

On the 13th of May, 1783, two vessels entered our ports with supplies and provisions for the presidios and Missions that had already been founded. Friar Pedro Benito Cambon, who had been absent on several occasions, was sent back to this Mission to accompany Father Palóu.

On the mentioned date, two other vessels arrived with more provisions and merchandise, bringing an auxiliary force of missionaries, composed of the Reverend Fathers, Friar Juan Antonio García Rioboo and Friar Diego Noboa. Both of these clergymen remained in the Mission of San Francisco, and took part with the resident ministers in celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi with all the solemnity that their means allowed.

 After this they were called away by the President and ordered to go to Monterey. The missionary Fathers, at the same time that they worked for the good of the soul, did not neglect material happiness.

When they had a pretty large congregation of converts under subjection, they dedicated them to works of industry. Besides the agricultural pursuits, from which the missionaries as well as the neophytes and catechumens were to receive their subsistence, adobes, bricks, tiles, etc., were made, and the construction of the holy temple was begun; granaries, residences, quarters and a guard-house for the soldiers, and lastly houses for those Indians who had been converted to Christianity, were built. It will be readily seen by this account that the most worthy Fathers were constantly employed in their spiritual as well as temporal labors; although the latter were always subordinate to the former.

In one of my journeys to San Francisco, during the year 1826, I found this Mission in all its splendor and state of preservation, consisting, at that time, of one church, the residence of the Reverend Fathers, granaries, warehouses for merchandise, guard-house for the soldiers, prison, an orchard of fruit trees and vegetable garden, cemetery, the entire rancheria (Indian village) all constructed of adobe houses with tile roofs—the whole laid out with great regularity, forming streets, and a tannery and soap factory—that is to say, on that portion which actually lies between Church, Dolores and Guerrero streets, from north to south, and between Fifteenth and Seventeenth streets, from east to west. I think that the neophytes living in the Mission, in San Mateo, and in San Pedro reached six hundred souls.

In the year 1830, I was directed by my superior officer to continue to serve at the presidios. Everything was in the same state of preservation in which I had left it in 1826.

I recollect, with joy that on the 4th of October, 1830, while the Reverend Father Friar Tomás Estenega was minister of the Mission, and I was acting as adjutant of the garrison (presidio), the military commander was invited to take part with his officers in the celebration; consequently, all the soldiers were present that he who now addresses you had under his orders. Salutes were fired in front of the church and residence of the priests on that day in regular order. There were also present at the celebration of the holy Patron Saint, the Reverend Fathers, Friar José Viader of the Mission of Santa Clara, Friar Buenaventura Fortuni, of that of San Francisco Solano, and Friar Juan Amorós, of that of San Rafael. During the mass the last priest mentioned officiated, while Fathers Viader and Fortuni acted as deacon and sub-deacon—Father Estenega (who was still young) being left in charge of the choir, music, etc.

A sermon was preached by Father Viader, relating to the festivity of the holy Patron, and to the foundation of the place on the 4th of October, 1776.

This was the last celebration at which four Spanish priests, from Spain, assisted with the same object as that had by the meritorious Pioneers, and the ministers Palóu, Cambon, Peña and Nocedal, on the 4th of October, 1776, one hundred years ago. What a singular coincidence! I will give a short biography of those apostolic men.

Reverend Friar José Viader was a man of refined manners; tall in stature, somewhat severe in his aspect, open and frank in his conversation. He was as austere in religious matters as he was active in the management of the temporalities of the Mission of Santa Clara, which he always administered. He became remarkable, among other things, because the Rosary, which he carried fastened to the girdle of the Order around his waist, had a large crucifix attached to it.

Friar Fortuni was a holy man who was incessantly praying; he could always be seen in or out of the Mission with the Breviary in his hand, or reciting the Rosary in the church: he was very learned and affable in his intercourse with the people those times; and was very humble, and, besides, a great apostle.

Friar Tomás Estenega was a young man of medium height, the personification of activity, of jovial disposition, select and varied in his conversation, an excellent and very sincere priest. He had seen a great deal of the war of the revolution in Spain, and was there during the French invasion, when Napoleon I. and his brother Joseph tried to appropriate to themselves that privileged land.

Friar Juan Amorós was sanctity itself; and if I possessed the eloquence of the great orators, I would consume more time in depicting the brilliant qualities which adorned that venerable missionary. But not having those talents I shall limit my remarks, and say that Father Amorós was a model of virtue, charity, humility, and of Christian meekness—a man without a blemish, of a candid heart, and of most exemplary life; he was the admiration of his contemporaries and the astonishment of the tribes of the aborigines.

When I was a child, nearly seventy years ago, I knew him at the Mission of San Carlos of Monterey as chaplain of the garrison of the same name. When he came to celebrate mass in the chapel of the soldiers on Sundays he always brought a few sweet figs. dates and raisins in the sleeves of his habit, which he distributed after mass to the boys of the Sunday school; but this he did after he had given instruction in Christian doctrine for half an hour. On the 14th of July, 1832, this apostolic missionary died at the Mission of San Rafael, at half-past three o’clock in the morning.

The register of his burial says that he was a native of the Province of Catalonia Spain), born on the 10th of October, 1773; took the habit of Our Seraphic Father San Francisco on the 28th day of April, 1791; was admitted into the Order by making the necessary vows on the 30th of the same month of the following year,  and was ordained priest in the month of December, 1797. On the 4th of March, 1803, he left Catalonia to come to the college of San Fernando, in the City of Mexico,  where he arrived on the 26th of July.

In 1804, animated by his great zeal for the conversion of the gentiles,  with the blessing of his superiors, he came to the Missions of Upper California,  where he arrived in the commencement of the year 1804, and was appointed as minister to  the Mission of San Carlos, where he lived fifteen years, acting as resident apostolic  minister. From there, by permission of his superior, who was the Reverend  Father Prefect Friar Mariano Payeras, he went to that of San Rafael, where he worked  and labored with astonishing perseverance until his death. He was buried in the  Mission church on the 14th of July, at five o’clock in the afternoon.

I must remark that the Mission of San Rafael was for several years a  branch of that of San Francisco, and always remained under the jurisdiction of this  Presidio. I speak with so much feeling of kindness toward Father Amorós, because I am  cognizant of his great virtues, his pure heart and sincere devotion. Moreover, it was with him that I made my first Confession; and from his holy hands I received for the  first time the consecrated bread of the Eucharist.

I have already made mention of his moral gifts; it remains now for me only to describe his physical aspect; and I could not give you a more exact idea of him, nor draw a more perfect likeness from the original, than by calling attention to the person of a most esteemed ecclesiastic who is here present; his stature, manners, features, smile and amiable disposition all bring back to my memory the image of that holy man. Neither Rulofson nor any other of our most skilled photographers could produce as perfect a picture of Father Amorós than that which we have before us in the person of our venerable Archbishop, Joseph Sadoc Alemany. And, at the same time, I feel highly pleased to say that it is not only in the physical qualities that I find a great resemblance in the two men.

I must observe here, that during the first years of the foundation, as the Indians of the Buri-buri tribe were not willing to live in this place on account of it being extremely cold, and destitute of those fine groves of trees which the hand of Providence was pleased to plant in the region which they occupied, and as the Indians from San Pedro were enjoying the benefits of their fertile lands, and hence opposed to come and live in a climate so different from that in which they were born, in order to remedy this inconvenience, and at the same time avail themselves of religious instruction, both tribes petitioned the Father ministers, asking to be allowed to live on their lands, obligating themselves to build chapels and to dedicate themselves to agricultural pursuits and other labors, all of which was done with great success.

The priests went every Saturday, accompanied by an escort, said mass, preached, and then returned to the mother church. The ministers maintained for some time a chapel and storehouses for grain amongst the Juchiyunes, Acalnes, Bolgones, and Carquinez Indians, who occupied that portion of Country known as Contra Costa. The chapel was located in what is known to-day as the rancho of San Pablo where the missionaries went to comply with their ministerial duties, and besides, to direct the works and attend to the administration of their temporalities.

The immense wealth of the Mission of San Francisco, was acquired from those three farms, and from its own lands, which were situated from Rincon Point to Hayes Valley (El Gentil), Divisadero, and the garrison (Presidio) to Point Lobos. These were recognized as its boundaries, from the time of the ancient founders; upon which grazed all its cattle, horses, sheep and hogs, and from which abundant crops of wheat, corn and beans were harvested.

The foundation of San Rafael was made on the 14th of December, 1817. High Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Prefect, Father Vicente Francisco de Sarria, assisted by Fathers Luis Gil, Ramon Abella and Narciso Duran, with sermon and other ceremonies analogous to the occasion. Father Sarria baptised four little Indians, and called them respectively by the names of Rafael, Miguel and Gabriel (in honor of the three Archangels), and the fourth by his own name, Vicente Francisco. Father Luis Gil de Taboda remained as resident priest there.

This Mission was the fourth daughter of that of San Francisco; the first having been that of Santa Clara, as I have already said, the second that of Santa Cruz, which founded on the 29th of August, 1791, and the third was that of San José, founded on the 11th of June, 1797. The last one was that of San Francisco Solano (Sonoma Valley), founded in 1823; abandoned soon after on account of the incursions of the Indians, and re-established in 1827, under the supervision of the virtuous Father Fortuni; but it was not rebuilt permanently until 1830.

The Spanish successors of the worthy Fathers Palóu and Cambon in this Mission were, if my memory serves me right, Friars Ramon Abella, Juan Lucio, Juan Cabot, José Altimira and Tomás Estenega. I was personally acquainted with all of them, and I can testify to their being worthy ministers of God and indefatigable apostles.

And now, permit me to make a few remarks in defense of the good name of some of the individuals who governed this country during the Mexican Administration, whose reputation has been sometimes wantonly attacked; while nothing has ever been said against the governors, under Spain, who preceded them.

Much has been said, and even more has been written, concerning the Missions and their great wealth. And who are they that figure in that drama? Who are its authors? Are they, perchance, impartial men? or, to say the least, have they an accurate knowledge of the history of the Missions or this Upper California? No, no! gentlemen; they were foreign writers, interested parties, and consequently partial in their style; who, without reflection, hurriedly advanced, as undeniable fact, that which was false, all for the purpose of deluding the ignorant and of profiting by the utterance of base falsehoods, at the same time that they flattered their taste by censuring indirectly and unfairly the acts of the collectors of the Missions, styling them thieves, etc. That the Missions were rich we all know. But what were those riches?  This they do not tell us. Nevertheless, these riches consisted in moveable stock and agricultural productions; but they make no mention of pecuniary wealth.

That the Mexican governors robbed the Missions is an absurdity. The first Mexican governor, Don Luis A. Argüello, a native of San Francisco, was decidedly a protector of the Missions and a friend to the missionaries. He died poor, leaving his family no other patrimony than the small rancho of Las Pulgas, with a few head of stock.

The second governor, Don José Maria de Echeandía, exercised his authority in the time of the Republic; and although he was always directly opposed to the Spanish priests because they would not swear to the Mexican constitution, nevertheless, he extended to them his protection as much as it was in his power, and in conformity with the instructions which he had from the new government. From this resulted, necessarily, a misunderstanding between the ancient ministers and the new governor who esteemed them highly; and if he had to act against some of them, it was done for a legal cause, and not because he had any antipathy or hatred towards them.

After having governed the country for five years, Echeandía had great difficulty in collecting and getting together, by the aid of the priests of San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano, who were his friends, the sum of three thousand dollars which he needed to return to Mexico. Don Manuel Victoria was the third governor, who, from his coming into power, gained the good will of the missionaries and was always upon the best terms with them. All the steps towards secularization which had been taken by his predecessor were annulled by Victoria, even before he was in possession of the government. His official conduct was despotic, and he forced the Californians to send him out of the country, yet it would be an injustice to accuse him of having robbed either the country or the Missions. The priests aided him pecuniarily, that he might be able to leave.

Don José Figueroa, the fourth Mexican governor, was an educated and upright man. He died poor at Monterey.

Castro, Gutierrez, Chico, Alvarado, Micheltorena, and, lastly, Pio Pico, all had to contend with revolutionary elements. The priests had disappeared, the neophytes had left the Missions and gone away to the villages of the gentiles, and the government, under such circumstances, had to take possession of the lands which were claimed by the Missions, through the power which it possessed, and in order to defend the country against an invasion with which it was threatened.

When the old missionaries saw that the political tornado was about to burst upon the Mission system, they commenced to convert into money all their movable property, such as cattle and stock. In the Missions of San Gabriel, San Fernando, San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey, they killed by contract with private individuals, during the years 1830, 1831 and 1832, more than sixty thousand head of cattle, from which they only saved the hides. The pecuniary wealth of the Missions in their primitive days, which were more productive, was sent out of the country to Spain, Mexico or Italy. This I know; and presume, and even believe, that all of it arrived safely at its place of destination. Be that as may, neither the governors nor the Californians ever partook of any of that wealth, with the exception of $20,000, which upon an occasion of imperative necessity, we, the members of the Deputation, together with other prominent citizens, obtained from Father José Sanchez of the Mission of San Gabriel, to facilitate the payment of the expenses of a military force destitute of everything at the time, thus avoiding the commission of greater evils.

During the lengthy period of the war of Independence, and even afterwards, the Missions supplied the troops of the “Cuera” (leather coats) with provisions and other effects, as no more yearly supplies had been sent from Mexico.

But it is necessary to bear in mind that the Spanish flag waved over California, and that the priests did no more than comply with the orders of the king, at the same time that they looked for their own protection and that of the Missions, soldiers being constantly engaged in protecting the Missions, and in continuous campaigns for the purpose of keeping the Indians under subjection. Without those soldiers, the Indians would have risen immediately against the Missions, and all the white inhabitants would have inevitably perished.

The missionaries from the College of our Lady of Guadalupe, Zacatecas, came some from Mexico in the year 1832, and it was the lot of the Mission of San Francisco to have, missionary Father, José Marie Gutierrez, who continued here for some time. After that, Fathers Lorenzo Quijas and Mercado had charge of it alternately. When this Mission was secularized, it was delivered over to several overseers (mayordomos) who were appointed by the political government, until the Indian priest, Prudencio Santillan, took charge of it. This Reverend Father had been ordained in sacris by the first Bishop in California, Friar Don Francisco García Diego.

I have occupied the attention of this intelligent audience so long for the purpose of giving a detailed narration of the primitive history of the Presidio, Mission and Pueblo of San Francisco, which up to the year 1846, did not count a population any greater than that within this fine hall—a weak fortification, one or two officers, a company of soldiers and a handful of resident settlers in twenty-five or thirty houses.

What a change is presented to our view to-day! A great city, which, having absorbed the three points mentioned, has filled the entire peninsula with a population of nearly three hundred thousand inhabitants, dedicated to all the arts known to the highest degree of civilization. The harbor and city, protected by strong fortifications and well-equipped ships of war, situated on the most advantageous position, it is destined to become the grand commercial center of India, China and Japan, at the same time that it will be such for the entire northern coast of the Pacific. What shall be the destiny which the Supreme Benefactor has prepared for this portion of our beautiful native land for the next coming hundred years? I entertain the full conviction that the hand of the Great Creator, by which is guided the progress and happiness of mankind, will carry us to the highest degree of excellence in all the branches of knowledge. Then, it is to be hoped, that those who will celebrate that day taking a retrospective view of the present epoch, will remember with gratitude what this generation, by divine aid, has established for them, to carry on, until they reach moral, intellectual and physical perfection.

And let us from this moment send cordial salutations to our fortunate decendants who will see the brilliant dawn of the second Centennial of the Foundation of the Mission of San Francisco de Asis.

Source: Davis, William Heath. Seventy-five Years in San Francisco. 1929: San Francisco.

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