Father Serra - Missionary

Father Serra - Missionary
Always forward, never back

Friday, March 17, 2017


The Mexican Flag of 1827

1827 – Big Social Doings in Monte Rey

And Eduardo did not invite me as he believes I too strongly support the friars?”

That was his indication, father. He did not bat an eye when I told him my support for them was as fully strong as yours.”

Timothy thought for several minutes before adding, “And, what is your impression of their intent? What do they plan?”

I think they are but seeking to protect themselves and their interests.” James chuckled. “Just as we are doing in the cove.”

Be most heedful that you do not become caught up in their intrigues. Our newly Mexican friends have the heat of the blood of their Spanish ancestors.”

They discussed what had been laid out for James on the dining table. Timothy was most interested in the new way of frying and made it a point of talking to Hartnell about it at their next meeting.

The year of eighteen hundred and twenty-seven turned out to be filled with memorable events and changes.

What effect will the new General Law of Expulsion have upon you and the rest of the friars, reverend father?”

Father Prefect Sarria frowned. “That is difficult to say, my son. As always, while the law appears to be most stringent about those not born in Mexico being forced to leave, it left many options open.”

The listeners nodded. Most had heard about the rule saying that those felt to be invaluable to the future of Mexico and its citizens being allowed to stay. Surely the friars were considered to be in that class.

Even those under arrest for being treasonous to Mexico?” Mateo asked with a gleam in his eyes.

All joined in with Mateo's lightheartedness as Father Prefect Sarria's being under arrest had become something to laugh about – behind the backs of the new Mexican officials of course.

The Father Prefect turned the conversation to something sad. “Talatis Gaspar has left us,” he said. “I am worried that Christina Salgado will not be able to maintain the mission sheep ranch, Las Salinas, without him.”

I would not worry about her, reverend father,” Butterfly said, breaking her normal silence. “She has been doing most of the herding for the past year as her husband gave in to the illness of the lungs.” All knew she referred to pulmonia, an illness that struck far too many in the cold months they were not accustomed to. “She and her husband built a fine home and she will continue to tend to your sheep.”

Father Prefect Sarria smiled, relieved at hearing such a comment by someone whose word he highly valued.

They sat on a big log placed under a large live oak on the plaza in front of the entrance to the mission chapel. A small group of musicians played lively music to which some young people danced. The area was bright from oil lamps placed on tall poles and a large bonfire pushed back the slight evening chill. Father Prefect Sarria had invited them to sit by him and The Family fairly took up the full length of the red wood log. Timothy, Apolonia, Jaime, Butterfly, James, Maria Teresa, Felipe, Juanita Maria, José Antonio, Maria Rose, Mateo, Úrsula, David, and Felicidad were gathered together to share an unusual evening not on the veranda of the compound. Nobody expected to discuss anything of importance, simply there to enjoy the evening socializing. Padre Suria sat nearby with some young members of The Family surrounding him.

The small mission bell chimed out nine times to alert all to the time – none of them really needed a mechanical reminder as they had lived by the sun and stars all their lives. But it signal told the time for the Father Prefect and other friars to return to the cells to say their evening prayers and for all the rest to return to their homes.

James took Maria Teresa's hand in his, wondering at how smooth it still was after so many years. He could not help but notice that his father now used a walking stick and had his arm wrapped in Apolonia's. Uncle Jaime still walked erect but with a very slight limp from where a large section of a tree he had felled landed on his foot. Butterfly seemed as ageless as ever, walking with the same sway as James remembered from his early youth.

We are a most healthy and fortunate family, he thought. The newly arrived Europeans and even Mexican officials seems far more affected by the weather and years than they. The Esselen and other California natives all seemed to be less affected than the newcomers. Will my Guaycura blood treat me as well?

The next morning as they were unloading fish at the presidio pier, Tiburcio Castro, the alcalde of Monte Rey walked up to James. “Good morning, Jaime. How are you today?”

Doing very well, Señor Alcalde” They had known each other for most of their lives and Castro knew that James was giving him a slight verbal elbow to the ribs about his political involvement. “What bring you here this fine morning?”

Glancing at the shimmering fish being poured into the barrels, Tiburcio smiled. “One or two of those beautiful Red Snappers would sit well on my dinner table this evening.”

Both knew the correct manner of doing such things would be for the mayor to ask either the officer from the garrison or the secretary of the harbor captain. But, having known each other for so long, James did not hesitate to select two fine specimens, hook them through the gills, and hand them over to his old acquaintance.

One of our friends has just received a most important appointment.” At James' “who is that?” Castro responded, “Juan B. Alvarado has just been appointed by the governor to be secretary of the territorial council.”

It appears his family is gaining influence in the territory.”

Castro sighed. “Yes, it appears so. But I worry about what appears to be a divide between those of us who live in the north and those who live in the south. You know, of course, of the Pico family's efforts to have Los Angeles made the territorial capitol?”

James nodded. Noting that the fish had been unloaded, he excused himself and leapt back aboard the boat, bending to loose the ropes holding the boat against the pier. He watched Castro walk away, waving to the sentries at the gate as he took his prize into the growing town.

They were unloading the last of the catch at the Carmel pier when José Amesti, a recent arrival from Sonora who owned a small candle shop in Monte Rey came down the pier, seeking James. “I have a special order, Señor Beadle. I need three dozen Red Snappers for a special celebration. Do you think I may obtain them from you?”

James knew of the man but had little personal contact with him up to then. He was a Basque who had sworn allegiance to Mexico and was somewhat snubbed by the Peninsulares as his area of Spain was considered low class. His prominence came from his marriage to Prudenciana Vallejo, the daughter of Don Ignacio. His father in law was most taken with his granddaughter, Carmen and that eased the chilliness with which Amesti was met in other households. “When will you need them? And how much?”

I would estimate a half of a barrel will suffice. It will be to celebrate the arrival of the governor in the next few days.”

That caught James by surprise. No news had come of the expected arrival of the governor who had done everything possible to shun the long trip from San Diego.

He will be bringing an entourage to include Don Agustin Zamorano and his wife, Maria Luisa, daughter of Don Santiago Argüello.”

I do not think it will be a problem, Don José. As soon as we receive news of Governor Echeandia, I will ensure to bring in a large catch of Red Snapper. They are always welcome and in demand.”


Well, His Excellency will honor us with his presence in the near future. That is most unusual.”

Nobody could miss the irony in Timothy's voice upon learning the news of Echeandia's expected arrival.

It is said that he is so enamored by that young Señorita in San Diego that he would never leave. That and his claimed illness that makes him avoid chilly weather.”

He has been given no choice, Don Timoteo. The territorial council must be called into session as per instructions from Mexico. I have already heard complaints about how there is little or no housing for the members of his delegation or the counselors.

I think this is a most auspicious event for Don Eduardo. His house is most spacious and he has a number of rooms that could accommodate members of the council.”

Everybody agreed with James. He also thought how it would provide Hartnell with an opportunity to gather more of the information he needed.

A rider galloped into Monte Rey to announce the pending arrival of the governor and his attendants. Word spread quickly throughout the area, to include Carmel. No special activities took place at the mission and Father Prefect Sarria went about his duties as if nothing unusual was to occur.

James and David joined a number of Carmelites who wish to view the pageant of the governor's arrival.

The escorts galloped over the hill from Salinas, Mexican banners flapping at the tips of their lances. Just behind came a man in a very fancy uniform with a cap with a short visor and a large white plume. Even from a distance, they could see that he was well formed and tall, his complexion fair, hair with slight tinges of gray and a scanty beard. Behind rode two officers leading a large group of enlisted cavalry soldiers and civilians to include women and children. Behind them came several wagons pulled by mule teams and a small ramada of horses.

Reining in his steed in front of the open gates of the presidio, the governor waited until one of the soldiers came to hold his steed so he could dismount. Captain Gonzalez, stiff as a rod, ceremoniously saluted the governor who returned it with a casual wave towards the brim of his cap.

The lieutenant on the right is Pacheco his aide de camp and the other is Zamorano, the one I told you about.”

James thanked Amesti for the information and listened as he pointed out other members of the entourage. Don Tiburcio had hurried from the small building designated as the pueblo's government building and hastily introduced himself, his hat in hand. The governor acknowledged the greeting and said something that caused the mayor to beam.

The group then entered the garrison while the remainder of the entourage dismounted and listened to the information on their housing from Felipe and another of the ensigns. As someone had pointed out, Hartnell gained much favor by having rooms for several members of the group.

The watchers could not help but note that Comisario Herrera did not bother to leave his offices to greet the governor.

Looking down from the hillside, James realized how much the town had grown. From a few temporary buildings near the lake in front of the Royal Chapel – now simply called the Presidio Chapel – thirty or more buildings of adobe with red tile roofs lined several streets, the main one laid with round stones. The waterfront was now the center with the multi-storied structures of the harbor master, comisario, and agents for the several trading companies that regularly made Monte Rey their regular stops. The major building belonged to Hartnell, with his large warehouses attached. On the north side of the pier was the boatyard where two new keels were being laid for additions to the fishing fleet.

Several large compounds overlooked the town and the harbor belonging to families of several families descended from the members of the original expedition of seventeen hundred and sixty-nine. They all had large land grants with extensive herds of horses and cattle, their servants either from Mexico or local Esselen given permission by the friars and the comandante to work for them.

How long do you plan to be here, my husband. Your evening meal will soon be on the table.”

James gripped Teresa Marta's hand and chuckled. “I had not thought about it, mi querida. The view is most interesting and there are perhaps things to be learned.”

Teresa Marta wrinkled her pert nose and pulled James to his feet. “You will learn them in good time from the evening palaver on the terrace. You can see Felipe is quite involved and he will make it home as soon as possible to tell all.”

James looked at David and shrugged. The two men had no doubt as to who had the final say in domestic matters. While not there, David knew his wife was most upset by his not being there for the evening meal.

Before he could help, Teresa Marta leapt into the saddle and spun the mare around, reining her in while her husband and his best friends mounted theirs. Unlike many of the Californians descended from the leatherjacket soldiers, they rode at a gentle lope to the top of the hill and down into the valley of the Carmel river..

Felipe did not arrive for the evening talk but Mateo was there. “I was giving a class to the ensigns when the governor and his party arrived. Everybody was fawning all over him and I must admit, he seemed to act as if it was due him.” He then smiled. “El Macaco was less than pleased with the way the governor treated him. He showed him little respect and all but ignored him in favor of both Estrada and Argüello.”

Nobody respected Captain Gonzalez. With nothing but his rank to bring it about, he had become comandante de armas in 1826 and had belittled and mistreated both Lieutenants Estudillo and Estrada, along with all the Californian officers and soldiers. He was an ignorant, brutal, and despotic man, popularly known as the ugly ape. The regular cavalry company, officers and men, accused him of arbitrary acts, and of partiality to the Mexican troops of his own artillery detachment and the others; while he complained of insubordination on the part of the Californians.

The people of Monte Rey are not particularly warm to the governor's presence. They feel slighted by his avoidance of the rightful capitol of the territory.” Mateo also told how the governor seemed absent-minded, frequently turning to his aide, Lieutenant Pacheco to whisper questions. He also often asked Lieutenant Zamorano for one of his small cards along with a pen and ink to write out one of his frequent notes that often became minor rules or regulations.

The members of the territorial council arrived over the next few days and, as expected, those from the north separated themselves from the southern members. Four of the ten took up residence in Hartnell's compound while the four from the south split up between the Argüello and Alvarado compounds.

José Bonilla was known to The Family as he had been a member of the junta of eighteen twenty-five. Pablo V. Solá was equally known as he was the son of the governor who had left California. Carlos Bustamente came to pay his respects to Timothy, even bowing to Jaime, as they had been with his father in the original expedition of seventeen sixty-nine. And, of course, Tomas Suria came to Carmel as Padre Suria was a member of his family. The remainder of the counselors were quite diverse, some arriving in the territory during the decades of colonization.

While many saw the governor as an indecisive and even unqualified administrator, he did gain a great deal of favor with the military community by frequently reprimanding Captain Gonzalez for his maltreatment of the original soldiers at the presidio. Nobody was surprised that Echeandia did little more as Gonzalez was the friend and father-in-law of Comisario Herrera.

An arrival on a supply ship was most welcome – Padre Juan Moreno, a Spaniard who had accepted the new government in Mexico. He was quickly assigned to Misión Santa Bárbara where he was sorely needed.

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