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Old July 17th, 2016, 08:28 AM   #21

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#27 GUADALUPE (Del Norte)


The last California mission was founded in 1834 by the Dominican Padre Felix Caballero.

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Here is an article I wrote about the mission and it was the base for my chapter on Guadalupe in my new book, Baja California Land of Missions...

Ojá Coñúrr (Painted Rock) was the native Indian name for the location of the final mission in both Baja and Alta California. Mexico had won its independence from Spain in 1821. Dominican Padre Felix Caballero named this new mission in honor Mexico’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. The founding date has been given as June 25, 1834. The mission is sometimes called Guadalupe del Norte to differentiate it from the Jesuit founded Mission Guadalupe (1720-1795), in southern Baja California.

Padre Caballero arrived in northern Baja California in late 1814. The records show he performed a burial service at Mission San Vicente on December 15 of that year. In May, 1815, Caballero was assigned to Mission San Miguel to replace Padre Tomás Ahumada, who had been the resident missionary there since 1809. Caballero was one of just five missionaries in northern Baja California that year. In 1819, two more Dominicans arrived in Baja California and Felix Caballero was placed in charge of Mission Santa Catalina from 1819 to 1822. 1822 was a year of major events for the people of Baja California. They learned that Spain had lost Mexico after 11 years of war and they were to pledge their allegiance to the new Mexican Empire. Also in 1822, Chilean ships and soldiers, led by English Admiral Thomas Cochrane, attacked San José del Cabo, Todos Santos, and Loreto, in an attempted invasion.

Mexico’s new emperor, Agustín de Iturbide, was soon banished by General Santa Anna, and the young country became a republic. The California missions would continue to operate without any government assistance, as they had been for several years during the war. The few remaining mission padres had to survive on what they could raise or from the trading of goods with foreigners. Padre Caballero was able to succeed at Mission El Descanso, which he re-founded in 1830. Some potentially rich farmlands were just southeast in a valley called San Marcos. Caballero was anxious to develop the valley. Chief Jatiñil from Nejí, who helped Caballero build the new church at El Descanso, also helped him construct another new mission in this valley. Guadalupe, like the new church at El Descanso, was the personal project of Caballero. The Spanish mission program was over and while Mexico ordered the missions to be secularized in 1833, the law was rescinded for the California missions in 1835. They could continue operate and serve the Indians until the mission was abandoned or the current priest died.

According to the research done by Rev. Albert Nieser, O.P., Caballero built the mission for newly arriving mainland settlers, and not the Indians. Chief Jatiñil provided help for Caballero every year with harvesting crops as well as constructing Caballero’s mission buildings. Jatiñil also helped Caballero in fighting other Indian tribes that attacked Mission Santa Catalina. Jatiñil’s father had told him the land would belong to the gente de razon or‘people of reason’ (whites and mixed bloods), and the chief had accepted this reality.

The Guadalupe mission church had two altars and a choir. The mission compound had shops and a residence for the priest. Caballero made Guadalupe the administrative center of the northern peninsula missions. The mission sat on a small mesa overlooking the valley from near the center-west side. Two miles of irrigation canals were constructed down both sides of the valley. One six acre plot, just north of the mission, was where vegetables and fruit were raised. Cattle seemed to be the chief commodity with nearly 4,915 head reported in 1840, the largest of any Dominican mission. A letter to Caballero on May 29 of that year from Don Juan de Jesús Ozio however claims the count was only 1,915.

In 1836, some 400 Yuma Indians attacked Guadalupe but the garrison of soldiers stationed there were able to save the mission. More attacks came until the final one by Caballero’s own supporter, Chief Jatiñil. He revolted against Caballero because the priest continued to force baptism of his tribe and make them live at the mission. An attack in October 1839 was reported to have sacked the mission, but an eye-witness to the attack gave the date as February 1840, recorded by Manuel Clemente Rojo. Jatiñil’s goal was to kill Padre Caballero, but the padre was able to persuade María Gracia, an Indian woman to hide him in the mission’s choir. Caballero escaped death and left northern Baja California for Mission San Ignacio in the southern half of the peninsula. There he began to acquire property and attempted to have his Guadalupe mission cattle delivered to him.

On the morning of August 3, 1840, at Mission San Ignacio, Caballero said mass and drank his daily cup of chocolate. Sharp stomach pains hit him, as if he were poisoned. Felix Caballero died a few hours later. The extensive property that Caballero had would cause government officials in Baja California to frown upon the Dominicans who remained. The missions were in decline, most of the Indians were gone and the mission churches often continued to serve the newly arriving mainlanders. Dominicans were replaced by parish priests. The last California mission to close was Santo Tomás, in 1849. The last Dominicans left Baja California, from La Paz, in 1855.

By 1929 the adobe walls of Mission Guadalupe were already destroyed by treasure hunters but some of the wall’s stone foundation was present and measuring 60 yards on one angle and 30 yards on the other. Pieces of red floor tiles were inside the angle. It was reported that broad steps led down the slope from the mission to two cement water tanks fed by a spring.

In recent years, the mission site has been developed as a historical park and includes a museum. It is located in Francisco Zarco (the government name for the town of Guadalupe), about 1 mile from Highway 3. Take the paved side road going into town from the gas station. In about a mile, turn left at the cross street (where the road ahead becomes divided). The mission and museum are overlooking the river valley.

The missions of Baja California are both historically colorful and intriguing as to their existence. That such great effort was made in such extreme conditions illustrates the enthusiasm and commitment the missionaries had for their work in peninsular California. The native Indians who survived mixed with the mainlanders and foreigners who came to the peninsula. The tribes in the north were better able to survive the changes and live today in villages on the Colorado River delta, and near the missions of Santa Catalina and Guadalupe.
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Old July 17th, 2016, 11:00 AM   #22

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Mission San Fernando (1769) in 2016


Now that all 27 missions of Baja California have been displayed, here is a few photos I took 6 days ago when I revisited the 18th California mission and Junípero Serra's first California mission he founded for the Franciscans and Spain:

Mexico Highway One (San Quintin-Punta Prieta) Km. 121: Mission San Fernando access/ Rancho El Progresso (café is now abandoned).
It is only 2.3 miles from here to the 1769 mission site...

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New signs and some archeological digging has exposed the stone side wall of the mission or terrace the mission was built upon. Nobody is there when we arrived. I was last on site in 2005, but flew over it in a helicopter for photos in 2014 during the Trail of Mission TV show trip I was on.

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Shameless plug!

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Old August 23rd, 2016, 09:18 AM   #23

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I will be visiting a few of the mission sites next month. I can add new photos when I return from Baja California.

Potentially, we can visit:
Calamajué
San Borja
Santa Gertrudis
San Ignacio
Mulegé
San Fernando
El Rosario
Santo Domingo
San Vicente
Santo Tomás
Guadalupe (del Norte)

The final four will depend on our time as that is all on the final day as we head for the border.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 04:40 PM   #24

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Sept. 2016:

Calamajué (first location of the 17th California Spanish mission, 1766-1767):

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San Borja (16th California Spanish mission, 1762-1818):

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More missions coming up...
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Old September 30th, 2016, 08:44 AM   #25

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San Ignacio


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Old October 3rd, 2016, 03:19 PM   #26

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Santa Rosalía de Mulegé, founded in 1705


Here are my photos at Mulegé mission, last month... The stone church was constructed in 1766.

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View towards Mulegé town, from the mission, high above the river.
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Old October 6th, 2016, 08:30 AM   #27

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San Fernando de Velicatá, forunded on May 14, 1769


This was the FIRST California mission to be founded by Junípero Serra (now a saint) for the Franciscan missionaries... two months before he arrived to found San Diego.

Photos taken Sept. 17, 2016:

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After just 5 years in Lower/ Baja California, the Franciscans turned over mission operations to the Dominicans. The Franciscans after 1773 only operated missions in New/ Nueva (or Upper/ Alta) California (San Diego to San Francisco Bay region).
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Old October 13th, 2016, 08:38 AM   #28

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EL ROSARIO, 1774 on Sept. 18, 2016


We stopped briefly at the first El Rosario mission site which is just off the highway in the middle of town...

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Old October 17th, 2016, 10:03 AM   #29

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The old missions in Baja California, Mexico range from fully preserved stone churches with solid rock walls over 1 meter thick to melted adobe ruins and even no ruins remaining at all... sites where man or Nature have erased the original church or structures created by the missionaries, craftsmen, and the Native converts.

The 27 missions on the peninsula of Baja California often were relocated to second, third or more locations after they were originally founded. Not all records have been preserved and there is missing data on some locations. There is still more to discover in Baja California!

The missions, date founded, original construction remaining in 2016, number of locations:

1) Loreto, 1697, intact church (roof and bell tower from 1955), 1
2) San Javier, 1699, no ruins at first location, intact church at second location, 2
3) Ligüí, 1705, no ruins, 1
4) Mulegé, 1705, intact church, 1
5) Comondú, 1708, stone ruins at first location, intact side chapel at second location, 2
6) La Purísima, 1720, no ruins other than crypts, 1
7) Pilar de la Paz, 1720, no ruins at first or second location, intact church at third location, 3
8) Guadalupe, 1720, stone foundation and base of wall, 1
9) Los Dolores, 1721, stone wall ruins at first location, stone rubble at second location, 2
10) Santiago, 1724, stone foundation at first location, no ruins at second location (modern church on site), 2
11) San Ignacio, 1728, intact church, 1
12) San José del Cabo, 1730, no ruins (modern church on final site), 4
13) Santa Rosa, 1733, no ruins, 1
14) San Luis Gonzaga, 1737, intact church, 1
15) Santa Gertrudis, 1752, intact church (refurbished), 1
16) San Borja, 1762, nearly intact church (repaired roof), 1
17) Calamajué/ Santa María, 1766/1767, adobe ruins, 2
18) San Fernando, 1769, adobe ruins, 1
19) El Rosario, 1774, adobe ruins, 2
20) Santo Domingo, 1775, no ruins at first site, adobe ruins at second site, 2
21) San Vicente, 1780, adobe ruins
22) San Miguel, 1787, no ruins at first site (lost), adobe ruins at second site, 2
23) Santo Tomás, 1791, adobe ruins at all sites but second site is a plowed field, 3
24) San Pedro Mártir, 1794, foundation stones at first site, stone walls at second site, 2
25) Santa Catalina, 1797, adobe ruins all melted down, 1
26) El Descanso, 1810, adobe ruins at both sites, 2
27) Guadalupe, 1834, adobe ruins, 1

If you want to read about learn more about the missions and missionaries of "old" California (and called Baja California after 1769)... click the link just below... I am also happy to answer questions, here!
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Old January 11th, 2017, 10:08 AM   #30

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The Missions will not vanish, even if nothing remains of some.


Because we have preserved their history in books and photos.

Before my most recent lecture and PowerPoint presentation on the Baja California missions, a cinematographer asked if he could make a short promo video about my book and love for Baja California... Here's what I look and sound like, on Saturday January 7, 2017:
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