Father Serra - Missionary

Father Serra - Missionary
Always forward, never back

Saturday, February 11, 2017


1819 – The Aftermath

When horses, cattle, and other livestock had been brought from the valley to Monte Rey, Captain de Vegas sent riders north and south to pass the word of the events. None were surprised when, two days later, Governor de Solá arrived from Misión Soledad with the wagons carrying the gunpowder and other valuable, along with the families of the soldiers. He made no excuses, simply stating that his presence had not been needed. “Captain de Vegas is more than capable and did everything I would have under the circumstances.” He, like others, did not castigate the captain for not having set sentries further out from the presidio, perhaps providing early warning of the approach by land of the pirates.

The governor is furious and has ordered two squads from the presidio to Misión Santa Cruz y Villa de Branciforte.” All paid close heed to Felipe as he related the latest news from the north.

When word reached there of the approach of pirates, the Spaniards and Mestizos of Branciforte descended upon the mission, overwhelming the escolta. Even the friars' pleas could not stop them from taking everything they could carry off. They emptied the warehouses and only held back from stealing religious items by threats of excommunication.”

What are the orders of the sergeant?”

Felipe turned to James and, with fire in his eyes, said, “To find the culprits and bring them to justice. They are to be punished in the most severe manner.”

They soon learned that, even in spite of Padre Barranza and Salazar pleading for restraint, Corporal Ballesteros, still smoldering from the minor wound he had received at the hands of the pirates, tracked down the leaders of the uprising. After having them whipped to where blood poured down their backs, he had them placed in stocks in the plaza, to stay there for a period of one week. They only received stale, cold tortillas y frijoles.

Governor de Solá was approached by the friars to intercede in easing the punishment. He told the friars, “If I would have been there, more dire punishment would have been levied.”

Corporal Ballesteros, with the help of the mission's escolta, found a goodly portion of the goods and foodstuff stolen from the mission.

More news arrived from the north; all the buildings at Misión Santa Clara were destroyed by an earthquake.

We only felt small tremors here,” George said upon hearing the news.

The turtle moves in strange ways.”

Nobody laughed at David's comment upon the beliefs of the Esselen about the cause of the quakes.

It sometimes moves strongly and is felt for very wide distances. At other times, it moves just enough to cause damage in one small area.”

It is a small price we pay for living in this rich land,” James responded.

Was anyone hurt?” Mateo asked.

Just minor injuries,” Felipe replied.

Fortunately,” James added, “los Padres have many disciples to repair the damage, Who knows? Perhaps Padres Catalá and Viader will redesign everything. Maybe even move it a bit further from the river and flood waters.”

Mateo chuckled. “From what I head, Padre Viader can do it all by himself. He is a very large man.”

It was James' turn to laugh. “When I visited there, Padre Viader was know to rough and tumble with three or four disciples at a time. Even the strongest among them could not equal el Padre Grande.”

And, another tidbit came from the south. After seven long years of toil, Padre Dumetz and his disciples completed the chapel at Misión San Fernando that had been destroyed in the earthquake of eighteen hundred and twelve. “The report is that one of your apprentices toiled with several others to carve and gild the altar, Tio Jaime.”

Jaime smiled. He remember how well the disciple had learned his trade in the carpentry shop at Misión San Carlos.

Felipe returned two days later with news of a more dire nature.

After leaving here, the pirates sailed south to land at the mouth of Refugio Canyon. The Ortega family had deserted the ranch upon hearing rumors of the pirates coming their way.”

Felipe told of how the pirates had plundered the buildings and were about to depart the rancho, herding cattle ahead of them. “Sergeant Carlos Carrillo had spied the ships and his Soldados de cuera cut the rustlers off. Several pirates were severely wounded, but most managed to escape.” He paused and added, “Except for three. They were taken to the presidio.”

The story continued. “The pirates sailed south to the presidio. However, upon seeing so many soldiers in the hills, Bouchard worked out an arrangement to exchange prisoners. One of them, an American names Joseph Chapman, claimed to be part of the crew against his will and begged to remain. Padre Uria interviewed him and, as he appeared to have skills important to the mission, begged Captain Goycoechea to allow him to remain.”

They learned that the ships sailed south, bypassing Bahia San Miguel y Misión San Diego.

Returning to normal did not come easy to the province. The ease with which the pirates had overcome the garrison at Monte Rey and the threat they presented to el Presidio de Santa Bárbara raised serious concerns. The governor sent a number of communiques south to Loreto. In addition, every presidio and escolta was ordered to exercise and prepare for an onslaught. “They know our weakness,” the governor told his commanders, “and we must be prepared to not show them again.”

But all knew that, without reinforcements and supplies, they were open to more raids.

Golden flowers covered the hillsides, mixed here and there with sky blue flowers. The thick cover along the shores showed brilliant purple blossoms. Blue flowers carpeted alfalfa fields and many gardens displayed colors of every hue. Bees and small birds with wispy wings buzzed from blossom to blossom. Gregory was very fond of the Colibri and had fashioned water feeders for them on columns supporting grape vines. Thick morning fogs softly laid moisture across the land, burned away well before noon to allow the sun to warm the earth.

Lambs frolicked besides calves and colts. Piglets squirmed and squealed in their pens while kids played at their mother's udders. Chicks scurried here and there seeking seeds behind their clucking mothers. Ducklings paddled in the ponds and some goslings of older birds that stayed behind instead of flying north, swam in the salt marshes.

As always, in spite of the darkness of the previous November, life continued. Fields were planted, furrows plowed the previous autumn carefully seeded with The Three Sisters. George, his sons, and nephews toiled in the gardens, orchards, and vineyards. Padre Usson tended his mission gardens while many of the mission children played around him, leaping to help when asked.

News from the south in May reminded them of the pirates.

The pirates sailed to San Blas where they captured the brig Las Ánimas carrying a cargo of cacao. Not far from there, they came upon the British ship, Good Hope and confiscated her cargo of Spanish goods. Felipe added that the pirates were last seen at Acapulco sailing south. “It is hoped we have seen the last of them.”

At least, something good came of the raids. The viceroy was shocked into ordering two more troops of presidials to Alta California, the sixty men and officers shared among the four presidios. And the supply ships brought more gun powder, shot, and weapons to replace those taken by the attackers. However, most important to Father President Guardian Payeras was the arrival of Padre Amorós who was sent to Misión San Rafael as he possessed medical skills, along with three others sent where most needed.

Padre Altamira was assigned to lead Misión Dolores where he immediately began to strongly urge the foundation of yet another mission, this one located in a valley to the north and east of Misión San Rafael. “He says the local Gentiles called it napo, or 'place to return to' in their language.”

James shook his head, wondering where Mateo continued to come up with news from all around the province.

A major problem occurred when Padre Durán at Misión San José asked Captain Sal to send soldiers from the presidio to gather up a number of disciples who had run away from the mission. It was not that they went by themselves, they were encouraged by several bands of Yokuts living in the valley of the San Joaquin river. They departed the mission, taking nearly sixty horses and mules with them, along with about one hundred head of cattle.

Lieutenant Moraga led two squads across the hills east of the mission, guided by the mayordomo who had originally come from that valley. The troops were badly outnumbered, but crude spears and stone-headed arrows could not penetrate the heavy leather jackets and shields. While the Yokut bravely fought, they were no match for the escopetas and pistols. In addition, the soldiers were well-trained in the use of their lances and sharp steel espadas ancha, the short sword.

Before the day ended, Padre Durán said prayers over twenty-seven graves dug by the sixteen disciples the soldiers captured. The Yokut healers did their best to treat the twenty wounded.

Of the Presidials, three had minor wounds which the friar easily cared for.

What is truly difficult to believe, my friends, is that, after the expedition into the valley,” Mateo continued, “more Yokut, Miwok, and Patwin came across the hills to the mission. They had heard of the better life there and asked the friar to take them in.”

Perhaps it was fear that the soldiers might return and take them by force?”

Mateo turned to James and shook his head. “While our ways are often most strange to them, they have come to see the benefits the missions provide.”

Padre Sarria, who had joined them for the evening meal, added, “While we may be strict with those who have accepted the call to Christ, we would never bring them to our missions by force. Not only is that against everything we believe in, but was proved most unwise in the early days of the conquering of Mexico. Conquistadores did so at first, but could not get them to work in spite of whippings and other extreme punishments.” He sighed. “We want the Gentiles to come to The Lord with open hearts. Otherwise, they will never truly understand the blessings in store for them.”

He then provided his own tidbit of news. “We recently learned from the Padres of Misión San Gabriel that the Tongva living at a rancheria they call Guachama petitioned them to come and teach them how to farm and raise livestock. Father President Guardian Payeras has conditionally granted them the authority to establish Asistencia San Bernardino. He sent a letter to the viceroy and archbishop seeking their approval.”

Several months passed until some interesting news came from the south. This time, it was Felipe who passed it on.

Do you remember the American who was captured at the Ortega ranch?” When everyone nodded, he grinned and told them, “It appears we have a copy of a young lady of California falling in love with a foreigner. Just like with the Russian royal.” With all paying close attention, he said, “Señorita Guadalupe Ortega, but sixteen years of age, dressed his wounds. It appears she lost her heart to him. He was taken to el Presidio de Santa Bárbara to be courts-martialed. She followed him and plead to Captain Goycoechea to show him mercy.”

He looked around and saw the smiles. “Yes, our kindhearted captain said that if anyone would be responsible for the appearance of the prisoner when called upon, Chapman and his companion would go free. Our good Captain Lugo agreed to be responsible for Chapman and take him to la Puebla de Los Angeles where he could be of great use.”

But that is not all the story,” Felipe continued. “José Chapman, as he prefers to be called, is most popular with the people of the town, as well as the padres at Misión San Gabriel. He is purported to be most skillful with his hands and is already in the process of building a ship for the use of the mission.”

That caught James' and Timothy's interest. Sadly, Felipe could not describe the size or type of craft the American was undertaking to build.

He also had word of the rebellion in Mexico. “Unlike the uprising in Argentina and several islands in the Caribbean, the rebels are not faring well in Mexico. Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca has an able general leading the king's forces. Colonel Agustín Iturbide, a Criollo, is to take his forces into Oaxaca to find and defeat the rabble led by Guerrero.” He also added that rumors circulated of unhappiness among senior officers in Spain against the monarchy of King Ferdinand the Seventh.

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