History of San Fernando Mission

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(Saint Ferdinand). A Franciscan mission, founded Sept. 8, 1797, in Los Angeles co., Cal. The site chosen is said to have been that of a native rancheria called Pasecgna, but the place had already been occupied as a private ranch, with a house which the missionaries appropriated for their dwelling. Bancroft says that the name of the site was Achois Comihavit. The new mission was dedicated by Father Lasuen to San Fernando, Rev de España, the ceremonies being witnessed by a large gathering of natives. On the first day 10 children were baptized. By the close of the year there were 55 neophytes, and 310 in 1800. In 1806 an adobe church with tiled roof was consecrated. The number of neophytes reached 955 in 1810, while the death rate was lower than at most of the missions.

The mission seems to have been some what cramped for lands, at least numerous protests were made against the granting of neighboring ranches to private individuals. Nevertheless the mission was prosperous, the average crop for the decade ending 1810 being 5,220 bushels. The greatest number of neophytes, 1,080, was reached in 1819. After this there was a decided decline in both population and prosperity. In 1834 the natives numbered 792. Up to this time there had been baptized 2,784 Indians, of whom 1,367 were children. The effect of secularization was not so disastrous here as at most of the missions, the administrators in charge giving general satisfaction, so that in 1840 there were still 400 Indians in the ex-mission community.

In 1843 San Fernando was returned to the control of the padres, but in 1845 was leased to private individuals, and in the following year was sold by Gov. Pico for $1,120. The last resident minister left in 1847. The old mission church was built of adobe and is now in ruins, though the walls are still standing; the monastery has been repaired by the Landmarks Club of California. The Indians in the neighborhood of San Fernando belong to the Shoshonean linguistic stock and have been included under the name Gabrieleños, though more distant tribes to the north east doubtless furnished many neophytes.

The following villages are recorded as having existed in the neighborhood of San Fernando: Kowanga, Mapipinga, Okowvinjha, Pascegna, Quapa, Sawayyanga, Tacuenga, Tuyunga.

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 27 January 2015. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/history-of-san-fernando-mission.htm - Last updated on Aug 16th, 2011

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