Early forty leagues north of Santa Barbara the Mission of San Miguel was founded on the twenty-fifth of July, 1797, in honor of the “Prince of the Heavenly Militia.” The ceremonies were performed by President Lasuen and Padre Sitjar, and baptism was administered to fifteen children at the time. The Indians did not respond generally to the invitations of the padres; so Padre Martin went to the Chief Guchapa and begged him to send his Indians to the Mission, but met prompt refusal.

Thereupon Commander de la Guerra sent a file of his soldiers and took the old chief prisoner. Then he came to terms, and promised to send his people, leaving his son as a hostage. But this method of forced conversion did not succeed well: the Mission made but little progress in its spiritual labors, and in truth not much in the acquisition of wealth. The country available was good, and extensive for sheep-pasturing, and a proper attention to this industry would have proven a sure road to riches.

Yet the padres gave too much labor to raising grapes and making wine, and their section and climate were not well adapted to this fruit and this industry. In consequence, they were unable to pay their annual tribute to Mexico. They owned, in time, large flocks of sheep, but never pushed the industries of wool-raising and weaving, which would have produced their fortunes. San Miguel played a humble part in Mission life, but its reputation was spotless.

Return to: The Missions of California and the Old Southwest