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History of San Carlos Mission

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(Saint Charles). The second Franciscan mission founded in California. Even before the founding of San Diego an expedition started north under Portolá, in 1769, to explore the country and find the port of Monterey, previously described by Vizcaino (1602), where it was intended to establish the next mission . They reached the port, but did not recognize it, and returned, after setting up a cross on the shore of the bay. The following spring two expeditions started, one by land and one by sea. Both expeditions arrived safely, and the port was this time recognized beyond a doubt. The cross was found still standing, but surrounded and adorned with arrows, sticks, feathers, fish, meat, and clams, placed there by the natives, apparently as offerings. The bells were hung and the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey was formally founded June 3, 1770. Some huts were built and a palisade erected, but for several days no natives appeared. Father Junípero Serra soon became dissatisfied with the site of the mission, and in December, after the necessary buildings had been constructed, it was removed to Carmelo valley. The mission was hence forth known as San Carlos Borromeo del Carmelo, sometimes in later days merely as Carmelo. The old site became the presidio of Monterey. The native name of the new site, according to Taylor (Cal. Farmer, Feb. 22,1860) was Eslenes.

The number of converts gradually increased, 165 being reported in 1772, and 614 in 1783. Serra made San Carlos his headquarters, and here he died, Aug. 24, 1784, and was buried in the mission church. In 1785 Lasuen was chosen padre presidente, and made his residence chiefly at San Carlos, Palou having temporarily taken charge after Serra’s death. Monterey being an important port, San Carlos was visited by a number of travelers, including La Perouse (1786) and Vancouver (1793). The mission never had a large number of neophytes; the highest, 927, was reached in 1794, after which there was a gradual decline. In livestock and agriculture the mission was fairly successful, the average crop for the decade ending 1800 being 3,700 bushels. Cattle and horses in 1800 numbered 2,180, and sheep more than 4,000. There was considerable increase during the next decade, but before 1820 the decline had begun, though it was less marked for a time than at many other missions.

In 1797 a new stone church, the ruins of which are still to be seen, was completed. The number of neophytes was 758 in 1800, 513 in 1810, 381 in 1820, and about 150 in 1834. There was but little of the mission property left at the time of secularization in the year last named, while by 1840 the ruined buildings were all that remained. The mission church was entirely neglected until about 1880, when it was restored and roofed, and was rededicated in Aug. 1884. The neophytes of San Carlos belonged chiefly to the Costanoan and Esselenian linguistic stocks.

Representatives of most of the Esselen villages were doubtless included, as well as of the Rumsen, Kalindaruk, and Sakhone divisions of the Costanoan, some of the Chalones, with probably also some of the Mutsun.

The following names of villages are given by Taylor (Cal. Farmer, Apr. 20, 1860), most of them being taken from the mission books: Achasta, Alcoz, Animpayamo, Aspasniagan, Cakanaruk, Capanay (Kapanai), Carmentaruka, Chachat, Coyyo, Culul (Kulul), Ecgeagam, Echilat, Eslanagan, Excellemaks, Fyules, Gilimis, Guavusta, Ichenta, Jappayon, Lucayasta, Mustac, Nenmequi, Noptac, Nutnur, Nuthesum (Mutsun), Pachhepes, Paisin, Pytoguis (Poitokwis), Santa Clara (Esselenes proper), Sapponet, Sargentarukas, Soccorondo, Tebityilat, Tiubta, Triwta, Tucutnut (or Santa Teresa), Tushguesta, Wachanaruka, Xaseum, Xumis, Yampas, Yanostas, Ymunacam.

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 2 December 2015.
- Last updated on Aug 16th, 2011

This page is part of a larger collection. Access the full collection at Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico.

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