Father Serra - Missionary

Father Serra - Missionary
Always forward, never back

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jesuit California - A Brief Diversion

My deepest apologies for not continuing with Father Mayorga's introduction to and travails in founding Misión San José de Comondú but I came upon a most eye=opening time written in the late 1700 by Father Johann Baegert, S.J. who served for 17 years at Mision San Luis Gonzaga in the heart of Baja California.

A most awesome tome with detailed insight into just about every phase of life as he saw it. He included his observations of California's characteristics, climate, and products in most descriptive terms. The first thing I noticed was he decision to describe distances in the hours needed to cross them instead of European measurements. There are details of the terrain, soil, plants, animals, and people – that latter of which he shows little favorable.

In Part II, he goes to great length to describe the Indians, their appearance, habits, customs, and other things – most of them quite unflattering. Of the many things he pointed out, their language was the most interesting. He even says that men and women spoke different forms of their language – not so different than today?

In Part III, he deals with the Spaniards and the Jesuit efforts to establish missions. Nowhere in this piece does he give the names of any of the soldiers, no even those who were his close companions and confidants during his 17 years. In fact, he was most unflattering, calling them undisciplined amateurs. The only soldier he discussed by name was Commandant and Governor of California, Captain Don Fernando de Rivera y Moncada – just the individual who is the main character of my work in progress, Leatherjacket Soldier.

This is a drawing of the capitol of Jesuit California, Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto.

Back to Captain Rivera. Here's what he had to say about the man I consider to be a hero of Spanish California:

The captain of the old California militia, Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada,[50] a man of great virtue, scrupulously conscientious and a faithful servant of the King of Spain, happened to be in this region when the Governor arrived in San José.

David Kier, probably one of the most informed individual I know about California missions, has a link to this book on his website @ http://vivabaja.com

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