What caught my attention in Father Baegert's book was his almost complete ignoring of the soldiers who served with him. During the 17 years of his service in California, he only referred to one and that was Captain Fernando Rivera.
At the same time, in all the references I have about the life of Captain Rivera, very little is said about the 26 years he served in Baja California. So, it has become a serious task to try to bring those years to life for readers to understand who he was and what he accomplished.
After 80,000 words of the first, rough draft, I finally reached the point where these two figures meet.
Father Baegert is trying to acclimatize himself to the new land and learn what he will face as a missionary to the Guaycura – a Stone Age tribe with a barbaric lifestyle. He is doing this when a young sergeant arrives from the south and is surprised to learn the Jesuits are promoted him over everybody to captain and commandant/governor of California.
Wishing to learn about the missions to the north he has never visited, Captain Rivera and his escort take newly-arrived supplies to each of them. It is upon his return that Rivera learns Father Baegert is going to be sent to Mission San Luis Gonzaga. There is nothing I can find anywhere the names of the soldiers who accompanied him.
So, this turned out to be just the place to have the two meet and travel together. And this is what they found:
Over the next 17 years, in spite of his ill health, this is what he created:
And Captain Rivera travels south, meeting men he once served with as a mere sergeant and facing the lieutenant who had felt the captaincy to be his right. Sould make for an interesting confrontation.